Floating is emerging as a favorite way to de-stress and relax. To find out more, editor Rachel Rowney visited Float Horizen in Nashville…
The popularity of floatation therapy, often within a sensory deprivation tank, has grown significantly in recent years. With claims that it is a powerful way to re-center yourself in a busy world, I was intrigued to try out a session and experience it for myself. Each floatation tank contains 1000 pounds of Epsom salt, and the water is kept at what they refer to as ‘skin-receptor’ neutral, which means it perfectly complements your body’s natural temperature. This is all designed to make your body relax, and your mind calm down from 21st-century life.
Zane Ritter, the owner of Float Horizen, outlines the many advantages of floating, a technique that was developed in the early 1960s. “To me, the primary benefit is stress relief, tuning out all the noise in our day-to-day reality. Once you allow yourself to be in a state that is essentially free from distractions, it allows your mind and body to become very relaxed.”
The floatation tanks offer an ideal environment for mindfulness techniques. “It encourages meditation, so your cortisol levels decrease,” remarks Zane. “Stress can cause so many different anti-inflammatory diseases, so anything we can do to reduce stress will ultimately better our livelihood.”
When it comes to positive side-effects, floating isn’t just about mental health. “The Epsom salt in the tank is a great way for our bodies to absorb the magnesium that we need, and it also helps to reduce inflammation in our muscles and joints. It can help alleviate pain and can expedite the recovery process from strenuous exercise or injuries,” explains Zane. It’s for this reason that floatation is often used by professional athletes, and can relieve the physical strains of pregnancy. “Floating was invented in the early 1960s as a way to explore consciousness and its different levels. In the past decade, it’s caught on with a lot of mainstream science and research, looking at how well it interacts with our overall well being and mental state,” says Zane. The team at Float Horizen report that the floatation tanks are popular with musicians and authors, who wish to declutter their minds and work on new projects.
My experience floating was the first time was very relaxing. The tanks are noise insulated, and there is the option to have calming music playing throughout the session (I was advised to have the music playing for the first, and last, five minutes of the session to ‘revive you back after the hour’). One of the most surprising things I found about my experience was that you have no concept of the time you have spent in the tank; you are focusing on your breath rather than the number of minutes passing. If floating in the water in total darkness doesn’t appeal, there is also the option to have a small, colored light on throughout. At Float Horizen, there are two tank options, the more enclosed Dreampod and the Wave Room, which is a more open environment (and the one I would recommend if you are concerned about feeling claustrophobic).
As I finish my hour-long float, I understand the ‘post-float glow’ I had heard people experience after each session. If you enjoy a long bath after a stressful day, a float tank offers this and much more, and is a great way to recharge and relax.
First time floating? Here are some tips:
– Use the earplugs provided.
– There is nothing worse than salt water in your eyes! Use the headrest – provided for extra support.
– If you’re nervous, keep the light on throughout your session.
– Don’t drink caffeine beforehand.