Floating is a form of meditation in which you literally float in water thanks to a ton of salt. It has actually been around for several decades but had a much scarier sounding name back then: sensory deprivation therapy.
Don’t go into a claustrophobic panic yet. There’s a reason for the much friendlier term “flotation” and why it can be found in specialty and high-end spas. They kinda work. (They just needed a re-brand.)
What is “flotation” exactly?
- You lay in a large tank of shallow water, either enclosed like a pod or in a small room.
- The water and room temperature are similar to that of your body temp.
- The water is filled with copious amounts of Epsom salts (we’re talking 1,000+ pounds), which makes you buoyant. Yes, completely buoyant.
- Most float spas will work with you on your level and comfort on how much lighting (little to none) and how much sound (little to no music). Removing all sound and light is something you can work up to and is the ultimate flotation experience.
It’s important to note that these float “cabins” have come along way since the days of calling it sensory deprivation. Think less clinical and more spa.
Does it work?
By keeping the water and room temperature the same as the body’s temperature, it makes it hard for the brain to differentiate between the skin and the water. This atmosphere allows a certain part of the brain that controls tactile functions to turn off. This shutoff typically makes it a lot easier to achieve a meditative state — including for those who have difficulty meditating in general.
Most of the actual science done on floating, however, hasn’t been done since the 80s and 90s, so much of the evidence is anecdotal.
But here’s a good, honest story from Runner’s World of one woman’s experience trying flotation therapy and how it even helped her increase her workout stamina.