In the video above I discussed my initial experience (spoiler alert I loved it!) at the Float House Abbotsford. However, since I had the pleasure of enjoying my third float session, I wanted to reflect on my experience of incorporating regular flotation sessions into my routine as a third year medical student clerk at UBC.
The simplest way I would describe flotation therapy is mindfulness or meditation on steroids. The combination of the near elimination of sensory input and the length of time are a very powerful combination that expedite learning and relaxation. In an ideal world I would do floats every two weeks but that is not realistic given my current demanding schedule. Nevertheless each float is better than the last.
Do not get me wrong initially doing a float can be scary, but that is part of the reason it is so effective. Your brain is truly the most advanced and sophisticated structure in the world. However, being aware of the myriad of sensory inputs we got on our daily basis, not to mention all the buzzing and beeping from our devices, takes up a considerable amount of your brain's resources. Therefore, when you are in a flotation tank you are able to redirect all this energy towards internal processing and relaxation. Further, combined with the length of time you float (90 minutes at Float House Abbotsford) your brain is able to expedite learning the ability to be relaxed and calm during your life.
During my session this evening, I noticed it felt like I almost instantly settled into a deep relaxation state, whereas in previous floats it felt like I fidgeted around forever before I felt settled. In addition, I noticed that when strong emotions came up, such as a primordial fear I was able to take a big belly breathe and release the tension instead of panicking and having to open the door.
The essence of mindfulness is the ability to bring awareness to whatever is happening in the present moment in a non-judgemental fashion. It sounds simple enough but it can be so utterly difficult. I have been meditating on/off for almost 10 years and daily for the last two years, but I was amazed how effortless it was for me to be present and at ease with significant tension and strong emotions that came up during my flotation therapy.
Surprisingly I have noticed that this sense of presence and calm permeates through my day into my life despite my relatively infrequent use of flotations. I hypothesize that this is due to the intensity of the experience that occurs during a flotation. I compare it similar to what occurs when you regularly meditate on a daily basis. You overall feel more calm and peaceful, and you are able to pattern interrupt your monkey mind when it feels out of control and bring your attention to the present moment. Just like how mindfulness can be beneficial for athletes (see the evidence based review video above), flotation therapy will have similar benefits for athletes. It works well enough for Stephen Curry!
Is flotation therapy for everyone? No, but it is a very potent intervention with practically no risk. Obviously it is not a medical treatment but it can be a powerful modality to promote well being. One of my passions as a future physician is spreading the knowledge and making low risk high reward evidence based tools available to individuals to not only prevent disease but promote wellness. Flotation therapy is definitely one of those tools you can add to your toolbox. If you would like to learn more about the evidence surround flotation therapy make sure to visit my YouTube channel and subscribe so you get notified of my video about the evidence behind flotation therapy that will be coming out soon.
If you can’t sustain it, it’s not worth it.
I am a medical student who is obsessed with the Be Activated Muscle Activation Technique, mastering movement and understanding what makes humans thrive.