Flotation tanks isolate us from all external stimulation by blocking out sound, light, and touch.
When all outer distractions are removed our senses are disabled, so the only thing that is being stimulated is our conscious mind. There is nothing to hear, see or feel so our mind is free to explore the areas that are usually suppressed or forgotten.
Flotation tanks were originally called sensory deprivation tanks, and were developed in 1954 by neuroscientist Dr. John C. Lilly, who also studied dolphin communication. Lilly’s purpose for creating them was so to find out what kept the brain stimulated when all external stimuli was disconnected.
These tanks are highly recommended for anyone who is highly sensitive to their environment as all external stimuli is removed so that the body and mind can fully balance, relax and heal aches and pains. We can also achieve absolute peace and serenity.
With the only thing to focus on being our breathing, our brainwave pattern shifts from our waking state, to beta then onto alpha brainwaves. From there we can enter into theta waves. Theta is the type of brainwave that is usually associated with advanced levels of meditation and this state is achievable within the very first flotation session. Although we are in a deep state of relaxation, the brain remains alert, offering reflection while also improving mental clarity.
We can then enter into a dream-like state similar to one that is achieved just before we go to sleep. It is believed that two hours in a flotation tank gives the same benefits that we would receive from an eight-hour sleep.
Epsom salt is added to the water to simulate zero gravity, which increases buoyancy and allows the body to rise to the surface to replicate the feeling of floating in mid-air. We achieve a comfortable sensation of weightlessness and this helps the brain to relax as we use a large amount of our brain’s energy to cope with gravity.
The water is set to skin temperature so that it is difficult to distinguish between the water and our physical being.
There is no dependence on the outer environment as all external energy sources are disconnected. Therefore, the stimuli to our brain is isolated so the brain has the opportunity to decelerate.
The effect that is created deprives us of all our vital senses so that our brain does not have to work hard to process information. This enables the logical side of our brain to to relax and slow down so it can harmonize with our creative side.
We can fully relax and enable our mind to drift into a state of “nothingness” or we can remain alert and consciously infuse our subconscious with inspirational thoughts, creativity, introspection, insight or positive affirmations. When we are at our most relaxed state, the subconscious is better able to absorb data.
Our imagination and visualization abilities are also heightened.
Studies have shown that heart rate and blood pressure are lowered which dramatically reduces the release of anxiety and stress related chemicals in the body.
While we are cocooned in the tank, “feel-good” endorphins are released which encourage a general overall feeling of wellbeing and they are also provide natural pain relief.
Flotation tanks offer a unique and profound experience where we can be alone with our mind and quickly cross between the conscious path to the unconscious. It evokes a myriad of sensations, thoughts and inner and outer explorations, that depend entirely on how we are feeling at each present moment during the experience.
During any period where there may be higher than normal levels of anxiety or stress, a flotation experience can be the perfect antidote to calm, soothe and relax the body and mind.
We can either have a one off experience in a tank, or book again for repeated visits. Every session will be entirely different depending on what is taking place in our lives (and minds) at that current time.
Flotation tanks not only alleviate aches and pains, they also reduce anxiety, stress, tension and fatigue as our heart rate settles into a gentle, natural rhythm enabling us to receive emotional, mental and physical therapy all at the same time.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May