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The Floatation Tank Experience Explained

Like many Australians, you’ve probably heard about flotation tanks, but might not be clear on the whole concept. Let’s find out more.

A Brief History

Originally known as isolation, or sensory deprivation tanks, they were pioneered by scientist Dr John C. Lilly, a specialist in experimental neurophysiology at the USA’s National Institute of Mental Health. In 1954 he posited that one could explore the origins of human consciousness by keeping the brain isolated from external stimuli, and began a series of tests by putting volunteers in an early version of the floatation tank. Lilly mistakenly thought the test subjects would become comatose, instead, they entered a state of calm relaxation. Moreover, the experience unlocked and stimulated usually dormant areas of the brain, and many participants found the experience transformative, a kind of voyage of personal discovery.

The dire-sounding words isolation and deprivation combined with the 1980 release of the sci-fi/horror film Altered States starring William Hurt as a psychopathologist doing research similar to Lilly’s, but with shocking, and highly unscientific results, had the unfortunate effect of scaring a lot of people off who might have benefited from the actual, very positive experience.

Fast forward to now. With a fortuitous name change, today the floatation tank has taken its rightful place as a useful tool for both mental and physical health. Removing our sensory input tones down our constant concern over survival issues, allowing the mellow, creative part of our brain to wax dominant. Floating without the constraints of gravity allows our musculoskeletal system to let go and get the rest it so badly needs. The best way to understand all this is to try it for yourself. Here in Australia, the floatation tank in Mornington Peninsula is the perfect place for your first experience, you’ll find yourself coming back for more!

How It Works

The tank is typically around 2.5 metres long and 1 metre wide and is filled with about 25.4 centimetres of water mixed with 385 kilograms of Epsom salts (premium magnesium sulphate). This highly saturated solution is even more buoyant than the Dead Sea, allowing you to float on your back with half of your body remaining up out of the water- in other words, you become unsinkable. The water is kept at 34 ºC, the human average skin temperature. These elements combine to allow you to forget about your body and its aches and pains, thus freeing up your mind to go on an inner journey of relaxation and insight. After about 40 minutes of floating your brain switches from its usual Alpha and Beta wave states and journeys deeper into the Theta and Delta states, a very profound and even enlightening experience.

Health Benefits

Floating can provide relief for the following conditions:

  • Hypertension
  • Pain & Inflammation
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Brain Fog
  • Insomnia

Now that you know what flotation tanks are really about, why not give it a try? Your brain and body will appreciate it.

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