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Understanding the Practice of Floatation Therapy

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Floatation therapy is a relatively new practice that has been rising in popularity due to its proven benefits. Also known as Floatation Therapy this form of treatment involves lying in a sensory deprivation tank, sometimes referred to as an isolation tank filled with salt water, for a given amount of time in order to allow the body to take a break from the constant stress of the world.

What is Floatation Therapy?

  • The Invention of Floatation Therapy

Floatation therapy in therapy was developed by Dr. John C Lily, a neuropsychiatrist who was interested in how sensory deprivation would affect the brain. While the idea of floatation therapy was first brought about by Dr. Lily, the float tank seen today was developed by two of his subjects, Glen and Lee Perry.  The first float tank available for commercial purposes appeared in 1972 and since then, it has become increasingly more popular around the world.

  • What is a Float Tank?

A float tank is essentially a large tub of water filled with salts and kept at a temperature similar to the one of the human body. All the salt in the water makes it so that a person can float on its surface effortlessly and relax without the pull of gravity. These tanks are generally located in private rooms so floaters can be at ease in their own company throughout the session.

  • How Does Floatation Therapy Work?

Floatation therapy works by creating a gravity-free environment that allows for the elongating of the spine, the relaxation of the muscles, and limiting the patient’s stimuli intake to reduce stress. The isolated environment promotes a sense of tranquility that decreases stress hormones, and the body and mind enter a relaxed state akin to sleep. The salts used in floatation therapy nourish the skin and hair and also contribute to lessening muscle pain by preventing inflammation in the joints and muscles.

Benefits of Floatation Therapy

  • Health Benefits

The calming effects of floatation therapy have been shown to strengthen the immune system and improve healing abilities, which is likely linked to how floatation therapy allows for better sleeping. Another notable health benefit of this form of treatment is that it improves blood circulation, and this is also due to the anti-gravity environment of a floatation tank. Studies have also shown floatation therapy’s ability to treat chronic pain by promoting the production of the body’s pain-reducing endorphins.

Floatation therapy is an excellent form of treatment for weary minds and bodies plagued by stress. Most are faced with a constant barrage of stimuli every day, which creates an increased amount of stress that can be hard to deal with.

When floating, hormones related to stress, namely cortisol and adrenaline, are replaced with dopamine and endorphins that induce positive feelings. Floatation therapy’s hand in reducing stress means that it also helps reduce the likelihood of a patient suffering from a stress-related disease, such as hypertension, ulcers, and high blood pressure to name a few.

Beyond having been proven to help combat stress, floatation therapy has been proven to help with the treating of psychological issues such as depression and PTSD by providing an immensely calming environment.

The salt involved in floatation therapy, Epsom salt, has healing effects of its own. Epsom salt, alternatively called magnesium sulfate provides floaters with the mineral magnesium, which is a mineral many should be getting more of. This salt has the ability to reduce muscle soreness and chronic pain, exfoliate the skin, and improve the health of hair and skin.

Epsom salt is also known for its properties that draw out lactic acids after intense workouts, so athletes looking to increase the intensity of their training regimens could certainly benefit from this type of treatment. On top of being what allows the floating part of floatation therapy to happen, Epsom salts contribute greatly to floaters feeling refreshed after finishing a session.

  • Improved Brain Functioning

Floatation therapy has been shown to improve cognitive functions by helping the two halves of the brain work better together. In a similar vein, floatation therapy also improves creativity, which makes it ideal for artists who have found themselves stuck in a rut.

When the brain is not busy processing so much information from the surrounding world, it is able to explore other areas linked to advanced learning, creativity, and visualization. This occurs when the brain has entered the “theta state,” which is a state normally only reachable through sleep or deep mediation. In this dream-like state the mind is able to wander, which can lead to the birth of many new, great ideas.

Preparing for a Float Session

How often someone should partake in floatation therapy depends largely on their lifestyle and needs. Those who lead extremely stressful lives are encouraged to float more often, and many who enjoy floatation therapy choose only to float before or around special occasions where the extra relaxation could be used, for instance before a job interview or when one is sick.

It pays to go into a floatation therapy session prepared because that will allow for the greatest amount of benefit. Eating a small meal but avoiding caffeine is recommended to minimize any possibilities of discomfort one might encounter in an isolation tank. Sessions are often around an hour, so avoiding any kind of annoyance would be in a floater’s best interests. Shaving or any activity that might lead to a cut in the skin’s surface before floating is advised against because floatation therapy takes place in saltwater, and therefore any cuts will burn.

The benefits of floatation therapy are cumulative, therefore the more often the floating the better one is likely to feel.


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