Floating and the Default Mode Network

#Powerful Default Mode Network

#Powerful Default Mode Network

Put aside the various shenanigans our team got into during the 2016 Float Conference and it’s fair to say that our time in Portland was a big success. We learned a lot, and some of the coolest stuff is bringing the anecdotal things we know about floating into scientific fact.

The Facility

The Laureate Institute for Brain Research (LIBR) based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma is coming out with some of the most scientifically viable research in the Float Industry. Before we dig into the data, let’s talk about the facilities they use in order to conduct their research.

The Float Clinic at LIBR uses reverse osmosis to keep the depth of their 8-foot diameter float rooms precise. They’re able to keep their depth consistent with at most a 1-millimeter variation. They have a three stage system to keep the air a perfect temperature as well as humidity. The lights in their float rooms can be turned on or off with the wave of a hand. Using a spring layer, ground noise isolation board, and an insulation layer, they’re able to keep the noise levels in their rooms at an absolute minimum.

Okay, we had to nerd out about that for just a second. Basically, they have the most precise float experience in the world. Not only that, but LIBR is also equipped with all kinds of cool scientific gadgets and gizmos, including an fMRI machine which they are able to use for pre and post float brain scans.

The Study

One of the studies conducted at the LIBR Float Facility took a look at the Default Mode Network.

First, what is the Default Mode Network? Although there are several regions in the brain that are connected to this system, the biggest section is the functional connectivity between the Posterior Cingulate Cortex and the Medial Prefrontal Cortex.

A number of functions have been attributed to the Default Mode Network including mind-wandering, self-referential thinking (i.e. “mind chatter”), autobiographical thinking, and thinking about the past or future. It has been shown that hyper connectivity in this network can lead to depression or feelings of anxiety.

Reducing the connectivity in this network is shown to reduce levels of anxiety and depression. So the question is: does floating reduce the functional connectivity in the Default Mode Network?

To find out, the researchers at LIBR made two groups:

The Control Group:  Participants would sit in a Zero-Gravity Chair (The Float Chair) to account for the effects of “simple relaxation” induced by: laying supine in a comfortable environment, having minimal pressure on the spinal cord, being alone in a quiet and dark room for 90 minutes.

The Pool Group: These participants would spend their 90 minutes in the super awesome float rooms we described above.

Both groups would spend 8 minutes in the fMRI machine before and after their 90-minute session. 

The Results

The participants who were in the “Pool” group showed significant drops in the functional connectivity with its primary hub in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex. The control group did not show this same drop in functional connectivity.

Even more interesting, the participants were asked to rate their feeling of “serenity” after their floats. What the researchers found was that there was a direct link between how big of a drop in functional connectivity there was and feelings of serenity. (Bigger drop=more serenity.)

We were really excited to learn about this. We’ve heard countless people tell us that floating helps them with their anxiety. We’ve even experienced it ourselves! It’s truly gratifying to see that there is research being done that scientifically proves floating works.

And the next time someone asks you why you float, all you have to do is say, “I float because it reduces the functional connectivity between my Medial Prefrontal Cortex and Posterior Cingulate Cortex leading to reduced anxiety and a feeling of serenity!”

What Time of Day Should I Float in a Sensory Deprivation Tank?

Your Float experience will differ depending on when you float

Your Float experience will differ depending on when you float

When you Float May Make All the Difference

Being open from 7am to 11pm allows you to not only float at a time that’s convenient for your schedule, it also lets you experience different kinds of floats.

 

 

As someone who’s floated quite a lot and all over the clock, I can personally attest to the fact that the time of day you float can make a huge difference in your experience.

 

Early Floats

 

Floating early in the morning has several benefits.  One of the biggest things that I’ve noticed is that when you float first thing in the morning, you don’t have to “take the day off of you.”  You’ve already slept, and your brain spent the whole night processing and decompressing.  When I float early, I notice that my mind is a lot more clear.  This allows me to either focus on a specific subject, or to have a clear and blank mind altogether.

 

When you get out, you feel energized: ready to take on the day.  The benefits of your float are prevalent for everything that might come at you.

 

 

Mid-Day Floats

 

What I’ve noticed with floating in the late morning or early afternoon is that it pairs very well with exercise.  If I incorporate exercise into my routine, floating immediately after does wonders for my body.  Getting that rest in following a workout allows me to come out feeling refreshed.

 

Mid-day floats are also good for splitting up the day.  When I float in the middle of the day, it feels like there were two days: “before float” and “after float.”  It’s a good way to hit the reset button and either split up your obligations, or tackle your projects from a different perspective.

 

 

Late Floats

 

Floating at the end of the day is optimal for taking all your accumulated stress off.  It gives you the space to process and digest the day.

 

When you go home after a float and get into your bed, your body and mind are already relaxed.  I know I’m someone who usually tosses and turns at night, but anytime I have a float before going to bed I sleep like a rock.  The effects carry over into the next day too.  I always wake up completely refreshed like I’ve gotten a week's worth of sleep in one night.



If you ever wondered what the best time to float is, the answer depends on what you’re after!  Try changing around what time you float and see for yourself how it can make a big difference.

Floating for Forgotten Memories

"Oh yeah, I remember that one time!"

"Oh yeah, I remember that one time!"

Sensory Deprivation Helps you Access Lost Memories

I was standing in my friend’s garage.  Rain was pouring down outside, causing a sheet of water to be just beyond the gape of the doorway.  My brother and my friend Nicholas were next to me, and we were plotting our mode of attack against imaginary goblins.

 

This was a memory of mine that surfaced during one of my first floats.  It was something I hadn’t thought about since it had happened in my early childhood.  Yet there I was: in the comfort of a warm Samadhi float tank, and somehow this memory managed to rise to the surface of my consciousness.

 

What was interesting to me was just how vivid the memory was.  I could recall the sound of the rain.  I could remember the sheets of paper scattered around us.  I could recollect the smell of that old garage.  Since that time, one of my favorite things to do in a float tank is try to search my brain for forgotten memories.

 

 

The process is pretty simple.  What I first do is clear my head of the day.  I think back to when I had woken up that morning, and I run through my entire day up until the point that I got in the float tank.  I’ll do this a few times (usually three) and try to recall more details each time.  What was the barista wearing?  What color was the car that cut me off in traffic?  What did I have for lunch?

 

 

Going through the day serves two purposes.  First, by viewing and acknowledging everything that has happened so far that day, it’s a lot easier to “take the day off.”  This will prevent present day worries and stresses from coming up later in my float.  

 

 

Second, trying to recall as much detail as I can starts working the memory function of my brain.  It gets me consciously trying to think of all the little things that I’ve already forgotten… even though they only happened hours ago.

 

 

After I’ve gone through the day leading up to my float a few times, I’ll take a few slow deep breaths.  On my third deep breath, I’ll say to myself:

 

 

“I’m going to think of a memory that I haven’t thought of in years.”

 

 

Then I relax!  I let my mind wander, and before I know it some distant memory bubbles up to the surface.


This is an interesting technique because you never know what’s going to come up.  In the float tank, with no distractions, it’s amazing to see how vivid these forgotten memories can be.

 

Sensory Deprivation for Stress Resilience

How is it that  you deal manage your stress?

How is it that  you deal manage your stress?

Hack your stress management with Sensory Deprivation

 

“Did you see my post in the chat?”

“... No.  What’s up?”

“The power is out.”

“What?  Why?”

“The bill is overdue.”

 

This is a real conversation I had after getting home from work one day.  This was only a few days after getting a water shut-off notice on the door; also for an overdue bill.

 

So there I was: in a house I had just moved into, having just finished unpacking my boxes, when I learned that the power had been turned off, and the water was soon to be shut off.  Both of the bills were over $1,000.  How did I feel?

 

When people talk about floatation therapy, they often refer to the stress relief benefits.  While floating is undeniably a good tool for stress relief, it’s also a good tool for building your stress resilience.  

 

Floating consistently helps you build a wall of defense against stress.  Over time, you find yourself being less influenced by heavy situations.  When things get put on your shoulders, they have a tendency to roll right off instead of weighing you down.

 

A couple days later, two of the people living in the house moved out.  Without warning, they got a U-Haul, loaded up most of their things, and left in the middle of the night without saying a word to any of us.  The bills were under their name.  It was also the beginning of the month, so in addition to having over $2,000 in utilities due, we now had to cover their rent.

 

There were now three of us remaining in the house.  A Float Guru, a former Float Guru, and the girlfriend of a Float Guru.  All three of us have made a practice of floating for years.  What did we do?  How did we feel?

 

We made a campfire in the firepit outback, roasted some hot dogs, and came up with a plan.  We were filled with calm optimism.  Spending nights by candle light, we lived for two weeks without power.  Slowly but surely, we’ve been making progress on everything.


I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t float consistently.  The ability to tackle this situation in a calm and efficient manner is something I’m incredibly thankful for.