History of Float Therapy
Floatation therapy was first invented by neuro-scientist Dr. John Lilly in the mid 1950’s. Float tanks named “sensory deprivation tanks,” and sometimes “isolation tanks” were invented in the United States. Over the past two decades the industry has expanded and today you can now float in almost every country around the world.
While working at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr Lilly and his colleague Dr Jay T. Shurley became interested in the origins of conscious activity within the brain.
What they were trying to test is if the brain needed external stimuli to keep its conscious states active. They began devising a system that would restrict environmental stimulation as much as possible.
Floatation therapy is based on a scientific approach to deep relaxation called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique or R.E.S.T. for short. The idea was developed in 1954 at NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) in Washington. Floating in a floatation tank triggers a deep relaxation response, much deeper than normal sleep. It enables us to drift into the elusive Theta state, which is hard to achieve.
Floatation REST has many physical and mental benefits because it provides an unparalleled level of relaxation. With the elimination of external stimuli, the central nervous system’s workload is reduced by as much as 90%. This reduction draws a person’s energy inward and promotes relaxation–also known as the parasympathetic response. The parasympathetic response is the mechanism by which the body naturally regenerates itself and maintains chemical and metabolic balance. Old wounds and injuries are allowed to heal faster. Increased T-cell production strengthens the immune system. This deep level of relaxation also benefits the cardiovascular system. Known as the vasodilatory effect, the body’s circulation is increased while the blood pressure and heart rate are reduced. Furthermore, the elimination of gravity on the body allows muscles and joints to release tension and heal more rapidly. For this reason, people suffering from musculoskeletal and rheumatic conditions greatly benefit from Floatation REST.
The “Brain Wave Explanation” by Michael Hutchison best describes what happens to us at each of the 4 stages of brainwave frequency. Floating subtly changes our body chemistry, creating profound benefit for an individual’s emotional balance. Negative emotions such as anxiety and fear are replaced by positive feelings of empowerment, confidence, and well-being.
As a person floats, the brain waves slow down into theta frequencies, a state of tranquility, creativity and very deep relaxation. Theta waves, measured at 4-7 Hz, represent the brain in a state of REM sleep (dreams), hypnosis, or lucid dreaming. Theta is the twilight state just before sleeping and just after waking, the border between the conscious and the subconscious world. By learning to consciously use a conscious, waking Theta brain wave we can access and influence the powerful subconscious part of ourselves that is normally inaccessible to our waking minds. While in the Theta state, the mind is capable of deep and profound learning, healing, and personal growth.