I'm always interested in experiencing new things, especially if they can augment my health.
Over the last year or so, float tanks have been consistently offered on the Daily Deal sites such as Groupon. After reading about Flotation Tanks in Tools for Titans by Tim Ferris, I decided to take the plunge.☺ After all, I am a water baby.
Here is what Dr. Dan Engle had to say on page 110:
"[Floating in an isolation tank] is the first time that we've been without sensory experience, sensory environmental stimuli, since we were conceived. There is no sound, no sight, no temperature gradient, and no gravity. So all of the brain's searching and gating* information from the environment is relaxed. Everything that was in the background - kind of 'behind the curtain' - can now be exposed.
When done consistently over time, it's essentially like meditation on steroids. It starts to re-calibrate the entire neuroendocrine system. People who are running in stress mode or sympathetic overdrive start to relax that over time, and you get this bleed-over effect into everyday life. It's not just what happens in the tanks.It continues outside of the tank. You see heart rate normalize, hypertension normalize, cortisol normalize. Pain start to resolve. Metabolic issues start to resolve.
Anxiety, insomnia, and mental chattering can be significantly improved in [2 to 3 times per week for a total of] anywhere between 3 and 7 sessions. For pain, it's normally 7 to 10 sessions. I recommend doing a 2-hour float if people are able."
Apparently, it is more beneficial to do a 2-hour session but, for some people, the monkey-mind may rule. In that case a 1-hour session may be a better choice.
*From Wikipedia: Sensory gating describes neurological processes of filtering out redundant or unnecessary stimuli in the brain from all possible environmental stimuli. Also referred to as gating or filtering, sensory gating prevents an overload of irrelevant information in the higher cortical centers of the brain.
When I entered the private room and saw the pod, the first thing that came to my mind was the movie Cocoon. Extrapolating from what Dr. Engle said, I suppose a regular float session could serve to slow down the aging process. With your mental and physical aches and pains out of the way, you might very well have a spring in your step.
The 98-degree water is nine inches deep. When you float, you can close the pod for complete darkness. You also have the option of coloured lights.
I have difficulty getting down on the floor. If I could change three things to make it easier, they would be:
- The pod should have a wider "lip", which would make it easier to rest upon as you transfer into the water. This is a design issue.
- A low stool which can be put into the pod to augment getting in and out.
- A rubber mat, so the anti-slip floor doesn't dig into your knees, especially since it may take awhile to get in or out, if you have mobility issues.
I was told that some people fall asleep, which I was hoping to do. However, five things prevented that from happening:
- The novelty of the experience.
- I was "busy" thinking about how I would write this up as a blog post.
- I had other things to do that day, so I was thinking about them.
- As a swimmer, I "felt" like I should be "doing something".
- I started thinking about having to go to the bathroom!
What I noticed
- I was quite tired, hungry and thirsty when I finished my session.
- Later in the day, the pain in my lower back and shoulders had dissipated.
My second experience
With the novelty out of the way, I was able to quiet the chatter in my head and simply float. Ahhhh!
- If possible, before you book, check out the facility to see if it suits your level of mobility.
- You want an empty bladder before you enter the pod. It's probably best not to drink too much prior to going.
- The edge of the tank is quite slippery. Drape some wash cloths or towels over the edge where you place your hands. This will give you a better grip.
- Schedule it later in the day when you don't have much to do afterwards.
- Bring water and a healthy snack to consume on the way home.
How I would design the tank
These pods are not very conducive to people who have mobility issues, which is unfortunate because I think there would be lots to gain from this experience. It was hard enough for me to get in and out but for someone who is in a wheelchair, it would be next to impossible.
If I were designing the flotation pod, I would make it with a wide lip for the transfer, with grab bars for safety. I would also have a reclining bath lift, similar to this, so that the person could transfer easily from the chair onto the wide lip, then into the water.
I've seen another model that looks more like an enclosed shower stall. Perhaps these could be more easily adapted for people with mobility issues.