Float Into Paradise by Sydney L. Murray. Original article posted at Vision Magazine
As I was walking into the session room at Float Spa San Diego, I was mesmerized by a photograph of large salt formations from the Dead Sea. The space was very clean and inviting and I was instantly impressed by how soothing it felt. Speaking to Mark Lesicka, one of the co-founders of Float Spa, along with his wife Maylou, I found out that he had sought out the practice of floating to alleviate chronic pain. Traveling to London, they learned much about the practice of floating. After the Lesickas’ return, they opened Float Spa.
If you haven’t ever floated, you are missing out on an amazing experience. I love the feeling of being suspended in warm soothing water. As I allowed myself to “lift,” I initially had the image as seen in the classic film 2001 Space Odyssey of a body floating out into space with the person’s arms and legs extended. I was weightless. Not bogged down by the hectic pace of my life, I was floating and my mind drifted into a peaceful and open space.
The next night, I experienced very vivid and memorable dreams. I mentioned this to Lesicka, who has also experienced the benefit of having more lucid dreams, as well as the ability to recall them with clarity. He said that there have been studies which show that floating creates a bridge between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which might explain having the experience of a more conscious dream state.
Floating has been around in the United States since the 1970s but was initially developed by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the 50s when studying the effects of what they called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique or R.E.S.T. Since then the float tank has been used in health care, medicine, fitness training, sports science, education and the healing arts.
Scientists have estimated that up to 90 percent of the brain’s work is derived from the stimuli of our routine external environment. Gravity, touch, temperature, light, and sound affect the muscles, the nervous system, and the organs of the body. The float tank screens out our external physical stimuli, allowing for a pure state of sensory relaxation.
This lack of stimulation of the nervous system triggers a reaction known as the parasympathetic response. Muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption are often reduced dramatically. Stress hormones are reduced as well and are replaced with uplifting endorphins.
Discovered by NIMH researchers in 1976, endorphins are literally a natural source of elation, happiness, or what some have called a “natural high.” They can also help alleviate fatigue and chronic pain, while improving higher brain functions such as learning and memory retention.
And the good thing about the float tank is that it all happens without much effort for the client. You just enter the tank, lie back and float. The tank is the temperature of your skin, which is 94.5 degrees. It is filled with an Epsom salt mixture of about 30 percent which, when combined with your body’s natural buoyancy, allows you to float in a small amount of water. Float Spa San Diego’s website illuminates the use of Epsom salt and why it is so valuable to our bodies: “One of the earliest discoveries of magnesium sulfate, the scientific name for Epsom salt, occurred back in Shakespeare’s day in Epsom, England (where the compound was first distilled from water) which explains the first half of the name. The term salt probably refers to the specific chemical structure of the compound, although many people mistakenly assume it refers to the crystalline structure of Epsom salt, which has an appearance similar to that of table salt. (Table salt, of course, consists of sodium chloride, so it’s an entirely different substance than magnesium sulfate.)
Magnesium is the second-most abundant element in human cells and the fourth-most important positively charged ion in the body, so it’s little wonder that this low-profile mineral is also vital to good health and wellbeing. Magnesium is a major component of Epsom salt and also helps to regulate the activity of more than 325 enzymes and performs a vital role in orchestrating many bodily functions, from muscle control and electrical impulses to energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
Studies show that magnesium is an electrolyte which helps to ensure proper muscle, nerve and enzyme function and is critical for the proper use of calcium in cells. Another benefit is that it can help prevent heart disease and strokes by lowering blood pressure, protecting the elasticity of arteries, preventing blood clots, and reducing the risk of sudden heart attack deaths. Magnesium may also reduce inflammation and relieve pain, making it beneficial in the treatment of sore muscles, bronchial asthma, migraine headaches and fibromyalgia.”
The seemingly subtle mental and physical effects of floating can greatly improve your powers of emotional control and sense of wellbeing. Negative emotions and many unwanted habits seem to melt away in the tank, along with any physical tensions and the stresses that accompany them. Smoking, alcohol dependence and weight control problems can be effectively lessened or even overcome—and sometimes these changes can occur spontaneously. Research suggests that compulsive behavior patterns such as these are linked to low endorphin levels in the body. In fact, according to experts at NIMH, the float tank “is the only technique ever shown by controlled studies to be effective over extended periods of time.” Studies show success rates of 81% in eliminating or sharply reducing smoking, 61% in reducing alcohol consumption, with similarly impressive results in combating weight control problems. In the deep theta state that comes with floating, you experience increased access to and control over subconscious mental processes. You can literally become the master of your own mind.
So if relaxation, stress reduction, the lessening of chronic pain and the ability to remember your dreams more vividly are just a few of the many benefits you may desire, then floating is for you. Try it today—it just might change your life.
For more information, visit www.floatspasandiego or call 858-279-3301.