Floating in salt water is anything but a new concept based on the fact that floatation therapy for therapeutic reasons has been an attribute of the ancients who made pilgrimages to the Dead Sea centuries ago for this very reason. In the 50s, one doctor John C Lily revived the practice in his lab by adding sensory deprivation as part of the therapy to enhance its impact on the ‘floater’.
After being passed off as a ‘placebo pill’ element for a few decades, the repeated reports from sportsmen and celebrities who continued to subject themselves to floatation therapy renewed interest in the practice. This apparently became the driver behind the establishment of chic flotation spas or studios that offer anywhere between 60 to 90 minute float tank sessions and can be found in most metropolitan areas around the globe.
John C Lily’s idea basically revolved around neuroscience and psychoanalysis and among the components of his subject of interest was the impact of sensory deprivation floating on a variety of illnesses such as addiction, anxiety disorders, addiction and as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Based on the impressive results that followed suit after these sessions John C Lilly went on to commercialise the float tank that the average person could also enjoy. However, due to a variety of factors and rumours the growth of the industry came to an abrupt end and only a niche group of people with customised floatation tanks continued the use of it. Over the years the scientific community revisited floating or float therapy in their attempt to examine the effects of isolation and with modern equipment, they were able to determine that John C Lily’s observations were not exaggerated and were in fact true.
People did feel better after the therapy sessions, injuries do heal faster, production of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol were reduced and production of feel good chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins were enhanced. This chemical rebalancing naturally leads the way towards better immune systems, higher tolerance to pain, and the improved flow of blood enhanced oxygen distribution throughout the body and stressful thoughts and feelings were quickly neutralised.
Towards explaining this further, researchers were able to determine that the hypothalamus signals adrenal glands to release these stress hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol which can lead to anxiety and depression is effectively managed through the minimisation of cortisol production which happens during floatation as during the session, floaters move into a trancelike state which ‘tones the activity of hypothalamus significantly’. The findings that were periodically published received extensive coverage by the media which triggered the floatation tank therapy phenomenon.
The fact that floatation therapy is also affordable and there are no side effects has made it the most popular treatment for anxiety and depression, not to mention that many individuals subject themselves to floatation therapy just to feel better in general.
These days floatation therapy is used by just about everyone, from pregnant women, athletes and office workers right up to doctors, lawyers and politicians.