I embarked on a seven-day float therapy retreat in Thailand and emerged a changed woman. Read on for the benefits of sensory deprivation tank therapy and isolation tanks.
As a life coach, I’m always open to self development. Over the years I’ve tried various different healing modalities to improve wellness, mindset and physical being. So when an opportunity to try float therapy in a sensory deprivation tank presented itself, I jumped at the chance.
Also known as Reduced Environmental Stimuli Therapy (R.E.S.T), float therapy or flotation therapy boasts a whole host of benefits such as reduced stress and anxiety, muscular and arthritic relief, improved sleep, digestion and skin condition plus regulation of the heartbeat. I felt personally drawn to how it can boost mood, enhance creativity and induce a deep meditative state.
The flotation tank experience removes all external stimulation on the eyes, ears, nose and touch. Absolute silence in utter darkness - a blessing for many of us in this busy world we live in. Inside, 1000 litres of water are heated to human skin temperature (35.5 degrees C) and loaded with 600kg of pure Epsom salt.
Each session lasts from 45 minutes up to several hours if you choose.
Magnesium in a sensory deprivation tank is the key
Magnesium is the most critical mineral required for every cell in the body. Epsom salt is a form of magnesium, and absorption through the skin is the fastest, most effective way to feed the body with this essential mineral.
Studies show that magnesium seriously stimulates serotonin production and therefore alleviates symptoms of depression. In addition, it nourishes the nervous system, reduces muscle pain and cramps, improves sleep, brain health & cognition and reduces headaches.
“Magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. A magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient” says Dr Norman Shealy, a neurosurgeon and pioneer in pain medicine.
The floatation tank I visited is a bespoke pyramid design, perfectly aligned in proportion and direction to Giza, Egypt. One-off float sessions offer instant results however I elected to do a week of therapy - floating for one hour a day for seven days - to see how deeply it could affect my mental and physical wellbeing.
I felt a little apprehension before my first float, knowing that I would be in a small dark space, enveloped in water. This quickly passed however as I stepped into the water and closed the hatch. I would describe it to like being in a cocoon; warm, quiet and unbelievably comforting from the offset.
I lay back and allowed my body to literally buoy up to the surface. It took a few minutes to find a suitable position and then the feeling of suspension in the water was blissful.
Throughout the course of the seven sessions, I experimented with different positions in the water; arms above my head or even folded underneath my back. I found lying in the yogic state of Shavasana a favourite as it meant my head could hang right back, defying gravity yet supported by the salt water. This eased the laptop-induced neck pain I have experienced for twelve months.
Flotation tanks are increasingly promoted to generate an altered state, so I also experimented with sound and light. The centre provided a waterproof MP3 player from which I listened to enchanting musical journeys as well as a guided meditation.
Float Therapy Boosted my Clarity, Creativity and Confidence
One of the biggest benefits I found in the float experience – with its reduced stimuli environment – is that it provided extreme clarity on my thought processes.
By session three, I surrendered to the fact that a total state of ‘no mind’ would evade me so I allowed the thoughts to just come and go.
The beauty was that my thoughts in the tank came just one by one, rather than ten to the dozen which I usually experience in life. I did not experience self doubt or thoughts of sabotage; they were all of a positive nature. I was able to to consider and explore my thoughts, clearly and cleanly.
This then allowed me to investigate thoughts and ideas more creatively than I would usually. Ideas I had been procrastinating started to take real shape, both during the tank sessions and afterwards.
In turn, my self belief significantly improved. I felt confident and assured after having the time and space to consider my work projects, relationships and future life plans in such a way. After a prior period of inertia, I felt bold and secure knowing how to proceed.
Since my float therapy experience, I have noticed a sustained improvement in my happiness. I feel in a more empowered state when I work on my business projects, how I relate with my partner is better and I’m saying yes more often to new things. After my final session in the tank, I ordered a huge quantity of Epsom salt to bathe in at home.
7-day float therapy retreats with luxury villa accommodation start at £1120
The article was first published in the Spring 2019 issue of Planet Mindful magazine in the UK.