By: Bridget Bachman
Floating allows us to take an intimate journey into our conscious and subconscious states of being. Flotation therapy is scientifically documented to bring about positive change to the floater. Throughout history, floating has been a dynamic source of inspiration and healing; bringing personal advancement, inner growth, as well as alleviation of pain. The original flotation tank was developed in 1954 by neurophysiologist Dr. John Lilly at the National Institute of Mental Health. He was determined to discover if the human brain required external stimuli to allow for its’ conscious state to keep going. Part of Dr. John Lily’s studies and experiments were aimed at finding a system that would eliminate the stimulation in the environment. Dr. Lily’s first flotation tank was an upright tank that was completely underwater with the floater wearing a breathing mask. Could you imagine floating like that today? I am so pleased that flotation tanks have evolved over time allowing the floater to lay down in a relaxing position as they drift into a gentle oasis of relief. As Dr. John Lily continued to experiment with different models of flotation tanks, he discovered the power of buoyancy that salt provides. Through the addition of salt, the sensory deprivation tank now had a next level anti-gravity sensation that removed weight and pressure off of the floater. After 16 years of working with different flotation tank models, Lilly perfected the flotation tank with the current design that is used today. This took place in the early 1970’s and has been helping people ever since.
With the new perfected model of the flotation tank set forth, floating grew in popularity. Many neuroscientists and scientists in other fields of research showed increasing interest in the flotation tank and its’ effects on the human body and mind. The central question that scientists are determined to figure out would be to know exactly what happens to the mind during a float. In the scientific realm, many commonly refer to floating as Floatation-REST, which stands for “Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy”. Clinical research has proven the vast benefits of floating. The scientific evidence published suggests that Flotation-REST has beneficial effects for many conditions. Some of these conditions include depression, chronic muscle tension, chronic headaches, hypertension, generalized anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, amongst many more conditions. Published data also suggests that floating is a very safe and effective way to quickly reduce pain, stress, and anxiety. Floating is non invasive, completely harmless, and enjoyable to the patient. There are currently more science based flotation studies happening in America, Germany, and Sweden that are specifically studying the long-term influence of floating for float patients that suffer from insomnia, fibromyalgia, anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa, and chronic pain. The more research that is revealed is consistently confirming that floating is an excellent way to treat disorders, pain, and stress. It is eye opening to see the way that floating is healing people all around the world one float at a time. Floaters have reported positive effects on their mental health and that they are able to respond to life in a more peaceful way post float. Floating alters perspective to see life with optimism, beauty, and meaning. Since the body receives healing through the float, this allows for a healed gaze with open perspective of the world. When stress is lifted off someone, they are connected to their truest self and capable to perceive the good and wonderful things that surround them. The resistance is diminished and one is able to flow in their ways of life more freely post float.
With resistance removed, floaters experience feelings of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction. Research has proven that an increase in the release of endorphins occurs while floating and post float as well as a reduction in the number of stress-related neurochemicals. The stress related neurochemicals include cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. These substances cause hypertension, anger, anxiety, and even heart disease. Since floating decreases these neurochemicals that produce feelings of stress, it paves the way for authentic healing to flow naturally from a stress-free state.
Our bodies are truly amazing! They self regulate and are constantly working around the clock to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ideal state of being where balance and stability rules and reigns in our bodies. It’s our bodies way of being in precise alignment. Floating allows us to ease into homeostasis, bringing about perfect peace in our bodies, spirits, and minds. Floating eliminates stimulation which in turn eliminates stress on the body. Without stress, the body can automatically go into an equilibrium state that brings healing. Outside of the float tank, our bodies are constantly adjusting to stress, outer stimuli, and the pressures from the outward world. We consciously and unconsciously have to battle through adjusting ourselves to these stimuli constantly. We do this in order to maintain a balance or “homeostasis” with the outside world. In the float tank, that outside world is virtually removed and the only homeostasis being focused on is the one inside of you. While floating, all of the distractions, noises, and threats are eliminated. The human body system is able to completely and fully give all of its’ energy to restore itself. It is not being pulled in multitudes of directions, but it is rather centered in on the core goal of coming into homeostasis. Homeostasis is our normal and beautiful state of being. It allows us to feel vibrant health, euphoria, and pleasure. After floating, floaters feel so balanced, serene, calm, and an overall sense that “all is right in the world”. These feelings most definitely sound like “homeostasis”.
It is remarkable how science confirms and reflects the beauty of this process. According to research from the Clinical Flotation, the float environment minimizes external sensory input to the entire nervous system. There are many different parts of the nervous system that experience this amazing stripping of stimulation. These parts include the vestibular, thermal, gustatory, tactile, olfactory, auditory, signals from visual, gravitational and proprioceptive channels. Scientific studies recorded a huge overall effect for the reduction in stress in floaters documented in a meta-analysis published in 2005. Reports have revealed that floating reduces blood pressure, heart rate, as well as cortisol which results in pure relaxation.
This undiluted relaxation has a lot to do with the magnesium that is inside of the float tanks. The magnesium sulfate salts not only relax the body, but they also allow the floater to float! Since the density of Epsom salt solution causes increased buoyancy, eliminating the body’s gravitational pull, it allows the floater to feel weightless. Consider all of the health problems such as aching backs, sore joints, painful muscle tension, skeletal systems that are in constant pain. Floating frees the floater from the power of gravity! It opens up a wide space for healing because your energy field feels so free and atmospheric. It allows our subconscious and conscious energies to deal with matters that were previously difficult to deal with. Our inner state becomes very clear and tangible while floating because we are able to tune in with heightened awareness and consciousness at such a greater degree with all distractions being eliminated.
Recent studies have shown that floating increases production of theta waves. These slow brain waves usher in colorful bright memories, intuition, feelings of oneness, and quick insights that seem to come out of nowhere. It’s those thoughts that are so sudden, good, pure, and alive! Some refer to this as being in the “flow” state. It’s a state of enlightenment that brings about a fresh energy to the floater. Upon entering the sensory deprivation tank, floaters quickly enter the theta state but unlike normal experiences where one would fall asleep after experiencing theta state, the floaters remain awake. By remaining awake while enjoying theta waves, this allows a conscious awareness of all creative thought pattern as well as imagery, ideas, blissful insights, intuitive knowledge with no blockages to pass through the mind while being completely capable of reaping the full benefits of retaining, remembering, and processing the event. Studies have shown that floaters continue to experience great amounts of theta waves for up to three weeks after their float session. I have personally experienced this and find it fascinating that science validates my own encounter with a stream of creative energy flowing for weeks after a float. I have had some of my best ideas, moments of breakthrough, and divine inspiration during and after a float.
Science is also showing that floating is enhancing brain functioning. There are two hemispheres of the brain. The left hemisphere is skilled at processing details, analyzing, and dissecting information, while the right hemisphere is gifted at seeing the big picture and compiling all of the pieces together. The right hemisphere is very visual and can understand information in a large scale. Research from the University of Colorado has proven that floating increases right hemisphere functioning by turning off all of the outside stimulation for the creative energies of the right hemisphere to soar, expand, grow, and be as free as it wants to be. The therapeutic experience of floating unleashes the full artistic, imaginative, and ingenious potential of the right hemisphere of the brain.
Along with enhancing brain functioning, floating also assists in helping the nervous system. Our bodies have an autonomic nervous system, where the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work involuntarily. Both originate in the spinal cord and branch out from there. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the response commonly referred to as “fight or flight”. This is also called hyperarousal or the acute stress response. It is a physiological reaction that happens automatically when our minds perceive that we are in danger. It causes our muscles to contract and our heart rate to increase. We go into this state often during conflict, driving, handling a stressful task, as well as having negative, intrusive thoughts. It is not healthy for us to stay in a sympathetic nervous response because it causes extreme stress! Adrenaline and norepinephrine are both released during sympathetic nervous responses and this can leave us feeling depleted. While we float, the parasympathetic nervous system is in operation. The parasympathetic nervous system is often referred to as the “rest and digest” system. This system is active during floating because we are relaxed and in a healing state. The parasympathetic nervous system controls functions of the body at rest. It supports the body to maintain homeostasis. It allows muscles to relax as well as brings a decrease to the heart rate. Our bodies love entering into a parasympathetic state because it makes us feel safe. This is the state that we want to be in! It is a state in which our bodies are resting, healing, and restoring the entire system to a calm state. Science has proven that floating heals! So don’t wait, go book a float with us here at Souler Float today. Call (321) 591-9005 or book online at Soulerfloat.com