Deep within the Lansing-based company Delta Floats’ spa-like facility sit three capsules, each one a portal to a new state of mind. Within the vessel that transports you lies nothing. No sounds. No sights. No gravity. It’s just you and a blank screen; your mind the projector.
Owned and operated by Wendy and Derek Johnson since 2013, Delta Floats specializes in providing customers with a therapeutic experience based on the research of renowned neuroscientist and psychoanalyst John C. Lilly. Through his work, Lilly determined that external stimuli from things such as light, gravity, touch and sound account for roughly 90 percent of the central nervous system’s workload. By restricting those stimuli, the body experiences a reduction in stress both mentally and physically. Originally known as sensory deprivation or perception isolation, this concept is most commonly referred to as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (R.E.S.T.).
Each chamber is designed to reduce stimulus dramatically. Each is equipped with a hatch-like door that, when sealed, blocks all external light from entering. Within is a roughly 12-inch-deep, body-core temperature water bath containing some 850 pounds of Epsom salts, providing a buoyancy that almost eliminates the effects of gravity. In addition, users wear earplugs to remove noise that might otherwise bleed in.
Since the 1960s, chambers like these have enabled many to separate their physical senses from their mental command center, allowing each user to reap unique benefits that range from stress and anxiety relief to creative epiphanies to relief of physical ailments associated with athletics. At its core, the experience is suitable for just about everyone.
“The one thing that’s unique to this business is that it doesn’t have a demographic per say. It is almost 50/50 men and women. It is for every walk of life. My youngest floater has been an 8-year-old whom was on the autism spectrum, and whose mother was a psychologist. It really crosses every economic and social standing,” explained Wendy Johnson. “Some are looking for relaxation, some of them are looking to go down into the purest part of their brain, while others are looking for physical relief for things like fibromyalgia”
Everyone’s experience is unique and, in some ways, dependent on one’s willingness to slip back into the corners of their mind and remove themselves from everything surrounding them. It’s nearly impossible to compare the sensation of this existential, hour-long experience to anything else.
“To say it’s like this, or it’s kind of like that isn’t fair to the person and it’s not fair to the experience,” explained Johnson. “And that’s kind of how I felt about researching. If I don’t do it, I’m not going to understand it fully. So, you could tell me all about it, but I just probably wouldn’t get it. It is one of those things that you just have to experience. It’s a very simplistic thing in that you go in and you lay down and water, right? But it goes much deeper than that.”
Like traditional meditation, the goal is to enable yourself to tune into different brainwaves to find therapeutic and relaxing mental stimulation without concern or acknowledgment of the physical world. In R.E.S.T. the brain drops into a state of delta brain waves, akin to the state you may find yourself in during an uninterrupted daydream, thus explaining the business’ clever brand name.
During my time within, I found myself better able to contain my thoughts. Without the sensations of sight, weight, touch, depth or essentially any true relationship with an environment around me. I found myself more at peace with my mind – and further than I’d ever possibly been from the abrupt and intrusive day-to-day stress and anxiety that typical linger.
If you find yourself conflicted about taking on R.E.S.T., whether because of apprehensions regarding legitimacy in the craft, have claustrophobia or perhaps have given up on other alternative therapy methods, I encourage you to reconsider this one with an open mind. To learn more about Delta Floats, R.E.S.T. and to book your appointment, visit http://deltafloats.com