Sensory deprivation tanks have gained traction over the past decade. Although this therapeutic technology is just popping up on most people’s radar, float tanks have been around for sixty-five years. Floating offers mental and physical healing to some of its users. In the constantly growing field of holistic healing, there is a plethora of therapies, supplements and natural approaches that can be utilized to maintain or maximize optimal health. There is no shortage of competition in the holistic industry, and floating continues its rise in popularity because it is helping people feel better. If you are curious about trying out any of these therapies from acupuncture to floating, there are two things to always keep in mind. The first rule is to follow your gut instinct. It is important to approach these treatments with an open mind and to make your own decisions about how they make you feel. Push the data and research aside and simply see if it works for you. If you notice benefits that help further your health journey, then who has the right to tell you anything else? Secondly, it’s also okay if something doesn’t work out the way you were hoping. As you continue to break new ground and try new things, it is important to understand that everyone is different and there are a million different ways to find solutions. What works for you may not work for your friend and we are fortunate to have so many options out there. If you aren’t seeing any benefits, keep searching until you find something that works for you. Every day, more people are turned onto the concept of floating and its healing qualities. There is a reason these isolation tanks are showing up all over the place.
Sensory deprivation tanks, also known as isolation or float tanks, were designed to neutralize all senses and stimulation from the body and mind, allowing the body to lower stress and relax physically and mentally. This is done using a tank filled with eight to ten inches of salt water, which is heated to skin temperature. The tanks also filter out all light and sound in order to calm all senses and let the mind and body rest with no external distractions. On average, a float tank is filled with eight hundred pounds of Epsom salt, allowing the body to float with ease, producing a feeling of weightlessness. Additional benefits come from simply submersing the body in the Epsom salt, which has helped reduce inflammation and pain in some while floating. Since the water is neither hot or cold to the skin, after a short period of time it no longer feels like you are even submerged in water and your body and mind are now free to go. This is when the healing begins.
John C. Lilly invented the isolation tank in 1954. At the time, Lilly was training in psychoanalysis at the United States National Institute of Mental Health when putting together the first float tank. The tanks were used off and on, mostly in research settings, for the next few decades but never really caught on with the general public. In 1980, floating made a cameo in the movie Altered States. The United States saw a short renaissance but again, the therapy failed to hang in the limelight for long enough and disappeared until roughly 2010. Europe has embraced float tanks a little more since their invention but up until recently, they have more or less remained mysterious and underground for the majority of us. From 2010 on, floating has seen a slow but consistent rise in popularity and continues to grow as more people understand and benefit from its therapeutic effects. Float tanks can be found all over the country in float centers, gyms and spas, as well as at home. New technology has made floating an affordable and easy option at home and with this, float therapy should be here to stay.
An average float lasts between one to two hours. Once you are settled in the tank and your body and mind start to settle, sensory deprivation tanks work by lowering the body’s stress response. This helps to completely quiet the mind and induces a state of deep relaxation. Floating is effective in treating stress related symptoms and pain. As you continue to acclimate and settle in, your heart rate and blood pressure are restored to proper levels. Breathing slows and the body experiences a deep, unobstructed period of rest. Even if you don’t fall asleep, most people feel refreshed and invigorated after completing a float. While a handful of people have reported experiencing a psychedelic experience, most describe mental clarity, peaceful feelings and a drop in overall stress. Any therapy or activity that helps reduce both mental and physical stress can be seen as a positive experience. Like other holistic therapies, it may take a few times before you realize all the benefits of floating. We live in a world of overstimulation and when you find yourself in an environment completely absent of any stimulation, it takes a bit of time to adapt. Once you allow yourself to let go during a float, cortisol levels drop and the nervous system calms down as well. Floating is an advanced therapy that can produce meditative states in those who haven’t practiced traditional meditation. It’s like jumping on the fast track to relaxation and stress reduction.
While some research continues to back up some of the claims being made, it’s no accident that floating continues to gain popularity. Most research backs up the claims that floating helps in alleviating stress-related problems. Lower your stress, let your body and mind rest and maybe find some resolution through quieting the mind. Floating looks like it is finally here to stay and its helping people manage stress as well as lowering pain in others. When a therapy or activity continues to gain popularity, it’s usually because it is working and it may be worth an hour of your time to experience floating. Do yourself a quick favor and search for your nearest float center and jump in a tank; the water is waiting to float you into optimal health.