Do you float?

Although this solution for a wide range of physical and emotional challenges has been around for decades, it is only recently that REST – or reduced environmental stimulus therapy – has been more widely available to the public.

Even if you can’t swim and have never floated in a pool, a lake, or the ocean, you can definitely learn to use and benefit from float therapy.

HOW IT WORKS:

You can’t help but float because the 10 inches of water you float on are filled with dissolved Epsom salts (1000# of salt per 180 gallons of water, a 30% salt solution!) and are saltier than the Dead Sea. This salt water gives you 100% support and even an anti-gravity or weightless feeling. If you want neck support for physical reasons or because you think you might go to sleep (many do), you can use a special rubber doughnut that fits on the back of your head. The floating experience takes place inside of a large egg-shaped plastic pod with a hinged overhead door at one end. You can adjust the door so that it is open, partially open, or closed – as you choose. And then, there’s the environment inside the pod. There are speakers for soft meditation music or for whatever you choose to listen to from your own device, or you can shut the music off for total silence. There are also soft lights that can be white, changing colors, or shut off for total darkness. Since your pod is in a private locked room with its own shower, changing area, bench, and hooks, you can wear a bathing suit or nothing at all. You shower before and after the float to keep the water clean while you float and to get all the salt off afterwards.

In case you wondered, I love total darkness and total silence during my float.

WHAT IT DOES:

Here are just a few of the benefits of floating in Epsom saltwater (from my personal experience and the experiences of my husband Johnny and others with whom I have spoken):

  • The magnesium softens your skin, works to heal minor cuts, scrapes, and other skin irritations.
  • The sulfate draws out toxins from your body, supporting both physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • The salts reduce inflammation and help to repair strains, sprains, and sore muscles.
  • The superlative body support of the saltwater allows your spine to elongate and your joints and muscles to move with optimal freedom. I have no words to express how wonderful this feels.
  • The low-to-no-light and low-to-no-sound environment allows your brain a rest from processing new incoming external data (this results in enhanced creativity in your thinking while you float, deep meditation, or even sleep – each floater and float is different, as you body seeks what it needs). Floating allows the floater to reach the theta brain wave stage, similar to deep meditation, deep sleep, or dreaming. For some, it approximates that unlimited state of mind just before you fall asleep. It can be considered an extreme form of rest.
  • You may be able to do exercises or body movements that are normally restricted, allowing the exhilaration that comes from movement that is not otherwise possible.
  • If you do not wear a bathing garment, you experience the complete freedom of natural bathing.
  • The restfulness of theta state brainwaves allows your body to repair itself as it would during sleep. Even a single hour of floating – especially once your body has become accustomed to entering the theta state – allows significant repair and renewal.
  • Unlike other methods of body renewal such as massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture, there is no external touch involved. You design and undergo the benefits of the float completely as you desire at all phases of the float. This is one of the aspects that I most appreciate about floating.
  • The womb-like experience of the float is emotionally safe and extremely soothing to those experiencing emotional stress. The body naturally greatly decreases the production of cortisol during the float, allowing the floater to experience significant refreshment immediately following the float and for days afterwards.
  • After floating, your sensory acuity and reaction times are increased – the world around you seems more vibrant and clear.
  • All that and a GREAT night’s sleep after you float.

AFTER THE FLOAT:

It’s important to take time to sit for awhile and return slowly to daily life when you are done with a float. Savor the euphoria you probably feel and the enhanced awareness of your body and the world around you. The float spa I go to has brewed hot herbal tea and an oxygen bar in an “oasis room” where I can extend the float experience by managing my reentry into the hustle and bustle of life. I try to plan quiet, slower-paced activities for the rest of the day. If Johnny and I go to float at the same time, we usually go to dinner afterwards and have good conversation about what our floats were like and how we are feeling. He usually goes to sleep during his float, while I am often mentally active and may even have creative breakthroughs. Especially for Johnny, the physical refreshment and emotional renewal are gifts that he cannot get in any other way, so he can even enjoy sitting at a dinner table because he is basically pain-free following a float.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

If you want to have a specific type of emotional experience during your float, you may want to enhance your experience by applying one or more essential oils about ½ hour before you plan to float. You will be washing your skin thoroughly prior to entering the pod, so be sure that any topical application of oils is done leaving plenty of time for the oils to absorb into your skin before the shower. Inhaling your chosen oils through diffusion is an excellent way to address specific emotional concerns. And putting a drop of Frankincense on your thumb and applying it to the roof of your mouth can encourage relaxation and focus in a powerful way. After the float, you can again consider the use of oils to continue to soothe and support the repair of muscles and joints, to enhance emotional balance, and even to promote creativity and dreaming.

A LOOK AT FLOATING:

If you live in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, be sure to visit True REST Float Spa locations in Wexford and Greentree (Pittsburgh) – we might see each other there!

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