Opinions. I have them. Lots of them. Good ones, bad ones, ridiculous ones, wrong-headed ones, light-hearted ones, even some moonbat ones–I have opinions. So, imagine the unrest in my soul, when 24-hours after the fact, I am still unable to formulate a solid opinion about sensory deprivation floatation therapy.
A good friend has had great results doing floatation therapy. It is meant to be restorative and stress relieving.
A therapeutic session in a flotation tank typically lasts between an hour to an hour and a half. 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 twenty minutes often end with a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta, which typically occurs briefly before sleep and again at waking. In a float tank, the theta state can last indefinitely without the subject losing consciousness. Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving or for super learning. The more often the tank is used the longer the theta period becomes.
Spas sometimes provide commercial float tanks for use in relaxation. Flotation 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 maximum blood flow.
Floating can be passive or active, depending on the purpose. For relaxation, one simply floats and ‘clears the mind.’ Active floating has many different techniques. One may perform meditation, mantras, 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. Flotation therapy may be used to complement other body work and healing methods.
I like stress relief! I like restoration! I like baths! It sounded ideal.
So, yesterday, after 4 days in Las Vegas, running around, pushing a wheelchair through 2 airports, twice, lugging baggage, a nearly 70lb child, and everything else that goes with the territory of travel, I headed over to the spa.
The first step to floatation therapy is a nice, long shower. You have to wash off as much of yourself as possible, so that the magnesium in the water can invade your pores. It’s a very More of You, Less of Me prospect. Ear plugs are provided, and I popped them in.
After your shower, you slip into your salt bath and start to float. When you’re ready, you turn off the lights. And that’s it. You just hang out there for an hour, or so and let the salt do it’s trick while you meditate, or whatever it is you like to do when you are floating around in the dark.
I do not meditate easily, as you may recall. Once I got the lights turned out and adjusted to the fact that it was, indeed, pitch black, and once I got over the initial, “Wow! I’m basically a seal!” factor, I was…bored.
I splished a little. I splashed a little. I made finger patterns on the water. I stretched and rolled, and found ways to make very interesting shapes out of myself, but I was bored. Bored and disoriented.
I floated and splished, floated and splashed, floated and sighed. Then, just when I’d started to wonder if the time would ever run out, the lights came on automatically and I realized I’d fallen asleep.
I have no way of knowing for how long I slept, but I had lost consciousness at some point.
Awake, blinking, and truly disoriented, I made my way out of my float bath and back into the shower to wash away the salt. I was groggy and gross–slimy from the salt water–but once I’d finished my shower I felt pretty okay. My skin looked amazing. AMAZING.
Where I’d had serious soreness and pain in my calves and knees from the wheelchair pushing, I was (and am now) only aware of a little strain. My back felt good and flexible. My neck felt really good. And I realized I hadn’t coughed the whole time I’d been humidifying myself–nice, considering I’ve had a nagging cough since last month.
The physical benefits were apparent and very real. The mental benefits? Like I said, I was bored and disoriented (a weird combination), and when I got out I can’t say that I had any kind of mental clarity. In fact, I felt kind of cranky.
I’m still trying to decide what I really thought. I know my body was relaxed to a ridiculous degree, given that I came out talking like I’d been possessed by Lana Del Ray. Eeeeeeverythiiiiing was slooooow aaaaaaaand deeeeeeep and lacooooooooooonic. I souuunded liiiiike a sleeeeeepy oooouuutboard moooootooooor.
I truly liked what it did for my body. I did not like at all what it did to my brain.
I guess I’ll have to go do it again.