Float therapy or flotation therapy is a technique of achieving a deep state of relaxation through lying in a tank that contains a warm solution of Epsom salt.
Float tanks are also known as sensory deprivation tanks or REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) chambers. The idea behind float therapy is that up to 90% of the functioning of the brain is taken up by processing environmental stimulation.
This would include information from all of the senses. This has the effect of bombarding the mind with distractions. When you float in the tank, your mind is freed from all of this noise and distraction. The state that is induced is a deep level of relaxation.
This state is comparable to a deep meditative state. The weightlessness that you experience, together with the benefits of Epsom salts, allows you to recover from injury and releases you from muscular pain and tension.
The state that is achieved is more positive for you than sleep. When you are sleeping, your mind is still processing sensory information. By releasing your mind from distraction, it can concentrate on repairing your mind and body.
What Is the Tank Like?
The tanks at one facility were described as large capsules. Each capsule is rather spacious. There is a sliding door on the roof. The tank is light and sound-proof. It contains a solution of warm water mixed with Epsom salt.
There is a lot of the salt in the solution. So, you will effortlessly float on the surface. You get the sense, when you are in the tank, of weightlessness.
What Does a Session Involve?
Typically speaking, the staff at the facility will first give you a full explanation of how to operate everything and how to make your experience as comfortable as possible. You will be able to lie in the tank unclothed or with underwear or a swimsuit on. You lie down, get comfortable in the tank and relax (simple as that). There may be music playing when you enter the tank. After you come out of the tank, you will need to shower off all of the salt that is on your body.
There are many benefits of floating. These include:
1. Tame tension headaches. A study at UC Irvine indicates that flotation therapy can resolve chronic tension headaches.
2. Improve sleep. If you float for two hours a week, it has been shown to relieve insomnia.
3. Reduce blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure is important for your health. It can reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks.
4. Relax. Many studies have shown that flotation therapy is an effective way to reduce stress. The subjects in these studies experienced better mood, better sleep, reduced cortisol levels, and lower blood pressure.
5. Improve recovery from activity. It has been noted that flotation can diminish lactic acid and the pain that is felt after athletic activity. When your muscles are less sore, you can return to your desired activities sooner.
6. Improve creativity. Floating has been shown to enhance creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
7. Go into a meditative state. Meditation is great for your mind and emotions. However, it usually requires a lot of practice and discipline to meditate properly. People who float can experience the benefits of the meditative state without all of the trouble and effort.
8. Reverse bad habits. Studies have found that you can enhance your consciousness through floating. This will aid in bringing more awareness to your choices.
9. Improve your relationships. While this is something that is hard to quantify, it seems that floating can improve your relationships with others. This is because floating reduces stress, heightens feelings of well-being, and enhances awareness. So, your interactions with others become more sensitive and positive.
The Cost of the Therapy
Usually, you book a flotation tank for a period of at least an hour. Prices will vary, depending on the facility. However, it shouldn't cost you more than 70 to 80 dollars for 60 minutes of float time. Package deals at many facilities are available as well.
Flotation During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, then it is wise to get a clearance from your doctor before you try flotation therapy. Flotation therapy for pregnant women in the second and third trimesters can relax you and relieve any pain that comes as a result of the pregnancy.
It is particularly good for the woman during the third trimester because the added weight of the pregnancy adds stress to the body. Flotation temporarily rids you of the strain of pregnancy weight. Many women find that the added weight stresses their body in general, and particularly the spine.
The Epsom salt that is in the solution in the tank is therapeutic as well. Not only does it help you to float, but also it can help diminish inflammation. Floating is not recommended for women in their first trimester of pregnancy.
Flotation for Athletic Performance
Many athletes use flotation to prepare for and recover from sports activities. While a person could lie on their bed to help recover from these activities, the force of gravity still weighs on the body.
In the flotation tank, the body is relieved of the weight of gravity. There is no stress on the body and mind. Athletes who use flotation in combination with visualization techniques have experienced real enhancements in their performance.
When the brain goes into the theta wave state, a state experienced in deep meditation, it is more prone to suggestion. The central nervous system can be more easily trained to yield a better performance.
Flotation therapy is a way of producing a deep level of relaxation in the body through cutting down on external stimuli. The therapy is not invasive at all. It merely consists in floating in a tank with all of the external stimuli withheld.
There is some scientific research that backs up the benefits of the therapy. The truth is that you can use the therapy merely as a great way to achieve a deep state of relaxation and an escape from all of the noise and distractions of regular life.
The therapy is not expensive, and you can actually purchase a tank if you find that you will be using one frequently.