by Dr. Bryan Bingham
My wife and I just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary and this year we decided to try something a little different. Both of us had been curious about float tanks also know as float therapy and decided to look into local facilities. We had heard of a couple different local businesses and decided to try Better Being Float Center.
When we arrived we are greeted by a friendly, welcoming man named Kenny. After completing some simple paperwork Kenny took us back to one of the rooms with a float pod and gave us an introduction to floating. The pod was much larger and modern looking than I had expected. Each pod has about 11 inches of lukewarm water and about 900 pounds of salt which create the buoyancy that makes floating possible. The room was clean and nicely decorated. The floors were tiled and there was a shower in the corner, which is used to rinse prior to the float to remove residues and post float to remove the salt that is left on the skin.
I was surprised to learn that float therapy has been around since the 1950’s when it was know as Sensory Deprivation Therapy. Since it’s inception floating has come in and out of vogue, but has experienced a recent surge in popularity from athletes like Steph Curry from the Golden State Warrior who uses float therapy to give him an athletic edge.
In order to make sure our first float experience was a good one, Kenny gave us tips and strategies that ranged from breathing techniques to stretching in the pod. Following the introduction I was left to shower and start the float. Each session is 90 minutes which includes time for floating and showering.
I entered the pod and found the water to be the perfect temperature. There is a leap of faith as you lay back in the water, but right away you feel the water support your body and lift you upwards until you are floating. The rooms are equipped with motion sensory lights that turn off five minutes after you enter the pod. While the lights are on you can see light seeping in from the space around the pod door. Once the lights go off, it is completely dark to the point that you can’t tell if your eyes are open or closed. The absolute darkness was a little unsettling for a few moments, but it didn’t take long to acclimate.
I had expected to feel tired and relaxed while floating, but instead I felt awake and energized. I focused on my breath and tried to clear my mind of chatter. I found it easier to clear my mind while in the pod then when practicing meditation at home and noticed a sense of invigorated calm. I experimented with different arm positions and tried going through some stretching. It is not uncommon for people to fall asleep during a float, as my wife did, but I was unable to reach that point.
I did notice over the next couple days following the float that I felt a little more relaxed and grounded. I believe that there are significant benefits to turning off the outside stimulus for 90 minutes and allowing the mind to rest and recuperate. The brain is like any other muscle it needs rest. In our fast paced world full of constant stimuli it can be hard to remove yourself from the craziness, but using float therapy can provide that well needed reprieve.
Overall it was a great experience from the introduction through the end of the float. With most things I assume that it will take a few sessions until I can truly experience the benefits of floating, so I plan to return to Better Being and try floating again soon.