Putting yourself in an oversized body capsule full of hundreds of pounds of lukewarm salt water isn’t most people’s idea of good time. Flotation restricted environmental stimulation therapy as it’s formally known, involves spending a significant amount of time in a tank that has been filled with 800 pounds of epsom salts. This makes you float effortlessly, so eventually you can’t even feel the water around you. The water is heated to your body temperature and sound from the outside world is completely absent. It’s just you, and the tank, and your heart beat. And of course all those lovely (ha!) thoughts you having swimming around in your brain.
This is exactly why we are here.
I heard about therapeutic floating over a decade ago (it’s been around since the 50’s), but it was just a blip on my radar. Years later scrolling through channels on my satellite radio, I heard Joe Rogan go into detail on the matter and it intrigued me enough to do a little research. He had been reaping the benefits for years and was such an advocate to its effectiveness that he was buying a brand new one and giving his old one away to one of his listeners. Pretty cool. That moment made me a big Rogan fan. Sure, I knew him from TV and the UFC, but once I saw his killer stand-up act and heard the views he spit on his show, I dug what I was hearing and respected his opinion enough to give it a try.
What does this have to do with a DJ and Music Blog? We’ll get into that later.
So, I eventually took the plunge after receiving a package from a girlfriend for my birthday. A truly fantastic gift, as it probably would of been awhile before I spent the money for this on myself. A single session will run you around $75, with packages of three or four going between $150 and $200. Recently, many companies have started memberships for around $40 a month entitling you to one float a month and deep discounts on additional floats.
Humans today in general are over-stimulated. We don’t need scientific data to tell us this, although it is there in heaps, it is just a reality. Smartphones, TV’s, Laptops, these blue-light emitting attention goblins are everywhere. According to a Neilson Company audience report in 2016, the average adult American spends 10 hours and 39 minutes in front of a screen per day. The average DJ spends even more. It’s just part of the game, from the software and equipment we use to perform. The gear we use to produce and write. The tools we use to promote and market. It’s how we find most of our music. There is just no escaping it. Which makes the effort to unplug from it extremely challenging and also very necessary.
According to a 2014 study published by the US National Library of Medicine, a study of 67 individuals varied only by a deprivation tank therapy over a six-week period resulted in significant decreases in stress, depression, anxiety, and pain. At the same time feelings of optimism and sleep quality were significantly increased.
Psychiatrist Dr. Nathaniel Morris, a resident at Stanford School of Medicine went a step further after getting feedback from a few of his patients touting the benefits they had experienced. According to his Washington Post article there were 27 studies conducted between 1983 and 2002 relating to float therapy. Overall results suggested positive impacts on mood, blood pressure and reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Other than Rogan, celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and superstar athletes like Steph Curry and Tom Brady also praise floating for the positive impact on their lives and performance. Morris reported experiencing a profound sense of calm after his sessions, like he had “slept for days.”
I second that emotion. I walked into the Float House on W. Cordova in Vancouver’s historic Gastown; a lively and vibrant area of town full of cool spots to grab a drink, bite or see some sort of entertainment. There is a lot of “stuff” going on in this area, so entering the Float House immediately struck me as somewhat of an oasis amongst the riffraff. The lighting was low, the music was chill and the friendly young dude at the desk and I exchanged pleasantries as I filled out the obligatory release form.
I was already on fire just at the idea of this float thing for some strange reason. As I walked down the hallway lined full of huge bags of salt I said. “Well, here goes nothing.” Which I thought was pretty clever. Dude laughed as well and said he couldn’t believe he’d never heard that before. His customer service was so good I couldn’t even tell if he was being sarcastic or not. Well played, hipster. Well, played.
The float rooms are about the size of your average bedroom. There is a small shower, the tank and a small stool. That’s about it. I took a couple deep breaths, and got in. Then a took about 1000 more.
I actually made the full 90 minutes. Having practiced yoga for the past ten years, I’ve worked the meditation muscle a bit. But this was like meditation on steroids. I would recommend anyone thinking of floating to try to develop a bit of a meditation practice leading up to your float. Even a couple minutes every day makes a difference when you do it consistently.
What happened next is why I am such a believer in this. I slept like a baby that night, and according to my FitBit, had the highest amount of REM sleep I ever clocked on the device. The next day, I woke up and did some creative writing for half an hour. Then I cracked open Logic X, plugged in my keyboard and wrote three beats. The creative juices were flowing in a way I hadn’t felt in years. And most importantly, my overall mood was elevated. I compare it to when your computer is running like shit. This is first aid for the hard drive of your brain. Unnecessary and harmful files are deleted, and things are reorganized. System reboot.
I would highly recommend this for anybody, but strongly for creative types. Especially if have been suffering from writers block or a general lack of inspiration. We lead some crazy lives full of big ups and big downs, so finding the balance between developing our crafts, having a life and being happy doing it is key. This is one tool that can help you achieve that.
If you end up diving in a giving it a go, please come back and share your thoughts with everyone. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional questions, comments or collaboration queries.
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US Library of Medicine Study
Washington Post Article
Nielson Screen-time Report