Float Therapy for Emotional Healing
Sensory deprivation and gravity reduction through floating can bring many benefits – it’s not only an incredibly relaxing experience that is likely to make you feel like you’re on cloud nine by the time you step out of the tank, but it can help relieve pain and encourage healing, both physically and emotionally.
The human mind triggers an emotional reaction when our ideas about how things should be don’t match up with how things are. We often torment ourselves about choices we’ve made, words we’ve spoke, paths not taken, and what others have done to hurt us, with those judgments frequently the source of our emotional pain.
Emotional Pain is Very Real
Emotional pain can cause just as much hurt as physical pain. Whether you’ve been rejected for a job, by a romantic partner, or have experienced abuse in any way in the past, the brain perceives it in a similar way as if you’ve been injured. A natural painkiller compound, mu-opioid, is released during both types of events according to neuroscience, proving that emotional pain does in fact, hurt.
How Floating Can Help Heal Emotional Pain
Floating is well-known to provide relief for those who are suffering from chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, all of which often stem from emotional pain. It provides similar therapeutic effects as meditation. While it can take months or even years to learn how to reach a true Zen state, float therapy provides instant benefits that have been referred to as “training wheels” for meditation.
By getting into a meditative “Zen” state through floating, scientific research has found that it decreases levels of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, compounds released in response to stress that can affect one’s mood, leading to depression. When physical sensations such as smell, sound, light, and taste are removed, it shuts off those areas of the brain, providing a break from stimulation that allows the mind and body to return to a natural restorative state. The mind often detaches from usual preoccupations like dwelling about the past and worrying about the future, providing calm within. In the silence of greater awareness, the mind is able to let go of those old patterns of thinking and feeling, learning to heal itself.
Floating Enhances Self-Awareness
Achieving that meditative state through floating occurs because your brain cycles between alpha and theta brainwave patterns, the latter of which is what your brain switches to when you drift off to sleep. Theta pattern brainwaves allow you to better visualize your intentions while you’re awake but relaxed, creating the most conducive state for clarity and self-awareness. It can help you let go of emotional pain so that you can grow into your best self, gaining awareness of habits that aren’t serving you well so that you can steer them to toward more constructive patterns.