R.E.S.T. Therapy Explained
Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Flotation REST is a form of Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) that uses a shallow pool of heavy water about the size of a large bed. The water is made heavy by super-saturating it with Epsom Salt (MgSO4 ) to the point that a person floats on his or her back effortlessly on the surface of the water like a cork.
The water is heated to skin temperature and the pool is enclosed in a lightproof, soundproof environment. This device, invented by Dr. John C Lilly, effectively removes external stimulation and creates a neutral environment that gives the feeling that one is floating comfortably in space.
In using this type of therapy one is given a private room with a shower where one can disrobe, shower, and step into the pool enclosure. After sitting in the water and lying back to float on the surface, one can then turn out the lights.
The reduced stimulation encountered in the flotation pool refocuses the individual’s attention to internal stimuli. At first this includes the novel sensations of floating effortlessly in darkness and quiet.
The sensations of the body become much more salient making flotation REST a walk-in biofeedback device. This natural biofeedback initiates a self-regulation process leading toward relaxation. This relaxation is augmented by the transcutaneous absorption of magnesium that elicits the release of muscle tension.
As physical sensations become less salient mental activity can come to the fore. For those not used to being alone with their thoughts this can be difficult. However, even unpleasant thoughts become more palatable as the body enters a more deeply relaxed state. Eventually even the parade of thought subsides and the mind arrives at a meditative state.