Why People Float
Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Floating is an exceptionally effective stress reduction tool.
Reduced sensory input (no light, no sound, no touch, and no human interaction) combined with the feeling of weightlessness, and the complete relaxation of every single muscle in your body, allows the mind to drift into a peaceful and undisturbed state.
People emerge from floating amazingly calm, grounded and happy. This state of being will linger for a week or longer.
Floatation offers a stress-free environment in which you can escape from stressful external stimuli and free your system from its chronic state of stimulus. This makes it a useful and life enhancing tool, but if that were all it did, floatation would be essentially a passive tool, and entering the spa would be little different from sitting quietly in a dark room.
While the absence of stress is desirable in itself, it doesn't necessarily bring about the presence of its opposite, relaxation. Floatation goes far beyond the passive.
Scientists have now proven that floating activates a physiological response that is parallel to, and as powerful as, the stressful one of fight or flight.
This response mobilizes the body's resources to bring about an active, alert, positive, and beneficial state of relaxation.
"Through all sorts of tests, including EMG (which measure muscle tension), EEG, blood pressure, and measurements of certain biochemicals, scientists have determined that the
floatation spa can bring about a state of extraordinarily deep relaxation-probably deeper than is possible by any other means yet available except for certain drugs.
This state of relaxation is in itself beneficial to health, since it allows the body to maintain its internal system of checks and balances, its homeostasis. That is, the body has its own highly effective methods of maintaining itself at an optimal level of well-being, and if allowed to operate freely, it will generally do so flawlessly.
Certain mental attitudes can throw this delicate mechanism out of whack. Stress causes harm by its disruption of our natural biochemistry. For example, researchers have recently discovered that, under stress, Type A personalities secrete forty times as much cortisol and three times as much adrenaline as Type B.
Cortisol has been proven to suppress the immune system. Tests have shown that floating decreases cortisol.
Excess adrenaline and related adrenal hormones such as noradrenalin and ACTH also cause our bodies to rev up in fight-or-flight response, and ultimately cause adrenal fatigue. Floating, through deep relaxation, lowers the levels of these hormones.
Another reason people float, as explained by the Webber-Fechner Law, is that leads to increased sensory awareness; we simply feel our bodies better, more clearly, and as a result we are able to regulate them more effectively. As John V. Basmajian's experiments have showed, we have the capacity to control the firing of a single motor neuron in the body, once we are made aware of that neuron.
Deep relaxation also leads to improved access to internal imagery. Awareness and control of mental imagery is the key to self-regulation.