As a vehicle for both relaxation and recovery, float tanks are fairly unparalleled. There are lots of studies and anecdotes about the benefits that even a single hourlong float can offer. The most profound (and often inspiring) results, however, actually come from floating more regularly.
We hear this everyday in our conversations with our members and regulars. So, for this month’s blog, we wanted to highlight some of the personal stories from long term floaters that have been shared publicly. While these are just a small sample of the incredible stories we’ve heard, they help to illustrate the wide variety of benefits flotation has to offer. Stories like these are why we opened FLOAT, and why we’re so proud of the work that we do.
What’s happening to your brain when you float? How do you go from being awake, conscious, and stressed to relaxed and dreamy? While we still have a lot to discover when it comes to different states of consciousness, one key element is the “Theta State,” when our brain waves operate at a certain frequency most often linked to the moments between sleep and wakefulness. To really understand what the Theta State is and how it benefits us, we have to first explore a little bit about brain waves more broadly.
PTSD, short for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It resolves with time for some, and for others it may progress to a chronic state.
Many people have found floating to be a safe place to reprocess traumatizing memories, as well as mitigating anxiety and depression. Among other benefits, a floating practice allows people to develop a sort of “body memory” of calm and positivity, which they can carry into their daily life. For those having a hard time, this is a compelling reason to float!
“I remained happy, and carried with me the positive feeling into the next two days. It was almost a ‘celebratory’ feeling. One that has not been produced by any other medications, therapies, or methods of dealing with the individual diagnoses I live with. I didn’t feel the need for the anti-anxiety medications for nearly two days. Which, in my current state, almost never happens.” —Andrew
“Andrew” is a real person, though that’s not his real name. Over the last two years he’s been clinically diagnosed with Treatment-Resistant Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, and Anxiety Disorder. He has worked with trauma therapists and all the resources in the Boston area, including MGH and McLean hospital. He’s even gone so far as to participate in clinical studies at MGH for current drug trials that are being studied for his particular diagnosis. To date, nothing has significantly improved his quality of life, and is left with very few options short of electroconvulsive therapy.
He contacted us, wanting to know if he could try floating before committing to anything so drastic as ECT. Sara and I gave it a little thought and said, you know what, helping someone like this is exactly why we want to open FLOAT. We offered a series of three floats over three weeks, if he would write up his experiences before and after so that we could share them here.
[After my third float] I felt calm and happy, an experience I can’t remember having in a long time. So much so that I was unfamiliar with it, and didn’t know what to do with the positive happy feeling. I know how to take care of myself in the dark troubling times, but over the last few years, have lost the innate knowledge of how to feel happy, and what to do with that time.
This is an anecdote – one person’s experience, and no kind of clinically controlled trial. Please interpret with caution. Still we were thrilled with the results, and are excited to share them here.