Close your eyes and picture this: You’re floating effortlessly in a tranquil sea of warm water, where gravity loses its grip, and your body and mind drift off into a serene abyss. Welcome to the relaxing world of floatation therapy! Come with me as I immerse myself (literally) into an isolated world of weightlessness, solitude, and silence, all while bobbing like a cork in a pool of saltwater.
What is floatation therapy?
Floatation therapy, also known as sensory deprivation therapy or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), involves floating in a tank filled with water that has been saturated with Epsom salt. The buoyancy created by the salt allows you to float effortlessly. The water is heated to skin temperature, which can help you to lose track of where your body ends and the water begins, while the tank is designed to eliminate all external stimuli, including light, sound, and touch. This all leads to a deep state of relaxation.
Floatation Therapy is built on the principle of sensory deprivation. By reducing external stimuli, the brain can enter a deeply relaxed state known as the theta state, which is typically only achieved during deep meditation or the moments before falling asleep. This altered state of consciousness can lead to profound relaxation, mental clarity, and enhanced creativity. Floatation therapy has been around since the 1950s, but it has recently gained popularity due to its many benefits.
Benefits of Floatation Therapy
The benefits of floatation therapy are numerous, and it has been found to improve athletic performance, enhance creativity, and even alleviate symptoms of depression.
Effects on Stress Hormones
One of the primary effects of floatation therapy is a decrease in the production of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. This reduction in cortisol levels contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing, reduced anxiety, and an improved ability to cope with stressors.
During a floatation session, the body is suspended in the water, which can help alleviate muscle tension and promote relaxation. This weightless environment enables the muscles to fully unwind, leading to reduced inflammation and improved circulation.
Floatation therapy has been shown to be effective in alleviating various types of pain, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and joint-related discomfort. The reduction of gravitational force on the body allows the spine and joints to decompress, providing relief from pain and promoting healing.
Consistent floatation therapy sessions can improve sleep quality by reducing stress hormones and promoting relaxation. This can be especially beneficial for individuals suffering from insomnia or other sleep-related disorders.
Reduced Anxiety and Stress
Floatation therapy can have a significant impact on mental health by reducing anxiety and stress levels. The sensory deprivation environment allows the mind to enter a calm state, providing a respite from the constant barrage of external stimuli.
The deeply relaxed state achieved during floatation therapy can stimulate creativity and innovative thinking. Many artists, musicians, and writers have reported enhanced creative abilities following floatation sessions, as their minds are free to explore new ideas without the constraints of everyday distractions.
Enhanced Focus and Concentration
The tranquility experienced during floatation therapy can improve focus and concentration, making it easier to tackle complex tasks and problem-solving. This mental clarity can extend beyond the floatation session, positively impacting productivity and performance in various aspects of life.
My floatation therapy experience
At 8 months pregnant, I’ve struggling to get a good nights sleep and finding my body getting heavier and heavier. Throw in a bit of anxiety about the incoming arrival, an hour floating away my worries and relaxing my body sounded ideal. So I went along to Drift Float Therapy in Dublin for my first ever floatation experience.
After filling out a detailed consultation form, I’m shown to my private room, with shower and floatation pod. I wasn’t too sure what to expect, if it would be cold and clinical looking or full on hippy dippy with incense everywhere but the room is tastefully designed with just the right amount of spa inspired décor.
Looking like a giant clam, The floatation tank appeared more welcoming than I’d expected. After ain depth explanation of what to do and how to escape the pod (don’t worry you just open the door, plus theres an easy accessed alarm) I’m left to float my stresses away.
I take the required shower and pop in the ear plugs before entering the water. I expected it to be warmer as I love a hot bath but it is heated specifically to the temperature of your skin so it felt a bit cooler than im use to. I take few moments to get my barings, with my bum on the bottom, the water comes up to my waist, so it doesn’t feel like I’m out of my depth. I emerge myself in the water and started floating instantly. It’s kind of crazy how my body cannot help but float right to the top. I then close over the “hatch” which you can opt to keep open if your feeling claustrophobic.
The lights gently change to different colours and spa type music plays for a few minutes before tapering off. Then you can turn off the lights to do nothing but float away your stress in the dark. It felt amazing to have the weight taken off my poor joints. I’d been given one of those pool noodles, which I pop under my hips and gives me more support.
As my physical body relaxed, my mind began to race, which is the usual reaction whenever I try anything relaxing. Like most mindfullness practices I concentrate on my breath and bring it back every time it wanders off to the never ending to do before the baby comes list. After 15, 20 minutes you begin to lose the perception of where your body ends and the water begins.
Your brain is usually focused on the tactile nature of what your skin is touching. In the float tank, that part of your brain doesn’t have anything to do, so the brain slows down and becomes very quiet. No visual input. And being soundproof as well, there’s no audible input. So that means your brain can kind of take a break.
From my bit of research into floatation experience one point sticks out that most people have not spent time without sight, sound, and feeling since leaving the womb. So after a while I float into a semi concisous state with the nice thought of I’m feeling what my baby is feeling.
I like the way the session starts off with the relaxing music and lights, helping to ease you into the experience. Getting into a pitch black tank, would a be too much. Indeed the darkness may be too much for some but you can easily reach out to find the switch for the lights if you don’t like it.
Unfortunately, after a while (no idea how long, maybe 40 minutes) I start to get uncomfortable lying on my back, and not matter what position I try I can’t seem to float comfortably. So I just sit there and do the occasional stretch till the spa music starts to fade in, signalling the end of the session. I’ve also started to get a bit cold, your body temperature can be a bit higher when pregnant so this could be the reason.
I take a shower again to wash off all the salt and I loved using the Voya toiletries, a nice touch to end the experience. Even though I wasn’t able to do the full hour, I did enjoy my experience and having the weight of my heavy body eased was heavenly. I felt just a bit lighter and a lot more chilled leaving.
While floatation therapy isn’t for everyone, if you are looking for a way to destress and aren’t too claustophobic it’s a powerful tool to improve your overall well-being.
A 60 minute floatation session at Drift therapy is 60 euro and they also offer salt cave and infared sauna treatments which are ideal to add on to boost your wellbeing.
What are thoughts? Would you try floatation therapy? Let me know in the comments below.