The latest spa trend, flotation therapy has actually been around for more than 60 years, and focuses on mind-body wellness and the inner self.
These days, floatation therapy tanks can be found at spas and wellness centers around the country, and even as their own destination properties, like the newly opened Float Brothers Float Spa in Destin, FL.
About flotation therapy
Floatation therapy—also known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy and once called sensory deprivation therapy—focuses on the deliberate elimination of sensory stimuli to achieve extreme levels of relaxation and, potentially, a meditative state.
Research also shows that floatation therapy sessions have the ability to relieve stress and anxiety, ease pain and even treat addictions, all good reasons why people are flocking to float.
Studies began back in the 1950s, and in its early days patients were confined to beds in cramped quarters for hours, their vision and hearing obstructed by goggles, pillows and other objects.
The first sensory deprivation tank was invented by neuroscientist Dr. John C. Lilly in 1954 and featured a water-filled design that eliminated the harsh conditions of earlier experiments.
Today, the basic concept remains the same, though the tanks have become more high-tech. At the Float Brother Float Spa, tanks are outfitted with iPod and MP3 jacks for musical accompaniment, as well as optional multicolor lights to enhance the experience.
Trey and Chris Hearn of Float Brothers Float Spa spoke with Organic Spa Magazine about their new space, the health benefits of floating and their work advocating for veterans that suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
OSM: What is the science behind floatation therapy? What are the health benefits?
Trey Hearn: The science is very simple, but the benefits are amazing and plentiful. You break away from your everyday life to float effortlessly free of gravity in super-saturated Epsom salt water, free of sight, sound, touch and smell.
This decrease in sensory input, being gravity-free and the Epsom salts all allow your body and mind to heal and recover like never before--just what we need in our over-stimulated society.
Are float spas similar to sensory deprivation tanks? How do your float spas work?
Yes, they are one and the same. However, our new state-of-the-art float pods allow patrons to customize their experience to their own comfort level. We provide the option to have multi-colored lighting and listen to music/audiobook in the pod if desired. However, the ultimate relaxation experience comes from being completely removed from all your senses.
[At the Float Brothers Float Spa] You have your own room, which includes a shower and a float pod. We ask that patrons rinse themselves off of oils/lotions before getting the pod completely nude (you can wear a bathing suit if preferred). Once in the pod, you just lay back and float effortlessly. We offer a 60-minute or a 90-minute float session.
Can floating help you get to a meditative state?
Absolutely! There is no better place to meditate or get to the Theta wave state that so many meditators strive for. You are in a distraction-free environment where you won't have anything to take you away from a meditative practice. Additionally, since all you will be able to hear is your breath and heartbeat, it is much easier to be mindful and get to the meditative state much faster.
Tell us a little bit about the Float Brothers Float Spa’s initiative to raise awareness and help active military members and veterans with PTSD?
Our goal is to raise as much awareness as we can about how floating is helping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As military veterans, Chris and I know firsthand the devastating effects PTSD that is having on the military/veteran community.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs states that approximately 11 to 20 percent of veterans that served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan suffer (or have suffered) from PTSD. Float Brothers allows any military or veterans medically diagnosed with PTSD the opportunity to float for free in our spa in the Patriot Float Room.
How can floatation therapy help those suffering from PTSD?
As veterans, my brother Chris and I are working hard to spread the word about how float therapy is helping with PTSD. The sensory-free float pod allows an individual with PTSD a comfortable environment where they have no external stimuli so complete relaxation is possible.
Additionally, the meditative environment allows them an opportunity to potentially think about and hopefully overcome some of the traumatic events that are causing them so much suffering.
Floating is only a tool, but many military/veterans are getting great relief from their PTSD symptoms from floating.