Stretch your creative, physical, and spiritual boundaries through floating.
Benefits of Floating
Floating brings homeostasis to the hypothalamus, linker of the nervous and endocrine systems. The hypothalamus takes in all sensory information and releases or inhibits neurochemicals to nerve cell receptors. Aging is due to a slowly developing neurochemical imbalance, or, a slow disruption of homeostasis. Healthier and longer lives can be achieved by maintaining a proper balance of neurochemicals. Three types of neurochemicals are discussed below.
(1)Endorphins are the body's natural antidepressant and are released to opiate receptors to give the feeling of euphoria. Overuse of opiates, alcohol, cigarettes and any other vice lowers the internally produced endorphins and can deteriorate the receptors for up to a year. When there is no pleasure and no capacity to experience pleasure, the body experiences withdrawal. Addictive behavior can be seen as a desperate and instinctive attempt to compensate for a certain emptiness, or lack of pleasure, that derives from endorphin deficiencies. A balanced level of endorphins is critical to overcome withdrawal and depression as well as help the body deal with physical pain. The Parasympathetic (rest & digest) System works to release endorphins as well as to decrease muscular tension, repair tissue, excrete waste, relax, and build up/store energy. It also lowers the respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure as well as changes brain-wave activity from beta waves to alpha and theta waves which I’ll touch on in a bit.
(2)Epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine are released to respond to fight or flight. Symptoms of withdrawal, anxiety, and depression are associated with sudden oversupplies of norepinephrine; Balancing these levels prove crucial while endorphins build back up. The Sympathetic System works to mobilize our bodies for outward activity, muscular exertion, and the use of large amounts of energy.
(3)ACTH and Cortisol are released to help the body manage stress when we are unable to give in to fight or flight, and must accept internal conflict and frustration. 85-90% of all illness today is stress related as high levels of Cortisol depress the body's immune system, increase the effects of adrenaline on body tissues, and cause fat to be released into the blood and subsequently deposited in the heart. Elevated levels of Cortisol are linked to feelings of submission while reduced levels of Cortisol are linked to feelings of confidence. Floating has been shown to decrease Cortisol levels significantly over a five day period having a direct effect on reducing stress.
Depression, anxiety, stress, addiction and withdrawal are all disturbances of our homeostasis and floating maintains this balance. When the hypothalamus is in balance, the neocortex, in charge of memory, judgement, intellect, and conscious thinking becomes synchronized, generates theta waves, increases visualization, accesses deep memories, and sees the world [more] objectively.
Theta waves allow the floater to enter the mysterious, dreamlike state accompanied by vivid mental images where sudden insight and creative inspiration are born. Usually, we fall asleep when we enter this state but floating allows us to stay awake and alert allowing our conscious mind to recall vivid imagery, creative ideas, and eureka moments.
Floaters experience long periods of pure, uninterrupted time in flow state. Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. When the alert mind is lodged in the relaxed body fostered by floating, one experiences this state of flow.
The majority of people are left-brain dominant – meaning that they think more logically, analytically, and sequentially. Floating increases right-brain thinking and quiets our dominant left-brain thinking bringing balance. This balance encourages individuals to be more intuitive, imaginative, and creative leading to an increase in productivity, confidence, and clearer thinking.
The combination of experiencing theta brainwaves, flow state, and balanced thinking hemisphere leads to increased visualization. From studies on dart throwing to free throw shooting, it has been shown that visualizing a task brings an almost equal level of improvement as the actual physical practice.
The tank provides a place to freeze current behaviors and reflect upon them. Relaxation and focused attention lead to increased receptivity to suggestions as they enter directly into the mind, bypassing the mental filters and other mechanisms by which we usually judge such statements. This increased receptivity brings about this transformation of attitude and action directed toward putting predetermined plans into action.
Many athletes such as Carl Lewis, JJ Watt, Steph Curry, and Wayne Rooney float to visualize improved performance, become more receptive and speed up recovery time. While floating, we become acutely aware of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations going on inside us. Most sports injuries are the result of inappropriate muscular tension that could have been prevented by relaxation.
Much post-game pain and stress is related to gravity as it pulls downward onto sprains, strains, stressed joints and bruised muscles while restricting blood circulation. Floating takes the weight off of any aching pain and allows the body to fully relax. Floating improves this relaxation by increasing the efficiency of the blood and lymph circulating through the body, carrying away waste and toxins while bringing oxygen and nutrients to damaged cells and muscle tissue. Studies of metabolism show that muscle growth takes place during rest, within a 5-10 minute time period about 30-40 hours after the workout. Lactic acid immediately builds up in the muscles after strenuous physical exercise causing pain, fatigue, and muscle cramping. It is also directly related to high levels of anxiety. Floating not only reduces lactic acid, but speeds up the clearing of it from the body directly having a direct effect on reducing anxiety.
Results: Stress, depression, anxiety, and worst pain were significantly decreased whereas optimism and sleep quality significantly increased for the flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) group. No significant results for the control group were seen. There was also a significant correlation between mindfulness in daily life and degree of altered states of consciousness during the relaxation in the flotation tank.
Results demonstrated that flotation REST provided significant temporary reductions in pain, muscle tension, stress, anxiety and sadness, as well as significant increases in relaxation, feelings of well being, energy and ease of movement. There was also significant improvement in the quality of sleep. The present findings describe possible changes, for the better, in patients presenting with chronic pain complaints. The results of the present study tentatively suggest that flotation-REST may offer an effective method of alleviating low to moderately severe pain induced by muscle tension
Results showed that REST has positive effects on physiology (e.g., lower levels of cortisol, lower blood pressure), well-being, and performance...flotation REST can be a useful stress management tool in addition to or instead of other stress management tools.
Results revealed a significant decrease in degree of depression and anxiety and an increase in positive outlook on life. There was also a significant decrease in extent of painful areas and a significant decrease in their experienced worst pain-intensity.
The results indicate a reliable improvement in dart-throwing accuracy after flotation REST...Flotation REST reduces anxiety and enhances performance in both simulated (Melchiori & Barabasz, 1990) and actual (Barabasz, 1992) instrument flying, implying that a wide range of relatively precise perceptual-motor coordination and focusing skills may be improved through the use of REST... In situations requiring precise perceptual-motor coordination where high arousal is detrimental for optimal performance, for example, in sports like tennis and target shooting, it is to be expected that using a technique like REST may help to reduce the level of arousal whereby more optimal levels may be attained and performance improved.
These effects include profound relaxation, relief from pain, and a shift in consciousness to a state that is more introspective, less defensive, and more receptive. Research in treating addictive behaviors with REST is reviewed with smoking, overeating, alcohol consumption, and drug misuse. There is a substantial body of literature demonstrating the effectiveness of REST in modifying smoking behavior.
The characteristics of increasing persuasibility and receptivity to therapeutic input make sensory deprivation an attractive tool for many varieties of behavior change...Sensory deprivation promotes introspection, allows one to reflect on current problems, [and] helps the individual increase his awareness of internal cues.
REST has been shown to facilitate learning and memory...The REST group showed an improvement in self-rated memory functioning...that was 15 times as great as that reported by the control group.
Interview reports identified experiences compatible with the hypothesis that REST induces a ‘twilight state’. Mood ratings showed that REST was associated with trends towards a higher level of vigor and lower levels of tension, anger, depression, fatigue and confusion. These findings support the prediction that REST would facilitate high-level creative behavior and positive affect.
Results indicated that flotation-REST relaxation showed a positive effect on originality.