The benefits of floating are numerous & wide ranging….
- Improved overall mental & physical well-being
- Relief from back pain & many other ailments
- Recovery from fatigue (e.g. new parents, shift-workers)
- Reduced stress
- Creative thinking
- Speedy recovery from injury & injury prevention
- Enhanced sports training
- Effective visualisation or accelerated learning
- Rapid access to benefits of meditation
Scientists estimate that up to 90% of the brain’s normal workload is caused by the affects of routine environmental stimulation – the combined effects of gravity, temperature, touch, light and sound on the muscles, nervous system and sensory organs of the body.
The float tank screens these external physical stimuli, creating a pure state of ‘sensory’ relaxation. Under these unique conditions your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self regulation, while you simply lie back and rediscover the latent abilities of a deeply relaxed mind…
Some liken being in the tank to being back in the womb or in a safe little coccoon or a mind floating in outer space. It is one place on the planet where you can truly rest your mind & body. With no pressure on any of your muscles & no distractions for your senses you can completely switch off & relax.
Some say an hour ‘floating’ in the tank is the equivalent of approximately 4hours sleep in terms of the relaxation & rejuvenation for mind & body that you can achieve.
Even when laying in bed, your body is busily processing the pressures of the bed on your skin & muscles, the touch of the sheets, the temperature, sounds, others in the bed with you. In the tank, there are none of these distractions.
Improved Overall Mental & Physical Wellbeing…
While your body & mind are rested from the everyday distractions, pressures & noises it can set about repairing & healing itself. Stress can manifest itself as all sorts of physical & mental ailments, so by reducing stress levels many other issues may also be resolved.
Many ‘floaters’ liken the feeling to pressing ‘refresh’ or ‘de-fragging’ your computer, i.e. getting rid of all the junk that’s no longer required or not working, sorting out all the bugs in the system & starting over. Such a clearing of the mind can only be good for our ‘overloaded’ systems & assist in maintaining a healthy mind & body.
While you’re floating, your mind produces slow ‘theta’ brainwaves – these tend to make your thought patterns clearer & more creative plus it releases endorphins (the ‘happiness’ hormones!) that help to create feelings of wellbeing and improve memory & learning. The production of these endorphins combined with the drawing out of undesirable chemicals helps to create a wonderful feeling of wellbeing, confidence & happiness.
Many ‘floaters’ say it’s as if the world has changed when they step out of the tank – in reality – their perceptions & feelings towards the world are what has changed.
In the floating position & with the air & water at skin temperature the body’s natural reaction is to dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure & maximising blood flow. Natural endorphins are released, reducing pain. Lactic acid removal is accelerated & there is increased flow in the lymphatic system.
The deep relaxation achieved by ‘floating’ triggers our bodies natural healing & regeneration, known as the ‘parasympathetic’ response. It ‘re-sets’ the bodys chemical & metabolic balance, strengthening resistance to effects of stress, illness or injury.
The epsom salts (also known as magnesium sulfate) have been linked with numerous benefits for your body including easing arthritis, improving skin condition, drawing out toxins from the body, reducing swelling, relaxing muscles as well as being absorbed into the body through the skin & correcting magnesium deficiencies (a common deficiency in todays society of processed foods).
Relief from back pain & many other ailments…
Gravity has been estimated to be the single largest cause of human health problems – bad backs, sagging abdomens, aching feet, painful joints & the general muscular tension that builds up due to our upright position. The tank environment brings the ‘floater’ close to an experience of complete weightlessness. By essentially removing the pressures exerted by gravity on our skeletal system, the muscles & joints are relieved and circulation is improved.
Floating has been shown to alleviate arthritis, MS, as well as tension related problems such as migraines, insomnia, back/neck pain.
As mentioned above, the epsom salts also assist in the relief of pain, muscular tension, skin conditions.
Recovery from fatigue…
There are various claims that one hour floating has the equivalent restorative effects of approximately four hours sleep.
We have had various shift-workers use the tank with success in preparation for & recovery from long shifts & night-shifts. It seems to help to reset the body clock. By having a 1hour float after a night shift or heavy shift, it saves spending the whole morning or afternoon in bed, wasting precious time off asleep.
Other clients have reported feeling benefits from floating both before & after long flights. Floating before can help to relax the mind & body to make sleeping on the flight easier as well as give you extra reserves if trying to keep awake for a late night departure. Floating after a long flight can help to catch up on lost sleep & start to ‘reset’ the body clock as well as improve circulation & reduce muscle soreness
New parents struggling with a lack of sleep also enjoy the peace, tranquility & undisturbed silence of the float tank. They walk in like zombies but walk out human again!
“Floatation therapy is one of the few noninvasive techniques available to manage stress when it is a factor in reducing a person’s ability to cope with normal life” (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=isolation_tank).
Tests have indicated that floating increases the secretion of endorphins at the same time as it reduces the levels of ‘stress-related’ neurochemicals (adrenaline, nordpinephrine, ACTH, cortisol) – substances that can cause tension, anxiety, irritability & have been linked to heart disease, hypertension & high levels of cholesterol. By producing endorphins & removing the undesirable chemicals floaters experience feelings of confidence, happiness & wellbeing.
In the stressful society we live in it is becoming increasingly difficult to ‘escape’ and have some ‘downtime’. With mobile phones, emails, facebook, twitter, etc – there is ever increasing demands to be ‘on’ all the time. When floating in the tank, you are freed from all distractions. Many people liken it to being in a safe coccoon where nothing else seems to exist or matter.
When first floating, it can take some time for the brain waves to shift from alpha or beta to theta. This theta state can be prolonged in the float tank & can last for several minutes without losing consciousness – this extended theta state is a wonderful tool for enhanced creativity/problem solving. More frequent use of the tank tends to lead to longer theta periods.
EEG measurements of floaters have indicated that thought patterns can shift from the normally dominant ‘left brain’ toward the more intuitive/creative thought modes of the ‘right brain’.
Many floaters claim to have thought of new ideas/solutions/inventions whilst in the tank. By blocking out all distractions, thoughts can flow freely. Some have come up with ideas for new pieces of artwork, inventions or even new final scenes for a play. While others seem to be able to sort their priorities & come out with a clear head & intentions.
Speedy Recovery from Injury (& Prevention!)…
Many injuries are commonly caused by ‘inappropriate muscle tension’ which can be caused by the build up of a ‘body armour’ that restricts our movements & inhibits free flowing actions. Floating helps to break down this ‘armour’ & loosen muscles giving greater control & reducing risk of injury.
When injuries do occur the tank environment is ideal for recovery with the weightlessness & improved circulation due to the epsom salts as well as the freeing of the mind to focus on healing the body.
Whilst high intensity exercise stimulates muscles to grow, it is not until the muscles are relaxed that the actual growth & strengthening occurs (30-40hrs post stimulation). This is where the float tank is able to maximise those benefits whilst also reducing the effects of lactic acid & removal of other undesirable chemicals.
Additionally, the tank can facilitate a fantastic environment for visualisation where the athlete can focus all their attention & concentration on visualising their performance/technique. The results of research relating to the power of visualisation & it’s effect on performance are amazing, it is quite a powerful tool. Triathletes visualise their transitions, for other athletes it’s visualising scoring goals, hitting winners, etc. The mind is a powerful tool & being a successful athlete is not only about physical ability, it’s also about the mind, the belief in their ability & being able to keep emotions under control whilst under pressure.
Effective visualisation or accelerated learning…
The tank environment removes all distractions and facilitates the achievement of the ‘theta state’ – where the brainwaves are at a much lower frequency where learning abilities are heightened, much like that of a child or infant who seems to learn almost effortlessly.
To utilise this state, it is possible to use audio &/or visual materials to assist with learning. For example using audio to learn a language or listen to uni notes.
Whilst in this theta state, the powers of visualisation & openness to auto-suggestion or subliminal messages are also increased. This enhanced state can be used for all sorts of things including weight loss, quitting smoking, general confidence, personal development & health issues.
Rapid access to the benefits of meditation…
We have all heard time & again the multitude of benefits that meditation offers such as; confidence and self control, improved concentration and ability to focus / work efficiently, inner certainty, ability to let go of negative emotions such as anger and paranoia, better personal relationships, reduced stress levels & improved health.
But unfortunately for many of us it is far more difficult than it sounds. Finding a comfortable position & not being distracted by background noises can be a difficult thing to master. The tank provides the perfect environment to achieve a deep meditative state without the years of learning. After 3-5 sessions in the tank most ‘floaters’ notice how much easier they are finding it to slow or control their thoughts than they did the first time. It’s almost as if they are training themselves to relax & to let their mind & body be still.