Disclaimer: True Rest Float Spa provided a free trial therapy session in return for an honest blog review. As with all content on The Nature Nurse™, PLLC platform, this is not medical advice. Always consult with your licensed health professional team before trying a new treatment.
What if we had the opportunity to return to the womb, that warm watery, weightless space? The place where we all started our earth journey, where our every need was met and there was no influence from the outside world, we were just in a pure state of being? Well, now thanks to new technology we have something close to that. It's called floating spas. These spas provide warm, salt-dense water tanks, where we can float in a reduced stimulation environment for a set period of time, allowing us to let the outside world go and completely just be once again.
I have written about these spas, read the research that touts its many benefits, mostly led today by Dr. Justin Feinstein, but I have never tried it myself. I have experienced floating in a pool with foam noodles, and floating tools like Flothetta, which are widely used in Iceland where floating sessions are a common practice. These simple options are relaxing, but not free of outside stimulus.
The science has shown that for most people these floating spas provide deep relief from stress and anxiety. A study conducted in 2018 found that people with anxiety and stress-related disorders had profound reductions in stress as well as reporting significant reductions in muscle tension, pain, depression and negative affect with no major complications. Studies are being expanded to evaluate other ways floatation therapy can be of benefit. Professional athletes find floating helps them establish a winning mindset before competing, as well as quicker muscle recovery after a game.
I was introduced to this therapy at the 2018 Blue Mind Summit focusing on Water is Medicine. The research is compelling. Anecdotally, I have heard from many people- friends, acquaintances, colleagues who have found float spas very relaxing and use the therapy regularly. As with any intervention, there are situations where people may not be appropriate for this or may have adverse effects. For example, I have heard of repressed traumatic memories being awakened during a float, which could be an opportunity to heal those. Post float nightmares for short period of time, potentially repairing something from the past, have also been known to occur. If you try floating, and find that you have these reactions, please reach out to your licensed healthcare professional, and a trauma-informed therapist to help process these memories.
Those with active open lesions in the skin are asked to avoid floating until they are healed as the Epsom salt saturation level will cause pain in these areas. Those who live with epilepsy, kidney disease, low blood pressure, or claustrophobia are discouraged from using this therapy. Other health issues may also be a problem so always consult with your licensed health care professionals before trying a new treatment.
So, what was my experience like? After being welcomed to the float spa, I was asked to sit in a salt-stone walled room to watch a short video on the float experience I was about to try. The video was just a few minutes and covered the basics of what the therapy is, the many benefits, and how to best experience the floating session including various positions one may want to use to achieve the best float. Then I was given a brief tour of the spa including the restrooms, after float lounge and post-float area where one could dry their hair, apply makeup, and return used slippers /towels.
Then onto the actual floatation room, a small, fully-tiled room with the float tank, stand up shower and bench. I was thoroughly briefed on further details on how to float including: shower first, emergency button in the tank, lighting button, the music I selected would play for the first ten minutes, followed by silence, and return 5 minutes before the end of my session. At the end I would get out and shower, get dressed, use the after spa touch up area as needed and then relax in the post float lounge. To ensure my privacy, I was to lock the door when the staff member left. The manager was very thorough in his explanations and open to questions.
Eager to get in and try this, I followed the instructions and entered the tank in the nude as they suggest, and closed the float pod’s doors. The soothing music played while I oriented myself, a blue light allowed me to see and get my bearings, I clumsily made my way into a floating position on my back, the dense salt water making it a bit awkward to move around. Once I felt comfortable, I reached over and turned the light off, while the music continued to play and I waited to see what would happen.
I can imagine that it would be easier, and quicker, to shift into the nirvana-like float state that is mentioned repeatedly when it comes to float therapy the more you go, but the first few minutes for me were a bit restless. The water was holding me up, but it was like trying to move around in a water bed. I tried the hands by my side position for a while, then hands resting above my head, then hands resting on my belly, each position okay for a while, but eventually not feeling right. Then, ever so subtly, I felt what I can best describe as space opening up between my joints. I felt the need to gently stretch and further release the tightness in my muscles, shoulders, neck, ankles, hips. I noticed myself beginning to yawn a bit between breaths. The tense, tight, feeling in my body effortlessly dissolving into the water. As my mind marveled at what my body was experiencing, the music turned off and the silent, stimulus free part of the treatment began.
Dense, profound, complete stillness- I will struggle to put into words what this phase of the float was like. Somethings can only be known by experience. This is one of those situations. The only thing I can come up with, which doesn’t truly compare to the depth of the stimulus reduction experience would be the dull, stillness that happens when you walk outside to a fresh snowfall that seems to stop the world around you.
Time became irrelevant. My breath the only sound I heard. I felt safe, and began to let my body let go more. My thoughts wondered, “Is this what it was like in my mother’s womb?” Then, I’m guessing after twenty minutes or so, in an instant, I felt a major shift, into a new way of being. Just being. No demands, no worries, no “after this I need to…”. I was with my body, which no longer felt like it was wrestling in a pool trying to find a comfortable position, but not feeling like I was in my body. My body now felt more like it was floating in air. My stomach started to grumble a bit. I longed for nothing. I felt at complete ease, peaceful.
I can’t tell you how long that peaceful sense of being lasted, but I was instantly disappointed when the music began to gently play, alerting me that my session was coming to a close. I could have stayed there forever. I now knew what people rave about when it comes to float therapy and why they come back for more.
After climbing out of the tank and connecting with gravity again, I instantly thought, now I need a massage. It was as if I was aware that all of my muscles and joints had been restored to their healthy state and a massage would further secure this by removing any hidden knots and tightness. I showered and made my way to the post-float lounge where a staff member invited me to try the aromatherapy induced oxygen bar to help clear any “float brain” that I may have. For me, this wasn’t necessarily needed, I felt clear and vibrant, but I tried it. I can see how it might be of benefit to some people, but I didn’t notice it changing the calm, clear, joyous state that I was enjoying.
While inhaling oxygen and sipping on water, I had the chance to flip through the journals on the coffee table in the lounge, where people can write their post-float thoughts. It was clearly evident that people enjoyed their experiences at True Rest. It warmed my heart to know that those who need relief the most after trauma found a safe place that provided them peace. One Veteran wrote how floating allowed him to experience peace after battling with many traumas and thoughts of suicide. A mother of four wrote how this was the only place she could truly feel alone and be with herself and how this helped her be a better parent. Another person drew a picture of a blog and described her experience as becoming an amorphous blog that melted into the calm, safe, neutral ether. There were four journals filled with similar testimonials.
So, you may be wondering, will I return? The answer is a big, YES! My husband even commented when I got home, “You look so relaxed. I’m guessing you enjoyed it.” But, don’t take my word. The best way to know if this is a good fit for you is to try it for yourself. I would love to hear what you think of it if you do.
To learn more or to make an appointment to try this yourself, visit True Rest Float Spa.