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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Floating Above the Fray: The Benefits of Flotation Tanks: Flotation tanks offer physical and mental benefits by removing external stimuli.

We are barraged with noise every day, an overstimulation that most of us are not even aware we’re being subjected to. Whether it’s background music at the office, the news on the TV, traffic whizzing past the window, conversations with coworkers and clients, or the neighbor’s dogs barking, the sounds the mind has to process daily is literally mind-boggling.

Most of us don’t stop to think what effect this external stimulation has on our systems, nor do we consciously compute the effects of stimuli such as light, temperature, and gravity. A large portion of our brain’s cerebral cortex processes visual stimulation. If the brain did not have these stimuli to process, what might it do? In the 1950s, a group of researchers was determined to find the answer: Would the mind even continue to function without external stimuli? Dr. John C. Lilly found the answer with his invention of the flotation tank.

A flotation tank, which is about the size of a twin bed and is usually several feet tall, is filled with 10 inches of water whose temperature is set to a comfortable 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit (the same temperature as the skin) and approximately 800 pounds of Epsom salts. Enclosed, it is dark and quiet inside. A person lying in the dense water floats effortlessly to the top, like a cork. The combined effects of the water’s density and temperature and the lack of sound and light make the environment inside devoid of as much external stimulation as possible.

What Lilly and the other researchers found by measuring the brain waves of those in flotation tanks was that because the external stimulus was nearly eliminated, the brain waves slowed down significantly. In normal day-to-day living, with all we do and how much information we process, our brain waves are cycling at a rapid rate between 14 and 21 cycles per second. In the tank, the brainwaves were shown to slow down to about .5 to 3.5 cycles per second.

There are many benefits to slowing down the mind, including the ability to discover negative patterns of thinking that may be lurking in the subconscious. A flotation tank also provides physical benefits such as lowered blood pressure, release of lactic acid in the muscles, and relief of pain from injuries in addition to an overall sense of calm and relaxation.

To experience a flotation tank, visit the Cherry Street Tank Works in Chester. For more information, see or call

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