Floating Fundamentals: Sensory Reduction
Part of the benefit of flotation therapy comes from the fact that, while in the pod, much of your sensory input is diminished. Float pods are designed to be completely free of light and sound, and the temperature inside the pod is the same as the skin, so there is no sensation of a temperature gradient. Floating on the surface of the water also removes pressure from bones, muscles, and joints, and the body doesn’t have to worry about orientation or balance. For those of you who think this all sounds terrifying, it’s worth noting the user has control over their personal level of sensory reduction—one may choose to keep the lid open, leave the lights on, or listen to music while floating.
Floating for Your Brain
Our brain is never at rest. It is constantly monitoring, measuring, repairing, and problem solving—all in the name of keeping you alive. The problem is it has a limited amount of energy with which to do this, and it will take energy it needs from wherever it can. Researchers have found when a person goes blind, for example, the brain uses the energy that went towards sight and redirects it to heighten other senses. Nothing is wasted.
The point of eliminating all sensory input is not to shut down the brain, but rather to give it more to work with. Imagine a brain that no longer has to keep track of sight, sound, or any of the other senses. What do you think it would do with that extra energy? Two options are healing and optimization.
Floating for Healing
The brain is constantly going back and forth between ramping the body up in response to the environment (like driving in traffic) and then bringing everything back into balance (also known as homeostasis for you smarty pants out there). In today’s world, however, we’re battling so much stress and stimulation that our brains often can’t keep up with their to-do lists, and our bodies get more and more out of balance. Floating frees up the brain so it can catch up everywhere it’s gotten behind, whether that means repairing soft tissue, focusing on detoxification, or even boosting the immune system to help with a lingering illness.
Floating for Optimization
Sensory reduction also allows for extra energy so the brain can make good stuff better. Studies have shown floating can help with memory and increase creativity. It can help athletes and musicians learn new movements and patterns. Many experience an increased ability to think clearly and problem solve. One study even showed that floating has the potential to make people happier.
All these benefits—creativity, learning, problem solving, happiness—are things that your brain and body want; it’s the direction they’ll go if allowed.
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