Children love to spin, to rock, to swing — to do anything that momentarily changes their consciousness of ordinary reality. It is probably the case that this desire is genetically inbred into us given the tenaciousness with which we hold on to any method that accomplishes this — from drugs and alcohol, to daydreaming and fantasy, to yoga and meditation.
In the 1950′s, John Lilly started experimenting with the deliberate induction of a change in consciousness through the use of sensory deprivation. By 1970 he had perfected the flotation tank in which the adventuresome person would lie buoyantly atop body temperature water saturated with Epsom salts. The tank inside was pitch black, and there was no sound penetrating through. Although Lilly did some interesting experiments in his tank, it was not for the faint of heart. The tank itself was more like a coffin than a tank. And because of a series of other experiments done on severe sensory manipulation in which experimental subjects had adverse reactions, many people became fearful of the tank.
Today, we have moved away from any interest in altered states which resemble the drug-induced states of the 50’s and 60’s. Today, instead, most of us are interested in relaxation and stress reduction.
In pursuit of this goal, La Casa has up-dated John Lilly’s original flotation tank into a flotation room. You actually step into the chamber and lie down only when you’re comfortable and acclimated to your new environment. We’ve added an optional soft, blue light and optional piped-in music.
We get rave reviews from clients who float. No one talks too much about altered states of consciousness, the relaxation is quite profound. We’ve had a number of new parents and insomniacs (if you’ve ever been a new parent, you’ll know that new parents and insomniacs have a lot in common), and they tell us that floating has transformed impossible, exhausted days into high energy days. Some floaters say that they have the experience when they float of “coming home.” This is, of course, because the environment in the float room is roughly equivalent to our very first environment, the womb. Our memories may even be reaching back further, back to the sea before we even became human.
When you float, you are not straining against gravity, and thus every muscle in your body is more relaxed than you can get it in any other way (except space travel). Consequently, you develop a heightened awareness of any tensions, spasms, knots that may have escaped your notice. You can work on consciously releasing the tension in these places.
Floating creates a drop in blood pressure, a slowing of pulse rate and allows the blood to circulate more freely throughout the body. Because of the sensory deprivation aspects of being in the float room, we become extremely aware of our internal world. (It’s why, as well, patients in psychoanalysis lie on the couch. The mild sensory deprivation they experience in not seeing the analyst facilitates access to the unconscious.) We become sensitive to our thoughts and feelings, as well as to our autonomic functions such as respiration, heartbeat and dilation of blood vessels. If we choose to use the floating experience in such a way, we can bring these involuntary functions under conscious control, thereby achieving a unity of all parts of our brain, our reptile brain, our limbic brain and our neo-cortex. This unity, achieved in a state of utter passivity, confers on us a unique state, one that is both extraordinarily quiet and intensely conscious.
Research on floating shows that it is healing for a number of abnormal conditions. It helps people to fight addictions, depression, anxiety and fears, and facilitates weight loss. There are tons of hard medical data to support these claims.
But none of that is why we at La Casa like floating as much as we do. We consider one of its most powerful effects to be its detoxifying aspect. All that healthy Epsom salt just pulls toxins right to the surface of the skin where you can shower them off. And all that healthy salt is absorbed right into the skin, nourishing everything that lies below the skin.
Is floating safe for pregnant women?