What is floating/flotation therapy and is it a new concept?
Floating is a form of sensory deprivation. And, while that may sound scary on the surface, the reduction of our external senses, allow the mind and body to focus on itself, creating what some describe to be a “euphoric” experience or sensory enhancement.
Flotation therapy is actually not a new concept, but a more modernized version of sensory deprivation. It originated in 1954, by two neurophysiologists, Dr. John C. Lily and Dr. Jay T. Shurley, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. The two were conducting an experiment on the psychological and physiological effects of sensory deprivation. During these experiments, the participants wore a windowless helmet, with tubes that extended to the surface of the cylindrical tank for air. Initially, the quest for relaxation was not successful, but after some time of getting used to the helmet and surroundings, the participants began to experience a state where dreams and visions would take place.
During the 1970’s, after seeing the therapeutic upside of sensory deprivation, Dr. Lily went on to create a more modern version of his original float tank. The dimensions of these tanks allowed the user to be able to lay on their backs, float on the surface of the water, within a simple light and sound proof box. In doing so, he enlisted the help of Glenn and Lee Perry, who would later be responsible for creating the first float tank manufacturing company.
Today, floating and flotation therapy exists across the globe. Countless athletes, actors, artists, and entrepreneurs have been using flotation therapy for decades. There have been many clinical publications that have written regarding the positive effects of holistic floating on the mind and body.
I’ve also heard of floating be referred to as R.E.S.T. What does this term mean?
R.E.S.T., or Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy, is the clinical term for floating, or flotation therapy.
What should I do to prepare for my float?
First and foremost . . . RELAX. Floating is designed to promote peacefulness and tranquility. Finding this state of being does not happen when we are overly anxious or resistant. We are here to provide you with the tools and environment necessary to help ease you into this comforting mind and body experience.
We offer a pre-float space that will offer you the opportunity to use our wireless headphones to view informational videos to learn more about the flotation experience. Or, you can feel free to stream your own music, using your own earphones or earbuds, to ease you into the proper mindset for your float.
Always feel free to ask or suggest to us anything that would make this experience better for you.
What are some helpful things you recommend doing, or not doing before my flotation experience?
1. Breathe deeply: Consider taking a few minutes of your time before you float to relax your body from the stress of the outside world. Breathing deeply through your nose, while concentrating on those breaths in and out, helps the brain to produce relaxed alpha waves. The increase of relaxed alpha waves is responsible for stimulating creativity and decreasing symptoms of depression. Alpha waves also act as a bridge between our conscious thinking mind (Beta) and subconscious mind (Theta). During your flotation, deep meditation or sleep may occur, increasing theta waves within the brain. Sensations of our external surroundings diminish and the body begins to focus on the feelings from within. In this way, theta acts as a portal to greater learning, memory and intuition.
2. Avoid Caffeine, Smoking and Alcohol: Caffeine acts a stimulant, and is counterproductive to having a calm, peaceful experience while floating. We recommend avoiding caffeine (coffee, chocolate and teas), or smoking for at least a few hours leading up to your float appointment, for the most optimum experience. Unfortunately, anyone suspected of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol upon arrival to Red Lotus Float Spa, will be asked to reschedule, as you will not be allowed to float.
3. Avoid Shaving, Waxing or Tanning: We recommend not shaving, waxing or tanning at least 2-4 hours prior to your flotation appointment. Entering the heavily salted water could irritate and be painful to newly shaved, waxed, or tanned areas of the body. If you have spray tanned, a 72 hour wait is needed before floating.
4. Eat a small meal or snack before floating: It is best not to be too hungry or full before floating. Feeling too full, or the sound of an empty stomach could be distracting and counterproductive to the flotation experience.
5. Dress casually and avoid heavy make-up, hair products, essential oils and/or perfumes: Prior to your float, it will be necessary to rinse off all make-up, lotions, perfumes, hair products and/or essential oils. Besides allowing our flotation cabins to remain clean from residue, showering before your float allows you to rinse off any sweat, dirt, or dead skin cells from the body, thus allowing your body to more easily absorb the magnesium in the tank.
6. Use the restroom before floating: It probably goes without saying that a full bladder can be quite the distraction. Therefore, it is recommended that you empty your bladder prior to your float time. Having to get up in the middle of your float to use the restroom will not only take away from your 60 minutes of float time, but will also detract from the full flotation experience. However, if you need to, we provide robes to slip into for the trip to the restroom.
7. Remove your contact lenses before floating: Bring a contact lens case with you, as it is highly recommended, though not required, for you to remove contacts prior to getting into the float cabins. The salted water, if it gets into the eyes, can cause your contacts to dry out and irritate your eyes. If you have forgotten to bring your contact lens case and need one, please let your Float Facilitator know.
8. Hydrate: It is recommended that you hydrate leading up to your flotation appointment. However, it is not recommended to drink excessive amounts of water just prior to your appointment as well. (The last thing you want to do is have your float interrupted by a trip to the bathroom). Finding a comfortable middle ground is best here. Hydrating properly before each session will assist in allowing your mind and body to reach the desired state of relaxation. Hydrating after your float will help the body continue the detoxification process.
9. Please be prompt: We ask that you arrive at least 15 mins prior to your scheduled float time. This will allow us time to get you checked in, and for you to have the necessary time to hydrate, use the restroom, or allow yourself time to breathe or take in one of our flotation videos. Arriving late or rushing in at the last minute does not promote tranquility and may effect your ability to relax and truly enjoy your float experience.
Can I float if I am on my period?
The short answer is yes, you can float if you are menstruating. However, you would need to take the same precautions as if you were swimming in a pool. If your flow is so heavy that you feel there is a risk of leakage or bleeding during your float time, we ask that you please reschedule your float for a better time of the month. Our tanks use pharmaceutical grade epson salt & are very costly to sanitize if contamination should occur. The cost of the cleaning would be at the floater’s expense.
What if I fall asleep? Do I risk drowning?
Falling asleep during your float is a desired effect. One hour of sleep during flotation is equivalent to 4 hours of a sound sleep during the night. The high concentration of pharmaceutical grade Epsom salt (approx 1,000 lbs) in every flotation cabin, naturally causes the body to remain afloat, much like a cork, making it virtually impossible to sink or to turn over if you sleep. Therefore, there is no need to worry about the risk of drowning. And, knowing how to swim is not a per-requisite for floating, as all you have to be able to do is lie back, and the salt water will take care of the rest.
What if I have recently dyed my hair or have had a keratin treatment?
With temporary hair dye, 60 days is recommended before floating. Typically, with permanent hair dye, you will need to wait 2 weeks before floating. You can test your hair by wetting it and rubbing it against a white towel. If there is no color transfer, then you can float. If there is residue left behind, then you will need to wait a little longer. Hair dye could stain the cabin, which is costly to clean & sanitize, and would be at the user’s expense, so it’s better to err on the side of caution if you are not sure. Sorry, but those who have used “Manic Panic” hair dye will not be allowed to float.
If you have had a keratin treatment, Brazilian blowout, or extensions done recently, floating is not recommended. The heavily salted water is counterproductive to the straightening or conditioning of the hair. And the glue used in extensions can soften from the salt, causing extensions to loosen or fall out. It is better to postpone your float if any of these situations apply to you.
If I have dreadlocks, can I float?
If you are using a residue free shampoo or soap, then you are permitted to float. However, since oils of any variety are not allowed in our flotation tanks, if you have used dread oil, cream, or wax, you would not be permitted to float, as these oils negatively effect the water in our tanks.
Is there a minimum age to float?
Floaters must be 12 years of age or older. Children under the age of 18 must have signed permission from a parent or guardian and the parent must be present during float session.
Can more than one person float in the same cabin at the same time?
The answer is yes, but only in our deluxe cabin. In total, we have 3 flotation suites. Two of these rooms have flotation cabins suitable for singles. The third has a deluxe cabin that can accommodate two people tandem.
I’m pregnant...Can I float?
Flotation therapy is a great way for pregnant women (after medical clearance from their physician) to relax and alleviate the strains & pains put on their bodies during their pregnancy. The near-zero gravity, flotation experience takes the pressure off of your back, legs and joints, while the magnesium in the Epsom salts helps with inflammation, promotes better sleep and helps to reduce stress.
Also, it is recommended that women who are pregnant and breastfeeding have 20% more magnesium per day than the average person. Floating is a great way for the skin to efficiently absorb this vital mineral.
An interesting side note, is that many pregnant women experience what’s called a bonding “mirror effect” when floating. This is where the experience of the mother floating in a sensory-reduced environment mimics the experience her baby has within her womb. Some mothers-to-be also report feeling their baby move more during a float, perhaps because they aren’t exerting as much physical or mental energy on their other senses while floating.
Pregnant women should ALWAYS consult with their physician or OB-GYN before floating.
What do I wear while floating?
Most commonly, flotation is done in the nude, as material against the skin can be a distraction for some. However, if you are not comfortable being nude, you are welcome to wear a clean bathing suit while floating.
Is there a recommended schedule or number of times to float?
Although it is possible to experience the benefits of floating with just one float, as with any other form of therapy, consistent, repeated treatment is encouraged to maximize the benefits of flotation therapy.
Relaxation is a learned art, and for some it takes a couple of sessions just to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, and learn how to “shut off” from the outside world. This is why we suggest that if you are a first-time floater, you float 3 times in fairly close succession, in order to determine if you will benefit from consistent routine of floating. Each individual has their own, unique experience, so results can vary from person to person.
Will the water hurt my skin or leave me ‘pruny’?
If you have small cuts, abrasions, or scratches, the salt may sting a little. We provide A&D or Petroleum Jelly to cover these small scratches. However, Epsom salt is very good for the skin. It leaves your skin feeling smooth and soft after your shower, and because it is not regular bath water but Epsom Salt, it will not cause your skin to be wrinkly in the slightest.
If I recently got a tattoo, can I float?
If you have a newer tattoo, less than 4-6 weeks old, on average, floating is not recommended. The solution in the water can cause newer tattoos to discolor or fade. In addition, the high concentration of salt could be painful if your skin is not fully healed.
Is the salt water harmful to my ears?
In short, no it is not harmful to the ears, though we do suggest rinsing your ears in the shower after you float. We do provide disposable ear plugs, and suggest wearing them when floating. However, if you are more prone to swimmer’s ear, ear infections, or have an inner ear condition, we recommend bringing your own ear plugs for your float.
What do I need to bring?
We provide towels, robes, professional hair dryers, disposable ear plugs, tissues, shampoo, hair conditioner, body wash, q-tips, A&D ointment and petroleum jelly. You would need to bring anything else you use or apply post-float.
Is flotation therapy covered by medical insurance, commercial or Medicare/Medicaid?
Red Lotus does not process medical claims of any kind. However, your flotation therapy may qualify to be paid using your healthcare flexible spending account. You would be responsible for determining this and requesting payment from your HSA.
If I am running late for my appointment, will I need to reschedule?
Honestly, that would depend on how late you are running, and what our schedule is for that day. If the rooms are not all booked after your appointment time, then you may be allowed to float. You may also choose to shorten your float and take what time you can. If you choose to float anyway after arriving late, you will still need to exit the float at the originally scheduled time to allow for the next floater to begin their float on time. However, if you miss your appointment time, or the rooms are full at the next scheduled time, which would cause an overlap, you would need to reschedule.
It is always best to call ahead if you are running behind to find out, before arriving, if rescheduling will be necessary.
What are some things that would exclude me from floating at Red Lotus Float Spa?
- Allergies to magnesium
- Anyone taking medication, antibiotics, or water pills that would have a negative interaction from the magnesium used in our tanks.
- Those who suffer from uncontrolled seizures or epilepsy
- Those with difficulties with bladder or bowel control
- Children under 12 years of age
- Having tubes in your ears
- Minors under the age of 18 without parental/guardian consent
- Anyone with open wounds, rashes, or skin conditions
- Anyone with an infectious or contagious disease, virus or cold
- Individuals with kidney issues or problems should consult their physician before floating
- Pregnant women in the middle or end of their 3rd trimester
- If post-natal, please obtain physician approval prior to floating.
- Anyone suspected of being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Anyone who is found to be disruptive to the calm and serene environment at Red Lotus Float Spa will be asked to leave
Can I wear a swim cap and keep my hair dry?
No, not only will it not keep your hair dry, it will be a distraction.
Is Floating sanitary?
Yes, likely some of the cleanest water you have been in. The 1,000+ pounds of Epsom Salt creates an environment that bacteria cannot live in. Our cabins are UV sanitized. UV rays are more effective than chlorine in killing and preventing bacteria, viruses or mold. The use of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2).to disinfect the water is an added measure taken. Lastly, the water is filtered at least 3 times between each appointment. That is dozens of times a day the water is completely filtered, disinfected and sanitized. The average public pool is only filtered once every 6 hours.