If you’re like me, meditation isn’t the easiest practice—at least not at the beginning. You sit in a quiet place with your eyes closed and you try to clear your mind, but 10 minutes pass and thoughts still creep through your head. You just can’t seem to do it.
Many people tell you how beneficial it is to meditate. It is well known to reduce stress, pain, high blood pressure, and anxiety. It also improves emotional stability, relaxation, creativity, and overall happiness. The clarity, peace of mind, and many other benefits achieved through meditation may be easier for some than others, so if you struggle to enter a meditative state, you may feel like it’s just not the right alternative therapy for you.
But what if I told you that meditation can be achieved without any effort? Professional sports teams have even used this therapy to enhance recovery and visualization. All you have to do is lie down, relax—and float.
Floatation therapy is also known as floating, sensory deprivation, floatation, and R.E.S.T. (restricted environmental stimulation therapy). What is floatation therapy? It is simply complete relaxation. You just lie down in a 900-pound dissolved Epsom saltwater floatation tank, which allows you to float. Your ears are just below the water, and you are in insulated silence. Once the tank shuts, you won’t even realize if your eyes are open or closed. You also lose track of your body, the water, or the air. You are in complete relaxation with the air and water at a temperature near 93.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Science also praises this alternative therapy. For example, a randomized, repeated measures crossover study from last year was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The study indicated that a one-hour floatation therapy session can significantly impact blood lactate levels and reduce pain when compared with a passive recovery session.
The study observed 24 male students who were fatigued with muscle contractions after isometric muscle strength testing. Participants would then complete recovery treatment protocols, which included a one-hour seated controlled passive recovery session and a one-hour floatation session. Blood glucose, heart rate, blood lactate, perceived muscle soreness, pain, isometric strength, and perceived exertion for resistance exercise were observed after treatment, before exercise, and also one and two days later.
There are also other known benefits to floatation therapy. A randomized and controlled study published in Pain, Research & Management: The Journal of the Canadian Pain Society in 2001 found that floatation therapy increased optimism, decreased anxiety and depression, and allowed participants to sleep easier. Floatation therapy also improved symptoms of chronic pain. The study observed 23 women and 14 men who complained of aching muscles in the back and neck. The 17 participants were chosen for a control group and 20 were selected for an experimental group, which received nine floatation sessions over three weeks.
Floatation therapy is also known to help your body do the following:
- Induce meditation
- Reduce stress
- Improve athletic training
- Boost immune function
- Promote overall relaxation
- Increase creativity
- Heighten your senses
During the early 1980s, floatation therapy had been popular with celebrities and the mainstream media; however, the late 80s and 90s saw a decline in interest. Between 2010 and 2013, floatation therapy saw a renewed interest with several new floatation therapy centers opening throughout the U.S.
How can you experience the effects of floatation therapy for yourself? Visit www.floatationlocations.com to find a center near you.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Morgan, P.M., et al., “The acute effects of flotation restricted environmental stimulation technique on recovery from maximal eccentric exercise,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research December 2013; 27(12): 3,467–3,474, doi: 10.15.19/JSC.0bO13e31828f277e.
Kjellgren, A., et al., “Effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain,” Pain, Research & Management: The Journal of the Canadian Pain Society Winter 2001; 6(4): 181–189.
“What is Floatation Therapy?” Float Toronto web site; http://float-toronto.com/about/about-floating/, last accessed October 14, 2014.
“History of Floating,” Float Tank Info web site; http://www.floattankinfo.com/history-of-floating/, last accessed October 14, 2014.