Flotation Therapy: The Power of Natural Healing
Flotation therapy has grown increasingly popular among professional athletes, celebrities, and even high powered businesspeople. Wayne Rooney, Elle MacPherson, author Michael Crighton and even entire NFL football teams have used float therapy to advance themselves in their careers. All claim elevated athletic performance, enhanced creativity or simply the most powerful relaxation they have ever experienced. So what is it about Flotation that is making people around the world sing its praises?
Imagine a tank, bigger than a bath but smaller than a pool, filled with 350 kilograms of Epsom salt and about 15-30 centimeters of water heated to 34 - 35 degrees celsius, the same temperature as your skin. A sound-proof, light-proof room. One hour. You slide into the pool and the density of the salt allows your body to float, achieving a near-zero gravity state that, unless you’re an astronaut, is completely new. You are weightless. The darkness and silence blurs the lines between where your body ends and the water begins. The removal of external stimuli allows you to just be. Your mental chatter quiets, and focus on your breath and heart beat allow you to sink in and let go.
Floating in this state allows us to tune into our bodies - exclusively. Instead of being aware and monitoring how our bodies feel in the space around us, we tune into our internal processes. Scientists have shown that throughout the day, we dedicate 90% of our brain power to figuring out where gravity is, how to move and how to not fall over. When floating in a weightless state, the brain’s workload is reduced by up to 90%, giving our bodies the opportunity to conserve energy and heal itself. The amygdala - the part of our brains responsible for the fight-or-flight instinct - actually turns off, similar to the response our brains have when given powerful, and highly addictive, anti-anxiety medications. The brain’s electrical activity slows, switching from active alpha and beta brainwaves to the more passive theta waves, or the brainwaves that we experience just as we are falling asleep or about to wake.
Apart from relaxation and the time to heal, our body reaps countless other benefits from flotation. The removal of lactic acid is accelerated, giving our muscles time to rest and recover. Flow in the lymphatic system increases, blood pressure lowers and blood flows through our veins unrestricted. Research has shown that while floating, there is a natural reduction in cortisol levels, relieving us of tension and stress that we may have been holding onto. Our bodies also absorb magnesium from the salt. Although typically absorbed through the diet, in many areas around the world people are not getting enough magnesium from diet alone. Flotation allows our bodies to optimize the amount of magnesium in our systems, returning us to a balanced state.
The sensory deprivation experienced during flotation therapy can admittedly make anyone feel anxious for the first few minutes. This is a completely new experience, filled with new sensations, and perhaps the most removed you’ve ever felt from the outside world. But once we permit ourselves to let go, the possibilities for rejuvenation are endless. The simplest benefits are pain reduction, better sleep, and increased creativity. But flotation also allows us to achieve a deep meditative state. Individuals who report never before being able to silence their own mental chatter find that they can slip effortlessly into a deep state of meditation.
People have the ability to choose between a couple different types of flotation therapy. There is Passive Flotation, which is a simple sensory-deprivation session that allows the mind to rest. But many also choose to participate in Active Flotation. During these sessions, there can be music, guided meditations, mantras or even educational programs, with the belief that while the brain is in the theta state and deeply relaxed, the sounds and teachings in the room can seep into the subconscious.
Flotation therapy has grown increasingly popular around the world in the past few years. Many physical therapists recommend their patients float for an hour before any therapy session, ensuring their muscles are relaxed therefore making therapy sessions more effective. The deep state of relaxation and meditation is also promising as a treatment for those suffering from mental illnesses, from anxiety to PTSD.
We are lucky enough to have a Flotation Center just a short drive away. Opened in 2015, Aquarmony Brasov is Romania’s very first Flotation Center. Aquarmony is working to bring flotation therapy and benefits to Romania and the surrounding countries, believing in the power of floating to heal naturally.