This is alternative content.

FLOATATION THERAPY

About Floatation

The Benefits of Floatation

What is Floatation?

Quite simply, floating is a method of attaining the deepest rest that humankind has ever experienced.

It is spending an hour or so lying quietly in the dark, suspended in a body temperature solution of Epsom salt, about 10'' deep, and so dense that you float effortlessly.

In the gravity free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested.

In short, it is complete mental and physical relaxation.

One hour of floating has the restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep!

Back to the Top

How it Works

Scientists estimate that up to 90% of the brain's normal workload is caused by the effects of routine environmental stimulation the combined effects of gravity, temperature, touch, light and sound on the muscles, nervous system and sense organs of the body.

The float room screens out these external physical stimuli, creating a pure state of "sensory" relaxation. Under these unique conditions, your body has a chance to restore its natural powers of self-regulation, while you simply lie back and rediscover the latent abilities of a deeply relaxed mind.

The temperature inside the room is kept at a constant 93.5 degrees F - relaxed skin temperature. As a result, the nerve endings which cover the surface of the skin no longer perceive any sense of separation between the skin and the silky mineral solution which surrounds it.

In the dark, weightless tranquility of the room, the boundaries of your body seem to dissolve and vanish. As you enter progressively deeper levels of relaxation, even your body seems to "disappear" from conscious awareness because of the sharp reduction in signals being transmitted through the nervous system to the brain.

Free from all external stimulation, your body can achieve a state of relaxation, which is deeper, purer and more beneficial than sleep. With no body to look after, your mind can attend to other business.

The sudden de-stimulation of large areas of the nervous system triggers a spontaneous chain reaction throughout the body known as the parasympathetic response. Muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption all drop dramatically. The whole chemistry of the body changes.

Blood vessels including capillaries dilate, improving cardio-vascular efficiency and increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to every single cell in your body. This is called the vasodilatory effect

Stress related chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol, ACTH and lactate are removed from the bloodstream and replaced by beneficial endorphins. High levels of cortisol and ACTH are known to weaken the body's immune system and create feelings of depression, while lower baseline levels are associated with feelings of confidence.

These biochemical changes occur naturally and spontaneously as by-products of deep sensory relaxation. No training or techniques are required. Just lie back and let it happen.

Back to the Top

Epsom Salt

Magnesium - the key component of Epsom Salt -- performs more functions in more systems of the human body than virtually any other mineral, including regulating the activity of more than 325 enzymes.

Studies show that magnesium is:

  • An electrolyte, helping to ensure proper muscle, nerve and enzyme function.
  • Critical to the proper use of calcium in cells.
  • An aid in helping to prevent heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths.

Medical research also indicates that magnesium may:

  • Increase the effectiveness of insulin, helping to lower the risk or severity of diabetes.
  • Reduce inflammation and relieves pain, making it a beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.

Although magnesium can be absorbed through the digestive tract, many foods, drugs and medical conditions can interfere with the effectiveness of this deliver method. Therefore, soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is one of the most effective means of making the magnesium your body needs readily available.

Epsom Salt also delivers sulphates, which medical research indicates are needed for the formation of brain tissue, joint proteins and the mucin proteins that line the walls of the digestive tract. Studies show that sulphates also stimulate the pancreas to generate digestive enzymes and help to detoxify the body's residue of medicines and environmental contaminants. Studies indicate that sulphates are difficult to absorb from food, but are readily absorbed through the skin.

Back to the Top

Scientific Research

Sports

Baker D.A. (1990). The Use of REST in the Enhancement of Sports Performance-Tennis. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.181-187. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Bond J. (1997). "To float or not to float"... is that the question?
How to maximise your use of the Sport Psychology float tanks.

McAleney P. & Barabasz A. (1993). Effects of Flotation REST and Visual Imagery on Athletic Performance: Tennis. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.79-86.New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Richardson S. (1997). Enhancing Rowing Ergometer Performance Through Flotation REST. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*

Stanley J., Mahoney M.& Reppert S. (1982). REST and the Enhancement of Sports Performance: A Panel Presentation and Discussion. 2nd International Conference on REST. pp.168-183. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Wagaman J. & Barabasz A. (1993). Flotation REST and Imagery in the Improvement of Collegiate Athletic Performance: Basketball. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.87-92. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

* Publication is not yet available.

Other Atkinson R. (1993). Short-Term Exposure to REST: Enhancement Performance on a Signal-Detection Task. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.93-100. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Barabasz M. & Barabasz A. (1997). REST Effects on Human Performance. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*

Melchiori L.G. & Barabasz A.F. (1990). Effects of Flotation REST on Simulated Instrument Flight Performance. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.196-203. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

O’Leary D.S. & Heilbronner R.L. (1985). Flotation Rest and Information Processing: A Reaction Time Study. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.50-61. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Anxiety

O’Toole P. & Barabasz M. (1997). Effects of Rational Emotive Therapy and REST on Social Anxiety. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.

Pudvah M.B. & Rzewnicki R. (1990). Six Months in the Tank: The Long-Term Effects of Flotation Isolation on State Anxiety, Hostility, and Depression. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.79-85. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Children with Autism

Harrison J. & Barabasz A. (1993). REST as a Treatment for Children with Autism. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 269-280. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Suedfeld P. & Schwartz G. (1980). Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) as a Treatment for Autistic Children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Vol.4, #3, pp. 196-201. William & Wilkins Co.

Pre-menstrual syndrome

Goldstein D.D. & Jessen W.E. (1990). Flotation Effect on Premenstrual Syndrome. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.260-266. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Jessen W. (1993). The Effects of Consecutive Floats and Their Timing on Premenstrual Syndrome. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 281-288. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Chronic Pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Borrie R. (1997). The Benefits of Flotation REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) in a Pain Management Program. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.


McCormick B.A., Shafransky D.R., Fine T.H. & Turner J.W. Jr. (1997). Effects of Flotation REST on Plasma Cortisol in Rheumatoid Arthritis. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.

Mereday C., Lehmann C. & Borrie R. (1990). Flotation For The Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.255-259. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Shafransky D.R., McCormick B.A., Fine T.H. & Turner J. Jr. (1997). Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) on Serological Markers of Inflammation in Rheumatoid Arthritis. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.

Turner J. Jr., Deleon A., Gibson C. & Fine T.H. (1993). Effects of Flotation REST on Range Motion, Grip Strength and Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 297-306. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Other

Borrie R., Dana J., Perry S., & Friedman M. (1993). Flotation REST, Physical Therapy and Psychological Intervention in the Treatment of Physical Disabilities. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental
Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 289-296. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Cahn H.A. (1985). Sensory Isolation used with Cognition Modification Training to Restore Medically Declared Unfit Persons to Duty and Reduce Absenteeism in City of Phoenix Maintenance Workers. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.167-178. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Grunberg N. E. (1990). Potential Applications of Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy in Behavioral Health. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.36-50. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Ramirez C.E., Suedfeld P., Remick R.A. & Fleming J.A.E. (1990). Potential Beneficial Effect of REST on Patients with Electroconvulsive Therapy. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.188-
195. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Rzewnicki R., Wallbaum A.B.C., Steel H. & Suedfeld P. (1990). REST for Muscle Contraction Headaches; A Comparison of Two REST Environments Combined with Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training. Restricted
Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.245-254. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Dr. Suchurbruck, Dr. Berman & Tapprich J. (1997). Treatment of Psychosomatic Illness Through Mental Training and Floatation in Oxygenated Magnesium Sulfate Saturated Baths. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.

Tikalsky F.D.(1990). Restricted Environmental Stimulation, Relaxation Therapy, Social Support and Mental Imagery as a Treatment Regimen in Breast Cancer. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp267-271. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Alcohol Consumption

Adams H. (1988).REST Arousability and the Nature of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Journal of substance Abuse Treatment. Vol.5, pp. 77-81.USA.*

Barabasz M., Barabasz A. & Dyer R. (1993). Chamber REST Reduces Alcohol Consumption: 3, 6, 12, and 24 Hour Sessions. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.163-173. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Cooper G., Adams H.& Scott J. (1988).REST and Alcohol Consumption. Journal of substance Abuse Treatment. Vol.5, pp.59.USA.*

David B. (1997). A Pilot Test of REST as a Relapse Prevention Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Abusers. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*

DiRito D. (1993). Motivational Factors in Alcohol Consumption: Extending Hull’s Model. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.157-162. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Eating

Barabasz M. (1993). REST : A Key Facilitator in the Treatment of Eating Disorders. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.121-126. New York: Springer-VerlagNew York Inc.

Borrie R.A. (1985). Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy used in Weight Reduction. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.144-151. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Dyer R., Barabasz A. & Barabasz M. (1993). Twenty-Four Hours of Chamber REST Produces Specific Food Aversions in Obese Females. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.127-144. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Smoking

Barabasz M. & Barabasz A. (1993). Treatment of Trichotillomania and Smoking with Hypnosis and REST. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.145-
156. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Fine T. & Bruno J. (1985). Floatation REST and Smoking Cessation: A preliminary Report, Health and Clinical Psychology. North Holland: Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.*

Ramirez C. (1985). Restricted Environmental Stimulation Techniques in Smoking Cessation in a Latin American Country. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.152-166. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications. * Publication is not yet available.

Stress Management

Literature on REST Research Stress Management Barabasz A., Barabasz M., Dyer R. & Rather N. (1993). Effects of Chamber REST, Flotation REST and Relaxation on Transient Mood State. Clinical
and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.113-120. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Ewy G., Sershon P., Freundlich T. (1990). The Presence or Absence of Light the REST Experience: Effects on Plasma Cortisol, Blood Pressure and Mood.Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary.
pp.120-133. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Fine T. & Turner J.W. (1985). The Use of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) in the Treatment of Essential Hypertension. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.136-143. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Helmreich N.E. (1990). The Critical Role of Personality and Organizational Factors as Determinants of Reactions to Restricted and Stressful Environments. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and
Commentary. pp.51-61. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press

Jacobs, Heilbronner & Stanely. (1985). The Effects of Short Term FloatationREST on Relaxation. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.86-102. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Jacobs G.D., Kemp J.C., Keane K.M.& Belden A.D. (1985). A Preliminary Clinical Outcome Study on a Hospital Based Stress Management Program Utilizing Flotation REST Biofeedback. First International Conference on
REST and Self-Regulation. pp.179-185. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Kuola G. M., Kemp J., Keane K.M. & Belden A., (1984).Replication of aClinicalOutcome Study on a Hospital-based Stress Management and Behavioral Medicine Program Utilizing Floatation REST (Restricted
Environmental Stimulation Technique) and Biofeedback. 2nd International Conference on REST. pp.127-135. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Dr. Schürbrock, (1996). Treatment of Psychosomatic Illnesses Through Mental Training and Floatations in Oxygenated Magnesium Sulfate Saturated Baths, For Instance in the Treatment of Chronic Relapsing Skin Diseases (Psoriasis, Neurodermatitis) 6th International REST Conference,
San Francisco.

Dr. Schürbrock, (1996). Zur Adjuvanten Therapie Chronisch RezidivierterHauterkrankung (Psoriasis-Vulgaris, Neurodermitis) im Magnesium-Sulfat Schwebewasser-Tank in Kombination mit UV-Bestrahlung im
Therapiezentrum "Haus Ebersberg"

Wickramasekera I. (1993). A Model of the Common "Active Ingredient" in Stress Reduction Techniques. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp.59-74. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Creativity enhancement

Literature on REST Research Enhancement of Creativity Baker D.A.(1987). The Effects of REST and Hemispheric Synchronization Compared to the Effects of REST and Guided Imagery on the Enhancement of Creativity in Problem-Solving. 2nd International Conference on REST. pp.122-126. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications

Metcalfe J. & Suedfeld P. (1990). Enhancing the Creativity of Psychologists Through Flotation REST. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.204-212. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press. Vartarian O.A. (1997). The Effects of Flotation REST on Musical Creativity. 6th International REST Conference. San Francisco.*

REST Literature

Available Literature on REST Research Books
Fine T.H. & Turner J.W. (eds.). (1983). First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications. Fine T.H. & Turner J.W. (eds.). (1985). 2nd International Conference on REST.
Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications. Fine T.H. & Turner J.W. (eds.). (1990). Restricted Environmental Stimulation:
Research and Commentary. (Based on the 3rd International Conference on REST). Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press. Suedfeld P. & Turner J.W. & Fine T.H. (eds.). (1990). Restricted Environmental Stimulation:

Theoretical and Empirical Developments in Flotation REST New York : Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
Barabasz A.F. & Barabasz M. (eds.) (1993). Clinical and ExperimentalRestricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. (Based on the 4th International Conference on REST) New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc. Hutchison M. (1984). The Book of Floating, Quill, New York.
A list of REST research articles is, with permission of IRIS (International REST Investigators Society) available for each of the following effects.

Biological Effects

Literature on REST Research Biological Effects

Barabasz M., O’Neill M. & Scoggin G. (1990). The Physiological Panic Button: New Data. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.112-119. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Budzynski T.H. (1990). Hemespheric Asymmetry and REST. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Theoretical and Empirical Developments in Flotation REST. Pp. 2-21. New York: Sringer-Verlag New York Inc.

Ewy G., Sershon P., Freundlich T. (1990). The Presence or Absence of Light in the REST Experience: Effects on Plasma Cortisol, Blood Pressure and Mood. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.120- 133. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Fine T., Mills D. & Turner J. Jr. (1993). Differential Effects of Wet and Dry Flotation REST on EEG Frequency and Amplitude. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and
Perspectives. 205-213. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Fine T. & Turner J.W. (1985). The Use of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) in the Treatment of Essential Hypertension. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.136-143. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Fine T.& Turner J.W. (1987).The Effect of flotation REST on EMG Biofeedback and Plasma Cortisol. 2nd International Conference on REST. pp.148-155. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Francis W.D. & Stanley J.M. (1985). The Effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation on Physiological and Cognitive Indices. First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.40-49. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS
Publications.

Malowitz R., Tortora T. & Lehmann C.A. (1990). Effects of Floating in a Saturated Epsom Salts Solution Disinfected with Bromine on the Aerobic Microbial Flora of the Skin. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.139-150. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Ruzyla-Smith P. & Barabasz A. (1993). Effects of Flotation REST on the Immune Response: T-Cells, B-Cells, Helper and Suppressor Cells. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 223-238. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Steel G. (1993). Relaxed and Alert:Patterns of T-Wave Amplitude and Heart Rate in a REST Environment. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 249-260. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Turner J.W. & Fine T.H. (1985).Hormonal Changes Associated with Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy.First International Conference on REST and Self-Regulation. pp.17-39. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Turner J.W. & Fine T.H. (1990). Restricted Environmental Stimulation Influences Plasma Cortisol Levels and Their Variability. Restricted Environmental Stimulation: Research and Commentary. pp.71-78. Toledo, Ohio: Medical College of Ohio Press.

Turner J. Jr. & Fine T.H. (1993). The Physiological Effects of Flotation REST. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 215-222. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Turner J.W. Jr., Fine T. & Hamad N.M. (1997). Plasma Catecholamine Activity During Flotation REST.6th International REST Conference.San Francisco*

Turner J. Jr., Gerard W., Hyland J., Nieland P. & Fine T. (1993). Effects of Wet and Dry Flotation REST on Blood Pressure and Plasma Cortisol. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 239-248. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Turner J., Fine T.H., McGrady A. & Higgins J.T.(1987). Effects of Biobehaviorally Assisted Relaxation Training on Blood Pressure and Hormone Levels and Their Variation in Normotensives and Essential Hypertansives. 2nd
International Conference on REST. pp.87-109. Toledo, Ohio: IRIS Publications.

Turner J. Jr. , Shroeder H. & Fine T.H. (1993). A Method for Continuous Blood Sampling During Flotation REST. Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation: New Developments and Perspectives. pp. 261-
267. New York: Springer-Verlag New York Inc.

Back to the Top

History

Dr. John Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist, developed the floatation tank in the 1950s. During his training in psychoanalysis, at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Lilly commenced experiments with physical isolation. It was argued that if all stimuli were cut off to the brain then the brain would go to sleep. Lilly decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment, which totally isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain.

In the original tanks, people were required to wear complicated head-masks in order to breathe underwater. In our float rooms, Epsom salt is added to the water to raise the density above the density of the human body, so that you float with your face above the water. However, since the ears are submerged hearing is greatly reduced, particularly when earplugs are also used. When the arms float to the side, skin sensation is greatly reduced because the air and water are the same temperature as the skin, and the feeling of a body boundary fades.

A therapeutic session in a flotation room lasts an hour. For the first forty minutes, it is reportedly possible to experience itching in various parts of the body (a phenomenon also reported to be common during the early stages of meditation). The last 20 minutes often end with a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta, which typically occur briefly before sleep and again at waking. In a float tank the theta state can last for several minutes, many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving or for super learning. Floatation therapy has been academically studied in the USA and in Sweden with published results showing reduction of both pain and stress. The relaxed state also involves lowered blood pressure and maximizing blood flow.

Floating can be passive or active, depending on the purpose. For relaxation, one simply floats and becomes the observer of the body/mind system. Active floating has many different techniques. One may perform meditation, mantras, and self-hypnosis, utilize educational programs, etc. The idea of active floating is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind becomes highly suggestible and any action taken during these states will enter the information into the sub-conscious. Floatation therapy may be used complimentary with other bodywork and healing methods.

Back to the Top

Seven Theories of Floating

(extracts from 'The Book of Floating' by Michael Hutchinson)

There's no doubt that floating works - as a therapeutic, educational and entertainment tool it has powerful effects on a number of levels, including the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Buy why is the floatation environment so effective? What can be so actively beneficial in an essentially passive device? This is a question that has intrigued scientists, and today there is an explosion of floatation research going on in laboratories around the World. The evidence accumulated so far falls into a number of distinct, though inter-related explanations. Among the most important are:

1. The Antigravity Explanation

The buoyancy afforded by the dense Epson salt solution eliminates the body's specific gravity, bringing the floater close to an experience of total weightlessness. Gravity, which has been estimated to occupy 90% of all central nervous system activity, is probably the single largest cause of human health problems - the bad backs, sagging abdomens, aching feet, painful joints, and muscular tension that result from our unique but unnatural upright posture. This theory asserts that, by freeing our brain and musculoskeletal system from gravity, floating liberates vast amounts of energies and large areas of the brain to deal with matter of mind, spirit, and enhanced awareness of internal states.

2. The Brain Wave Explanation

More interesting than the well known alpha waves generated by the brain in moments of relaxation, are the slower theta waves, which are accompanied by vivid memories, free association, sudden insights, creative inspiration, feeling of serenity and oneness with the universe. It is a mysterious, elusive state, potentially highly productive and enlightening; but experimenters have had a difficult time studying it, and it is hard to maintain, since people tend to fall asleep once they begin generate theta waves.

One way of learning to produce theta waves is to perfect the art of meditation. A study of Zen monks conducted by Akira Kazamatsu and Tomio Hirai, in which the monks' brain-waves were charted as they entered the meditative states, indicated that the four meditative plateau's (from alpha to the more sublime theta) 'were parallel to the disciples' mental states, and their years spent in Zen training''. Those monks with over twenty years of meditative experience generated the greatest amount of theta, the monks were not asleep but mentally alert.

However, since many of us are unwilling to spend twenty years of meditation to learn to generate theta waves, it's helpful to know that several recent studies (at Texas A&M and University of Colorado) have shown that floating increases production of theta waves. Floaters quickly enter the theta state while remaining awake, consciously aware of all the vivid imagery and creative thoughts that pass through their minds, and after getting out of the floatation environment, floaters continue to generate larger amounts of creativity-promoting theta waves for up to 3 weeks.

3. The Left-Brain Right Brain Explanation

The two hemispheres or the neo-cortex operate in fundamentally different modes. The left hemisphere excels at detail, processing information that is small-scale, requiring fine resolution: it operates analytically, by splitting or dissection. The right hemisphere on the other hand, is good at putting all the pieces together; it operates by pattern recognition - visually, intuitively rapidly absorbing large scale information.

Just as in the sunshine of a bright day it is impossible to see the stars, so are the subtle contents of the right hemisphere usually drowned out by the noisy chattering of the dominant verbal/analytical left brain, whose qualities are the more cultivated and valued in our culture. But recent research indicates that floating increases right-brain (or minor hemisphere) function. Floating turns off the external stimuli plunges us into literal and figurative darkness - then suddenly the entire universe of stars and galaxies is spread out before our eyes. Or as brain researcher Dr Thomas Budzynski of the University of Colorado put it, ' In a floatation environment, the right hemisphere comes out and says 'Whoopee!'

4. The Three Brain Explanation

In a series of seminal studies produced over the last twenty-five years, Paul Maclean, chief brain researcher at the National Institute for Mental Health (US), has produced convincing evidence that the human brain has three separate physiological layers, each corresponding to a stage in our evolution history. In this 'Triune Brain Theory', the most ancient layer is called the reptile brain, and it controls basic self-preservative, reproductive and life sustaining functions. Sitting atop the reptile brain is the limbic system, which Maclean had dubbed the visceral brain, because it generates all our emotions. The most recent part of the brain to develop is the 'thinking cap' of convoluted gray matter called neo-cortex, seat of out abstract, cognitive functions; memory, intellect, language and consciousness.

While many of these three separate brains have overlapping functions they are all quite different in chemistry, structure, action and style. Three brains should be better than one, but unfortunately, due to a ruinous design error, there is insufficient communication and co-ordination between neo-cortex and the two older levels. This lack of communication results in a chronic dissociation between higher and lower brains, which Maclean calls schizaphysiology, and which we experience in the form of conflicting drives - unconscious and conscious, savage and civilized, lusty and loving, ritualistic and symbolic, rational and verbal. There are times when the levels do act in harmony, as in peak experiences when body and mind unite in exhilarating moments of vitality, when our actions become effortlessly, spontaneously. But it's hard to predict when these perfect moments will occur.

Now there is evidence that suggests that, due to heightened internal awareness, and decreased physical arousal, floating increases the vertical organisation of the brain, enhancing communication and harmony between the separate levels. Floating, it has been hypothesized, can provide us with peak experiences almost at will.

5. The Neurochemical Explanation

Neuroscientists have recently discovered the brain is an endocrine organ that secretes numerous neurochemicals which influence our behaviour. Our brains secrete hormones that make us happy, anxious, depressed, shy, sleepy, sexy. Each of us creates different amounts of these various neuro chemicals, and those who create, for example, more endorphins - natural opiates, experience more pleasure as a result of a given experience that those who create fewer endorphins.

Tests indicate that floating increased the secretion of endorphins at the same time as it reduces the levels of a number of stress - related neurochemicals, such as adrenaline, norepinephrine, ACTH, and cortical substances that can cause tension, anxiety, irritability and are related to ailments such as heart disease, hyper tension and high levels of cholesterol.

One other neurochemical theory is the 'return of the womb' explanation. Since pregnant women produce up to eight times the normal endorphin levels, the foetus experiences true prenatal bliss. When a floater is suspended in dense, warm solution, enclosed in the darkness, body pulsates rhythmically and brain pumping our endorphins, it's possible that subconscious memories are stirred and profoundly deep associations called up. It is no coincidence that at least one commercial float centre is named 'The Womb Room'.

6. The Biofeedback Explanation

Because of biofeedback research (including John Hopkins researcher John Basmajian's conclusive study of subjects consciously firing off single motor-unit neurons), we now know that humans can learn to exercise conscious control over virtually every cell in their bodies. Processes long thought to be involuntary, such as the rhythm and amplitude of our brain waves, healing, blood pressure, the rate or force of heart contractions, respiratory rate, smooth-muscle tension, and the secretion of hormones and neurotransmitters are now thought to be controllable.

The way biofeedback machines work is by enhancing concentration; by focusing on a single, subtle change in the body, which is being amplified by the machine, we are able to shut off our awareness of the external environment. This shutting off of external stimuli is exactly what the floatation environment does best - almost as if in an 'organic' biofeedback machine, in the tank every physical sensation is magnified, and because there is no possibility of outside distraction, we are able to relax deeply and focus at will upon any part or system of the body.

7. The Homeostasis Explanation

The human body has an exquisitely sensitive self-monitoring and self regulating system that is constantly working to maintain the body in homeostatis - an optimal state of balance, harmony, equilibrium and stability. Considered in these terms, we can define stress as a disruption of our internal equilibrium, a disturbance of our natural homeostasis. Research now indicates that many of the floating's most powerful effects come from its tendency to return the body to a state of homeostatis. When we view the mind and body as a single system, it becomes clear that external stimuli are constantly militating against the system's equilibrium; every noise, every degree of temperature above or below the body's optimal level, every encounter with other people, everything we see and feel can disrupt our homeostasis. But when we enter the tank, we abruptly stop this constant adjustment to outer stimuli. Since there are no external threats, no pressures to adapt to outside events, the system can devote all its energies to restoring itself. The normal state, of course, is health, vigor, enthusiasm and immense pleasure of being alive.

Back to the Top

Eligibility to Float

Floaters must be 18 years of age in order to float. Minors may float with written permission from a legal guardian.

Those with a history of blackouts, hearts attacks and seizures (unless well controlled) are not ideal candidates to float safely.

Those who are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol may not float.

Those with physical limitations are advised to come tour the tank prior to booking a floatation session in order to determine accessibility. Please call in advance to ensure the tank is available for viewing.

Pregnant women who wish to float must receive written permission from their physician.

Back to the Top

Medical conditions that can be
benefited by Floatation Therapy

Cardio-Vascular Conditions

Due to the substantial physiological changes that we have already discussed, it is easy to understand the benefits that Floatation therapy can provide for cardiovascular conditions. The natural beta-blocker effect, acquired through the inactivation of the sympathetic nervous system, allows patients with high blood pressure to derive important benefits. The decrease of the blood pressure enables reduction of the dosage of pharmacological products in many cases and the suspension of drug therapy in other cases with mild hypertension.

It is also evident that Floatation therapy will help patients with heart problems. This occurs through the decrease in ventricular overload due to the reduction of systemic blood pressure and of oxygen consumption.

Muscular-skeletal and rheumatic conditions

The main benefits derived from Floatation therapy in muscular-­skeletal and rheumatic conditions are primarily based on two factors. The first is the elimination of the force of gravity that the body experiences inside the float room. This allows a relaxation and expansion of multiple inter-articular spaces enabling a better blood flow that will improve the general conditions of affected joints. This applies for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, traumatic injuries, and also chronic degenerative problems like osteo-arthritis.

Chronic and acute pain of neck, shoulders, and lower back generally experience substantial improvement through the release of accumulated muscle tension and increase of blood circulation to the affected areas. It helps conditions such as fibromyalgia, tendonitis, bursitis, etc

The second factor, which benefits substantially these muscular-skeletal conditions, is the release of endorphins into the system. Endorphins are natural painkillers that block the transmission of pain at the synaptic level. These decrease markedly the perception of pain and improve the frame of mind of patients, helping to break the vicious circle of chronic pain/depression that we often see in these cases.

Back to the Top

Stress Relief

People who lead demanding lifestyles run the risk of developing high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. This disease has no symptoms, but eventually manifests itself in the form of strokes, heart attacks and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) - all potential killers. Floating can produce an immediate reduction in blood pressure and heart rate; regular floating may maintain this.

Modern research has established clearly the interrelationship between high levels of distress and a depression of the immune system. In addition, conditions like pain and depression impair the immunological functions. Floatation therapy is very useful in these cases since the deep relaxation attained by patients releases negative stress, helps chronic pain and depression giving a natural boost to the immunological system both at the cellular and humoral level.

Some digestive tract conditions are associated with high levels of stress that will be benefited by Floatation therapy such as the case of well-known psychosomatic disorders like Duodenal Peptic Ulcer and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Both are associated with high levels of neurosis/anxiety and psycho-emotional conflict.

Back to the Top

Weight Loss

The float tank is an effective tool in a weight reduction program, as well as treatment of addictive behaviours.

Scientists think that floatation is effective in weight loss programs and for treatment of addictive behaviours because of its positive influence the production of endorphins. The natural opiates of the body decrease the stressful withdrawal symptoms of addiction and replace the need for addictive substances with the pleasurable feelings produced while floating. Similar results have been achieved in weight loss programs developed for the float tank.

There are two elements necessary for motivating oneself to accomplish certain goals and be free of non-adaptive or stressful behaviour. The two elements are relaxation and focused attention.

The float tank is an effective tool for positive self-motivation because it provides the following;

  • Eliminates all external stimuli so you can concentrate on yourself
  • Produces a very deep relaxation so you can be open to suggestion and open to positive thoughts and attitudes
  • Produces chemical changes in your body which favour clarity of thought, improved memory and problem-solving

Combined with complementary modalities, the float tank is an effective tool for self improvement.

Back to the Top

Sports Rehabilitation

Floatation tanks are used in sports medicine to accelerate an athletes' recovery from sports injuries.

An article in TIME Magazine (Australia) in 1995 featured the story of Brett Dennis, a promising young cyclist who cycled off a cliff in the US Tour DuPont road race in 1994, falling 4 metres and smashing his femur through his hip socket. Doctors gave him little chance of walking properly again.

Back home in Australia two weeks later, with a steel pin through his shattered pelvis, Dennis was understandably depressed and near to giving up his sporting ambitions. However, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) is justifiably famous for its advanced training techniques and facilities.

At the AIS, Dennis was put onto a program of intensive physiotherapy. He also spent an hour a day playing "mind games" - closing his eyes and visualizing a blue light traveling from his chest to his hip joint, washing away damaged tissue and replacing it with new cells.

Three times a week, he lay suspended in one of the AIS floatation tanks. Above him, a custom-made videotape played highlights of his own best races and those of his cycling heroes, with his favourite music playing in the background.

Seven weeks after the accident Dennis started training again. Seven weeks after that, he won gold and - with his three teammates - smashed the Australian record in the 100 km team time trial at the Commonwealth Games.

Back to the Top

Athletic Performance

Floating maximizes the benefits of fitness training, exercise, and workouts.

Although exercise stimulates muscle growth, the growth occurs during relaxation, some 30-40 hours after exercise.

The deep relaxation of floating improves blood circulation, and accelerates the growth and regeneration of muscle tissue.

In 1981, the Dallas Cowboys, regular Superbowl winners, became one of top-line sport's first advocates of floatation REST as a technique for developing the physical and psychological skills of their players. As sports psychology assumed an ever-growing role, along with a realization of the importance of relaxation training, many other eminent USA sportspeople - including the legendary Carl Lewis - started to incorporate floatation into their training regime.

For its relatively small size, Australia does disproportionately well at Olympic-level competitions. The training techniques of the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) are regarded as amongst the finest in the world. Since 1983 the AIS has been consistent proponents of floatation REST and has done an immense amount of research and case studies that demonstrate its efficacy. Jeff Bond (sports psychologist, AIS) goes so far as to describe the floatation tank as "a new dimension in sports training for the elite athlete".

World-class athletes are highly motivated individuals. In the run-up to an important competition, an athlete may train for over 40 hours a week. Rigorous physical and mental training puts an enormous amount of stress on the athlete's body and mind. There is a strong tendency for athletes to over-train and this can have as disastrous an effect on performance as under-training.

Strenuous physical training creates a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles.

Lactic acid is a toxic by-product of glucose metabolism. It begins to accumulate in the muscles within one minute of peak or anaerobic effort, and can remain in muscle tissue for three days.

An athlete training every day will accumulate increasingly large amounts of lactic acid, experienced by the body as increasing fatigue and chronic muscular tension or pain. Recent studies have directly linked lactic acid to high levels of anxiety and emotional arousal.

By its rapid evacuation of lactic acid from the body, floatation enables the athlete to train without strain.

The floatation tank offers the athlete an unprecedented degree of control over mood state, helping him or her achieve and sustain an optimal level of arousal during competition.

In a study by Dr Peter Suedfeld (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), recreational basketball players - tested one day before and one day after a single session of floatation plus visualization - showed an astonishing mean improvement of 37% in free-throw success compared to control groups.

Suedfeld followed this up with a study of recreational darts players' ability to throw "bull's-eyes". The subjects - tested immediately before and immediately after a single session of floatation plus visualization - showed an impressive 13% improvement in accuracy compared to control groups.

Interestingly, another of the test groups in Suedfeld's dart-throwing study - one assigned to floatation without any visualization exercise - showed an 11% improvement.

REST researchers have documented the effect of floatation in improving motor skills across a wide range of activities: basketball throws, rifle shooting, bowling, tennis, gymnastics, dart-throwing, and even performance in a flight simulator.

Back to the Top

Visualisation

Many modern researchers see the floatation tank as the optimal environment for enhancing an individual's powers of visualization and self-management.

By combining deep physical relaxation with a highly receptive, visually vivid theta brain-state, the floatation tank facilitates an individual's ability to generate and manipulate visual imagery, and use imagery to maximum effect.

In the field of sports psychology, the use of in-tank vizualisation and mental rehearsal of complex sports moves has been proven to dramatically improve athletes' confidence and motor skills - more effectively than conventional practice on the track or field.

Research by Dr Edmond Jacobson (the developer of Progressive Relaxation therapy) established a link between mental images and neuromuscular responses. While in a state of relaxation, he asked people to visualize themselves running.

He discovered that this created minute "phantom" muscular contractions of exactly the same type as the subjects would have produced if they had actually been running.

It is now generally accepted that the most potent psychological technique for building up athletes' motor skills and confidence simultaneously is visualization - mental rehearsal of perfect sports moves.

Back to the Top

Creativity & Enhanced Learning

In a study in Texas A&M University in 1982, Dr Thomas Taylor selected 40 well-matched subjects from 450 volunteers and split them in to 2 groups. Both groups underwent a series of 70 minute learning sessions using audiotapes.

One group (the control group) listened to the tapes while sitting on sofas in quiet darkened rooms.

The other group listened while floating in floatation tanks.

Taylor tested both groups on 3 levels of learning performance;

  1. basic memorization
  2. application level (the ability to understand a concept and use it)
  3. synthesis thinking (the ability to put together several concepts and come up with a new idea or an original solution to a problem).

A static analysis of the results showed that on the first level, floaters did better than the control group. On the 2nd level, the gap between floaters and non-floaters widened. On the 3rd level, the superiority of the floating group was greatest of all.

Taylor also recorded the brainwave activity of both groups while learning. He recorded several 'Eureka events' - flashes of sudden insight or creative problem-solving. He noted that these tended to occur in the deep theta state.

Back to the Top

Relaxation

The term "relaxation" is vague and subjective. It can be used to describe any activity that brings temporary release from the pressures of life - watching TV, pursuing a hobby, drinking a 6-pack of beer, surfing the net, soaking in a bath, dancing till dawn...

Is there such a thing as true relaxation from a scientific perspective? Eminent stress researcher Herbert Benson MD of Harvard Medical College showed that meditation and yoga cause measurable changes to heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, hormone balance, and brainwave activity. At the time, it came as something of a surprise to learn that an individual could exert control over these normally unconscious processes that are regulated by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system.

However, a major limitation to the efficacy of yoga and meditation was that these techniques required training, practice, and persistence. Benefits were not immediate. Relaxation required some hard work!

Benson's studies did not include floatation REST because it was largely unknown at that time. Since the early 1980s, however, research has demonstrated that floatation REST elicits a significantly more powerful relaxation response than any other technique known to science, and does this automatically, passively, and without the need for training or practice.

The brain is a network of cells that constantly exchange electrochemical messages with one another. Brainwaves are the electrical activity generated when hundreds of cells "fire" at the same time in the same part of the brain.

The human brain has four distinct brainwave patterns, which are associated with four distinct states of consciousness

Electrical activity in the cortex of the brain can be recorded with an EEG (electro-encephalograph) and is measured in Hertz (frequency or cycles per second).

The beta state (13 Hz and above): Low amplitude, high frequency brain activity associated with normal waking consciousness and externally directed, linear-thinking mental activity.

The alpha state (8 - 12 Hz): Higher amplitude, lower frequency brain activity associated with mild relaxation, daydreaming, reverie and light meditation. The alpha state is relatively easy to access.

The theta state (4 - 8 Hz): Very high amplitude, very low frequency brain activity just above the threshold of consciousness, associated with deep mental processes, creativity, inspiration, and illumination.

Theta is a highly elusive state. Although we fleetingly pass through the theta state as we fall asleep at night and again as we wake up in the mornings, it is practically impossible to enter this state at will and remain in it without falling asleep.

One of the unique features of floatation REST is that after 10 to 20 minutes of floating, theta becomes the predominant level of brain activity, and remains so for the duration of the float session.

The Delta state (0.5 - 4 Hz): This state of minimal brain activity is associated with deep dreamless sleep.

The brain-state associated with floating - where the whole brain is balanced, synchronized, and resonating at the theta level - is something unique.

Back to the Top

Self Motivation

The float tank is an effective tool for positive self-motivation because it provides the following;

  • Eliminates all external stimuli so you can concentrate on yourself
  • Produces a very deep relaxation so you can be open to suggestion and open to positive thoughts and attitudes
  • Produces chemical changes in your body which favour clarity of thought, improved memory and problem-solving

Combined with complementary modalities, the float tank is an effective tool for self-improvement.

Back to the Top

Pregnancy

Parents and Mothers-to-be are often held in tension through situation and changing bodies. Floatation is a wonderful respite and great for a quick rejuvenation that is more integrated than sleep provides. Pregnant mothers are also often tense due to experiencing many bodily changes. As the baby grows and begins pressing on the mother's body, a place to relieve the pain might become necessary. It is also important for first time mothers to take the time to become familiar with their bodies.

During labour, the mothers who are "in touch" with their bodies experience far lesser pain than those who are introduced at the point of labour. While floating one has greater inner-vision. One has the ability to bring awareness to parts of the body never before discovered. In doing this, nerves are sensitized and feeling comes which is the doorway for muscular control. As the woman lay their floating, her insight will allow a greater connection to the baby. Mothers tell of babies becoming more active while in this communion.

Back to the Top

Floating Free from Habits & Addictions

Recent discoveries, especially in neurochemistry, indicate that addiction is not restricted to what are usually thought of as "addictive drugs". Addiction is simply a compulsion to continue doing something - whether taking a particular substance or indulging in certain behaviour - combined with the occurrence of stressful withdrawal symptoms if the ingestion of the substance or the behaviour pattern is suddenly ended.

Scientist have made great advances lately in identifying the mechanism of addiction. Biochemists have found, for example, that addiction is a result of changes in the body's ability to experience pleasure, its reward system - changes in the number and activity of the opiate receptors of the nerve cells, and in the levels of the body's internally produced opiates, the endorphins.

It is also known that the symptoms of withdrawal are associated with sudden oversupplies of the neurochemical norepinephrine in the limbic system, and that drugs that block the action of norepinephrine alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal. Such discoveries give scientists hope that they will soon develop chemical ways of overcoming addiction.

Taking a different angle of approach, behavioural and cognitive therapists and researchers have recently developed highly effective methods of attacking addictive mental processes and behaviour, and it now seems clear that all who have a serious commitment to overcoming their addiction can do so, provided they follow some of the techniques for behavioural control. Generally, the worlds of the behavioural/cognitive therapists and the neurochemists are far apart, one group trying to change the imperfect actions and ideas of imperfect people in an imperfect world, the other exploring, mapping, and "correcting" microscopic electrochemical processes in the nervous system.

With two completely different worldviews, these groups rarely agree on much. So it is significant that both behavioural/cognitive psychologists and the neurochemists now agree that Floatation tank is a powerful tool for overcoming addictions, both by changing addictive behaviour and personality characteristics, and by bringing about rapid and striking changes in the human biochemistry.

In the period immediately after quitting a habit, the tank alleviates the pains of withdrawal and enables the user to feel some pleasure. Floating also reduces the level of such anxiety-related biochemicals as norepinephrine, which is released in great quantities during withdrawal.

A session in the tank alleviates some of the depression and anxiety usually associated with "crashing" or cutting off consumption of the drug after a period of use.

Even long after we have quit an addictive behavioural pattern, there are circumstances that will cause us to want to return to the addiction: stress, anxiety, depression, a certain individual, whatever. When we realize there is a chance that we return to our addictive behaviour, we can simply take a float, stimulate our pleasure pathways, and avert the return to the habit.

Smoking Cessation

In a series of carefully controlled studies of the effects of Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) in the cessation of smoking, it was found that the effect of sensory deprivation is powerful and unprecedented. According to a study of smoking and sensory deprivation, people who had undergone earlier sensory deprivation smoked almost 40 percent less than those who had received similar anti-smoking treatment but without REST.

Weight Reduction

The same method was applied in a problem that is even harder than smoking to solve or deal with: getting people to lose weight. Smoking is a relatively simple "all or nothing" behaviour pattern, while overeating is very complex. The sensory deprivation session with weight-reduction messages is very effective. Subjects who underwent the therapy were able to lose an average over six kilograms over the following half a year, while those who were equally determined to lose weight, but only listened to messages, or only underwent the sensory deprivation, had lost virtually no weight after six months.

The most striking aspect of the study is that the people who combined the sensory deprivation with messages continued to lose weight steadily, month after month, and were still losing weight after six months when the study was completed. In fact, in the last four months of the six-month study period, the sensory deprivation group lost about two kilograms while the other groups gained some weight. In addition, amazingly, this continuous and extended weight loss was the result of only one session of REST. In succeeding clinical studies, the technique was modified by personalizing the taped messages played to the subjects in the Floatation tank, and found that the results were even more impressive, with some of the subjects losing as much as 30 kilograms within two months.

Alcohol Reduction

Similarly successful results have been obtained in using the tank to help heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol intake, or stop drinking altogether. For several years, Hospitals have used the Floatation tank as an integral part of their hospital-based stress management program. In a statistical analysis of eighty-seven outpatients gathered over a one-year period in the early 80s. The hospital noted that those who used the tank had a 50 percent reduction in smoking and 45 percent reduction in alcohol consumption. These statistics are striking, since the program was directed at general stress reduction and not specifically toward modifying a single behaviour such as smoking or drinking.

The Floatation tank can be used as a self-assessment tool to devise your own programs:

For the first time you can even work on coming up with solutions.

What you want to say to yourself in the tank, which is in its self very therapeutic.

Then each session that follows becomes a kind of booster session, adding power to the suggestions you have already incorporated into your life.

For the taped messages and self-suggestions to have the desired effect, deep relaxation is essential. Only a few people have ever experienced deep relaxation, or know how to go about relaxing, but the Floatation room allows you to go rapidly and easily to a deeply relaxed state.

This way the behaviour modification programs can have their greatest effect, and it is not necessary to devote a large part of the time allotted for taped messages during the float session.

Back to the Top

Enhanced Learning

Although your body enters a level of physical relaxation which is even deeper than sleep, in the float room your mind remains awake and dreamily alert, just above the threshold of sleep. Large areas of the brain are suddenly liberated from their normal workload of processing signals from the nervous system and sense organs. There is a sharp drop in the level of electrical activity of the brain (measured on an EEG) from the usual 20-25 Hz down to 4-8 Hz. EEG readings show a slow, rhythmic wave pattern known as the theta state.

This is where your learning abilities are at their highest and powers of visualisation and autosuggestion are greatly enhanced. Measurements of the brain waves produced by experienced zen meditators in deep satori show large amounts of theta activity across the cortex. For most people, however, the theta state is almost impossible to enter without falling asleep. In the float room, you enter this elusive state effortlessly and enjoyably, and stay in it for most of the float session.

EEG measurements on floaters show that the level of activity in the two hemispheres of the brain also becomes more balanced and synchronized. This can produce a subtle shift in awareness away from the normally dominant "left-brain" thought patterns (logical, linear, analytical, and detailed) towards the more intuitive, synthetic and large-scale thought modes of the "right-brain". The tank does not inhibit the left hemisphere, but simply changes its role from one of dominance to one of partnership with the other hemisphere, enabling floaters to use all their mental powers.

In a study at Texas A&M University in 1982, Dr Thomas Taylor selected 40 well-matched subjects from 450 student volunteers and split them into two groups. Both groups underwent a series of 70-minute learning sessions using audiotapes.

One group (the control group) listened to the tapes while sitting on sofas in quiet darkened rooms.

The other group listened while floating in floatation tanks.

Taylor tested both groups on three levels of learning performance:

  1. basic memorization level
  2. application level (the ability to understand a concept and use it)
  3. synthesis thinking (the ability to put together several concepts and come up a new idea or an original solution to a problem).

A statistical analysis of the results showed that on the first level, floaters did better than the control group. On the second level, the gap between floaters and non-floaters widened. On the third level, the superiority of the floating group was greatest of all. Taylor also recorded the brainwave activity of both groups while learning. He recorded several "Eureka events" - flashes of sudden insight or creative problem solving. He noted that these tended to occur in the deep theta state.

Back to the Top