Other conditions to benefit from floatation therapy


Visualisation

Many modern researchers see the floatation tank as the optimal environment for enhancing an individual’s powers of visualization and self-management.

By combining deep physical relaxation with a highly receptive, visually vivid theta brain-state, the floatation tank facilitates an individual’s ability to generate and manipulate visual imagery, and use imagery to maximum effect.

In the field of sports psychology, the use of in-tank vizualisation and mental rehearsal of complex sports moves has been proven to dramatically improve athletes’ confidence and motor skills – more effectively than conventional practice on the track or field.

Research by Dr Edmond Jacobson (the developer of Progressive Relaxation therapy) established a link between mental images and neuromuscular responses. While in a state of relaxation, he asked people to visualize themselves running.

He discovered that this created minute “phantom” muscular contractions of exactly the same type as the subjects would have produced if they had actually been running.

It is now generally accepted that the most potent psychological technique for building up athletes’ motor skills and confidence simultaneously is visualization – mental rehearsal of perfect sports moves.

Creativity & Enhanced Learning

In a study in Texas A&M University in 1982, Dr Thomas Taylor selected 40 well-matched subjects from 450 volunteers and split them in to 2 groups. Both groups underwent a series of 70 minute learning sessions using audiotapes.

One group (the control group) listened to the tapes while sitting on sofas in quiet darkened rooms.

The other group listened while floating in floatation tanks.

Taylor tested both groups on 3 levels of learning performance;
1. basic memorization
2. application level (the ability to understand a concept and use it)
3. synthesis thinking (the ability to put together several concepts and come up with a new idea or an original solution to a problem).

A static analysis of the results showed that on the first level, floaters did better than the control group. On the 2nd level, the gap between floaters and non-floaters widened. On the 3rd level, the superiority of the floating group was greatest of all.

Taylor also recorded the brainwave activity of both groups while learning. He recorded several ‘Eureka events’ – flashes of sudden insight or creative problem-solving. He noted that these tended to occur in the deep theta state.

Relaxation

The term “relaxation” is vague and subjective. It can be used to describe any activity that brings temporary release from the pressures of life – watching TV, pursuing a hobby, drinking a 6-pack of beer, surfing the net, soaking in a bath, dancing till dawn…

Is there such a thing as true relaxation from a scientific perspective? Eminent stress researcher Herbert Benson MD of Harvard Medical College showed that meditation and yoga cause measurable changes to heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, hormone balance, and brainwave activity. At the time, it came as something of a surprise to learn that an individual could exert control over these normally unconscious processes that are regulated by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system.

However, a major limitation to the efficacy of yoga and meditation was that these techniques required training, practice, and persistence. Benefits were not immediate. Relaxation required some hard work!

Benson’s studies did not include floatation REST because it was largely unknown at that time. Since the early 1980s, however, research has demonstrated that floatation REST elicits a significantly more powerful relaxation response than any other technique known to science, and does this automatically, passively, and without the need for training or practice.

The brain is a network of cells that constantly exchange electrochemical messages with one another. Brainwaves are the electrical activity generated when hundreds of cells “fire” at the same time in the same part of the brain.

The human brain has four distinct brainwave patterns, which are associated with four distinct states of consciousness

Electrical activity in the cortex of the brain can be recorded with an EEG (electro-encephalograph) and is measured in Hertz (frequency or cycles per second).

The beta state (13 Hz and above): Low amplitude, high frequency brain activity associated with normal waking consciousness and externally directed, linear-thinking mental activity.

The alpha state (8 – 12 Hz): Higher amplitude, lower frequency brain activity associated with mild relaxation, daydreaming, reverie and light meditation. The alpha state is relatively easy to access.

The theta state (4 – 8 Hz): Very high amplitude, very low frequency brain activity just above the threshold of consciousness, associated with deep mental processes, creativity, inspiration, and illumination.

Theta is a highly elusive state. Although we fleetingly pass through the theta state as we fall asleep at night and again as we wake up in the mornings, it is practically impossible to enter this state at will and remain in it without falling asleep.

One of the unique features of floatation REST is that after 10 to 20 minutes of floating, theta becomes the predominant level of brain activity, and remains so for the duration of the float session.

The Delta state (0.5 – 4 Hz): This state of minimal brain activity is associated with deep dreamless sleep.

The brain-state associated with floating – where the whole brain is balanced, synchronized, and resonating at the theta level – is something unique.

Self Motivation

The float tank is an effective tool for positive self-motivation because it provides the following;
• Eliminates all external stimuli so you can concentrate on yourself
• Produces a very deep relaxation so you can be open to suggestion and open to positive thoughts and attitudes
• Produces chemical changes in your body which favour clarity of thought, improved memory and problem-solving
Combined with complementary modalities, the float tank is an effective tool for self-improvement.

Pregnancy

Parents and Mothers-to-be are often held in tension through situation and changing bodies. Floatation is a wonderful respite and great for a quick rejuvenation that is more integrated than sleep provides. Pregnant mothers are also often tense due to experiencing many bodily changes. As the baby grows and begins pressing on the mother’s body, a place to relieve the pain might become necessary. It is also important for first time mothers to take the time to become familiar with their bodies.

During labour, the mothers who are “in touch” with their bodies experience far lesser pain than those who are introduced at the point of labour. While floating one has greater inner-vision. One has the ability to bring awareness to parts of the body never before discovered. In doing this, nerves are sensitized and feeling comes which is the doorway for muscular control. As the woman lay their floating, her insight will allow a greater connection to the baby. Mothers tell of babies becoming more active while in this communion.

Enhanced Learning

Although your body enters a level of physical relaxation which is even deeper than sleep, in the float room your mind remains awake and dreamily alert, just above the threshold of sleep. Large areas of the brain are suddenly liberated from their normal workload of processing signals from the nervous system and sense organs. There is a sharp drop in the level of electrical activity of the brain (measured on an EEG) from the usual 20-25 Hz down to 4-8 Hz. EEG readings show a slow, rhythmic wave pattern known as the theta state.

This is where your learning abilities are at their highest and powers of visualisation and autosuggestion are greatly enhanced. Measurements of the brain waves produced by experienced zen meditators in deep satori show large amounts of theta activity across the cortex. For most people, however, the theta state is almost impossible to enter without falling asleep. In the float room, you enter this elusive state effortlessly and enjoyably, and stay in it for most of the float session.

EEG measurements on floaters show that the level of activity in the two hemispheres of the brain also becomes more balanced and synchronized. This can produce a subtle shift in awareness away from the normally dominant “left-brain” thought patterns (logical, linear, analytical, and detailed) towards the more intuitive, synthetic and large-scale thought modes of the “right-brain”. The tank does not inhibit the left hemisphere, but simply changes its role from one of dominance to one of partnership with the other hemisphere, enabling floaters to use all their mental powers.

In a study at Texas A&M University in 1982, Dr Thomas Taylor selected 40 well-matched subjects from 450 student volunteers and split them into two groups. Both groups underwent a series of 70-minute learning sessions using audiotapes.

One group (the control group) listened to the tapes while sitting on sofas in quiet darkened rooms.

The other group listened while floating in floatation tanks.

Taylor tested both groups on three levels of learning performance:
1. basic memorization level
2. application level (the ability to understand a concept and use it)
3. synthesis thinking (the ability to put together several concepts and come up a new idea or an original solution to a problem).

A statistical analysis of the results showed that on the first level, floaters did better than the control group. On the second level, the gap between floaters and non-floaters widened. On the third level, the superiority of the floating group was greatest of all. Taylor also recorded the brainwave activity of both groups while learning. He recorded several “Eureka events” – flashes of sudden insight or creative problem solving. He noted that these tended to occur in the deep theta state.