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Posted on 02-02-2017

The Benefits Of Floatation Therapy

Written and Experienced by:

Linda Kasrawi

What is Float therapy?

                In the last decade, float therapy has received more attention than ever before.  In 2009, only twenty float spas were in America. Nowadays there are over three hundred locations;  float spas are sprouting up in almost every major city. Why would depriving your senses be so popular you ask? Simple, float therapy allows one to relax in a very deep meditative state. Relaxation is the tip of the iceberg, the mental and physical benefits is what keeps us “floaters,” floating.

Pods/ tanks are usually eight feet long, 5 feet wide and height can range depending on the style of the pod. The Pods are filled with about 12 inches of water and a thousand pounds of Epsom salt. Yes, a thousand pounds of magnesium sulfate! For decades people have used Epsom salt for pain management, usually putting one to two cups in their tub and soaking in it. Now imagine the benefits of a thousand pounds of that Epsom goodness as you float in tranquility.  Ahhh, yes finally peace and quiet.

When’s the last time you've had absolute peace and quiet? These Tech savvy days our brains are constantly being stimulated, causing stress and utter madness! Our Brain is a muscle, it must rest yet even when one is “resting” the brain is constantly being stimulated by its external environment.  Float therapy deprives your brain of external stimuli ( your outside world), causing your brain to switch waves from a beta state into a theta state, uniting your brain hemispheres.

What are the benefits of floating?

REST Therapy, Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, has immense benefits ranging from neurological to physical benefits.  The physical benefits include reducing mild to chronic pain; many clients with fibromyalgia float due to reduced pain. An in-depth study carried out in 2013 by Roderick Borrie, Ph.D., Tamara Russell, Ph.D. and Stefan Schneider, Ph.D., observed the affects of float (REST) therapy on those that suffer from fibromyalgia. In one case, pain was reduced about 90% and magnesium deficiencies were also elevated to higher levels. With so much stress and tension in our muscles, floating in a buoyant tank relieves the stress caused by gravity, poor posture and overall life style, leaving your muscles and tissues revitalized and balanced. Other benefits include mental clarity, emotional balance and a sense if serenity.

Ongoing clinical and psychological studies of REST therapy have shown astonishing results, such as fighting addiction, depression, lowering cortisol levels which improve digestion and reduced stress.  PTSD symptoms have shown to improve significantly.  Retired Navy Seals Jeff Nichols and Alex Oliver are at the forefront of concussion treatments. Utilizing Float therapy in concussions treatments  has shown to assist in rewiring the brain, accelerating learning and assists in treating concussion symptoms.   Professional athletes include REST therapy as a part their training due to increased performance, enhanced techniques, and accelerated healing from injuries and overall concentration and conditioning.

As the interest of REST therapy increases among scientists, neuropsychologist, Justin Feinstein opened the first float laboratory that conducts MRI brain imaging before and after floats; setting the stage for float research to a much more sophisticated level.  The Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is dedicated completely to float therapy research.  Justin has observed how floating can mimic certain anxiety medicines such as Atavan; decreasing activity in the Amagdala that controls our fight or flight / fear and anxiety receptors. Many pain and anxiety medicines are addictive causing more problems than solving. Floating has now been scientifically proven to be an alternative therapy for anxiety. This therapy is on the brink of a new level of understanding; in the next decade scientists will continue to discover why floating is an amazing tool for health and wellness.

Deprivation Stages-

 Floating unites all three parts of our brain; the Reptilian brain, Limbic system, and the Neocortex.  Within the reptilian brain, there is an area called reticular activating system (RAS), which allows us to determine what a normal experiences is and what is extraordinary. Many drug addicts have an imbalance in their RAC system. Floating helps slows and balances this system, leaving one feeling very relaxed yet very alert, which is why floating has a tremendous affect on drug and alcohol addictions.  The Limbic part of your brain, the hypothalamus (pleasure center) controls how we perceive reality, the half glass full or half glass empty area. When one floats, this directly stimulates the hypothalamus causing intense euphoria. This has a great impact on our moods, emotions, depression, and anxiety disorders. The Neocortex (New Brain) is what makes us humans, human.  Meditation has shown to actually stimulate neocortex growth and unite all three parts of our brain. Floating allows one to go into a deep meditative state, uniting all three parts of the brain and this Vertical Brain Alignment unity is what frees us from our unbalanced, depressed minds.

Let the deprivation begin. Floating deprives your brain of your five senses hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell. As you float in complete darkness, the air and the water is heated to about 95-96 degrees (average external body temperature.)  Within seconds your sight sensors are deprived from the complete darkness. Heating the air and the water to this temperature deprives your brains ability to sense a temperature change. Ten minutes in, your touch sensors are deprived and you become one with the water. Not able to sense where your feet end and the water begins.  Pure oneness with water, what more can one asks for!

                Two senses down, three to go.  Hopefully your floating in a clean, chemical free tank like the awesome tanks at Flot San Diego , if so than your smelling sensors should not be “sensing” any type of distracting odor. If you smell any funk or chemicals, maybe it’s time to float away from there and find a certified hygienic tank. Now for your tasting sensors, this one can be tricky. My first two floats, I had the pleasure of accidently tasting the water, not so tasty after all. Avoiding water in your mouth isn’t difficult, yet for some it can be. With that said, your taste sensor should be deprived effortlessly. For your hearing senses, that harmonic sound of your heartbeat (boom boom, boom boom) is all one can hear, which slowly rocks you into a theta state.  Now that your five senses are deprived, let’s get to the best part! Switching brain waves!

Usually we experience that blissful theta state moments before falling asleep, during REM sleep or when one is in a deep meditative state.  First off, we don’t remember those hazy moments before we fall asleep. Two, learning to meditate can take months and even years to reach that beloved Theta state. Float Therapy “forces” one to switch brain waves from a beta state, to a theta meditative state. At that moment, we finally quiet the mind, relax very deeply and endure the immense benefits of this holistic health modality, Float Therapy.

“Floating enables us to act with a freedom, singleness of purpose, and sense of wholeness we have rarely experienced.”         - Michael Hutchison

John Lilly; the Inventor of Float Therapy: 

Where dies one being with such an influential pioneer of brain research and the king of consciousness exploration! John Lilly had many areas of expertise that eventually led him to the invention of the isolation tank.  Some call him a wacky scientist due to his unconventional ways of research. Lilly wore many hats yet mainly practiced as a physician and a psychoanalyst. He was highly regarded and made major contributions in the fields of neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, electronics, computer science and biophysics.  As a young physicist, Lilly started his career working in several Universities, as he became more fascinated with consciousness and the mysteries of the mind; he gradually began to focus on unconventional topics.  Studying neurology in the early fifties led Lilly to the invention of the Isolation tank. He wanted to observe how the brain reacts to the lack of external stimulation.  In the sixties, Lilly was introduced to LSD. He began to experiment with LSD and Ketamine in the tank and found profound results; claiming to travel to altered states of reality, different dimensions where he claimed to communicate with other entities (hence “wacky”).   Many others have also claimed this phenomenon occurs once you become an avid floater.

For many years Lilly studied dolphin communication and he relentlessly persisted to teach dolphins the English language. With some success, Lilly also assisted in the creation of the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act. Many movies where based on his experiments such as Altered States, Day of the dolphin and even a video game ECCO The Dolphin.  John Lilly was an eccentric, intelligent human being that created a realm of endless possibilities.  The great legend of John Lilly lives on through the tank, through the Mammal protection Act and through the vast amount of lives that have been positively affected by the benefits of R.E.S.T. Therapy.

How Has Floating Influenced My Life?

Floating has changed my life on many levels.  Dealing with anxiety and depression through-out my teenage years really affected my studies and overall relationship with others.  I was feeling depressed, yet I wasn’t really sure why I felt so down all the time. It wasn’t until my psychology class in college that I was introduced to the concept of floating. I became obsessed with researching about this therapy, yet I was terrified of floating in the dark. It took me about a year to work up the guts to float. My first time was not such a great experience; I have never meditated prior and found it difficult to relax. As I kept floating, three years now, I noticed a shift in my thinking, my behavior and my overall view on life. Many repressed childhood memories came to life and really helped me in my healing. I was able to defeat my anxiety and depression without any medications. No longer on an emotional roller coaster, I have built a very strong relationship with myself. I owe floating my deepest gratitude, freeing me from my enabling habits and allowing me to rebuild myself into a healthy individual.

Future of Floating:

  As science discovers more about this therapy, many will respect this as a vital therapeutic method for mental health issues.  In the future, I foresee rehab centers having tanks, where addicts can have a higher chance of success.  Military bases will allow tanks to help their mentally wounded soldiers heal from PTSD and depression. Colleges will have float rooms where students can relax, and achieve a deeper understanding of their studies.  The tank will become the new modern psychologist, helping millions free themselves from their imbalanced minds.  Floating is not just about relaxing and zoning out on life. It’s an opportunity to finally calm down all the chatter in your mind and really figure out what’s going on in there. To absorb the depths of what it is to be human and all that comes with it, can be overwhelming and depressing for some. Floating allows you to figure out your life on a subconscious level, where all the rewiring can happen. R.E.S.T therapy is about rewiring those brain patterns that aren’t helpful, that keep us depressed, stressed and overall unhappy.  In essence, relax, detoxify and float away your worries and stressors.  Unite your mind with your body and free yourself from your environmental, genetic and habitual dispositions, adapt to your environment and live a balanced life.

In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended.

  • John C. Lilly, Founder of Isolation Tanks

Please add a comment to Share your story and experience with Float therapy and the benefits you've received in San Diego.

Pacific Beach Chiropractor

-Dr. Ryan Curda

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