Floating Benefits

Health Benefits of Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank- Backed By Science

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There is a lot information about the benefits of float tanks and sensory deprivation. After floating people claim they are less stressed, sleep better, more creative and all around feel better physically + mentally.

Sure, some of these benefits are real. However, when you start to take care of yourself in a way that you haven’t before, you feel better all-around.

For example, if you get a new gym membership you may start eating healthier, sleeping better, feeling more confident. Some of these benefits are actual results from the gym, but some of these are rollover effects because you started putting energy into taking care of yourself.     

In that sense, floating also has a lot of cumulative effects but what are the real health benefits?

There is a lot of research on the benefits of meditation, and we have always considered floating to be meditation on steroids. So there should be some crossover, right? The scientific benefits of meditation include decreased anxiety + depression, increased compassion + emotional intelligence, helps with emotion regulation, improves focus, memory + attention, etc (Seppala).

To see what crossover between meditation + floating, and to start uncovering the real benefits of floating, we first turned to Dr. Feinstein.

Dr. Feinstein is a clinical neuropsychologist and lab director at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research (http://www.laureateinstitute.org/justin-feinstein.html). His lab is dedicated to understanding how floating can help connect the body and the brain and reduce levels of depression, anxiety and anorexia, by using wireless and waterproof machinery to scan the body and brain during floats.

We had the chance to meet with Dr. Feinstein and his lab partners at the 2016 Float Conference, and listen to them speak at the 2017 Float Conference. They have tremendous amounts of research done on fear, anxiety, emotional awareness, memory and are continuously working to understand the biological and physical benefits floating has.

After looking at Dr. Feinstein’s research and other studies done on floating, we have compiled a list of the “scientific” benefits of floating:

 Want to learn more about the benefits of floating, where to float and how to get started with a regular practice? Start with our FREE  Float 101 mini course here . 

Want to learn more about the benefits of floating, where to float and how to get started with a regular practice? Start with our FREE Float 101 mini course here

 

Boosts Creativity

 In a study done by Norlander et al, two groups of people — floaters and non-floaters — were tested in visual logical puzzles, freeform brainstorming and standardized questions. At the end of the test it was found that the float group performed 50% more original in freeform brainstorming, but 30% slower in solving visual logical puzzles.


This suggests that floating may not improve one’s ability to think logically or problem solve, but the reduction in sensory stimulation can boost creativity by allowing your brain to full think freely. (Norlander et al)

Reduces Anxiety

Our bodies get an “anxious” feeling in response to our fight or flight signals. When needed, fight or flight helps us become alert, aware and on guard ready to protect ourselves from an outside threat. However, our world today has created a scenario in which many people’s fight or flight response is constantly running and people experience heightened levels of anxiety, panic and fear.

The Amygdala is a portion of your brain that responsible for controlling your fight or flight and your stress, fear and panic responses. Dr. Feinstein has done extensive research on floating affects the amygdala and found that, flotation and some anxiety medication have the same effect on the brain (Schumann).

Likewise, Psychiatrist Martin Paulus, president and scientific director also at the Laureate Institute, says “The amygdala is very reactive to things coming in from the outside—somebody looks at you funny, or you hear a sound that’s scary,” Paulus says. “That kind of stress is good when the guy looking at you is about to steal your wallet, but elsewhere it’s counterproductive” (Vigneron). This is partially a cause of anxiety and Paulus theorizes that floating reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

Minimizes Pain

Floatation therapy has been studied alongside with fibromyalgia and chronic whiplash. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia, self-reported decreased pain for days up to weeks after one float tank session. Likewise, other people living with chronic pain disorders similarly self-reported reduced muscle tension and pain after a session in a float tank (Kjellgren, Anette, et al). To read more about fibromyalgia and floating, click here:

Patients suffering from chronic whiplash disorder tested out a sensory deprivation tank to treat pain, and it was found to be a meaningful and substantial tool for pain reduction (Edebol, Hanna, et al).     

Less stress

Not only does sensory deprivation therapy reduce the reactivity of the amygdala, it also lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone produced by humans when they are under stress. However, many people experience adrenal exhaustion and cortisol is constantly being produced leaving one feeling constantly stressed, overwhelmed and anxious.

It was found that blood-cortisol levels were significantly and temporarily reduced after float tank therapy, producing a state of deep relaxation (Turner and Fine).
Because of lowered of cortisol levels, many people feel associated benefits to stress reduction as well, such as improved sleep quality and lowered blood pressure. 

Improves Athletic Performance

With many great athletes using sensory deprivation — Stephen Curry, Aly Raisman and JJ Watts — it is no wonder that floating has become a popular form of training and recovering for many other athletes as well. And good news, there is scientific evidence showing how floating can improve athletic performance.

One study found that based off judges opinions, athletes that floated performed better than those who didn’t amongst college basketball players (Wagaman, et al).

Mentioned earlier, Dr. Paulus believes this is because athletes that float have a less reactive amygdala allowing them to think clearer and stay more composed during high-intensity activity as compared to their peers that don’t float (Vigneron).

 

With all of the above mentioned benefits, that are real, what do you need more of in your life?

Looking to improve your own athletic performance? Want to reduce stress and anxiety? Still searching for the best method of pain management?

Why not try hopping in a float tank and see how it can change your life?

 

Want to learn more about the benefits of floating, where to float and how to get started with a regular practice? Start with our FREE Float 101 mini course here


Bibliography

  1. Edebol, Hanna, et al. “Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorders and Their Treatment Using Flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique).” Qualitative Health Research, vol. 18, no. 4, Apr. 2008, pp. 480–488

  2. Kjellgren, Anette, et al. Effects of Flotation-REST on Muscle Tension Pain. Karlstad University, Sweden, Nov. 2000.

  3. Norlander, Torsten, et al. “Treating Stress-Related Pain with the Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique: Are There Differences between Women and Men?”Pain Research & Management : The Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, Pulsus Group Inc, 2009.

  4. Norlander, Torsten, et al. “Effects of Flotation REST on Creative Problem Solving and Originality.” Research Gate, Dec. 1998.

  5. Schumann, John Henning. “Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress.” NPR, NPR, 16 Oct. 2017.

  6. Seppala, Emma. “20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Sept. 2013.

  7. Turner, J W, and Thomas H Fine. “Effects of Relaxation Associated with Brief Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) on Plasma Cortisol, ACTH, and LH.”Research Gate, Apr. 1983.

  8. Vigneron, Peter. “Steph Curry's Secret to Mental Strength.” Outside Online, 14 Nov. 2016

  9. Vigneron, Peter. “Steph Curry's Secret to Mental Strength.” Outside Online, 14 Nov. 201

  10. Wagaman, Jeffrey D., et al. “Flotation Rest and Imagery in the Improvement of Collegiate Basketball Performance.” Research Gate, Feb. 1991

Stephen Curry Teams Up With Kaiser Permanente To Promote Mental Health

How does an athlete such as Stephen Curry, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, cope with the stress of preparing for another championship? 

No doubt, it has a lot to do with the mental game, and he shares more about it in a new campaign that he created in partnership with Kaiser Permanente,  

As you'll see in the videos below, a big part of the campaign promotes Curry's use of a float tank. The first video of the campaign gives viewers a look into how Curry uses the sensory deprivation tank to calm his mind, focus, and visualize what's to come on the basketball court.

The campaign then follows with a set of Q&A style videos where Curry dives in deeper into training the mind, the benefits of floating, as well as the pressures and expectations he deals with as a professional athlete. 

Essentially the message is that life gets difficult but there are always things you can do to overcome it, and it all starts with training your mind. Hear below why Curry thinks that sensory deprivation is one of the best ways to do just that.

What did you think of these videos? Do you think this is an effective campaign to promote floating and mental health? 

 

Success Stories: How One Man With PTSD Found Hope Through Floating

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can occur when a traumatic event is experienced in someone’s life. It can cause uncontrollable thoughts, extreme anxiety, nightmares, flashbacks, and memory loss, which often last for years if left untreated.

It’s estimated that 7.7 million Americans age 18 and older suffer from PTSD. Today we’re going to tell you about one of them.

Michael Harding is an Australian veteran whose journey started in 2010 at the age of 21 when he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. During his tour, Michael was involved in a firefight that lasted three and a half hours and resulted in the death of his section second-in-command.

Immediately after that Michael began experiencing full body muscular twitches. He was evacuated and diagnosed with Conversion Disorder, a form of PTSD with functional neurological symptoms. After being medically discharged in 2012, Michael returned home to his wife Bek a changed man.

Back at home, Michael started receiving treatment from veterans’ services that included exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a number of different medications.

“They only exacerbated everything,” Michael says. “Made my condition worse. The medication suppressed everything, and because I couldn't really feel anything emotionally, I was a zombie and wouldn't get out of bed before twelve.”

Frustrated and feeling hopeless, Michael then turned to alcohol. “I was just a mess,” he says, consuming up to a 750ml bottle of alcohol each day. Eventually Bek suggested that he needed to try something different and that’s when they started looking into alternatives.

The first real change they made had to do with nutrition. Since being discharged Michael had gained over 80lbs between the medications and alcohol. They started with a juice cleanse and during that time Michael was able to lose about 30lbs off the bat.

After the initial cleanse, they continued focusing on eating a plant-based, whole-food diet. They also tried medical cannabis, which is illegal in Australia, but they were willing to try anything and had read the studies being done in the United States about positive impacts.

A healthier diet combined with exercise inspired Michael to finally get off all medication. But as Michael describes it at this point, “things were alright.” He was still having a lot of night sweats and nightmares, and his twitches would still occur. He also had a lot of social anxiety.  

“It wasn’t until we stopped the with medication we started dealing with PTSD and Conversion disorder for what it really was,” says Bek. “The med’s suppress everything and they don’t allow you to work anything out at all. They just numb you out. Basically, it’s an unsustainable life. You can’t live like that or experience happiness when you’re on as many meds as Michael was on.”

During this time Michael also returned to his job, but he only lasted four months. No one else would hire him. He avoided large crowds and even family gatherings. He disconnected from his civilian friends, and most of his Army buddies didn’t understand what he was going through—although sadly, a few of them later learned firsthand as they had their own experiences with PTSD.

Bek continued to research alternative therapies online until finally one day she came across a video of Joe Rogan, former host of Fear Factor, talking about floating. She watched a few more videos and although she couldn’t find much research to support it at the time, she knew floating would be great for PTSD as well.

Michael on the other hand was was tough to convince. “I honestly thought it was going to be a waste of money,” he says. But for the next 6 months Bek slowly brought up the idea and after agreeing to pay for the float, she finally got Michael to agree to go.

At this point, he was only one week away from having to speak at a fundraiser for an event he had helped organize, so his symptoms were worsening with his stress levels. Bek and Michael traveled over an hour to visit the nearest float center and planned to do three sessions in one week as suggested by the technician at the center.

After just one hour in the tank, it was clear that Michael was hooked. “I hopped out feeling on top of the world” With a big grin on his face, he turned to give Bek a kiss and said, “Let’s book the next two sessions!”

His third session was on Friday, the day of the fundraiser. “I still had a lot of anxiety because it was probably about 150-odd people at the event, but it was a lot more maintainable. I was able to participate and help coordinate people.”

 Our cofounder Shane with Michael and Bek at the 2016 Float Conference in Portland, Oregon

Our cofounder Shane with Michael and Bek at the 2016 Float Conference in Portland, Oregon

During the Fundraiser Bek spent her time talking with veterans and attendees, telling them about their successes with natural and alternative therapies for PTSD. As she was explaining their newest adventure with floating to a friend, she heard something that brought tears to her eyes.

Michael was speaking at the fundraiser. Into a microphone. In front of 150 people.

“I instantly burst into tears,” Bek says. “It was the biggest turnaround because I honestly thought during the week that he wasn't even going to be able to make it to the event. He was that worked up and stressed out, and a lot of his symptoms had returned. So then to hear him get up and talk on the microphone, I balled my eyes out. It was even bigger and better than what I ever imagined. It was incredible.”

Both Bek and Michael spent the next months floating twice a week until they eventually purchased a reconditioned tank and set it up at home so they could float as often as they like.

Today, Michael is an advocate for the use of Integrative Therapies in the treatment of PTSD and other mental health issues. He also serves as a mentor in Trojan’s Trek, a peer-to-peer rehab program for veterans in South Australia, and speaks publicly as an active member in other ex-service organizations and charities.

Through the combination of a regular floating habit along with healthing eating, exercise, meditation, yoga, medical cannabis, positive affirmations, and peer-to-peer-rehabilitation, Michael has finally found his way back to a life that he loves.

 

Michael and Bek were also speakers at the 2016 Float Conference held annually in Portland Oregon. Check out the video below to hear more of his story first-hand:

 

Zen Float Co is proud to support Veterans and offers a discount for a home Float Tent purchase. To learn more information about our special pricing for Veterans please click here. 

 


 

Flotation Therapy For Rehabilitation and Managing Pain from a Broken Hip

Flotation therapy (also known as “floating”) is an amazing way of achieving the deepest relaxation and is now becoming recognized as an alternative way to manage pain following a hip fracture.

The experience of floating removes stimuli and reduces sensory input. The air and water are warmed to the exact temperature of the skin, making it possible to lose all sense of the body's external boundaries. With almost nothing to see, hear or feel - an hour in a flotation tank produces a deeply relaxed state, similar to the effects and benefits of meditation. In the gravity-reduced environment, the body is allowed to decompress, especially throughout the joints and the spinal column. As a result of the senses being rested, this process is extremely balancing and healing for those experiencing hip problems.

Rehabilitation

Flotation therapy has been known to successfully speed up rehabilitation and recovery by helping people to reach peak physical performance. Benefits include recuperation, rejuvenation and injury rehabilitation. For example, the floating effect loosens strained muscles and allows the irritated bones and joints after an operation to be immobilized, therefore, speeding up the healing process by encouraging more rapid healing.

Pain Relief

As floating aids blood circulation, it aids in relieving injuries and aches such as back pain and arthritis. Pain reduction is one of the most beneficial aspects of floating.  For example, for senior patients who have experienced the pain of a fractured hip, the effect of sensory deprivation reduces the stimulation of the nervous system enormously. This leads to larger endorphin production in the brain, resulting in a subjectively lower sensation of pain. Many users report a significant decrease in pain levels after just one float and a Swedish paper, ‘Social Behavior and Personality: an International Journey’ (Bood, Sundequist et al) found that as few as twelve sessions may be enough to notice a considerable difference in pain relief.

Flotation Therapy for the Elderly

Many elderly patients with chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis have reported that not only does floating leave them feeling in a blissful state, it also reduces pain and stiffness, helping them to remain more mobile.

Due to weakening bones and the onset of medical issues such as osteoporosis in senior citizens, the dangers of fractured hips in the elderly increase with age. Flotation therapy has successfully been used for the rehabilitation of the elderly who have sustained a hip fracture.

Flotation therapy is suitable for all ages - especially the elderly who at times, benefit more from less invasive treatments with fewer side effects. It promotes general well-being and provides many other mental and physical benefits.

 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of floatation therapy and how it can help manage pain? Start by signing up for our FREE Float 101 Email Course. 

 

Article written by: Jess Walter, Freelance Writer.

Jess is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.

Ready To Quit Smoking or Drinking? How Floating Can Help

The relaxing benefits and physical relief that can be achieved by floating is well known but did you know that floating can also be used as a therapy treatment for drug and alcohol addiction?

In fact, studies have proven REST to be very effective in helping individuals stop smoking. This is because when you float your brain produces theta waves, usually produced when someone is sleeping. And when you float your brain can access the theta state for a much longer period of time, which allows longer access to the deeper parts of your subconscious mind where addictions take root. 

Beyond that, floating also promotes the release of endorphins in the body which regulate your mood and creates the feelings of joy and happiness commonly associated with drug and alcohol effects. The feeling that you're left with is a natural high that is hard to achieve anywhere else. 

Now you might be thinking, "This sounds crazy! Are you really telling me floating can help me break my drug or alcohol addiction?"

While we can't guarantee anything and say, Yes 100% it will, we can speak for one of our float family members who it did, Elbert Hartman.

Elbert tell us, "Since I began floating, I have lost over twenty-five pounds, resumed my long lost yoga practice and quit drinking alcohol completely. My life has become extraordinary and I know that floating has played an instrumental part in allowing this to manifest within me."

Another one of our float family members, Ryan Lawson, says "Since owning a float tank I have made a breakthrough in my relationship with my wife. I also have been cutting my alcohol drinking tremendously. I don't even keep alcohol in the home anymore, its more of a social thing. No more bars either. We are saving so much money! I also quit an 18 year drug addiction!"

So as you can see, for some people, floating can be extremely helpful in not only breaking an addiction but helping to improve all other aspects of life!

Controlled studies have also shown that 25% of people who underwent REST therapy ended up quitting smoking and remained free of nicotine for up to five years. Plus, REST therapy combined with various other techniques like weekly support groups showed that 80% of study participants were smoke free for at least a year and a half. 

In order to benefit the most from floating sessions should take place on a fairly regular basis, allowing your body and mind a chance to replace cravings and anxiety with feelings of relaxation and peace. You can start by going once a week or more, depending on how you feel and how often cravings start to sink in. 

When used properly, float tanks can be an effective and safe treatment that anyone who wishes to break an addiction can try and benefit from. You never know how one float session just may change your whole life. 

 

Feeling inspired to schedule your first float session? Check out our friends at FloatationLocations.com to find a local center near you!

 

From 1st Float to 10th Float - What Happens Once You Begin To Create a Regular Practice

Just like leather or wine, some things only get better over time. And we'd like to think that floating is one of those things too.

However, for a lot of people, floating is something they only try once or twice before they automatically throw into the "it just wasn't for me" category and really give it a fair chance. Or they wait months and months inbetween float sessions so it's hard to really feel the mental, physical, or spiritual benefits.

But if you're willing to get past the initial float jitters and can make the commitment to go weekly or monthly, not only will you see a huge change in your health but you will see a huge change in your every day life too! To keep you motivated as you start down this journey, here's a list of some benefits that you'll start to experience as you float at home or at your local center:

Want to learn everything there is to know about owning a float tank? Start by downloading a copy of this free guide. 

 

1. You're able to let go right away

We always preach that if you're going to give floating a fair shot you have to try it at least three times. This is because for most people it usually takes the first couple of sessions to get past the initial frustration of bumping into the walls, fully relaxing your muscles, and truly quieting your mind. But by your 4th or 5th float, it's usually much easier to hop in and immediately tune out. And this is when the magic really starts to happen! 

 

2. You discover your floating habit

Because we all float for different reasons it's hard to say exactly when someone should float and how often. However, the more you float, the quicker you'll discover what type of routine works best for you.

Night floating vs morning floating.

60 minute sessions vs 90 minute sessions.

Weekly vs Monthly. 

 

3. Meditation becomes easier and more powerful

Many people find meditation frustrating because they don't know if they're doing it right or they just have a hard time quieting their mind for a long period of time. But the nice thing about float tanks is that they create the perfect meditation environment and are designed to help induce deep meditative states. Therefore, floating not only complements your meditation practice but it enhances it too. 

 

4. Time doesn't matter as much

Once you've floated a good handful of times and are comfortable with letting go right away, the actual time inside the tank becomes of less importance and each float session becomes more about going with what feels right. 

 

5. You become more in tune with your body and mind

Developing a regular floating routine is one of the best self-help practices you could incorporate into your life as it helps you become more in tune with your mind-body connection. From the second you lie down in the water, you can feel the areas where you hold the most tension or can recognize the thoughts that seem to be reoccurring the most so you can begin to work through them.  

 

6. You begin to see changes in your personal life too

When you practice operating from a calmer, less stressed state of mind, everything in your life also becomes calmer and less stressful. Your mood is better, relationships begin to improve, and things that once got you worked up and upset now have no effect on you. 

 

Ready to start floating more regularly? Floating at home is the best way to commit to a regular float practice and it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year! Download this guide that will show you everything you need to know before you consider buying.

 

6 Signs That It's Time to Take a Break

Ever heard the saying, "Listen to your body, it's smarter than you."

Well, there's a lot of truth behind this simple phrase. While your mind is not always the most honest with you, your body is stays truthful and cannot tell a lie. 

When we need to sleep, we yawn and feel tired. When we need to be refueled, our belly growls and we feel hungry.When we need to recover, our body aches and we feel stiff. 

Same thing goes for when your body needs recharging–it lets you know. Here are 6 clear signs that it's time for you to relax and give your body a rest: 

 

1. High anxiety

Anxiety comes in all different forms but racing thoughts, feeling distracted, and lack of sleep are just a few of the common side affects. When you're anxious, it's simply a sign of your body telling you that you need to calm down. While meditation can be an easy and accessible solution to this, it sometimes feels impossible to focus your mind when you're anxious. This is why floating in a sensory deprivation tank is so powerful, because it creates the most ideal environment to achieve deep levels of meditation and relaxation.  

 

2. You're feeling stuck creatively

Struggling to get your creative juices floating? Whether you're working on a post for your blog or just helping your child with their upcoming art assignment, lack of creativity can often be a sign that you have too much on your mind. Sometimes all it takes is an hour to disconnect with the world and reconnect with yourself to get the creativity flowing again. 

 

3. Distracted or restless

We've all had those days at work where there's a big project that needs to get done but you just can't seem to stop pacing around the office. You're restless, and antsy, and nothing can get you to focus. It's okay to be distracted every once in a while, but if you've found it happening more than usual it may be time press pause and reset your mind. Float therapy is a excellent technique that many have found to improve concentration because it forces you to literally focus on one thing and removes all possible distractions. 

 

4. Your muscles are tense

When the body is stressed your muscles can become tense. It’s an automatic response and your body’s way of guarding against injury and pain. While it's most common for your muscles to tighten in your upper back, neck and shoulders but it could happen in any parts of your body and is a sign that those muscles need some extra care. And what could possibly be better than soaking your muscles in 800lbs. of epsom salt?  

 

5. Lack of motivation or negative thinking

If you find yourself sinking down in the dirt, there's no better time to (literally) float it out. The primary cause of unhappiness or negative thoughts is never the situation itself, but your thoughts about the situation. Often times you just need to take a step back in order to shift your mindset into the right place and the elimination of external stimuli in a float tank it produces chemical changes in the body that allow for clarity of thought. 

 

6. Fuzzy memory

Like a plane needs fuel, your brain needs sleep, and neither will run for very long on empty. Studies show that among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances and to process the memories and knowledge that you've gathered throughout the day.  If you're having trouble remembering details it could be a sign that you need to rest your mind. While it may be hard to squeeze in a few extra hours of sleep, it's been said that floating for one hour is equivalent to four hours of sleep. 

 

Learn more about how float therapy can help you relax, refresh and rejuvenate in our Free Float 101 Online Course. 

Floating Research and The Impact On Our Mental Health with Justin Feinstein

We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Justin Feinstein, Director of the Float Clinic and Research Center (FCRC) at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. The FCRC’s mission is to investigate the effects of floatation on both the body and the brain, as well as explore its potential as a therapeutic treatment for promoting mental health and healing in patients who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, addiction, and anorexia.


In our interview, Justin tells us how he first heard about float tanks and shares some of his research and insight on how floating can help alleviate stress and anxiety.

 

Q: How did you first hear about floating?

A: I was working at a neuroscience laboratory at Caltech. This serendipitously happens to be the same place that John C. Lilly went for his undergraduate degree about 75 years before I was there. But basically, for the last 15 years I had studied neuroscience and I’d been very interested in consciousness and very interested in subjective emotion and feeling states. But in particular I’ve been focused on anxiety, both for personal reasons and my career, with an eye towards how we can alleviate anxiety.

When I was in the lab at Caltech working with patients, one of the research assistants who shared an office with me at the time, came to me on a Monday and over the weekend she had just had her first float. At the time I had never even heard of what a float tank was. She preceded to tell me over the next several hours with great drama how intense and powerful this first float was for her. I listened with great curiosity because she had been describing something I had been interested in almost my entire life.

What she was describing to me was what’s known in our field as interoception. The idea is how to access what’s happening in our inner body. It really brings to bare the idea that inside all of us is a pathway into our brain that provides signals about the internal milieu of our body. It provides signals about the heart beating, the blood pulsating, your lungs and respiration, it provides signals about the immune system and it provides signals from the gut. And all these various signals come into the brain through a dedicated pathway. This interoceptive pathway had been my focus of research for many years dating back to the early 2000’s.

When she was describing her first float to me it became clear to me, even though she didn’t use those words, that what she was accessing was her interoceptive self. What was really interesting to me is that at the same time I was hearing this story I was learning about the primary disruption to this same pathway in patients who suffered from anxiety disorder. There’s something about this interoceptive pathway that’s critical for anxiety, it seems to be dysregulated in anxiety disorders. When you float, it provides a sneak peak into this pathway in a way that you could never access outside of a float.

She continued to describe how liberated she felt after her first float and I was to be honest, both scared and fascinated. The fascination because of everything I just talked about but the fear because I knew I had to try this.
 

Q: How did you feel after your first float?

A: I think a lot of my first float was pure novelty. Everything was new…. from the sensation of no gravity–to being able to feel my heart beating in such an intense way–to letting my physiological systems come down to an all time low. I definitely felt relaxed but at the same time had my mind turning. As soon as I stepped out of the float tank, the first thing I wanted to do is figure out how I could buy one of these to start doing research with it.

 

Q: How did you transition into actually doing research on floating?

A: It wasn’t until my second or third float that I achieved a state of pure sensory awareness, unlike anything I’d ever obtained before meditating outside of the float tank. At that moment in the tank I felt total bliss and it was really with moments like these, and repeated moments like these, that I realized how powerful this environment is. I knew I needed to pursue floating as a line of research.

I was able to team up with my original mentor from when I was a freshman in college at UCSD named Dr. Martin Paulus. Together, we did a lot of work during my time at UCSD and one area we had a lot of success with was studying the concept of interoception.

Around the same time that I was discovering floating as technique, Dr. Paulus had been offered the position as the scientific director of this institute that had recently opened in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was collaborating with him on a project I was working on at Caltech and was visiting him in San Diego when I mentioned some of my experiences using float tanks. He started talking to me about this opportunity at LIBR and it was over the course of that week that we put our heads together and realized how ideal this situation was for a few reasons. We were able to reconnect and reunite after a decade of not working together, we had the opportunity to pursue a novel line of research that no one else in the neuroscience community has focused on, and better than that, we knew that the core mission for LIBR was to think outside of the box to come up with brand new novel treatments for mental illness.  In this case, we actually went inside the box because we decided to pursue floating as a treatment. I can’t emphasize how serendipitous all of this was.

Pictured third from the right is Dr. Justin Feinstein and his team of LIBR researchers

Q: Why do you think floatation therapy alleviates the negative symptoms of stress?

A: I think there are several reasons but two in particular. First off, our brain is wired in such a way to be reflexively triggered by the outer world. We’re living in the midst of an anxiety epidemic and a lot of this is driven by our technology. Smartphones in particular have taken off in such a way that almost every culture and every country has these now. It gives us instant connectivity and it provides us with a slew of conveniences that we never used to have.

What our society doesn’t realize though is that every time we get pinged with a new text message, or a new email, or a new phone call or every time we get some update on our Facebook or Twitter, it’s setting off a cascade of events in our brain that creates a state of temporary stress.

We become addicted to this, to a point where we aren’t able to leave our phones behind us or disconnect from them in any way, shape or form. It’s affecting our sleep patterns. It’s affecting our ability to socialize and our ability to communicate in the real world rather than the virtual world. It’s affecting us because people are now living in a constant state of connectivity.

So, one of the reasons I think floating helps stress is because it's the ultimate form of disconnection. It allows your brain to literally go into a state of rest without having any distractions whatsoever from the external world.

The second thing is that stress isn’t just in the brain. It’s physiological, it's through the entire body. One of the most strong and powerful results of the past research into floating is the profound physiological effects that floating has on the body.

We’ve created equipment here at LIBR to study this. We have devices to measure things like blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, EEG, movement, and what we’re finding across all of these measures is that you are entering into a state of absolute relaxation. Your blood pressure is going way down, your respiration is going way down, your heart rate is going down. So you’re really entering into a physiological state of relaxation, which is the exact opposite of the state of stress. Floating doesn’t only affect the brain.  It has profound effects on the body as well.
 

Q: In your professional opinion, what would be the benefits of being able to float at home?

A: It would certainly provide that access (to floating) that a lot of people are missing. Having the ability to float at home is so beneficial, especially for clinical populations who can do this on a regular basis. It can help them better control their symptoms and also help them achieve the relief and benefits that they really need.

 

In summary, the future of floating is bright. We find it very encouraging that research both old and new are focusing on the idea of float therapy as a treatment not only on stress and anxiety, but also for overall health and wellness.  We also look forward to Dr. Feinstein’s research, more of which he will present at the yearly Float Conference.

 

 

Introducing Zen Academy: Online Float Education

It's no secret that the internet currently lacks enough available information about floating. Even with how much the float industry has taken off within the last couple of years, there still are only a handful of places online where you can go to learn about all the facts or latest tips. That's why we created our first Online Zen Education eCourse: Float 101, and it officially launched today! 

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Float 101 is a Free 10-Day eCourse that will teach you everything there is to know about floating. During the first few days we'll teach you what floating is, how it started, where you can go float and tips & tricks from the experts. The last half of the course will dive into the specifics of types of float tanks, water care, finding your float habit, and much more!  Finally, at the end of the course there will be a Final Exam and we will be posting the best scores on our site each month. 

The great thing about our eCourse is that you can complete it at your own pace, on your own time! Plus, our courses are designed to cater to both new and experienced floaters. Whether you're trying to get more comfortable with your float or just crave more knowledge of the industry, Float 101 can be a helpful course for you.

Float 101 will be the first of many online eCourses from Zen Float Co. You can keep up-to-date with our latest ongoing courses here.

If you would like to sign up for our Free 10-Day Float 101 Course please fill out the form below:

Sign Up for Float 101

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Affordable floating for sports rehab

Floating is tailor made for athletes looking to repair their bodies and minds.

Nothing bugs an athlete more than being on the bench or sideline instead of playing in the game. Sports injuries can keep an athlete out of action and force them to watch others make plays.

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Floating is a tool that can help an athlete deal with sports injuries in a better way. Spending extended time in an isolation tank can help a person rejuvenate both their mind and body.

Even one floating session melts away stress and promotes peace. You can feel it in your muscles and joints. For an athlete recovering from an injury, this type of relaxation can promote faster healing and give them a better foundation for strengthening those important muscles and joints. Floating can truly help their body feel like new again.

Taking time out to go to the spa and take a dip in the float tank isn’t always feasible or practical. The good news is now you can do floating on your own terms with the Zen Float Tent.

It is the next stage in floating. The Zen Float Tent brings the isolation experience directly to you. It is lightweight and does not take up a ton of space. You can set up a float tent in any average sized room.

What this means is that floating is available at any time and for any purpose. There’s no reason to spend tons of money on regular floating sessions elsewhere. If you are an athletic trainer, you can buy a Zen Float Tent, set it up and make it available to athletes you are treating. It delivers the whole floating experience at a fraction of the cost.

This is great news for an athlete looking to rehabilitate an injured ligament or tendon or strengthen bones or muscles after an injury. Just like a regular isolation tank, the tent uses warm water infused with 800 lbs of Epsom salt to provide a true floating experience. It is composed of lightweight and durable materials that are completely leak proof.

Sports injuries do not need to be an obstacle to athletic goals. Floating can help heal your body and mind so you can get back in the game on your timetable. There’s no better time than now to turn to the Zen Float Tent and start on that road to recovery.

Our Kickstarter is running until May 29th 2014. Here’s a link FloatAtHome.com

Date Night Floating and the Benefits For Couples

Floating is a perfect bonding activity for couples.

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Picture the perfect date night: dinner, shopping, a movie, a concert or something as simple as a walk in the park. For extra romance, a date night may even include a couples’ massage or a night’s stay in a hotel.

Now you can add floating to an already perfect date night mix. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but floating really can be a perfect activity for couples. Floating sessions are an individual activity, of course, but two tanks can equal a perfect date night activity.

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Many couples will schedule a couples’ massage to relax and connect through a shared experience. Floating can produce the same relaxing effect and offer the same avenue for connection through a post session discussion.

Every couple faces stress from work and home. Often stress found in work and family life creates roadblocks for a couple trying to have fun and relax. It can magnify problems and create friction and fighting in a relationship. Floating may not repair a relationship, but it does offer therapeutic effects. This can be in the form of both positive mental and physical energy.

Floating sessions calm frayed nerves and harried thoughts. Floating sessions relax tired bodies and minds. People will come out of the floating sessions calm, relaxed and refreshed. The rest of the night can be freed from stress and the couple is liberated to enjoy each other and to build their relationship.

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Floating can also be a good activity to add to a girls’ day out. Many women already go to spas and undergo different treatments like massages, facials and body wraps to rejuvenate their skin and body. Adding a floating session to regular spa activities will create the ultimate girls day out. A floating session is also a perfect way to start out the weekend. Doing a Saturday morning floating session, for example, allows people to recover from a work week and start out the weekend with their batteries recharged.

When it comes to floating the possibilities are endless. Floating has so many health benefits, that it is really the perfect fit anytime someone needs to rejuvenate their body and mind.

Making the grade through floating

Floating makes your brain work smart instead of working hard.

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There’s a better way to get ready for final exams instead of staying up all night studying. Floating can unlock your brain power and help you get better grades.

What is the connection between a float tank and the classroom? A simple answer is that floating opens the door for improving concentration and retaining short-term memories.

Living in the digital age has made it harder for the human brain to carve out time for deep thinking. A fast food mentality has seeped into virtually every aspect of life. We don’t just want everything right now. We wanted it yesterday.

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This fast-paced world is creating a brain strain. A study done at the University of California, San Diego found that the average person living in the United States in 2008 processed three times the amount of information as their counterparts did in 1960. This is one reason why people now seem more rushed and frantic to get things done and less effective in doing those tasks.

Getting away from the noise and stress of the outside world calms the mind. It helps people refocus on what is important. Their brains work better because they become more attentive and improve their memory.

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Spending even an hour inside an isolation tank is enough to calm your brain. You allow yourself to think more deeply than normal. Doing this will unlock your subconscious mind. It will stimulate creativity and innovative thinking.

After your time in the tank, problems that seemed impossible to solve may finally offer a solution. The mental clarity you get from floating beats a cram session any day of the week. It is like having an internal study aid and tutor rolled into one.

Athletes and floating

Floating is like an extra practice for athletes, strengthening body and mind.


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Athletes spend countless hours shaping their bodies into a precision tool. It’s one reason they can do feats – like dunking a basketball or throwing a long touchdown pass – that are out of reach for the average person. Getting physically fit helps athletes sharpen their natural skills.

Mental fitness is just as important of a component in creating athletic success. An athlete who lacks confidence or plays with fear will take themselves out of the game. They will make avoidable mental errors that cost their themselves or their team victories. A lack of mental focus can also lead to serious physical injuries.


Floating can be a good tool for mentally strengthening an athlete. When they spend regular time inside an isolation tank, they can come away feeling better both on a physical and mental level.

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Athletes can use floating as a time to visualize success. They can contemplate on a big game, meet or race ahead and imagine how they will approach it. This is a perfect time for an athlete to build a positive attitude on a subconscious level. They can let things play out in their mind and envision how they will come out a winner.

Floating helps an athlete to feel more relaxed. Negative thoughts are cast out and their mind grows more calm. Their body begins to relax and they begin to understand what they need to do unlock their natural abilities.

On a physical level, floating in water filled with Epsom salt helps an athlete’s body bounce back from the aches and pains associated with competition. Salt helps the skin, muscles and other tissues absorb important nutrients. It also aids in flushing out harmful toxins and reducing inflammation.

There’s no reason why floating can’t be part of an athlete’s preparation for competition. It will do enough for them in mind and body to give them an edge over competitors.

Children and Floating

One of the questions we are frequently asked by our customers is, can children float?

The answer is yes! Children as young as 9-years old can float with a guardian present. 

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In fact, floating in a sensory deprivation tank is perfectly safe for older children. The water is shallow and salty, so it poses little danger of them drowning in the tank. Many tank models function on a water depth of just 10 to 12 inches. Still, it is a good idea to monitor your children while in the tank so that you can be there to help them as needed.

Other benefits of floating for children

Childhood can be a time filled with innocence and happiness. It can also be a time ruled by irrational fears. Common childhood fears, like a fear of monsters hiding in the closet or under the bed, can make life difficult for a child. They sleep less. They adopt poor eating habits. Their mood goes from happy to depressed. Being inside a dark enclosed space like a sensory deprivation tank can help children address these fears in a controlled environment. They can see what is causing those fears and become empowered through discovering solutions on their own.

Spending time in floating can also help children fit in better at school. Floating sessions allow for changes in learning habits and social behavior. If a child is struggling to make friends or having a difficult time getting good grades, a few hours in a sensory deprivation tank each month can give them a chance to unlock their mind and learn how to overcome those obstacles.

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Giving children the chance to float makes it easier for them to be happy and healthy in every sense of the word. It will help make their childhood a time filled with pleasant memories instead of crippling fears.

In summary, enjoying time in a float tank is not an experience meant to be reserved for adults. Many children can draw benefits from spending time floating. It opens the door for them to solve problems and cope with fears just as much as it does for an adult floater.

If your child has tried floating and has had a good experience, we would love to hear about it in the comments below or privately in an email. 

Does floating equal brainwashing?

Floating and brainwashing have some unusual historical connections.

Will floating open the door to brainwashing?

Seems like a crazy concept at first thought. Brainwashing conjures up all sorts of negative imagery. The concept of brainwashing is associated with spies, assassination plots and other sorts of intrigue you would find in a good political thriller. Is it that true to life?

Early uses of flotation tanks did include brainwashing experiments. Fears spread during the Korean War that North Korean and Soviet communist leaders engaged in brainwashing captured American soldiers to embrace communist propaganda. This sparked an interest in the U.S. Government finding ways to control a person’s brain to counteract such brainwashing attempts.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) first used isolation tanks forbrainwashing experiments in 1954. People participating in these experiments were submerged in sensory deprivation tanks for extended periods of time. The results were startling.


Participants reported experiencing everything from vivid hallucinations to blank periods where they were unable to form cognitive thoughts after less than two hours in the tank. Depriving them of senses for longer periods boosted their cravings for any form of sensory stimulation. These desires made them more willing to mold their behavior to get what they wanted.

NIMH researchers concluded a person who underwent extensive sensory deprivation could be influenced into making profound changes in their values and behavior. Essentially, an isolation tank could be used to strip a person of free will for a short time.

It sounds scary. The good news is that such forced changes were temporary. A person changed back to their normal personality and behavior once returning to their normal environment. This made the idea of using isolation tanks for long-term brainwashing impractical and the concept was abandoned.


There is nothing sinister about floating these days. Regular sessions in an isolation tank can be quite therapeutic. Floating can help people find solutions to many problems affecting their lives. It has been used by people who are looking for ways to treat anxiety, depression, stress and even curb addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Brainwashing isn’t an appropriate concept to associate with floating. Nothing about floating is predicated on a loss of free will. The brain can be changed through doing it, but the changes are through a conscious choice made by the floater.

Floating and Your Brain, Part I: Theta Waves

Nothing is more fascinating than the human brain. It possesses a capacity to learn and grow that cannot be duplicated – even by the most complex computer. If a person could spend an hour observing a human brain during a floating session in an isolation tank, they would witness firsthand just how much that brain is capable of changing and adapting to its environment.

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Floating in an isolation tank promotes relaxation. The effects are immediately felt throughout the body. Muscles relax. Blood pressure drops. Breathing becomes less labored.

In these relaxed moments, the brain generates alpha waves and theta waves. It feels like a door is opening and letting our creative side enter. Theta waves promote vivid memories, creativity, inspiration and a feeling of serenity. This state is commonly experienced by the average person just before they drift into a deep sleep.


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It feels different for a floater. They remain awake even while  they experiencing waves of theta waves. The floater remains aware of all the images and thoughts passing through their mind. Their brain continues to produce an abundance of theta waves for several weeks after a floating session. For a person who participates in regular floating sessions, theta waves can boost their creativity long after they exit the isolation tank.

This offers insight into why floaters love spending time in a flotation tank so much. Feeling more creative energies surging through your body can make it easier to find solutions to problems and deal with the pressures of everyday life.

 

Did you enjoy this post? This is the first article in a three-part series. Click here to read Floating and Your Brain, Part 2: Left Brain vs. Right Brain

No Fear in Floating

There is no denying that floating has a powerful impact on the mind. Studies have shown that brain waves are altered in significant ways when a floater spends significant time in an isolation tank.

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Is floating dangerous? That’s a common question for many people who are unfamiliar with how an isolation tank works. They hear crazy rumors and start to think that floating in a tank will simulate the high experienced on drugs like LSD.

Popular culture helps perpetuate this myth. Movies like Altered States portray characters devolving into lower life forms and losing their humanity as a direct result of sensory deprivation while floating. Such a concept might make for an entertaining movie, but it is far fetched.


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It is true some people see certain images and hear certain sounds inside an isolation tank. Nothing about the experience endangers the mind. Quite the opposite is true.

Floating impacts your five senses in positive ways. You see, hear and feel things that heal your body and your mind from the damage caused by the outside world.

Mental benefits associated with floating are almost limitless. A floater can experience rejuvenation on so many levels. Regular floating sessions help them experience enhanced memory, concentration and creativity. They sleep better. Many floaters find chronic pain and stress that normally holds their body hostage dissipate.

In essence, they feel like a new person because they are a new person.

Floating is nothing to be feared or dismissed through ignorance. It is a vehicle for rejuvenation and relaxation. Mind-blowing hallucinations associated with certain types of drugs are an exception in defining the floatation experience.

Spending time in an isolation tank is a gateway to peace, not fear.

Floating away arthritis pain

Arthritis can affect your quality of life in so many negative ways. This chronic pain attacks your joints and causes enough inflammation to make it tough to do simple tasks like opening a jar.

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The good news is you don’t have to live with these problems. Beyond simply taking medicine for the pain, you can use floating sessions in an isolation tank to get you feeling whole again. Floating is an effective tool for counterattacking many symptoms of arthritis.

Epsom salt is one reason why floating is good for treating arthritic aches and pains. It has been used as a pain reliever for hundreds of years. The water used in an isolation tank has a high concentration of Epsom salt. 

Epsom salt serves as a natural muscle relaxer. It also alleviates pain from tendinitis and sprains and promotes quicker healing in joints.

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Floating puts the body in a weightless environment and takes pressure off the muscles, bones and joints. These vital parts are allowed to relax in the water. The saline water is absorbed by the skin and it improves the condition of the muscles and joints.

Research suggests that Epsom salt can help a body to heal more quickly from physical ailments than simply taking medicine alone. Many people who suffer from chronic pain turn to floating as a solution because they know the whole experience makes a significant difference.

It doesn’t make sense to live with arthritic pain when solutions are available to treat it. Floating in an isolation tank is one such solution.

Floating and Pregnancy

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Pregnancy can be gruelling on a woman’s body. For the bulk of nine months, they are dealing with nausea, weight gain, mood swings and all other sorts of things calculated to increase stress. Spending time floating can feel like heaven during pregnancy.

An isolation tank can be a blessing for a pregnant woman. Floating in warm saltwater can ease the daily stress of pregnancy. And it offers some specific benefits, including:

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  • Stress release: Once inside the tank, the tension on muscles and nerves can melt away. This helps both mother and baby become calm. Some women can actually use this experience to help their baby kick and roll around with reduced frequency. 

  • Taking weight strain away: Floating is offers a semi-weightless environment. A pregnant woman can find relief from the strain and weight of carrying a baby. 

  • Relaxation: Pregnancy can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep and can make the entire act sleeping uncomfortable. Floating lets a woman relaxing inside the isolation tank. The pain and pressure on her joints eases and she can feel as rejuvenated as she does with taking a quick nap.

  • Late stage pregnancy relief: The final trimester of a pregnancy is the worst for physical and emotional discomfort. At times, it just hurts for a pregnant women to be on her feet. And it also feels awful seeing an ever-growing belly each day. Floating can take away some of the pressure caused by the weight and help a woman get a better grasp on the emotional roller coaster she is experiencing.

Some pregnant women may be concerned about putting their baby’s health at risk if they spend time in an isolation tank. Research suggests floating is quite safe for the unborn fetus in most cases. There are exceptions to the rule. If you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy or have a high-risk pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor before floating.