Floatation therapy can provide relief from arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia
and post-surgical pain, among others, supporters say. Photo provided
Health & Harmony Calendar
By Paula Detwiller
Imagine bobbing gently like a cork on the surface of a warm, silent lake. It’s midnight and the sky is moonless. You are alone with your mind, your weightless body and the universe.
Such an idyllic moment would be optimal for stress reduction and natural healing, according to those who practice holistic medicine. They believe that, devoid of external stimuli and free from the bounds of gravity, the human body is able to “reset” itself, with a variety of healthful results.
Welcome to flotation therapy — typically experienced these days in an enclosed chamber containing a tub of 98-degree water spiked with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts. Step into the “float tank” (au naturel is best), close the door, and recline in the silent, buoyant darkness. Become the cork. See what happens.
That’s exactly what I decided to do, after hearing about the float tank at DU20 Holistic Oasis in Delray Beach, one of three places you can find this kind of therapy in Palm Beach County. Co-owners Nick Kusturic, a doctor of Oriental medicine, and his sister Natalie gave me a thorough orientation beforehand.
“There’s not one minute of the day that gravity isn’t acting on your musculature and skeletal system,” Kusturic explains, “and when you take that away, you’re freeing up the flow of blood and body fluid, so things start to heal much faster. At the same time, removing the stimulus of sight and sound means your brain can focus on its main function, which is balancing all the systems of the body.”
Flotation therapy dates back to 1954, when Dr. John Lilly devised the first isolation tank at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., to test the effects of sensory deprivation on the human brain and mind.
Kusturic says modern-day flotation tanks are used to provide relief from arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, sports-related injuries, disc problems, post-surgical pain, psoriasis and eczema. He says regular floating has helped his own patients overcome infertility, insomnia and menopausal symptoms.
Floating is also a pathway to meditation for many people, including 31-year-old Eddie Carter of Delray Beach, a busy IT entrepreneur who floats two or three times a month. Carter says he had a true out-of-body experience the first time he floated — “I started seeing myself from above” — and he was hooked.
“In general, I believe in the power of meditation, and the float tank is a perfect way to get into that deep relaxation mode that your body needs so much,” Carter says.
My own flotation experience went something like this: Wow, I’m really buoyant. How lovely. Except I can’t quite relax my neck. Maybe if I clasp my hands behind my head and cross my legs at the ankles, hammock style. Ah, that’s better. It’s nice and warm, but I’m restless. Wonder how much longer I have in here? Just breathe. Focus on the third eye. Hey, that pain in my back disappeared. In fact, my whole spine feels invisible. Oh this is delightful, I’m floating without a raft … ZZZZZ.
Afterward, I am calm and centered. My joints feel strangely lubricated. I begin to sense the familiar tug of gravity again, and soon the pinch in my back returns. This must be how the astronauts feel when they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, I think wistfully.
Later, I call up float tank regular Thaddeus Gamory, 52, of Boca Raton, who trains swimmers and triathletes for a living. We compare notes.
“I finish a float and feel like putty, so loose,” Gamory says. “I feel a calmness, a quietness about me, like — what was that problem earlier? What was that thing I was so worried about before?”
Where to float
DU20 Holistic Oasis
103 NE Second Ave.
Delray Beach; 455-2147
Ask for Nick or Natalie Kusturic
One hour — $65
90 minutes — $90
Two hours — $115
9407-C Boca Gardens Parkway
Boca Raton; 488-2648
Ask for Dr. Emmanuel Kadmon
By appointment only
1 hour — $65
Lower rates for pre-paid ‘recreational floating’ packages
Jewels of Health
10563 Tamis Trail
Lake Worth; 644-5002
Ask for Kathleen Szabo
By appointment only
One hour — $65
Paula Detwiller is a freelance writer and lifelong fitness junkie. Find her at www.pdwrites.com.