There are many health benefits to sensory deprivation floating from stress relief to injury repair and best of all, pure relaxation.
Today we're jumping into the deep end of self-care, quite literally. I've been slowly taking you through different ideas to keep your mind and body balanced. There's carving out time to spend relaxing poolside with a hotel day pass or joining a community for healthy inspiration at an upcoming Wanderlust festival. Now, we're going to dive into something totally different with sensory deprivation floating.
Is floating for you? Have you ever forgotten why you walked into a room or where you left the keys you just dropped? Do you sometimes feel like you're at the end of your rope with the barrage of requests for help on a daily basis? Do you have a hard time concentrating, relaxing and focusing? Then sensory deprivation floating could be for you.
The benefits of spending time in a isolation or flotation chamber are numerous. Taking away all distractions, including light, sound, smell and touch allows your brain to quiet and center. When your mind is too busy bouncing around from one task to the next, or usually 5 at the same time, it loses it's ability to focus. A lack of concentration can lead to anxiety and stress, not to mention a lack of productivity.
- Stress relief
- Help with depression and anxiety
- Quiet the mind
- Develop greater focus and concentration
- Relief from muscular pain
- Deepen meditation practice
- Boost creativity
- Improve sleep
How to Float
So what is floating? Ok, you learned what floating was when you learned to swim as a kid. This is actually so much better because water isn't flying up your nose while you struggle to keep yourself above water. Floating, or sensory deprivation, uses dense magnesium-saturated water to keep your body buoyant. There's more than 1,000 pounds of Epsolm salt dissolved in the water, twice the density of the Dead Sea, so you will effortlessly float, whether you like or not.
My Floating Experience
I found a groupon for a floating experience in Los Angeles, though you can look here and here to see if there's a floating center to you. I went into my own room with shower and separate flotation chamber. You're instructed to shower before entering the chamber and to put ear plugs in to avoid salt water in your ears, and to ensure total silence. You get into the fully enclosed chamber with nothing on.
When I closed the door behind me, it was dark. Pitch black. No light. Yup, a little freaky. The water is the same temperature as your body, but at first I thought it was cool. Once I laid on top of it, I realized it was perfect. I'm not going to lie, it takes a few minutes to acclimate. You see and hear nothing. I could stretch my arms and legs in all directions and hit nothing, but sometimes when I'd drift a little, I'd brush up against a wall.
I've been practicing yoga and meditation for many years, so I quickly went to a long, slow breath to relax. They had said put your hands by your sides or behind your head, which seemed like a ridiculously uncomfortable place, but then I tried. Hands clasped behind my head was perfect. I smiled. Oh this was cool.
It's so much better than laying in bed, because in the floatation chamber it's pure weightlessness. You feel nothing, in a good way. My tight hips, muscle aches, back tightness - all gone. I didn't have to fight with gravity with any part of my body.
I had a similar weightless feeling with my mind after I settled in and found my breath. The list of things to do that sends it in overdrive vanished and there was clarity and calm. How nice to give the brain a much needed break. Some time later I even started coming up with dozens of ideas for various future projects. I never have the quiet to move into full brainstorming mode like I felt while floating.
My acupuncturist told me that they're starting to use floatation tanks to teach intensive language immersion. I can see how learning would be so effective in an environment like this where all of the external stimuli is stripped away.
I had the chamber for 2 hours, which I thought was waaaaay too long, but you can get out anytime you like within the 2 hour window. I had drifted to far away places, then brainstormed and felt totally relaxed, so I got up, unsure if I had been in for 10 minutes or an hour and 10. Turns out I was in for an hour and 45 minutes. Time flies while you're weightless.
Of course check with your doctor to see if sensory deprivation floating is for you. Even if you feel none of the possible benefits from a float, the massive amounts of magnesium that you're in from the salts will have a calming effect on your body. Magnesium is a good anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxer, so you're bound to at least get some physical pleasure from floating, not to mention a good night's sleep. The mind relaxation was another bonus that I'm hoping to be able to tap into more often.