How To Hack Recovery with Floating

Be a bio-hacker, one salty float at a time.

Be a bio-hacker, one salty float at a time.

From world-class athletes looking for a competitive edge, to everyday workaholics looking for better ways to manage the physical stresses of daily life, one of the primary reasons that people float on a regular basis is to tap into the body’s natural ability to recover.  By helping you reach an unparalleled level of relaxation, a float tank allows your body to divert resources that are normally reserved for dealing with the external world to the process of healing instead.    

While experiences can vary widely from person to person, the unique environment created by the float tank provides access to a core of physical benefits that are available to everyone. Here are the three main components of the float experience and how they promote physical recovery:

1. Lack of Gravity - 1000 lbs of medical-grade Epsom Salt in each tank creates an incredibly buoyant solution which allows you to float effortlessly.  Our bodies are simply not used to this kind of relief  - even when you’re lying comfortably in bed, gravity is still working on you!  Without it, your aching joints, bones, and muscles are relieved of pressure and given an opportunity to relax and recover with increased blood circulation.

 

2. Epsom Salt - While the density of salt in the solution is the key to keeping you afloat in the tank, Epsom salt also has a vast array of benefits on its own.  It is widely known that taking Epsom salt baths can be a great relief to sore muscles and joints, acting as a natural anti-inflammatory.  Epsom salts also help speed up the lymphatic system, helping your body to eliminate toxins.  Click here for more info about the awesome benefits and uses of Epsom salt.

 

3. Reduced Sensory Input - A float tank presents your mind and body with a very unique set of circumstances  - no gravity, no light, no sound, and the water/salt solution is heated to the same temperature as your skin (93.5℉).  With nothing to process from the external world, interoception - the body’s ability to sense itself internally - is greatly enhanced.  For many people, the experience can be a sort of self-diagnostic.  You’ll begin to focus on the places in your body that hold the most tension, your breath entering and exiting your lungs, your heart beating slower and slower as you relax, and even sense your digestive system working.  In real time, you’re getting important feedback about the state of your body.  Much of the experience in the tank is passive, but with practice, you can mindfully work with your breath to slow your heartbeat, send oxygen to places that need attention, and let go of stress and tight muscles.


When the body is so deeply relaxed, there is also a significant reduction in cortisol production, an increase in endorphins, and improved immune system function.  Not only will you feel great and find some stress relief, but you’re giving your body an incredible opportunity to catch up with your busy life and do its work more effectively.  By making floating a regular practice, you are choosing to engage with your health and well-being in a powerful way!   

 

Boost Float Benefits With A Cold Shower

 

Want to enhance your post-float glow?  

Try taking a cold shower next time you exit the tank.  Trust me, it’s awesome.

If you’re not already a fan of such things, freezing water doesn’t sound fun at all!  All you want to do is enjoy the luxury of a hot shower as you return from the void and come back to your senses.  Understandable.  It feels great, and by all means go right ahead!  But if you’re looking to get more out of your float experience, or are simply open to a bit of experimenting  - the colder the better!  

A hot shower is always tempting for the comfort and further relaxation that it provides.  But after a long, restorative float session, sometimes more relaxation can be counter-productive to your needs.   Before I converted to cold, I would occasionally notice that some of the goodness gained from a float - clarity, fresh ideas and insights, etc - was given a chance to fade a bit before I could fully integrate it and take advantage of my newfound perspective.  It was hard to admit at first, but I realized the hot shower immediately afterwards was part of the problem.  Keeping me calm and relaxed, the heat sometimes lead me into an “I want to melt into the couch” feeling after an hour in the tank, instead of propelling me to seize the rest of the day.  

Note: If your post-float plans involve heading straight to bed, feel free to ignore this and keep it hot!  

 

By contrast, I’ve found that a cold shower after a float not only helps revive my senses, but also adds a crispness, or sharpened quality, to the clarity gained from my tank meditation.  My mood is elevated, and those new insights seem to be a bit less slippery as I make a smoother transition back to my “normal” active state of consciousness.

 

It can sound unbearable when you’re not used to it, but taking a cold shower actually has a ton of proven health benefits.  The cold literally shocks your nervous system awake, helping you to eliminate fatigue and become mentally alert.  The deep breathing that the cold induces is your body’s reaction to stay warm, and greatly improves oxygen intake and overall circulation.   Even better than a cup of coffee, this can provide an amazing and natural energy boost for getting back to your day, while also aiding the immune system and relieving any leftover stress.  While we’re at it, cold showers are also great for muscle soreness and recovery, and are linked to healthier skin and hair, improved metabolism and fat-loss, and even relief from depression symptoms.

 

 

Ready for the challenge?

 

Freezing cold water is still freezing cold, no matter how you spin it.  You can certainly ease into it though.  No need to go full-on ice blast if you’re not ready.  At first, try taking a “Scottish” or “James Bond” shower - start warm and then slowly turn to cold and stay under for however long you can handle.  Increase your length in cold bit by bit each time as it gets easier.  You never know, you might even start enjoying it and doing it at home!

 

Digital Detox Tips

It’s no secret that we love our technology.  Smart phones are ubiquitous in the modern world, and for good reason. By simply reaching into our pockets, we’re allowed instant communication with anyone in the world, access to nearly all of recorded human knowledge, and the ability to create and manifest our ideas and projects.  Whether you were born post-internet or not, it’s easy to take it all for granted.  It’s good to remind ourselves just how incredible we’ve got it!

 

But with these amazing capabilities, there is of course a downside.  Lacking a mindful approach, we can quite easily become too attached and even addicted to the endless buzzes and pings from texts, emails, social media posts, etc. Studies have shown that we get a small dopamine hit every time we get an alert, keeping us physiologically conditioned to come back for more.  We even feel phantom vibrations when nothing is going on!  Our constant desire for connectivity can have a major impact on various areas of our health.  Waiting for pings and responses all day can keep us in a constant state of low-level anxiety; concentrating on bright screens at night can harm our sleep patterns; general overuse can put strains on our relationships at home and work...seriously detrimental stuff.  

 

So what’s the solution?  

 

There’s no need to freak out or do anything too drastic.  A cell phone is a valuable tool - but we should remember that it is just a tool at the end of the day.  By bringing more awareness to our usage habits, we can prevent technology from dictating our lives.  A couple of helpful tips include setting technology curfews at night, and only checking emails and social media at certain times during the day or week.  If you’re really overwhelming yourself, try a full-on technology vacation - get away for a while or stay home, but turn all of your devices completely off!

 

Along these lines, finding small ways to work some digital detox into your normal schedule can be very beneficial.  This is where floating comes in.  Among a plethora of benefits that sensory deprivation sessions provide, a good float can simply be a chance to unplug.  Turn your phone off before you get in the tank and if you can, try not to make it the first thing you check when you get out.  This is an opportunity to say “Sorry world, I’ve stepped out for a while -  Leave a message.”  You’re giving your body a chance to heal and rest while your mind takes a break from processing the never-ending data stream.  As you develop a float practice, you realize that the world keeps on going whether you’re plugged in or not.  You won’t be missing anything critical in an hour, and you can always catch up.  In fact, what you’ll gain in clarity is much more valuable.  


Worried that checking out for an hour will make you less productive?  Studies show quite the opposite.  Floating and other forms of mindfulness meditation have been shown to lower stress, improve focus, and generally make you happier.  You owe it to yourself to get in a float tank and do some letting go.

Sensory Deprivation Tanks and Supplements

"Try them try them and you may, Try them and you may I say!"

"Try them try them and you may, Try them and you may I say!"

Supplements for Optimal Health and Floating

We get up every day, dedicated to providing world-class float experiences for our guests.  Our only goal is to help you grow, heal, and live at your absolute peak.  Whether you’re coming in to float for stress relief, pain management, improved athletic performance, meditation and consciousness exploration...we’ve got you!   There are no doctors here, but each of us at Float has many hours in the tank under our belts.  We’re float geeks, and we truly believe in the power of this weird and awesome tool to help you achieve all of the above and more!

 

 

As much as we have high standards for our staff and services, the same holds true for any additional products that we carry at the studio.  No shenanigans, this is real stuff that we use and love.  Specifically, we sell certain supplements that are synergistic with the float experience, designed to give you enhanced focus, increased relaxation, and vital nutrients to keep your body and mind functioning optimally.  The main companies that we partner with - Onnit and Natural Stacks - are powered by real people that we trust.  Some of which are backed by clinical research, they each employ sustainable practices to harness high-quality natural ingredients for all of their products.  We all share the same values of honesty and integrity, as we intend to make a positive impact on the community of people that we serve.

 

 

Supplements have been a divisive topic in the health and wellness community for a long time.  They’re not meant to replace real food and healthy practices.  Don’t expect any magic pills, but when the right supplements are used properly, they can indeed be very effective.  Each product that we carry is intended to give you an extra edge in some way, working well only when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.  If you’re eating junk food and sitting on the couch all day, Alpha Brain isn’t going to turn you into Superman!  Eat leafy greens, be consistent with some form of exercise, and get a decent amount of sleep every night if you can.  As with floating itself, have a good foundation before you start tinkering around.

 

 

Here are a few supplements that we recommend:

 

 

Alpha Brain - Onnit’s flagship nootropic (a term used for cognitive enhancers), Alpha Brain is used by athletes and creatives alike for increased focus and flow.  It has been clinically proven in double-blind placebo controlled studies to improve verbal recall and executive function.  Personally, I’ve often found that it helps clear mental fog and improves my ability to articulate ideas in conversation.  Try taking a serving an hour or two before your float if you’d like to combine modalities and let your subconscious get productive!

 

 

Ciltep - This is a similar, but slightly different nootropic from Natural Stacks, and is often used as a work/study aid to enhance the brain’s ability to retain information.  It is frequently used in tandem with moderate amounts of caffeine (your favorite tea or coffee) for best results (not before floating though!).  Float Founder Sean McCormick swears by this stuff and recommends floating with Ciltep for highly-focused problem solving if you’ve got a specific project that needs tackling.  Don’t try too hard - let the epiphanies come to you!

 

New Mood - Onnit’s New Mood utilizes L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, and Vitamin B6 to help the brain optimize serotonin levels.  Serotonin is vitally important to our well-being - it’s the key neurotransmitter in regulating happiness and overall mood.  Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed at work, or need some help in recovering from jetlag or lack of sleep, New Mood will help you out.  It’s not automatically going to flip the script if you’re feeling down and out, but it will definitely help your body and brain get the nutrients they need to get back on track.  Using New Mood while floating, I typically feel a greater sense of calm and have an easier time slipping into a state of deep relaxation.


If you’d like more info, click on the links for full product pages.  Or, next time you’re in the studio, feel free to ask any of our staff about these and any other supplements that we carry.  Keep in mind that these are only suggestions, and everyone processes and reacts to ingredients in slightly different ways. Taking any of the above products should be done with careful consideration and consultation if you are taking other medications.  

Sensory Deprivation and Breath

If you ain't breathin, you ain't livin.

If you ain't breathin, you ain't livin.

Basic Awareness and Breath Work for Floating

Everything begins and ends with the breath.  It’s central to all life experience, and the way we breathe at any given moment both reflects and influences our physical, mental, and emotional states.  It is the bridge between the body and mind - a connection which is vitally important to master if we wish to live at our best.  This is nothing new to the experienced yogis and meditators out there -  breath has been the starting point and foundation for all meditative traditions for thousands of years.  And yet, in the chaos of our modern lives, breath is so often underutilized and taken for granted.  We often treat the breath as automatic, and therefore undeserving of our attention.  

 

 

Many of us lose track of our breath throughout the day, allowing the flow of stresses and external circumstances to dictate our rhythms.  That’s okay, but if we start to observe our inhales and exhales more regularly - choosing to cultivate a mindful practice around breath awareness - we gain the power to influence our health in profound ways.   Whether you’re trying to reach an enlightened state, or simply want some relief from daily stress, conscious breathing is the key.  Working with the breath can ease tension in your body, calm the storm of thoughts that pass through your mind, and potentially take you to some pretty awesome places.  Through practice, we can develop the ability to rebalance our state of being at will, even in the most difficult of life’s situations.  

 

 

But isn’t meditation hard?  

 

 

It doesn’t have to be!  Enter the power of floating - this is the most direct and effective tool that I’ve found for strengthening breath connection and subsequently exploring consciousness and self-healing.  The environment inside of a float tank is perfect for meditation, whether you’re just starting out or have been practicing for years.  With no prerequisites, floating allows effortless access to benefits and states of being that usually take years of practice to achieve.  The high levels of epsom salt in the water and general lack of gravity will naturally relax your body, and with no external stimuli to get in the way -  all of the heavy lifting of removing distractions is done for you!   If you’re lying still and breathing in the float tank - guess what? You‘re meditating!  You’re essentially practicing mindfulness by default, instantly and intimately connected with your breath...

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

You don’t need to actually DO anything in the float tank to have a profound experience.  You just have to BE.  However, if after your first float or few, you’re looking for a bit more -  there are plenty of breathing techniques that you can use to relax more quickly, delve a bit deeper, and really get the most out of your time in the tank.  Here are some tips and exercises to get you started:

 

 

  1. Deep Breathing - This first tip is nothing special, and you may end up doing it intuitively anyway.  Simply take a long inhale through your nose, filling the lungs with air.  Hold for as long as it feels comfortable, and then slowly exhale back out the nose.  Repeat.  Count your breaths if you’d like, and if your mind wanders and you lose track - no worries, just start over!  Focus on the sensation of air coming in through your nostrils on the inhale, completely filling your lungs and body, and then noticing the warmth generated in your exhale as you gently push the air out.  If you can, work on breathing more into your diaphragm than your chest, feeling your belly rise and fall with each breath.  Continue this throughout your float and you’ll find your breaths calmly extending longer and longer.  Thoughts and feelings will come and go - your goal is not to stop them but let them pass. Just return to your breath whenever you get too far off track.  Simple deep breaths like this can sometimes be all you need to reduce the production of stress hormones in your body and begin calming your nervous system.

  2. Cleansing Breath - This technique involves a bit of visualization.  There are many different versions that I’ve heard of and used, so feel free to be a bit creative with it and use your own imagery.  Choose whatever feels comfortable.  The essence of this breath, is that you are inhaling and filling your body with healing energy - often in the form of bright white light, vibrations, or water (think waves washing up on the beach).  Whatever you choose, it is the quality of this energy that counts, as you imagine it moving through your body and infusing your joints, muscles, and bodily systems with renewed vitality.  With each exhale, imagine all of the toxins, negativity, and things that no longer serve you being flushed out.  Watch the tide going back into the ocean if you’re feeling passive, or actively usher any perceived nastiness and sludge out in the form of thick black smoke.  In with the new, out with the old. After several rounds of this type of breath, you should start to feel both recharged and relaxed.

  3. Body Scan - This is a basic mindfulness meditation technique that I use at the beginning of every float.  The idea is to slowly move your awareness through your body, scanning for any spots that are holding tension.  It doesn’t matter if you start at the crown of your head and work down or opposite starting from the tip of your toes - just be sure not to neglect anything.  When you find something that needs attention - a sore knee, a tight hip, etc - take a deep breath and imagine sending oxygen directly to that spot.  With the exhale, allow any tightness to release.  Breathe into each spot as much as you’d like, and then move on up or down the body.  Feel free to use visuals from your cleansing breath to make it more effective.  This exercise helps to cultivate and train your awareness of the body on a micro and macro level.  It helps to relieve physical tension and let go of emotions that you’re holding onto.  When you’re finished, you’ll likely be in an incredibly relaxed state - your body no longer working against you in your quest for calm.

  4. Endurance Runner Hot/Cold trick -  If you ever find yourself having difficulty taking full, deep breaths in the tank, simply try this trick that endurance runner’s use for different situations.  Place the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth and smile softly while taking a full breath through your nose.  You’ll find that you can draw more air and completely fill your lungs with ease!  Runners use this when the air is hot, cold, dry or humid - and it can sometimes be a great help in the tank!

 

 

 

Try one or two of these next time you float - I’d recommend focusing on a technique for maybe the first 20 minutes or so and then revert to doing “nothing” for the rest.  Get to a place of deep relaxation and then allow your mind to wander off wherever it wants to go.  You never know where you may end up!  


More tips and techniques to come soon - we’ve only scratched the surface with this post!