by Tia Davis

Guest post: the small, unexpected benefits of floating

From time to time we like to turn over the microphone to other people. This guest post is from Float staffer Shayna C. – Sara

Now that I am a staff member at Float Boston, I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to float regularly (thanks, Sara and Colin!). Many of the immediate effects of frequent floatation are predictable enough: better sleep, fewer muscle aches, being physically unable to shut up about how great it is. Some of the other unforeseen results of regular visits to the tank took me by surprise. Perhaps you can relate?

The Ganzfeld Effect, Continued

The Ganzfeld Effect is the neurological phenomenon that people can experience during flotation therapy, wherein you experience visual hallucinations from a lack of brain stimulation. I have seen swirling tunnels of colors that morph into concrete objects and scenes, as well as flashes of light. Seeing a flash of light when no light is present is called a phosphene. This alone is fascinating enough to spur digging into a deep wikipedia hole.

What I found most incredible, however, happened outside of the tank. I was relaxing after a yoga session, and by keeping my eyes open, looking at the ceiling, I was able to have the same visual hallucinations after only minutes of staring at the blank wall. This amazing surprise was gone once I looked away from the ceiling.

by Tia Davis
Float-inspired artwork by Tia Davis

A Happy Hips Position

I am recovering from a lower back injury, which is exacerbated by tight hips and a crooked  pelvis. Doing a few minutes of hip opening exercises at the beginning of my float without gravity against me has been instrumental in my recovery. I experience less pain alongside an easier strength training of problem areas. Next time you are in the tank, try holding the tops of your feet in your hands, so your legs are underneath you while you are lying down. This is a hip opener that would engage your muscles too much if you were not floating. I never would have guessed it could feel so good to sustain this stretch until I tried it.

My Nails

Are the longest and strongest they have ever been. Ever. By a lot. They are too strong to bite, even if I  wanted to bite them (I kinda do). Despite some googling on why my nails are so fabulous these days, I haven’t found other anecdotal tales of this happening to other people, or any solid scientific explanations as to why this happens. Magnesium (found in epsom salt, and can be absorbed through the skin) is reported to help aid in the absorption of calcium, so my best guess is a combination of more calcium getting to my nails, and fewer anxious thoughts to bite my nails about.

My Digestion

Is, uh, more regular. Being in a relaxed state engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of all sorts of stuff that is usually outside of our deliberate control, like salivation, arousal, digestion, and defecation. When your sympathetic nervous system is overactive, the “fight or flight” stress response can actually inhibit proper digestion. In addition, a symptom of magnesium deficiency is constipation, and the float tank has plenty of magnesium for your skin to absorb. Gut health is important, and perhaps not the most touted benefit to getting in the float tank.

None of these things are the sole reason I keep floating, or even my very favorite things about floating (worrying less is #1), but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the little, unexpected things that can happen in the dark and quiet.

Shayna started working with us at Float Boston in January 2016.

About Sara

Sara is a co-founder of Float, and has been a licensed massage therapist since 2003. The problems of two people may not amount to a hill of beans in this world, but this is our hill, and these are our beans.