The Ultimate Life-Hack: Floatation Therapy
Sometimes life gives out little gifts. Sometimes it gives out big ones. When John C. Lilly slapped together his first makeshift floatation tank in 1954, life indeed handed out a big one.
For those that have never heard of floatation therapy, here’s a quick primer: It takes place in a pod called a floatation tank. In the tank, a person gets naked and lays down, immersing themselves in a foot of water that holds nearly a thousand pounds of dissolved Epsom salt. The massive amount of salt causes the body to float on the surface of the water. The lid of the tank is then closed and with it, an environment is created in which there is no light, sound, smell or external physical sensation due to the water being heated to body temperature.
Because the water suspends a body on the surface, the only requirement is for a person to just relax and let the experience wash over them. An average float session lasts about an hour.
While this sounds pleasant enough, there are greater benefits to floatation therapy than bodily relaxation. Since 1954, users of float tanks have espoused many beneficial outcomes but only recently have those claims been studied and quantified.
When immersed in the tank, several things happen to the body and mind: stress is taken off the muscles and skeleton; the nervous system quiets down; the body doesn’t regulate temperature and the mind doesn’t process stimuli such as sight, sound and touch. With these loads taken off one’s systems, the body has an opportunity to engage in repair and rejuvenation, while at the same time, the mind can rest in a place of serenity and creativity.
In these conditions, many people have reported that their bodies, needing a few moments to adjust, create momentary false sensations. It is not uncommon to feel like one is drifting or rolling around in space, when in actuality, he or she is suspended completely motionless. Some people also swear they hear music or see lights and shapes for a brief period. These are imagined though, as their brains are only working to slow down and relax.
However, these are just anecdotal incidences. The real benefits occur once the body and mind let go and fully enter the experience. Most significantly is that the mind enters into an Alpha/Theta brain-wave pattern, which is something akin to what occurs during deep meditation. If one has never meditated, a similar situation is encountered in the moments right before falling asleep or waking up. Often these experiences are intensely relaxed yet marked by sharp mental clarity.
Solutions to the day’s problems instantly and effortlessly come to mind. Mental creativity runs rampant and as does bodily rejuvenation. During sleep however, these moments are fleeting. Meditation lasts but usually requires a practitioner to train for years to sustain long, beneficial periods. In a float tank, an hour of Alpha/Theta brain-wave activity is had just by laying there and doing nothing.
Over the past decade, research by major universities, studies by the military (including the Navy SEALs) and real world use by groups such as the Australian Olympic team have shown that floatation therapy generates results, such as:
- alleviation of stress and improvement of well being
- quicker recovery from sport and exercise fatigue
- faster recuperation from bodily injuries
- management of chronic pain
- easing of pregnancy related maladies
- overcoming insomnia and jet lag
- enhancement of creativity, mental clarity and cognitive ability
- meditative and spiritual experiences
Sessions are short and relatively inexpensive, costing in some instances as little as $20 per hour. After just a few consecutive appointments (sometimes sooner), benefits start to make themselves known.
While the above might sound like I’m being paid to shill for the float industry, I assure you that everything written here is out of personal experience, observation and the overwhelming desire to spread the word about these amazing devices.
It’s rare in life that things actually deliver the touted results; with float tanks, they really are what they’re cracked-up to be. They yield amazing health and wellness benefits with very little effort from the individual. The only catch though, is that the float industry in Canada is really just beginning. Float tanks are essentially only available in a few locations near major urban centres. The good news is that they’re spreading and hopefully in the near future, a floatation centre will open where you live. If you already live in a city with a float centre, then I highly suggest you check it out.
If you’ve tried floatation therapy yourself, please share your thoughts in the comments section. I’m sure you’ve got a great story to tell!
A list of Canadian floatation centres can be found here: Canadian Floatation Centres