Salt float therapy for PTSD
For several months I have been researching salt floats/sensory deprivation tanks for a holistic and natural treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I finally got the courage to book an appointment at a semi-local facility, (Hiler Chiropractic and neurology in Naples, Florida http://www.feelamazing.com/ ) to try it out for myself.
Salt floats have been boasted to reduce stress levels, lower anxiety, depression, chronic pain and enhance the effects and experience of meditation. Recently anecdotal evidence has been collected for the benefits of floating for Veterans with PTSD sprouting several Veteran focused programs at individual facilities. So I wondered does it work for PTSD from different traumas too? The more I dug through the internet for information the more I realized I needed to try it out for myself I couldn't find any published articles relating to PTSD and Sensory deprivation that didn't focus on veterans alone.
Going into my first floating session I tried to keep an open mind. I didn't want to come into this experience with too high of expectations just to be let down. The thought of finding relief from the sometimes overwhelming anxiety that comes with hypervigilance or pain relief from my sore muscles from having flashbacks was so appealing that even a small improvement would make this experiment a success.
After filling out our intake paper work we watched the following video to prep us on what to expect.
We then walked into the ocean float room it looked like a spa suite. In the entry way was a sit down area where you could decompress after your float. The next room housed a large walk in shower where you rinsed off before stepping inside of the "tank. In this case the float area was behind a recessed looking door that opened up to a room/ large bathtub. The tank/tub ( different style than shown in video) was 8 feet long by 4 feet wide and filled with about 2 feet deep of water. The water was mixed with 1,000 pounds of Epson salt which is the element that would make you float effortlessly.
My husband was the first to try. As I waited I prepped by trying to center myself and listen to guided meditation videos on YouTube. Once Greg was done I was mentally ready to step into the tank. After a quick rinse off I stepped into the tank with earplugs in. The tank had several different light features for anyone who didn’t want to lay in the dark including a light up constellation above you a blue lights to light up the water. I particularly liked this style of tank because the ceiling was high (7 feet verses some pods that close only a few feet from your face when you lie down.
I chose to leave on the stars as I adjusted to weightless floating. At first I had trouble allowing myself to float without trying to hold my neck up but soon I realized I could relax every muscle in my body and the Epson salt would handle the rest. I closed my eyes and let my body melt into the water which was the same as resting body temperature.
The lack of temperature difference gives you the illusion that you are one with the water, almost like you are floating in space or having an out of body experience. The pain in my knees, back and shoulders began to disappear. Then the pain in my neck became dull, at this moment the dull pain was all I could focus on because I couldn't feel, see or hear anything else to preoccupy my thoughts. But quickly this dull pain subsided too. Once all my senses were deprived I was left with nothing but my thoughts. I lost track of time and couldn't decipher whether I had been floating for 5 minutes or two hours. I embraced the lack of restraint and let my mind clear itself. When I meditate I try to picture a white dot that slowly grows. I visualized this white dot at the center of my body as it expanded it felt like my body was glowing in a way an aura would appear. I don't know how long it took before I was able to completely clear my mind and replace it with white space but it felt like I was in a sleeping/ dream state while being aware of the euphoria. Out of nowhere my leg twitches and I am brought back for a second but almost immediately fall back into nothingness. My leg twitches again it happens almost 5 times I think it was my brain trying to verify I was still connected to my body. At this moment I had a wave of nausea and sweating that lasted maybe 2 minutes. We were warned that nausea could be a sign of detoxing...it must have been because I felt great after! I spent the rest of my time picturing tranquil scenarios.
When my time was up I spent the last few minutes enjoying the water by pushing myself from top to bottom of the tank like I have seen my children do as babies/toddlers in the bathtub... laying on their back pushing with their feet and then catching the other side with their hands. I let myself do a couple twirls in the water like a seal and came to terms that it was time for me to get out as my 60 minutes had ended.
I exited my cave and my senses heightened. As I acclimated to life outside the tank I showered off the salt then exchanged stories with my husband about his experience.
It has now been 6 hours since I completed my first salt float session for PTSD and here are my take aways:
· I left with a sense of overall calm
· Hypervigilance was dulled
· Anxiety had melted down to a easy to handle level
· I was left feeling happy
· The first hour I felt a little dazed
· Although soreness in my knees did come back (may be from the rain we are currently experiencing) the pains in my neck, shoulders, and back are still gone
· My skin is dry...definitely need to moisturize after but I thought I didn't need the provided lotion, lesson learned
· Do not touch your face while in the tank or you can get salt in your eyes! Next time I will keep them closed cause I am incapable of not touching my face.
· And finally there definitely will be a next time! I can't wait to go back (from what I read first float can help reduce symptoms temporarily but the float effects last longer the more treatments you attend.
Is this something you would like to try? I highly recomend looking for groupons in your area I was able to buy this session at almost a 70% discount! with a coupon code it was $26 for an hour session usually priced at $85 at this facility!