Floating: The Ultimate Relaxation Experience

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As soon as I heard the word floating, I was hooked. I was having dinner with my friend Laura one Friday night when I asked her about her upcoming weekend plans. “On Sunday I’m going to float” was one of her responses. Float? Yes, float. Float spas have been popping up all around the country as a way for people to relax. I remember watching The Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown demonstrate floating in a pool at a resort she was profiling.

According to Brown, who has probably tried every spa experience on the planet, she had never been as relaxed as she was when she did floating. As someone who loves the water (and relaxing), I couldn’t wait to try it out for myself.

What is Floating?

Flotation therapy, clinically referred to as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), is when you float weightlessly, free from gravity, in silence. Invented in the 1950s by American neuroscientist Dr. John Lilly, floating is a scientifically proven holistic treatment for the body and mind.

Health Benefits of Floating

Floating provides numerous mental and physical benefits to the body including:

  • Reducing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline
  • Reducing inflammation, joint, muscle, and tissue pain
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Detoxification of drugs and environmental contaminants
  • Deep levels of relaxation (according to East Coast Float Spa, one hour of floating can provide the benefits of 4 hours of deep sleep)
  • Improving athletic recovery and performance
  • Enhancing creativity for arts
  • Improving memory and learning
  • Improving sleep patterns

In addition to the detoxification that Epson salts provide, its rich magnesium and sulfur content are minerals that help with insulin function as well as depression.

How Does Floating Work?

Float spas typically have several float rooms that house a private shallow pool and shower area.

Pools are filled with 10 inches of warm clean water (heated to internal body temperature), that is super-saturated with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts. The density of the salts allows you to float effortlessly (similar to the effects of the Dead Sea). Some people find floating so relaxing that they fall asleep (which is why only a small amount of water is used).

I was both nervous and giddy to try floating for myself. My first reaction when I entered East Coast Float Spa was how serene, quiet, and clean everything was. I was even asked to remove my shoes upon entering the spa and directed to put on provided slippers. After watching a short video that explains the procedure of using the float pool and reviewing with the receptionist, I was ready to float.

Getting into the float pool was easy. You just step in and sit down (it’s very shallow and small) and then lay back. At first, I moved around a lot to get used to floating and how fun the sensation was. I can’t imagine another experience that comes close to feeling the weightless sensation of being in space.

I quickly settled into the relaxing, mind-clearing part of it. The mineral-rich water is so dense that it holds your body up without any effort on your part. All you have to do is lay there and enjoy it for the next 60 to 90 minutes. There’s a dimmed light which can be turned off or left on. And it’s dead silent. When the float time is over, overhead lights are illuminated as a signal (or in case you fall asleep), and the filtration system starts. The shower is connected to the float pool which is convenient. Towels, hair dryers, and toiletries are all provided. Afterwards, I enjoyed some organic tea and dark chocolate in the relaxation room. 

Overall, I found floating to be an extremely relaxing experience that I will definitely be doing again. Flotation is a great way to practice mindfulness and carve out some precious me time. A neck strain I had walking into the float spa was happily gone when I left, along with my stress. Perhaps it just floated away…  

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