Sensory deprivation tanks, Isolation tanks, Womb Room, Rest tanks (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) — all of these names have been used to describe what we know as the Floatation tank.
With most floatation tanks there is no feeling of being confined or claustrophobic as the tanks are generally spacious and have an internal light. The door of the tank works on a hydraulic system and can be left ajar or open, to ensure that the client is always at ease.
Floating can be described as a way of achieving the deepest state of relaxation that we can ever experience. It can be compared to a deep state of meditation. Lying suspended in a 25cm deep, warm, dense solution of Epsom salt ensures that the body can float effortlessly.
When floating, we lie with our face above the water. As the the ears are submerged, earplugs are used, resulting in surrounding noise being completely reduced. The arms float to the side, and as the air and water are the same temperature as the skin the feeling of a body boundary fades. The sense of smell is also reduced, especially if the water has not been treated with chlorine. The water is purified by using an ozone filter after each session.
The feeling of floating effortlessly eliminates the effects of gravity on the body. Gravity, which is estimated to occupy 90 percent of all central nervous system activity, is probably the single largest factor in human health problems — backache, aching feet, painful joints, and muscular tension that result from our unnatural upright posture. In the gravity free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. By freeing our brain and skeletal system from gravity, floating liberates vast amounts of energies and large areas of the brain to deal with matter of mind, spirit, and enhanced awareness of internal states.
One hour of floating has the restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep. During a float, the brain produces slower brain-wave patterns, known as theta waves. These are normally only experienced during deep meditation or just before falling asleep and are usually accompanied by vivid imagery, very clear, creative thoughts, sudden insights and inspirations or feelings of profound peace and joy, induced by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural up-lifters. Because of these effects, float tanks are used effectively in the treatment of depression and addictions, including smoking and alcohol.
The release of endorphins also plays an important role in the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, relief is immediate and, if used on a regular basis, can change the pattern of the cycle of pain.
Floating is an excellent way of relaxing during pregnancy as it is a safe and gently way of eliminating water retention and backache. Mothers to be can float right up until birth.
To experience the full benefits of floating, some people may need to float a few times before they are able to relax completely, both physically and mentally. Floating may provide an hour of total physical relaxation — or a profound healing experience – emotionally and spiritually. It can be a wonderful aid to opening doors into the inner world, gradually allowing access to those deeper levels at which real changes take place.