The relaxation practice of being buoyant in approximately 10 inches of water in a solution of 1,000 pounds of magnesium sulfate, otherwise known as Epsom Salts. Float 60 or 90 minutes - some like it even longer! The temperature of the water is set to the body's normal skin temperature. This practice can be accomplished in a special floatation device like a float pod, a floatation tank or a float room. Some may have heard of a sensory deprivation tank, this is the same type of device as mentioned above.
The float pod suppresses the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system which when active produces our fight or flight response. And it then activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for relaxation, healing, replenishment, etc. Some physical symptoms of the relaxation response are decreased muscle tension, decreased blood pressure, decreased stress hormones, and increased endorphins.
Arthritis, back pain, neck pain, tendinitis, bursitis, inflammation, and psychosomatic pain relief have all been documented via tank use.
Floating increases circulation to extremities, promotes greater elimination of metabolic by products, decreases the forces of gravity to help promote greater muscular relaxation, and it can prevent adrenal fatigue.
The extremely high concentration of Epsom salts are absorbed through skin and can actually supplement your diet for a mineral that has been shown to be deficient in the average populations diet. Mg can prevent cardiovascular disease, regulate high blood pressure, prevent osteoporosis, relieve menopause symptoms, provide PMS relief, create healthier bones and teeth, and is involved with detoxification.
Regular floating can alter the set-points in the endocrine homeostatic mechanism which can cause adjustments such as a lower adrenal activation threshold. This means that we become more resistant to the stimuli of chronic stressors bombarding us in modern urban settings and modern lifestyles and literally we have a physiological higher threshold. The modern urban life-style wont affect our stress response as much.
The float pod environment eliminates as much external input as possible. It lets your nervous system have a break. In a city with a constant buzz or hum, our systems rarely experience (if ever) the isolation and silence that the tanks environment provides. Having this experience can be very refreshing, nourishing and healthy for our bodies and minds. We are well adapted for acute stress, however, for chronic stressors such as noise and air pollution; business, social, and family pressures; war; unemployment; street crime fear; general antagonism between the sexes; we are not well adapted and have been cited to be a cause of several forms of disease.
Floating is a great way to bring greater awareness to various patterns of behavior. Floating has shown to have beneficial effects such as decreased anxiety and depression; increased calmness or sense of well-being; it has shown fantastic results towards anti-smoking assistance as well as positive effects.
With literally zero outward distractions your attention is easily redirected inward. Habitual thought-pattern recognition and analysis can be clearly discovered, monitored, and addressed. Various forms of mental programming/reprogramming become very powerful tools to re-evaluate and change your thoughts with clarity and repetition.
From managing chronic stress and inducing a natural calm, to facilitating introspection and identifying various less-serving modes of thinking, many people report drastically improved sleeping abilities. The change in your physical state and your mental outlook may provide you with a healthier perspective in which to put your body and mind to rest much easier each night if sleeping is an issue. Also, 90 minutes in the tank can feel like 6-8 hours of sleep. It is extremely therapeutic, refreshing and rejuvenating. So if you pulled an all-nighter, suffer from insomnia or have a baby who never lets you sleep the night through, floating can help make up for any lack of sleep you may experiencing
Not having to fight gravity lets your muscles, joints, and bones take a well-deserved break. Your body suddenly has loads of extra resources (usually spent supporting your weight, regulating temperature, and trying not to get speeding tickets), which it gets to focus on things like healing and resting.
Without gravity pushing you down all the time, your spine lengthens an inch, chronic pain is relieved, and your muscles get to fully rest. Unlike lying on a mattress, lying in water allows blood to flow freely all throughout your body. There’s no need to readjust your position to get comfortable.
About 40 minutes into your float your brain stops producing its normal Alpha waves and starts churning out Theta waves. These are responsible for that ‘between-waking-and-sleeping’ state, and you make them naturally every night before you conk out. While it only lasts for a few sparse moments in your bed, you can achieve a prolonged Theta state in the tank, a state of consciousness that is usually only seen in children and people who have spent years practicing meditation.
Even the magnesium-based Epsom salts we use in the tank are good for you. They soften and replenish your skin, and help counteract the magnesium deficiency that most of us have due to depleted magnesium levels in our soil. They’re also kosher, just in case you want to float in water that has been blessed by a Rabbi.
Research indicates increased visual acuity, improved tactile perception, improved auditory sensitivity, and increased taste sensitivities after floating.
Immune function is enhanced by suppressing stress hormones which not only weaken the immune system but also suppress the digestion and reproductive systems, affect regeneration processes, and decrease insulin sensitivity.
Floating decreases chronic muscle tension and creates greater awareness of less noticeable areas of muscle tension and imbalances.
Although floating is not zero-gravity (like outer space), the density of the Epsom Salt solution does create the maximal amount of the forces of gravity to be dispersed across the greatest surface area of the body. Rigid postures and chronic muscular tension from daily life can cause ailments such as lower-back pain, neck pain, shallow breathing, high blood pressure, etc. The anti-gravity environment of the float tank disperses forces to the smallest amount and thus decreases the source of gravity-related stimulation to the minimum possible value providing relief to these specific areas.
Meditation has a plethora of researched benefits and floating is a unique and phenomenal tool to cultivate mental stillness. It often generates a sensation of being intensely awake yet extremely relaxed; presence. It can induce theta-state brainwaves and allows for one to remain conscious in this frequency instead of falling asleep. Floating may induce an altered state of consciousness.
The mental "reset". Patterns exist throughout our lives. Going throughout our daily routines we get "numb" to so much around us, we become automatic with so many of our thoughts, our actions, our environments. The "resetting" experience provided by the tank can shift us out of this automated existence and bring us into greater awareness of the things we are often over-looking, less aware of or insensitive to, and not appreciating.
After settling into the floating experience research has shown greater hemisphere synchronization (promoting greater communication between the right (creative-side) and left (analytical-side) lobes; the majority of people are left-dominated. Also, people experience increased vertical communication between the primitive reptilian brain, the limbic middle or mammalian brain and the conscious neocortex. These synchronizing reactions can cause elevated states of creativity, greater non-linear connections, and deeper realizations.
The combination of being extremely relaxed while intensely awake allows techniques of visualization to become very powerful. From athletes preparing for competition to public speakers rehearsing a presentation, the tank can induce the calm needed to perform at ones best. Mental rehearsal research has shown it to be just as practical as physical rehearsal.
This is a multidisciplinary approach to how well our immune system functions based on our state of mind. It correlates having a positive healthy state of mind with a well-functioning immune system. Some research has even shown how focusing on an injury of diseased area of the body with positive feelings of a healing intention has improved recovery rates from various ailments.
With the brain being held in a theta state wave-length the mind becomes hyper-suggestible. With less distractions and greater resources at its disposal the mind is able to absorb new material very deeply with research showing improved performance in memory and recall activities. It is great to use in conjunction with exam.
Floating and the relaxation response it induces flood the body with endorphins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for relieving us from pain, enhancing our mood (decreasing feelings of depression to potentially generating feelings of euphoria), they can suppress our appetite, and decrease anxiety leaving us in a calm and clear state of being.
Some of us are known as introverts while others are extroverts. Introverts who float can gain a feeling of safety and security, they often enjoy the break from constant stimulation in which they are usually hypersensitive to. No person or thing will disturb you while in the tank. Extroverts can develop greater internal sensitivity from floating, typically they are always seeking extra stimulation and paradoxically through depriving the senses the nervous systems response is to (turn up the volume) to try and feel more. Since minimal input is coming in they are able to develop greater sensitivity to their internal reality and over time they may not feel the need to be constantly stimulated; i.e. it may heighten their (dulled) senses, and wont need to be constantly stimulated.
Can I float if I’m pregnant?
Pregnant women love floating! If you are in your third trimester or have any concerns please consult with your physician prior to booking your appointment.
Is there anything I should do to prepare?
Avoid caffeinated beverages for several hours beforehand to reduce the chances of having the jitters. Don’t shave or wax at least 8-12 hours since the salt water can irritate your skin. Eating a light meal about an hour to 90 minutes ahead of time stops your stomach from sounding like an angry monster while you float. Other than that there is no specific preparation needed.
Can I float if I’m menstruating?
Yes. Just follow the same protocol you would for a swimming pool. Some women do experience some discomfort in their feminine areas before or during this time.
Can I float if I just dyed my hair?
While there is no guarantee that the salt won’t strip some color from your hair, we recommend that you check if the water running through your hair in the shower at home is fully clear. If there is still some color coming out you should wait a couple of more days/showers.
Do I need to bring anything?
If you have longer hair, you may want to bring a comb. Also, something to put your contact lenses into while you’re in the float pod. Other than that, we provide everything you need (one towel, earplugs, body wash/shampoo…) Our room is fully private and you go into the pod nude so there’s no need to bring a bathing suit.
Can more than one person float in one float pod at the same time?
Only one person per pod. Double-wide tanks do exist, but we think that they take away from the whole ‘sensory deprivation’ experience. Our float pod is quite large as you will notice once you float with us.
Do I have to stay in the whole time?
There aren’t any latches on the float pod doors and you can get out anytime. That said, the 60-90 minutes usually goes by faster than you would expect.
What’s the longest someone has been in the float pod?
One of the owners of Portland's Float On goes for a 12 hour float about once a month… famed float inventor John Lily is said to have floated for much, much longer periods of time.
Who invented these crazy devices?
How long have float pods been around?
The first float pod was developed in 1954. These involved full submersion in water and a breathing device that completely covered your face. The first lay down commercial float pod were invented in the early 70’s.
What if I’m claustrophobic?
Being in the pod is more like floating in outer space than being shut in a box. You’re always in control of your environment and even people with extreme claustrophobia have reported having no problems with their time in the pod.
How do you clean the pod?
The water is fully filtered 3 times between each float, passing through a 10 micron filter and H2O2.
Do I get dehydrated from soaking for so long?
No! Your skin doesn’t even prune up and it become silky soft afterwards!
Can I drown if I fall asleep in there?
Nope. Some people fall asleep but the water is so buoyant that you stay afloat. The worst that can happen is maybe getting a bit of salt water in your eyes.
The entirety of the water is filtered through a 1-10 micron filter a minimum of three times after each float.
UV / Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is used as a disinfectant in the pods – a non-toxic alternative to chlorine and bromine.
High powered UV light units are attached to the pump system for added sanitation.
We rigorously measure and maintain the pH, alkalinity, specific gravity, and temperature of the pods.
The water in the float pod is about 30% epsom salt, which is a difficult environment for a lot of bacteria to live in (the Dead Sea is named that for a reason).
Our pod is likely to have some of the cleanest water you’ve ever been in.