Spas sometimes provide commercial float tanks for use in relaxation. Flotation therapy has been academically studied in the USA and in Sweden with published results showing reduction of both pain and stress. The relaxed state also involves lowered blood pressure and maximum blood flow.
Floating can be passive or active, depending on the purpose. For relaxation, one simply floats and ‘clears the mind.’ Active floating has many different techniques. One may perform meditation, mantras, self-hypnosis, utilize educational programs, etc. The idea of active floating is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind becomes highly suggestible and any action taken during these states will enter the information into the sub-conscious. Flotation therapy may be used to complement other body work and healing methods.
Flotation therapy is therapy that is undertaken by floating in a warm salt water in a float tank.
Flotation therapy developed from the research work of John Lilly although he was not primarily interested in therapy, rather in the effect of sensory deprivation on the human brain and mind.
People using early float tanks discovered that they enjoyed the experience and that the relaxed state was also a healing state for many conditions including stress, anxiety, pain, swelling, insomnia and jet lag.
As a result float tanks were produced for commercial uses and commercial float centers offering flotation therapy opened in several countries during the period from 1980 to the present day when there are hundreds of flotation centers in dozens of countries. In almost all cases these float centers offer wellness treatments and in particular the release of stress.
Research into flotation therapy (as opposed to just the effect of isolation) began in the USA at Ohio State University where floating was shown to improve creativity in Jazz musicians, accuracy in rifle shooting, focus before academic examinations and stress relief, among others.
Research in Sweden has demonstrated the therapeutic effect on stress and pain.
The technique takes advantage of an innate, natural inclination to relax when floating at a comfortable temperature. The temperature is that which allows natural heat generation to escape without the need for muscle action to raise body temperature in homeostasis. The floating posture, usually the supine position (although the prone position with chin supported on elbows is recommended for pregnant women), allows all the postural muscles to relax. The water pressure on the immersed skin is lower than the blood pressure and thus blood flow continues in skin capillaries. This is in contrast to normal bed rest where local contact pressure inhibits blood flow requiring regular adjustment of posture. When people cannot adjust their posture in bed, e.g. in some illnesses, bed sores can result. When floating there is no tendency to adjust posture and a person can float immobile for many hours.
The natural tendency of the body in the floating posture at the correct temperature is to dilate the blood vessels, reducing the blood pressure and maximizing blood flow. The brain activity normally associated with postural muscles is reduced to a minimum. In this state, which we can call the floating state, natural endorphins are released reducing pain. Lactic acid removal is accelerated. Flow in the lymphatic system is increased.
There are many similarities with the age old long hot bath, the differences being that in flotation therapy the temperature is maintained at the correct level and the bath is large enough to float without touching the sides of the bath.
It has recently been discovered that there is a secondary effect which is important to flotation therapy. Magnesium is absorbed through the skin due to natural molecular diffusion. This tends to correct magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is absorbed from the diet but in many areas of the world, over-cropping without adequate replacement of magnesium makes the normal diet low in magnesium.
The body naturally optimizes the levels of magnesium, so there is no overload effect from floating in the salts for extended periods.
It is noted that there is no “flotation therapist”, although there is a need to instruct the floater and need to maintain the equipment in a safe condition. However, flotation therapy is compatible with other therapies as a preparation or conjunct activity. Examples include massage, talk therapy, and hypnosis.
Flotation requires a soundproof and lightproof fiberglass enclosed float capsule (sometimes referred to as float tank or spa – approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high) filled with heated water (to skin temperature of 94-95 degrees F) and a very high concentration (800 lbs.) of Epsom Salts. The resultant high density allows ones body to float naturally and spontaneously without effort. Even the head floats. The center of buoyancy and the center of gravity of the head are in about the same place so you can tilt your head back comfortably without fear of sinking.
Due to the high salt levels in the water, the flotation tank creates a zero gravity environment. Unless you are an astronaut the flotation tank is the only situation you will encounter where your body is free from gravity. NASA employs flotation to stimulate weightlessness. Zero gravity allows you to relax every single muscle, your neck, arms, back, and even ears. The tank enables you to find those areas you are holding tense so you can let go. Finding where gravity is and in which direction, then computing how you can move and not fall over, takes about 90% of your brains activity on a daily basis. When you start to float you are free from all the gravity computations and the physical world, which leaves the brain free to attend to other matters. The tank creates a state of sensory relaxation as the mind and body are shielded from all the external stimulation. The brains normal workload is reduced by up to 90%. In this situation, the body conserves energy and has a chance to heal and rejuvenate itself.
Floating in darkness allows areas of the brain which are always in use when awake to be liberated from their work. Tests have shown that there is a drop in electrical activity of the brain and you begin to generate theta brain waves, which are associated with deep relaxation. The darkness during floating also induces a balance between the left and right brain. There is a shift from the normally dormant left side of the brain (logical, analytical, rational) to the right side (intuition, mental clarity and creativity).
For the first time both sides of the brain are in harmony and the balance creates allows you to use huge amounts of previously unavailable brainpower.
One of the major sources of stimulation in humans is the temperature gradient change on the surface of the body. Temperature inside the float tank is isothermal over the surface of the body so that the nerve endings covering the surface of the skin no longer perceive a separation between the skin and the solution inside the tank.
The flotation tank is soundproof. During floating, you may choose to wear earplugs, your ears are below the surface of the solution, which cuts out external sounds.
Excerpt from FLOAT FOR HEALTH
Flotation has been in the news everywhere. In the present age, more and more people are becoming conscious and aware of their wellness.
In Europe, Flotation is a norm of life for everyone, from business people, students, moms to be and sports personalities, they are all frequent visitors of their favorite floating center. They use Flotation as a practice towards a healthy lifestyle.
From local news to CNN International news give cheers to Floating towards good health.
When you get to the tank, open the door just to feel the weight of it. It is very light. If you close the door while inside the tank, it is completely dark and that may be disorienting. When you get in and before you lie down, open and close the door several times, noticing how it feels different from the other surfaces . If you try to open the door and it doesn’t open, it’s not the door.
Many people have some fear or concern before they use the tank the first time. Fears such as being alone in the dark, drowning, not having enough air, claustrophobia, and others. The fears are usually the thought or the idea that YOU won’t be in control of the situation, but in this situation you are totally in control. You can go in and out of the tank as you please. You can use the tank with the door completely open, you can keep it partially open, or you can close it. There is no particular way to use the tank that is more correct than another. Any way you use it, that is comfortable for you, is correct
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