The manipulation of mental imagery is probably the most ancient technique for mobilizing inner energies of self healing and self regulation. Biofeedback research has proved that the most effective way of manipulating any body process (including healing) is through visualization:
For example migraine sufferers who want to increase the blood flow and warmth to their hands (which generally alleviates migraines) can do so easily when they visualize their hands dipped in hot water or resting on hot sand on a beach. People with chronic muscular tension can visualize their muscles as tightly coiled ropes becoming untwisted and limp.
Maxwell Cade – who conducted research on more the 4000 subjects stated “Visualization is an absolute essential first step toward the mastery self control of pain etc”
Experiments done in visualization show how the extraordinary level of control that we can exercise over our own bodies and therefore our health.
You tube has loads of wonderful guided meditations and healing hypnosis sessions that can be downloaded and played from your ipod or phone into the floatation tank for your session.
The float tank is the perfect environment to make use of Visualization and other self healing techniques. The increased activity of the Right (creative) side of the brain, means that visualizations are more vivid, clear, and therefore effective. The slow rhythmic theta brain wave activity, which results from the extreme relaxation which occurs naturally in the tank, is associated with vivid, lifelike hypnagogic images. The importance of deep relaxation for successful visualization cannot be over emphasized.
In addition to better visualization, the tank offers 3 important factors in helping speed up recovery from illness:
The altered consciousness achieved when we reach levels of relaxation naturally in the tank, can bring about spontaneous recognition of reasons related to our illness or injury.
It removed stress hormones
In the tanks sensory free environment, your body is able to remove stress hormones form the blood. Stress hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol, act as depressants on the immune system. With immune system functioning down, our bodies are less able to fight off illness. Scientific research has proven that a session in the float tank decreases the levels of stress hormones in the blood.
The antigravity environment
The release from gravity allows the blood to circulate more freely, and completely, reaching parts of the body that may be unhealthy because of cardiovascular constriction (caused by things like smoking, cholesterol clogging and tension), and in the process allowing the heart to operates more efficiently with less effort. Another result is the drop in blood pressure. The pulse rate slows. By relieving gravitational pressure on joints, tendons, ligaments, bones and muscles, the tank alleviates temporarily the chronic pain of such ailments as bruises, sprains, broken bones and muscle strain.
Paul R – a young architect shattered his shoulder in a bad accident. Though his orthopedic surgeon was able to set the fracture, it continued to cause Paul great pain. It was impossible to sleep without pain killers, and often during the day he would find it hard to concentrate on his work because of the nagging ache. He had heard from his orthopedic surgeon that floating could relieve pain. “I went into the tank with this excruciating pain, and when I came out the pain was gone. I slept that night without any drugs for the fist time in weeks! The funny thing is my doctor says my shoulder is healing by leaps and bounds, much faster now than it was before I started floating.
It is likely that Paul experienced relief from the pain of his broken shoulder in part because of the tank’s anti gravitational effect. Not only did floating eliminate the downward pull on the shattered bone, but by alleviating the tension in the rest of his body it probably increased blood flow to the injured area, and along with the blood, the flow of biochemical’s that could promote the rapid healing noted by his doctor.
Endorphins the painkiller
We can voluntarily set our pain-relief and pleasure mechanisms in motion – that is learn mental tricks, and will ourselves to release endorphins, as well as other beneficial neurochemicals. The most effective tool yet found for accomplishing these ends is the floatation tank.
Improved circulation = Blood flow to injuries – which increases the speed of muscle regeneration.
Visualisation can be used to instruct the body to begin healing in areas where healing is slow or retarded.
Floating for self-hypnosis, hyper-suggestibility, hyperawareness
Hypnosis or a state of hyper-suggestibility is, in truth, a common mental state that most of us drift into and out of without being aware of it: as we watch TV, listen to music, brush our teeth, drive our cars or even jog.
The 2 essential elements of self hypnosis are relaxation and focused attention. Any time you have these elements you are at least in a mild state of hypnosis. To make a conscious state of hypnosis, we need one more element: suggestion.
Experiments have proved that:
Whenever we become deeply relaxed (more then usual in day to day life); eliminate distractions by focusing on something (such as a word or music), we enter a state of hyper-suggestibility. Whatever statements are made to us in this state enter directly into our mind, bypassing the mental filters and other mechanisms by which we usually judge these statements. The mind accepts suggestions, and virtually any information with complete ease and lack of judgement.
There are several suggestions as to why this happens:
Some scientists trace it to the reticular activating system (RAS), which is that part of our brain that filters out things that we do not need to pay attention to. (such as traffic noise, background music etc.
They suggest that I a deep state of relaxation, with external stimuli eliminated or restricted by the focusing of attention, the RAS system “turns up the volume” in certain receptive parts of the brain, so that when suggestions are made, the are received with more attention then ordinarily.
Others suggest that it has to do with the dominance of the left brain.
In a relaxed state with external awareness turned off, the usually dominant left hemisphere (logical thought and word processing happens here) is restrained, while the right brain (the seat of emotions and imagery) gains power, reaching a state of equilibrium with the left brain. In this state the words of the suggestion are received and linked with deep emotional associations, the rational meanings of words strengthened by the images the call forth from the right lobe. Get access to this state and stay in it and a lot of work gets done very quickly. In this state we get the uncritical acceptance of verbal material, or almost any material we can process.
In a floatation tank this hyper suggestible state is easy to achieve and sustain. Everything is intensified. Relaxation is far deeper then outside the tank, the ability to concentrate is enormously enhanced since there are no distractions, and as a result receptability to suggestions is increased dramatically.
Floating activates a physiological response that is parallel to and as powerful as it’s opposite fight or flight reaction to stressful situations.
This response mobilises the body’s resources to bring about an active, alert, positive and beneficial state of deep relaxation.
Relaxation is not something that just happens when you are not busy. In fact it is no more natural to be in a state of true relaxation then it is to be in a state of fight or flight arousal – relaxation is a distinct physiological response that involves the coordinated activities of a large part of our service system The parasympathetic nervous system is engaged by floating, to release bio chemicals that bring about a a sense of well-being, pleasure, safety, and euphoria. This relaxation response to floating is similar to the effect gained form transcendental meditation – except in the float tank you do not need years of experience and disciplined practice to achieve it.
Regularly eliciting this relaxation repose benefits the individual with increase emotional, mental and physical strength and stability, decreased consumption of drugs, cigarettes and other dependencies, and an increased ability to deal with everyday life.
The difficulty in attempting to eliminate harmful programs, or de-condition ourselves, is that our habits and beliefs tend to cling to us like leeches while we remain engaged in living our lives. While we are in the environments that affirm our negative perceptions of ourselves.
The answer is to do our reconditioning while completely separated from the world in which our habits and beliefs have their being.
The most effective means of getting away from it all yet discovered is the float tank.
It is the perfect de-conditioning tool, since while we are floating we are completely separated from our normal relationship with the world, including our habitual responses, our conditioned acts and attitudes.
At the same time the tank is an ideal place for reconditioning – offering ourselves suggestions that counteract and supersede the unwanted beliefs and habits.
Guided hypnosis recordings are readily available on you tube and for purchase on the internet, and can be played from your ipod or celphone.
To make use of them at Cloud 9, please ensure that they are no more than 1 hour long.
Disclaimer: Floatation is an experience unique to each individual, as such, the experience and results may vary from person to person.