“The world is too much with us…” poet William Wordsworth wrote at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. “Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers,” Wordsworth continued in typical iambic pentameter. It was readily apparent to him that mankind was swooning to the glow of ease and physical abundance even in the relatively primitive times of 1802 when he penned those lines. My modern-day term for it is Consumeritis americanis since no culture has perfected the vice of worldly obsession better than Americans.
We live in a time when our minds are busier than ever with what appears to our senses. We work way too hard to get little or nothing done. We can’t for the life of us put our smartphones down for a second. We have to be teasing our mind with data, info, speculative thought every waking moment. And it takes the toll even into our non-waking moments when our sleepless minds spin in the sweat lodge of turbulent dreams as we seek a scrap of solace in sleep. We live in permanent sensory overload.
The Art of Abstraction. Abstraction is the natural state of the mind. Thoughtlessness is what the mind craves; at least some relief from the literal thoughts that race through our consciousness. Who doesn’t love the relaxing few moments of being aware yet being thoughtless just before we drift into slumber? Now, imagine extending that pleasurable peace of mind by relaxing the senses, depriving the brain and the mind of input.
Neuroscientist John Lilly thought about that in the 1950s so he built a small enclosure, a sort of tank with a lid to keep out light and sound and sensory input. He made it even better by putting several inches of salty water in the tank so the body would float. Lilly called it a “sensory deprivation tank” and that idea has matured and evolved into what we now call floatation tanks and morphed into the hottest trend in mind/body holistic therapy going today.
Lilly’s goal was to study the effect of sensory deprivation on the function of the brain. Well, turns out there is more to it than that. The overall benefits of allowing the mind to completely relax and dispense with the dreary daily concerns of “What time do I have to make that speech tomorrow?” or “When is my dry cleaning done?” or “Is that mole on my forearm cancer?” or “The NBA playoffs start tomorrow. Am I ready?” (Most of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, including MVP Steph Curry, are addicted to “floating” to get their minds right and prep for games.)
Multiple Benefits. There is a wealth of information on the web about the benefits of floatation; basically floating in about ten inches of salt water that uses about a half ton of magnesium sulfate. Omaha physician Dr. Shawn Schmidt emphasizes his belief that the passive absorption of magnesium itself is beneficial.
“We live in a magnesium-deficient society. Our diet is horrendous. Mainstream medicine prescribes drugs that rob our bodies of nutrients and reclaiming a certain amount of magnesium from an hour’s float is a wonderful benefit,” Schmidt said.
Mahalo. Hawaiians say “Mahalo” to show gratitude or thanks. Jordan Concannon grew up in Omaha but spent years in Hawaii gaining a degree in a double major and meanwhile absorbing Hawaiian culture. She opened Blue Oceans Float in Omaha in June. To reach out to the community, she has instituted “Month of Mahalo” at Blue Oceans where the spa offers discounted floats to designated groups.
“Each month we dedicate to a different industry. This month it’s teachers, next month it’s nurses. We have military appreciation offers every month,” Jordan said. “We’re trying to provide as much opportunity to people and the community to learn about the benefits of floating.
“People use floatation for a variety of reasons. Athletes — any type of athlete from walkers, swimmers, golfers, football players and so on — will use it for sport performance, mental focus. Business persons will use it to relieve stress or because they’re focused on a project or presentation. A mother or expectant woman can use it for the physical effect of weightlessness to take the weight off their body for awhile. Construction workers, people who work hard physically or work hard mentally can benefit.”
Blue Oceans has five floatation tanks, each in a private suite with showering facilities. They are more like a “pod” than a tank: spacious, inviting, smooth lines and soothing lighting. (I know. I’ve been in one and all I wanted to do was to stay in there for hours.)
“People who float find benefits that range from pain relief of all sorts, including lower back, to overall stress, fibromyalgia. They find relief from insomnia, muscle soreness. The range is wide. People come in looking for one benefit and they may find many more,” Jordan said.
When you think about it, to replicate that safe, warm, weightless, quiet, dark space where we didn’t have a care in the world sounds a lot like those too-brief nine months in the womb, before we found the “world is too much with us…”
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com. and like us on Facebook.