If there is one thing New York City residents, and most likely everyone, could use it is getting a break from all of the daily input and overload streaming through our brains. Maybe you have heard about the benefits of floatation tanks. It is not science fiction. It is actually old school since floatation tanks, which are really over-sized bathtubs filled with over 800 pounds of Epson salts, have been recommended for centuries for their soothing and healing effects. In the many floatation tanks popping up at spas and wellness centers, you get an hour to float, dream and meditate without any external stimuli. As they potentially offer the perfect combination of physical and mental health benefits, I wanted to see if this experience could help my clients. A colleague and I decided to try it first-hand and see if the benefits were measurable. (Check this link for more info)
After just one visit, we felt truly peaceful and heartened, with the effects lasting a few days. The buoyancy of the Epson salts offers a unique opportunity to experience zero gravity, something we never get to feel in the real world. We are always aware of the effects of gravity, with our bodies in contact with other surfaces or objects at all times. While floating, we can clear our minds in peace without any external intrusions.
I came out after the hour with a wonderful sense of calm and overall well being, like after deep meditation. Your body actually gets to stop paying attention to the fight-or-flight response in the brain’s amygdala and has a chance to relax, lowering cortisol and adrenaline while also increasing dopamine and endorphin levels. We can all use a little less stress and a little more of this natural shifting of brain chemistry. Take a look at this Ted Ed video about the effect of stress on the brain.
My clients have heard me talk at length about the importance of quieting the fight-or-flight response. Imagine a way to deepen and enhance a meditative state all while lowering feelings of anxiety and depression. Imagine a way to feel more freedom from cravings and phobias. Imagine a way to increase creativity and productivity. There are many locations to choose from here in New York—Take a look at this statewide listing of floatation tanks (or search nationally for other locations). There are Groupons and the like, too, to keep it more affordable.
While the idea of trying a floatation tank may sound “out there” or different, it is actually a simple, straightforward and pleasurable experience. Therapy works best when we combine the mental and emotional work with physical outlets, respecting the mind-body connection. Yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and floatation, to name just a few examples, offer ways to lower stress. Ultimately, when we find more joy and peace in every day life, we feel better.