Have you ever taken a moment to close your eyes and tune out the world around you? Maybe you’ve breathed in deeply and tried to cut out the noises, intending to focus on your thoughts and the internal components of your body? While doing so doesn’t completely discharge our senses—after all, there are five in total, and even if you ignore one, most likely another is heightened—it’s a small experience of what complete sensory deprivation is like.
But you might be wondering why anyone would consider cutting off their senses. What benefit does it have? Why would someone want to inhibit their ability to see, taste, touch, smell and hear? As difficult as it might be to imagine, sensory deprivation is a practice that’s been around for several decades. The reason behind it has to do with reducing stimuli that contribute to our overall stress and anxiety, both mentally and physically.
The most notable format that sensory deprivation is in is with flotation therapy. Individuals float in a pod filled with a mixture of water and Epsom salts, completely cut off from their external environments to induce a feeling of inner peace and relaxation. When we eliminate the sources of our worries, we’re essentially telling our brain to stop allocating its resources to processing our senses. When that is completely shut off, we’re able to turn our thoughts inward and fully understand what’s going on with our mind and body. This is especially important when we feel pain or are suffering from mental health issues—we can focus solely on healing those symptoms instead of the distractions that pull us away from our personal needs.
Life happens, however, and while we’re always privy to the ups and downs that it gives us, sometimes the issues we face do cause us harm. When we’re exposed to events that lead to anxiety and stress, it can bleed into other parts of our life—we’re less focused, irritable, deal with migraines and headaches, run the risk of cardiovascular or digestive health. Mental issues also might arise, and with it the increased production of cortisol, also known as that pesky stress hormone.
But when we place ourselves in a sensory deprivation environment away from the noise and the things that cause us to feel frustrated and tired, all of that is released, and we can begin the process of fully relaxing without a care in the world. Simply floating means that your brain has an opportunity to disengage and enter into the beta-wave brain state associated with dreaming and, even more importantly, sleep.
Of course, sensory deprivation isn’t just for mental ailments. It’s most prominent in that area, given the fact that our senses aren’t activated. However, it indirectly affects our physical bodies because stress and tension aren’t seeping down into our muscles and bones. Even further, the weightless, zero-gravity component in the sensory deprivation pod allows the body to float freely, alleviating tendons and joints of their job of keeping the body upright and engaged—think of those moments you’ve floated in a lazy river or took a moment to rest upon the water in the pool. Your body is free to disengage and let the buoyancy of the water solution keep you afloat.
Because sensory deprivation has been around for a while, research and studies have been published about its positive healing effects. Sensory deprivation is a useful preventative health intervention just as much as it’s a source of alleviation of other pre-existing ailments such as arthritis, muscle tension, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches and more.
Since the 1950s, when John C. Lilly, a physician and neuroscientist who designed the first float tank, first discovered sensory deprivation, it has been at the forefront of the holistic and all-natural treatment movement. Nowadays, flotation therapy is offered across the world as a leading solution to health and wellness.
If you’re unfamiliar with sensory deprivation and never tried it before, we highly recommended checking out True REST Float Spa. Give us a call to book your first appointment! We’re always happy to help guide you through your first flotation therapy session. Learn more at www.truerest.com/float-therapy/#float or call one of our locations near you for more information at www.truerest.com/locations/.