Benefits to the Mind
Floating benefits your mind because floating eliminates the distractions to meditation. The practice of meditation has proven in numerous clinical studies to boost mental function, and floating boosts the power of meditation.
When you enter the float tank, you only have what you take with you. With no external stimulation, you can observe the workings of the mind, and you can learn to control and enhance those functions.
When you first float, you may experience a condition known as “Monkey Mind”. If you are an inexperienced meditator, the loud and unruly nature of your thoughts can be an overwhelming distraction. With time, and with practice, you can gain control of the stream of consciousness and learn to direct it toward your goals and aspirations.
The mind benefits of floating are inseparable from the mental benefits of meditation. The primary mental advantage of floating is the unique zero-stimulation environment it provides to deepen meditation practice.
Decreases Anxiety & Depression
Since floating facilitates meditation, floating has scientific backing to claim its efficacy against anxiety and depression. A review study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine, finds that mindfulness meditation (and thereby floating) may rival antidepressants in easing the symptoms of depression.
Floating and mindfulness meditation may not cure all, but when it comes to the treatment of depression, anxiety, and pain, the research found floating may be just as effective as medication.
Though the mechanisms behind the effect of floating on depression aren’t totally clear, researchers wagered some guesses. Mindfulness may enhance “attention regulation, body awareness, emotional regulation, and changes in self-perspective (e.g., decentering),” which may all play a role in depression. On a purely biological level, MRI studies have shown that meditation is linked to a reduction in activity in the amygdala, the brain area that governs the stress response, and to reduced activity in the default mode network, the brain network that’s “on” when your mind is wandering from thought to thought, which is often linked to feelings of unhappiness and stress.
If you suffer from depression, or if you take anti-depressants and suffer from medication side-effects, floating may be a natural, holistic approach that provides real and lasting relief without drugs. If unburdened from the relentless torment of anxiety or depression, you find renewed energy and increased mental clarity.
Many first-time floaters remark on how aware they become of the endless chatter in their mind. With so many external stimuli to deal with most people don’t realize how much internal stimulation their mind provides. Floating removes the external stimuli brings your mental chatter into focus.
There is nothing for you to do while floating, no activity or other external stimuli to focus on. It’s you and your mind, nothing else. Some people lose themselves in the stream of thoughts while floating, but with experience and practice, you learn to watch the activity of mind and finally gain control of it.
We often recommend people use meditation techniques like paying attention to the breath to help them focus on something other than the mental chatter. These focusing techniques are basic to meditation practice, and they lead to improved mental focus.
As you spend more time floating, you improve in your ability to direct the mind. You will find this enhanced ability to focus your concentration will stay with you when you’re not floating, and it will improve every mental activity you engage in.
Balances Brain Hemispheres
Much of what is known about brain function is owed to Roger Sperry, whose experiments examined the way the human brain’s hemispheres operate both independently and in concert with each other. The two hemispheres communicate information, such as sensory observations, to each other through the thick corpus callosum that connects them.
In general, the left hemisphere is dominant in language: processing what you hear and handling most of the duties of speaking. It’s also in charge of carrying out logic and exact mathematical computations. When you need to retrieve a fact, your left brain pulls it from your memory.
The left brain is generally associated with the inner chatter, the “talking” voice in your mind. Often compared to a serial processor in computing, the left brain evaluates facts one at a time in a sequence.
The right hemisphere is mainly in charge of spatial abilities, face recognition and processing music. It performs some math, but only rough estimations and comparisons. The brain’s right side also helps you comprehend visual imagery and make sense of what you see. It plays a role in language, particularly in interpreting communication not coded in speech.
The right brain is generally associated with spirituality, the “quiet voice” that often communicates through imagery. The right brain is analogous to a parallel computer processor running many things simultaneously. The right brain is regarded as the seat of the sub-conscious mind and intuition.
Many people (men mostly) become dominated by the left-brain processing, identify with thoughts in their minds, and completely ignore the more powerful quiet voice of intuition. Floating and meditation restore balance to hemisphere processing by training the left-brain to work with and accept input from the powerful right brain.
Floating balances the hemispheres and enables a more holistic approach to thinking and problem-solving.
True creative bursts arise when your mind puts together unrelated ideas in new and novel ways.
Your left-brain logical processor excels at analysis and evaluation of alternatives, but it does a poor job generating new and unique thoughts.
Your right-brain excels at breaking convention and making new associations but handles evaluation of alternatives poorly.
True creativity requires both your brain hemispheres to work together.
“When you start to look at more complex cognitive process like imagination or creative thinking, it’s not just isolated [brain] areas that are responsible, but communication of the entire brain that’s required,” said study researcher Alex Schlegel, a cognitive neuroscientist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.
A regular practice of floating and mindful meditation will improve your creativity immeasurably. It will manifest in areas both big and small in your life.
Improves Problem Solving
Problems are unresolvable situations where previous problem-solving methods fail. In such circumstances, the mind often falls into a repetitive loop where the same failed solution presents itself over and over again.
Problem-solving is a creative endeavor requiring you to craft a new solution. Floating and meditation open the creative mind and allow intuition to guide you to potential new solutions. The analytical brain can evaluate these solutions and implement to correct strategy. Floating facilitates this process and steers people away from mental traps that drag out problem-solving.
Psychologists found that, after only a few weeks of training, volunteers who learned “mindfulness practice” were better at switching strategies for problem-solving than volunteers who were not taught the technique. If you are trapped in a repeating pattern that fails to resolve important problems in your life, floating may help you break through the conceptual blocks holding you back.
Floating helps people steer clear of rigid, myopic thinking and encourages creative insights.