Floatation therapy incorporating Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) has fascinated researchers, clinicians and explorers of consciousness for years, promising something special – a powerful transformation, a mystical peak experience, an intense change in biochemicals, improved performance, or a healing of our ills.
The soundproof isolation tanks which were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation are now used for meditation, relaxation, and as an alternative healing therapy. The unique environment within the float pod allows an anti-gravity experience due to the density of 1300lbs of Epsom salts and temperature maintained at that of normal skin (93.5 F). The body is supported in suspension and provides minimal tactile sensation creating the most natural space for relaxation, healing and pain relief as the body and brain are put back into a state of balance and homeostasis. Users have the choice of turning off the lights and music, which reveals another layer of deep tranquility and stillness.
There have been many scientifically proven benefits from floatation therapy including increased well-being (1), pain reduction (2), stress reduction (3), relief from ‘burn-out’ (4), and promising results with depression and anxiety (especially if incorporated with psychotherapy) (5).
Different theories have been postulated, explaining these beneficial effects in terms of physiological markers such as the reduction in stress hormones, the endogenous release of endorphin’s, and an induction of an alter state of consciousness.
In every day terms, the experience can be considered a “reset button” on our lives delivered through three primary factors:
Salt – Epsom salts are great for our skin, hair, and nails, and also acts as an exfoliate. They aid in joint reduction, ease stress, and naturally relax the body. Magnesium (commonly missing from our diets) is absorbed through the skin, while sulphates eliminates toxins and heavy metals, naturally detoxing the body.
Weightlessness – The 30% salt solution enables the body to float effortlessly atop the water. This sensation can be euphoric, as all weight and tension can be dropped. It’s even safe to fall asleep. There are no pressure points on the body in this state, which can provide significant pain relief. The spine naturally elongates and straightens, and the body undergoes the same regeneration process that transpires during sleep. Lactic acid is drained from the muscles, reducing soreness and recovery time.
Meditation – Finally, just taking an hour of time alone (meditation), will decrease the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, leaving you feeling refreshed and serene after the float. The brain can enter an elusive brain-wave state associated with deep sleep and dreaming. This enables us to access deeper levels of creativity and higher level problem solving due to the distraction-free environment.
Floatation therapy is recommended for anyone experiencing pain or inflammation, or those who desire a relaxing escape from life’s daily stresses.
References: 1) Kjellgren et al, 2001; Mahoney, 1990; Schulz & Kaspar, 1994; 2) Kjellgren 2003; Norlander et al, 2001; Kjellgren et al, 2001, Turner & Fine, 1984; 3) Boodet al, 2005; Bood et al, 2006; Kjellgren, 2001); 4) Bood et al, 2006; Asenlof et al, 2007; 5) Asenlof et al, 2005; Jessen, 1990.