The mechanics behind the restricted environment stimulation technique (REST) otherwise also commonly referred to as isolation tank therapy, sensory deprivation therapy or simply floatation therapy is anything but a mystery.
The logic behind these floating pods is based on a simple scientific construct that involves giving the brain a window of relief from the constant bombardment of external stimuli which primarily includes the effects of gravity, sight, sound, smell and temperature. These stimuli actually take up a lot of the brains resources as the brain needs to constantly calculate our motor functions (e.g. how much force to use to pick the mug up, how much energy and how high does our leg need to be lifted in going up a flight of stairs, how much force we need to exert in order to run after a cab, how far is that book – can we reach it or do we need to get up to pick it up, is it getting colder – should we respond, what’s that smell, that watch looks great, should I buy it… ).
These everyday situations that seems trivial to us are actually complex functions that our brain handles on a ceaseless basis as they are essential to our survival to be able to do so. However, the truth of the matter is that, these activities take a fair share of the mind’s resources – even when we are sleeping, changes in temperature, switching positions during sleep, smells that trigger memories and dreams, and sounds that startle us in the dead of the night are all taxing on the brain.
Thus when does our brain actually rest? Well, that happens when we are beyond R.E.M sleep when the mind is functioning at ultra low frequencies, frequencies that are normally only achievable by those who meditate professionally and who have been doing it for years.
When in this state of mind, also known as sensory restriction, the brain is free to focus on the internal mechanics of the human biological balances which are critical towards our overall general health. Now, not all of us are able to meditate in that manner and hence what else can we possibly do? Well the isolation tank, sensory deprivation tank or whatever else that you may want to call it, actually helps people to get into that state of mind in a matter of minutes.
This is based on the fact that all the external stimuli that keeps the brain busy, including gravity, is eliminated entirely, freeing up an immense amount of ‘brain energy’ to do ‘other things’ which includes readjusting the production of important enzymes such as endorphins or dopamine, while simultaneously reducing or limiting the production of cortisol and adrenaline, amongst a range of other effects.
Floatation therapy also enhances blood regulation in the body, ensuring oxygen and nutrients are delivered to wherever they are necessary, effectively and efficiently resulting in a complete overhaul of our biological system, to an extent where all our organs start to become optimised.
With such effects now proven scientifically, floatation is reaching out of the depths of science fiction, urban legend and hippy culture, into a new method of treatment known as Floatation Therapy or floatation-REST. Practically everybody has something to benefit from the isolation tank experience, and the cost is not a heavy burden at around 55 AUD ($40USD) to $70 AUD ($55USD) per hour session.
Sensory deprivation sessions are offered by floatation tank centres, and are available in pretty much all large cities worldwide, they are also quickly making their way many to smaller towns and cities too. Normally taking part in 3 sessions is recommended, although benefits can usually be found following the first, these effects are normally prolonged and enhanced with frequent (monthly / ft-nightly) regular sessions.