A Brief History
An isolation tank/pool is a lightless tank in which subjects float in salt water at skin temperature. They were first used by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation. Scientists at the time assumed that the brain would stop functioning if the sensory input was removed. Lilly found that just the opposite was true! He discovered that the brain has a prime opportunity to rest and recover when external stimuli are removed. This leads to increased creativity and reduced stress, all while producing a sense of well-being and euphoria! Such tanks are now also used for meditation and relaxation and in alternative medicine. The isolation tank/pool was originally called the sensory deprivation tank.
What To Expect
A therapeutic session in a floatation pool typically lasts an hour. The float often ends with a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta, which typically occurs briefly before sleep and again at waking. In a float tank, the theta state can last indefinitely without the subject losing consciousness. Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving or for super learning. The more often the tank is used the longer the theta period becomes.
Floating can be passive or active, depending on the purpose. For relaxation, one simply floats and 'clears the mind.' Active floating has many different techniques. One may perform meditation, mantras, self-hypnosis, utilize educational programs, etc. The idea of active floating is that, when the body is relaxed, the mind becomes highly suggestible and any action taken during these states will enter the information into the sub-conscious. Floatation therapy may be used to complement other body work and healing methods.
Today's Uses and Benefits
Short-term sessions of sensory deprivation are described as relaxing and conducive to meditation. People use relaxation techniques for the following reasons, among others:
Immune system support Anxiety attacks Athletic Recovery Pregnancy
Cardiac health Depression General well-being Headache
High blood pressure Preparation for hypnosis Anger management Insomnia
Pain management Relaxation Stress management Addiction treatment
Nightmare Disorder PTSD ADHD ADD
There are thousands of Float Centers around the world that are helping people holistically. The US is on the verge of recognizing and valuing holistic remedies like countries such as Sweden, and Australia. The Swedish Floatation Association is working to "integrate floatation therapy into the national health care structure so that it is officially recognized as a therapeutic treatment by state authorities, medical communities, and national health insurance programs."