Maybe you’ve heard of floatation therapy or REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulus therapy) aka Sensory Deprivation – which is an entirely inaccurate term, but for the sake of SEO, it’s still used. Perhaps you listened to Joe Rogan (actor) or Steph Curry (NBA MVP) rave about it, or maybe you’ve seen that episode of Stranger Things where the kids created a makeshift float tank out of an inflatable pool and a lot of table salt.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the positive effects: how floating induces deep relaxation, alleviates stress and reduces pain.
A lot of people you respect seem to be doing it and getting great results.
Yet, you still doubt you can even get yourself into a float tank, much less close the door and stay inside for an hour and a half.
You’re not alone. Having concerns about floating is common. But, they are also misconceptions that will change your mind.
This is the first of a 3-part blog series dedicated to the new floater. In part 2, we’ll cover preparing for your first float, and in part 3 we’ll discuss the learning curve and accumulating benefits of floating.
So, let’s look at three misconceptions that hold people back from using this effective form of therapy.
1. “I could never get into a sensory deprivation tank. I’m claustrophobic.”
This is probably the most common fear that stops people from starting. To dispute this concern, let’s look at claustrophobia and floatation tanks.
Claustrophobia is defined as an, “extreme fear of confined spaces,” especially feeling trapped and suffocated.
But, in a floatation tank, you’re completely safe and in control of your environment. The tank is a safe, well-ventilated space that’s easy to exit. The feeling is more like being in comfortable bed in a quiet room, except add in the sensation of weightlessness.
The tank door pushes open easily from the inside and there’s no latch that could lock you in. It doesn’t exist, so it’s impossible to be accidentally locked in.
Plus, fresh oxygen circulates into and out of the tank through a ventilation system, ensuring that you won’t feel suffocated.
So, the fears of being trapped or suffocated are unfounded. But, humans don’t respond rationally, especially when fear is involved. What we do trust, however, is our experience.
So, if you’re interested in floating and believe you can benefit from its relaxing effects but fear a claustrophobic response, follow this 3-step progression that’ll make the transition to sensory deprivation more gradual.
1. First, leave the tank door completely open. Step into the tank and stand there with your upper body outside the door and lower body inside the tank. Once that feels comfortable, you can kneel in the tank with your head still outside the door. Finally, once you’re comfortable doing that, you can lay in the tank with the door still open. Get comfortable and familiarize yourself with the new sensation of floating. Once you’re comfortable and are ready for more, you can move onto step 2.
2. Close the door nearly all the way, leaving it propped open with a small towel or pool noodle. We provide these at Float House. Get used to how it feels with less light and get comfortable for a few more minutes. If this is all you can manage on this float it’s fine. But, if you’re comfortable, you can move onto step 3.
3. Close the door completely. Notice that in total darkness, there’s no point of reference to tell where the walls are. You do not feel confined. Focus on the feeling of simultaneous nothingness and expansion, and continue by focusing on your breathing.
You can even leave the door open the entire time if you don’t feel comfortable with the door closed. But, it’s important to know that the water is heated to body temperature and leaving the tank door open for an extended period will cause it to cool down. For your own comfort and for the best experience, we recommend keeping the door open for a maximum of 10 minutes.
Once you’re in the tank with the door closed, you’ll notice you cannot tell where the walls begin and end. Most of our guests who felt initial apprehension due to claustrophobia have reported that lacking this point of reference creates a sense of expansiveness in the tank, rather than confinement, and had no trouble adjusting to the tank.
2. “90 minutes of doing nothing in the dark? That’s way too long, I’ll get bored.”
Laying in the dark for an hour and a half goes against the value our society places on efficiency and productivity. But taking into account the restfulness and revitalization that come with floating, wouldn’t a regular floating practice prepare us more to take on challenges?
Feeling tired, stressed, and overstimulated are common symptoms of fast-paced lifestyles that glorify “busy” and are littered by endless binging devices.
All outside distractions are removed in the float tank, which creates an environment of sensory deprivation. There’s no light in the tank and therefore no visual stimuli. You’re floating nude in body temperature, Epsom saltwater solution, which leads you to uncertainty about where your body ends and the water begins, thus removing your sense of touch.
For 90 minutes, you’re eased out of daily overstimulation, which creates relaxation. Your brain naturally produces theta brain waves while floating. The theta state is associated with increased creativity, memory recall, learning, inspiration, insight, and decreased levels of stress and anxiety.
Theta waves are normally produced by the brain right before falling asleep, or right as we awaken, before we are fully conscious. But, these moments don’t last very long, because the moment we reach the theta state we either fall asleep or wake up. Scientists also found that the theta state is achieved by Buddhist monks practicing long periods of deep meditation.
Thankfully, you’re no longer limited to the fleeting theta state between wakefulness and sleep, and neither do you have to practice Zen meditation for 20 years to achieve it.
You can achieve the theta state for a long period and benefit from its stress relieving, anxiety reducing, creativity boosting, endorphin producing benefits by using sensory deprivation as a tool. Granted, it does take a little while to, “quiet the monkey mind,” when you begin floating, which is why our floats are 90 minutes long. We’ve designed the sessions to ensure you get into the theta state and stay long enough to get the benefits.
The, “post-float glow” lasts for a few days after the float. During this time you can expect to feel well-rested, relieved from stress, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle challenges.
Creating space 90 minutes of nothingness takes the edge off the daily stresses and gives you more mental space for creativity, innovation and yes, productivity.
3. “What if I fall asleep, turn over and drown? What if I can’t float?”
You might fall asleep in the float tank, but you don’t have to worry about turning over and drowning. You are laying on your back in a solution of water with 900 pounds of Epsom salt, floating effortlessly.
There are no pressure points that make you feel the need to turn over. Plus, the water is very shallow, only 10 inches, and the amount of salt in the water makes it physically impossible not to float. It’s not like swimming in water where you expend energy to stay above water.
Floating in this saline solution makes you feel weightless, removing pressure and relieving strain from the muscles, bones, and joints while magnesium is absorbed through your skin, decompressing your joints and improving blood circulation, aiding your body’s ability to ease muscle pain.
You Can Rest Easy and Comfortably use Floatation Therapy
The 3 above-mentioned concerns are the most common fears for beginning floaters. As you can see, each of them is unfounded.
Claustrophobia doesn’t occur in the tank because there are no visible points of reference while in sensory deprivation.
90 minutes may seem like a long time to ‘do nothing,’ but it’s just the right time to allow you to reach the theta state and reap the accompanying benefits. Time becomes irrelevant in the tank and the bliss experienced during this time of rest is far from boredom.
Lastly, you may fall asleep in the tank, but you certainly won’t turn over and drown because there are no pressure points that will make you want to shift positions in your sleep.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Preparing For Your First Float.
Use to promo code "recovery" to receive and 20% on a single Float! Book Here.
Written by Robbi Ave