Skip to main content

Body in the Tank, Head in the Clouds: Float therapy can provide many healing benefits for the body, mind and soul.

Dec 24, 2015 08:23AM ● By By Martin Miron

From the moment Dr. Martha Reed tried float therapy, she says she’s been on a mission to own a float spa. Reed operates a holistic healing practice, Insights For Life, in Glendale, and immediately saw how floating could benefit not only her clients, but the general public. “I experienced major physical and emotional relief very quickly into in my first floating session,” she says. “Afterward, I was so calm, relaxed and energized, and led one of my best events ever.” Reed turned to Tempe-based True REST Float Spa, which is in the process of expanding across the country through franchising. By February, Reed is expected to accomplish her goal by opening the doors on the newest True REST location, in Glendale, in addition to her existing practice.

True REST was founded in 2009 by Nick and Holly Janicki, who launched their original location in Scottsdale after searching the globe for the most advanced available healing technologies for their own use. They spent months of research and planning and bet their life savings on this form of relaxation. They now have locations in Ohio, California and elsewhere. Locally, they can be found in Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Sedona, with Glendale and Chandler on the way.

Float therapy is a powerful tool for wellness, relaxation, pain relief and better sleep. A float session is usually about 60 minutes in length, but the frequency of visits depends upon the individual needs. Some will float from one to four times a month, while others with chronic conditions may float longer and several times a week because the benefits are enhanced with regular use. Stress, tension and pain that have formed over time may take longer to realize the greatest relief.

Float therapy offers relief and benefits that build on themselves with each subsequent session. Nick says, “Although flotation is an effortless therapy, the body and mind actually learn how to relax into the float with each session.”

In 1954, John C. Lilly began experimenting with the mind’s response to sensory deprivation, a hot topic in the fields of neurology and psychology. There was debate about what would happen if the brain, the center of consciousness, was deprived of all sensory information. Lilly wanted to find out, so he built a large flotation chamber filled with water. Using a scuba diving suit with the facemask painted black, he submerged his study participants into the flotation chamber. His results showed that they reported feelings of intense relaxation and calm, with some even reporting epiphanies of personal discovery and self-realization.

Lilly continued his research over the next two decades by refining his chambers. The next step in the evolution of float tanks came in the early 1970s, when the design changed from an intimidating laboratory apparatus to the modern, sleek, welcoming pods used today.

There are a number of benefits that come from three elements of flotation therapy. Epsom salts used in the tank are great for skin, hair, nails and act as an exfoliant. They aid in joint pain, ease stress and naturally relax the body. Magnesium (commonly missing from our diets) is absorbed through the skin, while sulfate eliminates toxins and heavy metals, naturally detoxing the body.

One thousand pounds of salt in 180 gallons of water creates a 30 percent salt solution, so people float effortlessly on top of the water, which creates an anti-gravity effect. “This sensation is unique and deeply relaxing because all our weight and tension can be dropped; it’s even safe to fall asleep,” says Nick. There are no pressure points on the body in this state, which in some cases can provide 100 percent pain relief. The spine naturally elongates and straightens, and the body undergoes the same regeneration process that transpires during sleep. Also, lactic acid is drained from the muscles, reducing soreness and recovery time.”

The flotation environment is great for meditation, too. “Just taking an hour of alone time will decrease the production of cortisone, a stress hormone, leaving us feeling refreshed and serene after the float,” says Nick. “The brain enters an elusive theta brainwave state, which is associated with deep sleep and dreaming. We are able to access deeper levels of creativity and higher-level problem solving due to this distraction-free environment. The water is even heated to skin temperature, nearly eliminating all sensations; it feels like floating on a cloud or in outer space.”

Some of the physical benefits of being in a low-gravity, totally silent, pitch-black flotation tank include increased blood flow that allows the body to recuperate faster and more thoroughly. The weightless effect allows joints and muscles to be completely at rest. Even broken bones and sprains have been shown to benefit.

This means that for anyone with stress-induced or stress-related diseases such as hypertension, ulcers, heart disease and others, the flotation tank offers a mental solution to physical symptoms and addresses the problem at its source. By alleviating the stress at the root of these issues, flotation tanks help heal the body and the mind. Even mental and psychological issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder have been shown to be assuaged in the tank environment due to shifts in brain chemistry.

For many conditions, flotation therapy offers an alternative to some traditional pharmaceutical treatments. Flotation therapy offers a safe, natural and scientifically researched alternative, or an enhancement to other modalities for a synergistic effect that affect mind, body and spirit. True REST Float Spa represents the wave of the future (pun intended) and invites everyone to dive right in.

New clients receive $30 off their first floating session when they mention Natural Awakenings. For locations and more information, visit