The Therapeutic Benefits of Flotation Therapy and How to Create a Similar Experience at Home

It’s a busy world out there, at home and in here. Whether awake, sleeping or drifting between the two through mindful practices such as meditation, the senses never switch off. Some of us are fortunate to have all five fully functioning senses including sight, sound, smell and taste, touch and hearing which are constantly relaying information to the brain via them. They help us make sense of the world around us.

Our senses are worker bees, often going the extra mile to collect a lot more data than needed to ensure that we have the most complete experience of the world around us. A surplus of information creates a lot of chatter and various parts of the brain and sensory system work to assimilate and filter what is most relevant and what is not. This can sometimes lead to sensory overload and may impact mental, physical and even spiritual wellbeing. Sometimes the best way to rest is complete sensory deprivation; taking the concept of ‘getting away from it all’ to an entirely new level.

Enter Flotation Tank Therapy which has proven to deliver numerous benefits since its inception. Although the treatment grew in popularity from the mid-1980s, we have health spas to thank for its popularity. It has now even been incorporated as an accompanying therapy to medical treatments for more holistic healing outcomes. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it was only about healing waters.

An American scientist by the name of John Lilly, created the first flotation tank to understand the origins of consciousness more fully in 1954. Back then, he referred to them as Sensory Deprivation Tanks and designed them to shut the brain off from any external stimuli created by the senses. In brief, what he found was the brain doesn’t need our senses to remain active. On the contrary, he noted that his test subjects felt more rejuvenated mentally and physically and more at peace after a session in the tank. But the benefits of it don’t stop there.

Flotation Tanks are also called Isolation Tanks and are used for the aptly named REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy). Most often these pod-like structures, are filled with a foot or more of saline water mixed with large quantities of Epsom salts to promote buoyancy and to detox the body at the same time. The pods are designed to keep the water at constant body temperature. 

They are soundproof and once closed, devoid of any light. Consider eating a light meal to ensure that you are feeling satisfied. Before climbing into a pod, clients are asked to remove all clothing and jewellery including earrings, then shower from head to foot and thoroughly wash the hair to remove any aromas that might linger from body washes and hair conditioners or perfumes and deodorants. Ear plugs are sometimes provided and necessary. Once in the pod, the lid is closed to create a foetal like feeling of safe comfort. Sessions usually last an hour.  Thereafter, another shower is needed to remove excess salts from the skin.

Cellnutrition recommends using a beneficial skin spray such as Cellnutrition Dermo Spray, nasal spray such as Cellnutrition Isotonic Nasal Spray, saline solution for the eyes and a restorative tonic such as the Cellnutrition Isotonic with all 78 minerals and trace elements needed for cellular hydration and function, after the REST session. The Magnesium Sulfate or Epsom salts may be dehydrating to some people.

Mentally, Flotation Therapy is proven to significantly reduce stress and assist the body in producing less of the stress hormone cortisol. It promotes mindfulness and assists with meditation. It leads to kind introspection, assists in setting better intentions and releasing emotional hurts. It’s said to help quiet the mind, uplift the mood and importantly, promote more restful sleep which is when the body works hardest to repair itself. This benefits us in other ways too. It improves clarity of thought, attention span and therefore overall productivity and effectiveness. And through this, we build better self-esteem, self-belief and self-love. We can reflect on which behaviours are not serving our best interests or those of others and perhaps consider ways to gently adjust them for better outcomes.

Flotation Therapy is scientifically noted to reduce chronic pain by up to 33 percent. It assists in rejuvenating the muscles and helps with muscle fatigue and recovery.  After 10 minutes in a flotation pod, you can expect your heart-rate to drop by 10 points - people with low blood pressure should emerge from the pod slowly, in a seated position, take a deep breath and stand up slowly and comfortably after a session.

How To Create a Similar Experience at Home

You will need:

  • A bath, remove all of those delicious smelling products for the session.
  • A pound of standard Epsom salts available from any pharmacy.
  • Ear plugs.
  • At least half an hour of uninterrupted quiet time.
  • A candle or tea light.

Remove all jewellery, take a shower or a quick bath first. Run the bath as hot as possible and while doing that, empty in the Epsom salts and ensure that it is completely dissolved. Leave a little room at the top of the bath - if possible, fill it to approximately half to three quarters full.

Set a timer on your phone or alarm of sorts for at least 30 minutes.

Light the candle with an intention by saying either aloud or in your head, “I am grateful for this experience and journey into self-healing" before closing the door, turning off the light and popping in the ear plugs.

Climb into the hot water gently. Find a comfortable and relaxing position that supports the neck.

The water may seem very hot for the moment and that is quite alright and to be expected. It will eventually cool down.

You may extinguish the candle if you feel it appropriate.

Enjoy the experience.

Be sure not get any of the water on your face and please take extra precaution not to swallow any of it. When you are ready to emerge, pull the plug and remain in the bath. The feeling of the water leaving your body will ground you and allow you to be thankful for the experience. Please remember to wash your body again with clean water.

It is best to do this at night before going to sleep. Remember to drink plenty of fluids and keep them close at hand. REST well.