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Floatation Therapy

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Submitted  September 3, 2015

Through research floatation therapy has shown  to elicit a reduction in pain and stress (Bood et al, 2006). This is good news for those with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Floatation therapy was developed from the 1954 studies of neuroscientist John C. Lilly, who researched the effects of sensory deprivation on the human mind .  A relatively new treatment option in Canada, I recently attended the Rock Spa, Kitchener, Ontario (therockspa.com).

fw_spashot_v2-2I was eager to try out their floatation therapy or REST (restricted environmental stimulation technique), hopeful my body would elicit the much coveted relaxation response.  It’s been understood regular practice of the Relaxation Response can be an effective treatment for a wide range of stress-related disorders.  To gain further understanding of the scientific benefits of relaxation, you could pick up The Relaxation Response by Dr. Benson.   Eliciting the relaxation response through various methods (yoga, breathing techniques, meditation, art therapy, float therapy etc.) can be an important self-management tool for those with PTSD and those comorbid conditions (depressive disorders, substance use disorders, and other anxiety disorders) that co-occur with PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can vary greatly from one individual to another as can the comorbid conditions, so finding out what works for you as an individual is important.  You need to develop your own “tool box” so to speak, filled with the self-management and self-care tools that resonate with you.  Finding out what resources are available to you in your area and discovering what works for you are your first steps in developing your toolbox.

Imagine a tear shaped pod emitting soft music with a slowly changing muted coloured light.  Imagine slipping your into body temperature water, super saturated with Epsom salts of an approximate depth of 25 cm.  It amazed me that my body still felt the need to support itself.  The goal of float therapy is to allow your mind to relax and your body to simply float.  Something I had to work on.  This is probably as close to the womb experience  as an adult, one could have.

Near the end of my 60 minute session, I had achieved total relaxation although a little anxious I had gone over my session time.  The 60 minutes did seem long but I’m sure after completing my initial therapy, I would be more relaxed as to what to expect the second time around.  By no means will you feel rushed in your session.  Interestingly, my neck and shoulders were the last areas to relax.  This is where I feel chronic pain associated to my anxiety disorder on a daily basis.

I must say I felt the benefits of my session lingered on for several days afterward.  I do understand and can see how ongoing sessions on a regular basis would be helpful to those with  PTSD.  I can say that I have an overactive mind on a daily basis.  I’ll refer to this as my “monkey mind”.  I noticed a marked difference in my monkey mind’s level of activity between my drive to my session and my drive home afterwards.  The mantra that popped into mind on my drive home was “It’s a state of mind”.  Something I feel by repeating daily can help me recall or remind myself to tap into my relaxation response by recalling “that state of mind” I experienced in the floatation tank of complete physical and mental relaxation through weightlessness.

To find a float therapy service near you see http://www.floatdreams.com/canada.htm

References

Bood, Sven Å.; Sundequist, Ulf; Kjellgren, Anette; Norlander, Torsten; Nordström, Lenneart; Nordenström, Knut; Nordström, Gun

International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 13(2), May 2006, 154-175. Eliciting the relaxation response with the help of flotation-rest (restricted environmental stimulation technique) in patients with stress-related ailments.

 

About the Author: Lynne Rusk was a police officer for nineteen years before her diagnoses of PTSD took over and cost Lynne her career. Today, Lynne advocates, educates and works passionately to eliminate the stigma around PTSD.