Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to be deficient in the average person's diet. Epsom Salt is magnesium sulfate, and soaking in it allows the magnesium to be absorbed through the skin. Adequate magnesium levels can be beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease, reducing hypertension, preventing osteoporosis, relieving menopausal symptoms, providing PMS relief, and creating healthier bones and teeth. Magnesium is also involved in detoxification of the body.
The Epsom Salt solution allows a person to float effortlessly. This reduces the effects of gravity on the body to promote greater muscle relaxation. Therefore, floating decreases chronic muscle tension and creates greater awareness of less noticeable areas of muscle tension. Musculoskeletal pain relief has been documented and is achieved by increasing circulation to extremities and promoting greater elimination of metabolic by-products such as lactic acid. Floating can also promote the release of endorphins. These neurotransmitters are responsible for providing natural pain relief, mood enhancement, and decreasing anxiety.
When activated, the sympathetic nervous system produces the fight or flight response. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation and healing. Floating suppresses the sympathetic nervous system which allows the parasympathetic nervous system to be activated. Physical signs of the relaxation response are decreased muscle tension, decreased blood pressure, decreased stressed hormones, and increased endorphin release. Regular floating can alter the set points in the endocrine homeostatic mechanism. This allows a psychophysiological resistance to the stimuli of chronic stressors. Eliminating most external stimuli in the tank allows the sympathetic nervous system to rest. Relief of chronic stress can aid in the prevention of several diseases.
By decreasing the stress response, floating also helps boost the immune system. Research has been done in the area of psychoneuroimmunology, the multidisciplinary approach to how well the immune system functions based on state of mind. It correlates having a positive outlook with a well-functioning immune system. Some research has even shown that focusing on an injury or diseased area of the body with positive feelings of a healing intention can improve recovery rates. This can be achieved during floating by practicing introspection.
Long story short...It's good for your mind, body, and soul.
With zero external distractions during floating, one's attention can be easily redirected inward. Habitual thought pattern recognition can be discovered, monitored, and addressed. Various forms of mental programming/reprogramming become very powerful tools to re-evaluate and change thoughts with clarity and repetition. Floating is also a wonderful way to bring greater awareness of behavior patterns. Floating can help decrease anxiety and depression as well as increase calmness and a sense of well-being. It has shown promising results as an anti-smoking aid as well as positive effects when added to weight loss programs.
Going through daily routines, one can become numb to the environment. Thoughts and actions become automatic. The mental "resetting" experience provided by the float tank can shift one out this automated existence and bring a greater awareness of things often overlooked. Research also indicates increased visual acuity, improved tactile perception, improved auditory sensitivity, and increased taste sensitivity after floating.
Meditation has a plethora of researched benefits, and floating is a unique and phenomenal tool to cultivate mental stillness. It often generates a sensation of being intensely awake yet extremely relaxed. It can induce theta brainwaves and allows one to remain conscious in this frequency instead of falling asleep. Floating may even induce an altered state of consciousness. The mind also becomes hyper-suggestible while in the theta wave state. With fewer distractions, the mind is able to absorb new material easily. Research has shown improved performance in memory and recall activities.It may be useful in conjunction with exam preparation.
The combination of being extremely relaxed while intensely awake allows techniques of visualization to become very powerful. From athletes preparing for competition to public speakers rehearsing a presentation, the tank can induce the calm needed to perform at one's best. Research on mental rehearsal has shown it to be just as practical as physical rehearsal. Research has also shown greater hemisphere synchronization after regular floating. This promotes greater communication between the right (creative) side and the left (analytical) side of the brain. This synchronization can cause elevated states of creativity, greater non-linear connections, and deeper realizations.
Because floating can help manage chronic stress, induce a natural calm, facilitate introspection, and various less-serving modes of thinking, many people report drastically improved sleep. Also, for some, 90 minutes in the tank can feel like 6-8 hours of sleep. Therefore, floating can be beneficial in helping those who suffer from insomnia as well as helping speed recovery from other forms of sleep deprivation.