History of Floating

The history of flotation begins in early 1950’s. Neurophysiological scientists wanted to know what keeps the brain going, and the origin of its energy sources. Some hypothesized that the brain’s energy sources are biological and internal, and do not depend upon the outside environment. It was argued that if all stimuli were cut off from the brain, then the brain would go to sleep.

John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuropsychiatrist, decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment which isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain.

In 1954, to prove his theories, he built the first isolation tank at the U.S. Institute of Mental Health. He observed the connection between consciousness and the brain. In his early research, Lilly studied the factors influencing the efficiency of sleep, trying to discover why humans need 7 to 8 hours of slumber a day. During his research, by examining cerebral activity, he proved that our brain perceives external stimuli even when asleep. These stimuli make the regeneration process less efficient.

External stimuli are first incorporated to our dreams, subsequently becoming more conscious, before finally awakening us. The human sight center shows perceptible activity even when exposed to minimal light; despite being asleep, the retina still sends signal to the brain. The research established that an environment which is sealed off from external stimuli yields more efficient rest. Lily’s real breakthrough was the discovery that gravity is the main source of stimulus for our bodies. While asleep, our bodies are contorted to an unnatural position because of gravity. The bed presses on our body, releasing millions of stimuli to our brains. Two of the main sources of health problems are Earth’s gravitational field and our erect posture. These cause back conditions, hanging bellies, aching legs and joints and strained muscles. During flotation, the body is spread from the effects of gravity. Gravitation engages 80 to 90% of the central nervous system, even during sleep. The beneficial effects of flotation can be found not just in man-made conditions, but also in nature: Gaet’ale Pond in Ethiopia, Lake Redba- Senegal, Lake Vanda and Don Juan Pond in  Anctartica, Garabokazkol- Turkmenistan, the Dead Sea in Jordan and Lake Tehirghiol in Romania are the saltiest water bodies in the world.

The state of weightlessness experienced while floating alleviates all physical stress on the spine, shoulders and hips. Back muscles also relax, allowing the spinal column to assume its natural position. Brain waves are altered after flotation to become similar to those between awake and sleeping states. The medical science defines it as  “Theta State” meditation. Buddhist monks strive to achieve this state for years. During flotation therapy, the body reaches the state on its own. Many people need This unique state of deep mental and physical relaxation results in clearer thoughts, realizations, and improved problem-solving.

One hour of flotation is the equivalent of 4 to 6 hours of sleep. The pleasant sensations experienced during sessions are the result of endorphins, which, when released, cause natural feelings of happiness. Evolution starts the same way for each life form. Nature creates a floating environment for human fetuses in the womb, or in the egg for birds. The central nervous system is immersed in a warm womb fluid, buffering us from external shocks. In the flotation tank, you are suspended in your own liquid cocoon, protected from all outside influence. Quiet. Warm. Safe. Floating can be like a return to a prenatal state, which is quite profound for many. During 60 minute float sessions, some people have out of body experiences. Ultimately, this has a sufficient impact on human health. Dr. Lilly found that you can create a sense of well-being. “Somewhere deep in our brain was a mechanism capable of generating internal experiences completely independent of the outside world, and this settled the issue of what happens in profound physical isolation. The isolated mind becomes highly active and creative.”

The first isolation tank (float tank) was built in 1954 at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. After 10 years of experimentation without taking any psychoactive substances, he tried floating in combination with a psychedelic agent. He found that floating alone, without taking any substances, was a much better experience because of a non-disturbed consciousness. Floating remained exclusively in the laboratory setting, until 1972, when Lilly partnered up with Glenn and Lee Perry. The first commercial float tank was developed a year later.

Peter Suedfeld and Roderick Borrie of the University of British Columbia began experimenting on the therapeutic benefits of isolation tanks in the late 1970’s. They named their technique “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST). The 80’s was a decade of tremendous growth for flotation. Research was continued by testing the float tank’s effect on anything from physical recovery, to stress relief, to smoking cessation, to susceptibility, to hypnosis. A new chapter for the float tank industry began in the early 2000’s, offering the highest technology float tanks and promoting the utmost relaxing spa experience.