I’m lying naked in complete and utter darkness. I can hear nothing but the sound of my own deep breathing. I’m unable to sense where my skin ends and the space around my body begins. Suspended in a dreamlike trance, I’ve lost all awareness of time passing.
Where have I reached this blissfully altered state? During a 90-minute session in a flotation tank at Pure Float in Vancouver. (Read on for your chance to win a free float session at Pure Float!)
About a year ago, Charles introduced me to flotation therapy. He had experienced float tanks in the 80’s and told me of the deep relaxation and meditative state floating induces. When we heard of a new flotation centre opening in Gastown we each booked a 90-minute session. I was hooked on my first visit.
With nothing to stimulate it, your brain does some very interesting things during a float
A float tank is like a large bathtub-sized pod with a door. Each tank holds a solution of Epsom salts in about 10″ of water, which is warmed to skin temperature. The salts keep you buoyant with no areas of pressure on your skin, as opposed to lying in bed. This, combined with the precise temperature and lack of visual/audial stimuli, creates a feeling of being suspended in mid-air or floating in outer space.
With nothing to stimulate it, your brain does some very interesting things during a float: your brainwaves slowly change from Beta, active when you’re alert and awake, to Alpha, a daydream-like state of detached relaxation, then to Theta, the state used in hypnosis and in REM sleep. The Theta state is one of intense creativity, deep relaxation and feelings of inspiration. You’ll go in and out of Theta as you float, feeling at times like a really good Savasana at the end of a yoga practice, and at other times like the just-before-you-fall-asleep state.
According to this article on Wikipedia, Swedish researchers have found that regular flotation sessions result in a decrease in pain, anxiety and depression. Another study, by Ohio State University, showed floating improved creativity in jazz musicians and led to more accuracy in target shooting and better focus before exams.
I loved the lights in the tank – indigo blue underwater and starry ceiling. And the rain shower head made me feel like I was in some space-age eco-spa
Personally, my favourite time to float is right after yoga or a workout – any post-exercise tension just melts away. I seem to recover more quickly from intense workouts, sleep more deeply and feel more relaxed and refreshed even the next day. The healing process can take place much more effectively in these stress free conditions.
Although I loved my first float, I admit I was initially a little unnerved by the total darkness and lack of sound. It took me a little while to completely let go, although on subsequent visits I was able to relax pretty much right away. If, like me, you’re a little claustrophobic, you might enjoy Pure Float. They have float rooms rather than tanks, so it’s more like floating in a king sized bathtub. I loved the lights in the tank – indigo blue underwater and starry ceiling – that can be turned on or off from inside. That and the rain shower head made me feel like I was in some space-age eco-spa.
I’m becoming aware of soft, soothing music playing inside my tank. I open my eyes, and slowly begin to stretch out my body. After a big yawn, I remove my earplugs, open the door and step out of my tank. I’m in a small private room with a dressing and shower area. I shower off the salt water with the toiletries provided, towel off with the gentle music in the background, dress, and wander out to the lounge for a post-float tea. I feel euphoric, re-energized, and best of all a state of complete health and wellness.
Want to win a free float? Be one of the first 50 subscribers to my blog and you’ll be entered to win a 60-minute float plus a Neurospa session (a pre-float treat that deeply enhances relaxation) from Pure Float on Howe Street in Vancouver! Draw will take place in spring 2015.