Full Spectrum Float- Sensory Deprivation and a Whole New World

 

People will go to many lengths these days to stay up-to-date on the next hyped-up fad in health and wellness, and I try not to fall victim to impulsively spending money on things that aren’t proven by science or at least experience. Floating was not really on my radar, and I, like most of you, had no frame of reference to what ‘floating’ even meant. I received a gift certificate for a local business that offers sessions in these salt water ‘pods’ by a family member who thought it had the potential to really benefit me. She knew that I occasionally suffer with holding lots of stress and tension in my body, manifesting itself in tight and sore muscles, loss of sleep and other bodily ailments that have accumulated over time. She claimed that this therapy had helped her reduce pain, completely relax and temporarily put her in an entirely other-wordly state.

Not sold, but curious, I did some research which I’ll lay out for you. Considered a sensory deprivation experience, floating in a magnesium saturated ‘tank’ of water, only about 10 inches deep, can have a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. It isn’t a new therapy, and has gained popularity over the last 15 or so years, but originated from an idea stemming from the effects people experienced from swimming in the Dead Sea- which obviously has been observed for centuries. Spanning from anxiety and depression relief, addiction and post traumatic stress disorder management, to improved sleep, alleviation of pain and injury recovery- the health benefits go on.

Floating in the pod is said to minimize cortisol production in the body, your stress hormone, which is the underlying cause of many bodily issues that may arise. Many sites claim that it can even strengthen your immune system, combat fibromyalgia, arthritis and reduce lactic acid in the blood to improve athletic performance. The abundance of resources freed up while floating allows the body to reallocate that energy towards building up our defenses, healing ailments and giving clients a nice boost of immunity and energy after a float. Many injuries are a result of stress and tension in the body during the moment of injury. Floating encourages a relaxed physicality that helps prevent injuries from occurring.

On a particularly sore and tired day, I decided to take a shot in the dark and try to schedule a last minute appointment for a float on an afternoon that happened to unexpectedly free up. I was able to sneak in, so I googled “what to do before you float” and quickly realized a  couple of major do’s and don’ts that apply to first time or repeat floaters. I made sure not to shave that day, the salt water could sting your pores and I also brought my glasses with as accidentally getting the water in your eyes could pose an issue for contact wearers.

 

When I arrived for my appointment, she had me fill out some paperwork, watch a floating 101 video and walked me through the basics once she escorted me to my floating room. Equipped with a full-wall shower and towel, you are required to shower before and after your float. There was the option of ear plugs if you have ear issues or were worried about having your head partially submerged. She also offered me a small donut shaped floatation pillow to put under my head to assist in the transition of fully relaxing during my float.

Even if you cannot float while you swim normally, it is impossible to not float with the density of the water in the pod. There is no effort or skill required, and it is the reduction of gravity gives you an essentially ‘weightless’ feeling. Many people also worry if they are claustrophobic that they will not be able to float, but I had zero issues with closing the lid and feeling safe and comfortable. There is always the option to get out at any time, or float with the lid of the pod propped open. Lights and music during your float are at your discretion, and I chose to have a small light on as well as quiet instrumental music, although I had earplugs in and my eyes shut nearly the entire hour.

I found it easy to relax almost immediately once starting my float, and I tried to focus on my breathing as the video and worker had encouraged me to. This experience definitely encourages personal development, and it can be a challenge for many to remain quiet and relax their minds for this long of a duration. I actually fell asleep periodically, although I was very aware of my body and mind activity at the same time. I only became anxious and restless mere minutes before the filter turned back on, signalling the end of my float. It was absolutely perfect timing, and I tried to remain reflective and mindful as long as I could to absorb as many benefits from the experience as I could.

They say that although it is possible to notice effects after one float, the benefits are cumulative and the more often and consistently you float the more you can see increased response from your mind and body. I would say I felt minimally ‘better’ after my float, but I would definitely not rule out trying again. I don’t think that I would be able to stand a 90 minute session yet, but working your way up to that could be a goal you set. There are many advantages to floating, and I am glad that I gave it a try. The mental aspect was definitely the most challenging for me, but it was not impossible and I would say that the relaxation and isolation was very appreciated as opposed to a typical hour in our busy, chaotic and loud world. Similar to the mental strain of meditation, quieting your mind can be much more of a test than we would like to admit. This environment was perfect for exploring that realm of internal pondering as you wean your senses off of their vices, free from all distractions. It is very literally a detoxification of your mind and body, and if nothing else I felt much more present and invigorated post-float.

Whether you are looking to spark creativity, challenge yourself mentally, improve your sleep, stress response, athletic performance or recovery or want to reduce pain and tend to other bodily ailments- I would recommend giving floating a try. Just like any treatment, every person will react differently and personally need to find what works for them. If this sparked your interest I encourage you to find a studio near you, do some research of your own and search out a more optimistic, stress and pain free, zen-ier you! Happy floating!

 

 

http://fullspectrumfloat.com/faq/

https://blog.bulletproof.com/health-benefits-floating/