Wellness Wednesday: Enter the Float Tank
When was the last time you truly felt free? Free to think what you want without any distractions? Free to explore the stream of conscious that you only share with yourself? Free to focus on what you truly want your life to become?
When was the last time you were so relaxed it felt surreal? When you were so relaxed that the tension in your neck and lower back disappeared? When was the last time you awoke from a dream so refreshed that you just knew it would be a great day?
Many of you may have never felt this way. I’ve met many adults who say they can’t remember or when they did, they were very young. What if it was possible to reach these states and experience these moments with yourself almost anytime you wish?
It can happen and there are many ways to reach these states of enlightenment and well-being. Some find it in the woods when camping. Some find it when they perform monotonous tasks such as mowing the lawn. Some find it in yoga class or a long drive in the countryside. No matter where you find it, what is happening is based on how your brain perceives your environment.
From the normal life you live with non-stop alerts and alarms and filled by a constant barrage of information to the stressful jobs and family affairs you may have, your brain is constantly working to maintain a balance that won’t cause you to become a quivering mass of jelly on the ground. It is no wonder so many people become chained to prescription drugs.
We live in a society that praises more hours of work over actual efficient productivity. We stay up late to stuff our minds with mindless crap on television and browse Facebook to unwind. We then wonder why we can’t sleep and resort to taking pills to force something that would happen naturally if we only would relax.
The bottom line is we are stressing ourselves to the max. By the time we take a vacation, it’s nearly too late. How many times have you been on a family vacation that was anything but what a vacation is meant to be?
The fact is we need better stress management. Instead of waiting six months to a year to take a week off to recharge our batteries, how about setting aside an hour for pure central nervous system balancing once per month or every couple weeks?
Enter the Float Tank.
I’ll provide a few links later on for those of you want to learn more, but a float tank is basically an Epsom salt bath filled with nearly 1,000 pounds of magnesium that allows you to float effortlessly on your back without ANY effort at all. Think of the Dead Sea in a big bathtub. The water is heated to 93.5 degrees or skin temperature. This is purely for muscular and joint related pains. Float tanks can also provide sensory input reduction such as light, sound and touch if that’s what you want.
The flotation tank can benefit you in other amazing ways as well. Here are just a few:
- Decrease muscular pain: By eliminating gravity and floating, our tissues can receive the relaxation they need. Couple this with massage and chiropractic care for maximum benefits.
- Decrease cortisol and other stress hormones: Floating allows us to unwind and clear the constant stress-related hormones of the day. During floatation therapy, the brain tells the nervous system your body is in a tranquil environment that is non-threatening which allows us to actually relax. How many of you walk around with a tight neck and trapezius muscles? This is stress related to your body trying to “protect your neck.”
- Enhance Creativity: By helping the brain enter theta wave production, we enter a dream-like, creative state that is much more right hemisphere creativity related than analytical. Float tanks are great for brainstorming marketing ideas or producing art.
- Connects to the sympathetic nervous system: This allows for better blood pressure control, better digestion and therapeutic rebuilding of the body after exertion.
- While the body relaxes the mind is free to focus inward: This is great for planning, problem-solving, and self-awareness.
- Enhanced learning: While in the theta brain-state, without external distractions, learning is highly enhanced. This is great for studying, learning a new language or writing songs for your band. Sounds and audiobooks can be listened to while you are floating. Think about how distracting it is to study in a busy coffee shop at 8:00 a.m. You think you’re studying well, but your brain is constantly filtering everyone’s sounds, movements, etc.
We know this all sounds too good to be true but this method has been studied for near 50 years and is even being used in Sweden now as a preventative medical service (check it out here).
As a health and fitness professional, I’m highly skeptical of anything that makes big claims about its impact on the human body. I decided to give it a try for the first time at the end of last year. I was so changed by my experience of floating weekly for the past five months, that I’ve decided to start to taking the steps to bring this treatment to Northern Kentucky. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about our progress.
Here are a few more links if you’d like some additional information on the subject. I highly recommend you try it out!
Bored with bodybuilding after reaching the national level in 2009, Joe Daniels opened SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength. From becoming an IKFF Coach operating in an 800 sq. ft. studio, the benefits of a minimal yet highly effective approach to fitness has grown to a 5,500 sq. ft. functional training facility within four years.
Focusing on injury prevention, competitive kettlebell sport training and stress relief, SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength has hosted seminars and trained hands-on with some of the top athletes and coaches of the kettlebell world. Their philosophy has remained the same: You have to enjoy your training at all stages. Live your life. Your training should make your life outside that time more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Photo courtesy of Think Tank Flotation (Facebook)