Getting rid of all sensory input allows the ‘constantly-make-sure-you’re-not-dying’ part of your brain to chill out for a second, allowing the creative, relaxed part of your brain to come out and play. Without the constant pressure of analyzing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of cortisol, the main chemical component of stress. Your brain also releases elevated levels of dopamine and endorphins, the neurotransmitters of happiness. Here are some of the benefits:
The tank 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.
Research indicates increased visual acuity, improved tactile perception, improved auditory sensitivity, and increased taste sensitivities after floating.
Arthritis, back pain, neck pain, tendinitis, bursitis, inflammation, and psychosomatic pain relief have all been documented via tank use.
Increased Immune Function
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 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.
Floating decreases chronic muscle tension and creates greater awareness of less noticeable areas of muscle tension and imbalances.
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.
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.
Increased Stress Resistance
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.
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.
Chronic Stressor Relief
The tanks 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.