Floating world

Lily Causin shows a float tank at Hawaii Health Hub. A light on the left is your guide when you enter. Then you turn it off to be immersed in darkness and your thoughts.

Society has changed a lot in the 63 years since neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly created the isolation tank to experiment with the effect of sensory deprivation on humans.

Once they made their way out of labs, the tanks enjoyed a period of popularity in the early 1980s, before the AIDS epidemic sent people fleeing from the notion of shared fluid. With more knowledge and technological advances in sterilizing the water, float tanks have come back in a big way as a therapeutic tool beyond massage and acupuncture.

Instead of fearing sensory deprivation, we need it to escape from deadlines, gnarly in-laws, mean girls, you name it.

Hawaii Health Hub is one place where you can experience the benefits of floating. It costs $70 to immerse yourself in the blackened tank filled with Epsom salt water. One session is 90 minutes, but you’ll probably spend at least 15 showering before and after, and another 15 just trying to get comfortable.

The key is truly relaxing and letting go, and not trying to use your muscles to support your head. A lot of times people think they’re letting the water support their heads, but they’re not. You’ll know when you feel your neck and shoulder muscles tensing. If you do have trouble, flotation devices are available to use.

Other tips, use the wax ear plugs provided because your ears will sink below the water’s surface, and if you wear contact lenses, remove them. You won’t be splashing around, but when you’re climbing out, a lot of water drips off your hair into your eyes.

The physical effects of floating are said to include alleviating pressure on joints, soothing aching muscles, and softened skin. More important are the psychological effects of floating.

We live in a constant beta state when we are awake and ready for anything that may happen. The brain and body cannot rest in this state. Delta is the brain in sleep mode. In between is a relaxed alpha state, and ultimate theta state, a meditative state between wake and sleep, when the mind is focused and open. This is where epiphanies occur. What big idea will you come up with during a float? It’s worth examining.

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Hawaii Health Hub is at 320 Ward Ave., Suite 101. Call (808) 675-8399.