FALL FOR FLOATING
Floating removes you from the outside world and gives your mind the freedom to wander wherever it wants to go. When you float, you don’t have anything you need to do.
There’s nothing you need to work on.
You have a space where you can lie down, removed from the pressure of thinking, discussing, or participating in anything at all. It’s an environment that exists almost completely opposite our current plugged-in, sensory-driven way of life.
In a float tank, you have the opportunity to be more mindful than pretty much any other environment in the world.
Make a mental note of how you’re feeling right now. Now, use the next 30 seconds to try this – you can have your eyes open or closed:
How do you feel? How does that compare to how you felt beforehand? Odds are you feel better after spending 30 seconds focusing on your breath and where you hold tension. Bringing passive awareness to your state of being reconnects your body and mind and can help remove the physiological effects from the outside world, which can often be stressful.
This, more or less, is mindfulness (although it’s definitely more complicated than this).
It can be summed up as paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental manner. It’s one of the fundamental ideas behind much of Buddhist meditation. It seems absurdly simple, especially when looking at the many benefits attributed to it.
For the past thirty years or so, researchers have been looking more closely into what mindfulness is and why it works so well for us. There are two main components to mindfulness exercises from a clinical perspective: self-regulation of attention and orientation to experience. It can sound a bit technical, but they are pretty easy to understand concepts when they’re broken down.
Much of mindfulness relies on the passive observation of where your attention is focused and maintaining that attention on the present moment. When you pay attention to your breathing and what your body is doing, you’re keeping your mind focused on only things that exist and are affecting you in the current moment.
Many people assume that in order to do mindfulness “successfully”, you have to prevent yourself from thinking, but that isn’t true. Being mindful simply means you acknowledge whatever thoughts arise before returning your focus to your state of being in the present moment. It can be surprisingly difficult to maintain this over long periods of time, but maintaining a lack of attention to your thoughts allows them to flow freely and places you firmly in the present.
This idea is a little more nebulous, but it builds off of what was already discussed. This is what you’d think of as “being present” in mindfulness practices.
All those experiences that you feel and the thoughts you have occur and you pass them by. You don’t pass judgement on any thoughts or feelings. You don’t assign guilt to what you’re doing or not doing. Everything that occurs to you is equally worthy of your curiosity and consideration.
If you look at these two elements of mindfulness, it might seem like a nice way to relax or a good way to organize your thoughts – it can be difficult to imagine just how impactful it is to place yourself in this state of being present. While it certainly isn’t a magic spell that can erase all the negativity you feel.
When you make mindfulness a habit, it starts to change how you live your life in subtle ways. It makes it easier to take control over your own behavior and moods, which in turn helps you focus on how you’re feeling. With proper focus, it can also help you build coping mechanisms for day-to-day stress, reducing the negative impact it can have on your life. This can help reduce the severity of stress-related anxiety disorders and depression, as well as manage chronic pain, improve creativity, and generally improve a person’s quality of life.
While this sub-headline sounds like a vocal warmup, it’s also a good way to make mindfulness a habit. Mindfulness is often associated with meditation, and floating is often described as “meditation with training wheels.” Floating makes the benefits of mindfulness much more accessible to people who may find meditation difficult to get into. It also enhances the meditative experience for people who are well-practiced in meditation.
It makes sense. Most often, when people describe problems with meditation, they mention that they were distracted by… something. Floating is the ultimate distraction remover!
It’s not just about distractions, either: being in a float tank feels safe. Not only can nothing bother you, but everything that is stressful or dangerous is outside of the float environment. That gives you room to breathe and relax, which in turn helps nurture exactly the type of thinking that mindfulness is trying to cultivate.
We’re still learning about mindfulness as well as floating, and there’s still a lot we don’t know. We can say fairly confidently, however, that mindfulness seems to go way up in the daily lives of people who float. Meaning, when you hear about the benefits of mindfulness, you’re also hearing about the benefits of floating.
So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, creatively blocked, or like your anxiety is ramping up, it might just mean that it’s time to go float yourself.
Are you ready to step away from the world for an hour and jump in a float room?
Even without the existential malaise of living through a global crisis, our modern way of life tends to exert a lot of pressure on most people. As mental health research evolves, it’s become apparent that what we call “stress” can actually cause a lot of health problems; not just physical problems like heart disease and high blood pressure (although those are certainly significant), but also mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and eating disorders.
Finding ways to recharge is more important than it’s ever been, but there’s a healthy amount of skepticism about alternative wellness practices, with floating being no exception. So how can we be sure floating is as helpful as it claims to be?
Simple. We follow the science!
There was a recent Tedx Talk by a well-known scientist, Dr. Justin Feinstein from the Laureate Institute of Brain Research, who shared some of his research findings of the effects of floating on stress. What’s so incredible about this research is that every single person who participated in it experienced some amount of stress relief, with most people experiencing a significant reduction in their stress levels that lasted for more than a full 24 hours after a single session.
24 hours is a pretty long time for any given treatment to work. Just think: if there was a pill that would make you virtually stress-free for a whole day, who wouldn’t want that? While floating isn’t quite as easy as taking a pill, the benefits of it seem even more significant than most available anti-anxiety treatments. Not to mention, you don’t have to worry about things like interactions with other medications or other negative contraindications.
Dr. Feinstein has been studying people with stress-related illnesses like PTSD, depression, and anxiety, and what he’s finding is that people who have the highest levels of stress before floating experience the largest benefit. Basically, everyone who floated returned to a baseline level of relief so no matter how anxious you are, floating is going to bring you down to a similar level of relaxation as everyone else.
This is all really fascinating, but how does it work? Is it truly as simple as sitting in the dark and not thinking about anything for an hour or more? It looks like it.
Floating allows our minds and bodies to slow down, gives us the ability to recharge more quickly, and puts our brains in a more dreamlike state. The solitude of a float, where we know we can’t be bothered by the outside world, is a massive destresser that is surprisingly difficult to find elsewhere.
To help illustrate this point, let’s move from science to history. There’s a psychologist named Peter Suedfeld who did a lot of groundbreaking research into “sensory deprivation” back in the 60s and 70s. Dr. Suedfeld’s work didn’t focus on float tanks (at first) but instead involved placing people in completely dark rooms in total isolation for 24 hours or more at a time. He called this process REST (Restricted Environment Stimulation Therapy).
At the time, psychologists were very misinformed about sensory deprivation — they essentially thought it was torture. Previous research was incomplete, and the methods that researchers used were suspect at best. They would prime subjects to bad outcomes before the experiment even began; focusing on negative side effects in their introduction. The experiments themselves involved exposure to constant harsh lights and loud noises — which doesn’t exactly sound like sensory deprivation, does it? Dr. Suedfeld thought that it was possible to take a different approach and get a positive effect. And he was right.
Dr. Suedfeld focused on keeping subjects at ease and making the process simple for anyone participating. What his research found was that instead of feeling like it was torture, people actually enjoyed the sensory deprivation experience! The subjects felt it was relaxing and beneficial. One participant even tried to sneak in multiple times under different names to repeat the experience!
Over the years, he found out that there was a positive potential benefit to REST in many areas: addiction treatment, helping people with autism, enhancing creativity, and, of course, reducing stress. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that there are entire groups of people who choose to live in total darkness for months at a time and say they find it peaceful.
This research was foundational for the future of float tanks and helped to key in early on to the benefits of floating and reducing stress. In fact, back in the 80s and 90s, scientists started calling it “Floatation REST” and referring to the dark rooms that Dr. Suedfeld used as “Chamber REST”.
Since then, scientific understanding of sensory reduced environments has only grown, and in the age of information, the benefits of isolation run in stark contrast to how we live our day-to-day lives. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a day in the dark to experience the benefits — we’re learning now that Float REST can provide similar benefits in just a single session (though of course, the longer you can float, the better).
In his talk, Dr. Feinstein notes how we aren’t designed to be constantly plugged in and looking at screens all day, listening to cars driving by, or dealing with the glare of fluorescent lights non-stop. Neither were we supposed to be constantly thinking about what we have to do next, fit a full 8-hour workday on top of raising families, going to school, and being a part of our communities.
Even when we enjoy these things, they can wear us out and add to the stress of our daily lives. Taking a break can give us a reset button, and floating has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to do that.
Click the RESET button to book your float today!
We are all trying to learn and adjust our lives to living with an ongoing pandemic. An understanding of which activities will put us at risk of getting the virus and which activities are safer to do is critical. In addition, many of us are also struggling to maintain our mental health.
Float Therapy has been shown to be extremely helpful in stress relief by lowering cortisol, calming the fight-or-flight response, and raising endorphins.
We also need a strong immune system to guard against infections or reduce their impact on our bodies. During a float we are actually boosting our immune system. This is a very good reason for maintaining a regular floating routine.
Learn more about Floating, aka Sensory Deprivation.
First, we follow all the guidelines provided by the Health Department and CDC.
In addition to the standard guidelines above, we also are concerned with Water Safety. The question of transmission of the virus through the float water is unique to this industry. This, as it turns out, is also an easy one. Coronavirus is not a water-borne and our float solution contains 1,000 lbs of Epsom Salts which is a natural disinfectant killing germs and viruses.
We have already been using UV light to treat the float water multiple times between float clients. According to Jim Malley, an internationally known expert in ultraviolet light and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of New Hampshire “UV light, more specifically germicidal UV or far UVC, can be very effective at inactivating viruses, bacteria and other human pathogens and if properly designed and operated can be a successful application for disinfecting PPEs, surgical instruments, air and water”*
Given the increased stress and anxiety that we are all enduring along with our need to stay safe from this virus, Float Therapy has never been more needed than it is today. If you’ve never floated before, it’s time to stick a toe in…well maybe more than a toe?. Book a float today!