RENEWING MIND AND BODY: REGENERATE FLOAT CENTER
WRITTEN BY: LAURA EMMONS
PHOTOS BY: JOSH TRIGGS
What do two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, NBA star Stephen Curry and the Chicago Cubs all have in common? They use flotation therapy, also called sensory deprivation tank therapy, as part of their standard training regimen. Aly Raisman and Stephen Curry credit their time in the float tank as keys to their success. When the Chicago Cubs unveiled their new clubhouse and training facility at Wrigley Field last April, a float tank was a part of it. The Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years and it’s the first year they’ve included flotation therapy in their program.
The benefits of float therapy for mind and body are numerous, and at Regenerate Float Center in Hagerstown, those benefits are available to everyone. Located at The Grand building in historic Hagerstown, the Regenerate Float Center offers float therapy sessions, zero gravity massage, oxygen and aroma therapy. They conduct monthly meditation classes, and have a co-venture with Sol Yoga Studio, located on the second floor of The Grand building, to offer post-yoga float, massage and oxygen sessions.
WHAT IS FLOTATION THERAPY?
Originally developed in 1954 at the National Institute of Mental Health by neuroscientist, Dr. John C. Lilly, the sensory deprivation tank was used in the Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (R.E.S.T.) to achieve a state of deep relaxation called the “theta brain wave state.”
Ten inches of water, warmed to the human body’s natural temperature, is mixed with 800 to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt in an enclosure large enough for a human body which can be completed sealed from the outside world. The body floats on the surface of the water in the tank isolated from all sounds, sights, smells and tastes.
Since the water temperature is the same as the body, the mind doesn’t register the pressure of it against the skin. The result is an experience of total sensory deprivation, allowing the brain and body to attain a state of relaxation that is deeper and more restorative than normal sleep.
Co-owner of the Regenerate Float Center, Eric Sarmiento, recommends at least one hour be spent in the flotation tank to achieve all of the desired results from flotation therapy and offers 60 and 90 minute sessions at Regenerate.
BENEFITS OF FLOTATION THERAPY
Floating in a thousand pounds of medical-grade Epsom salt slows your heart rate, slightly lowers blood pressure, and relaxes brain waves.
It draws toxins out of the body, reduces cortisol levels, and increases circulation. The magnesium in the salt regulates electrolyte levels and helps produce serotonin. It increases nutrient absorption, reduces lactic acid in muscles and increases endorphin levels for up to a week. All of these responses to floating in the salt water are used for the following medical treatments:
- Stress Reduction
- Pain Relief
- Increased Recovery time for physical exertion and injury
- Inflammation Reduction
- Increased Stamina
- Strengthens Bones
- Mental Clarity
- Anxiety Reduction
- Increased Creativity
A medical study, released by Dr. Justin Feinstein in August 2016, showed significant improvement in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders such as, panic attacks, OCD, social anxiety, anorexia nervosa and PTSD. The study was conducted over a three-year period at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research in Tulsa, OK. Forty patients participated in the study. Half received float therapy and half were part of a control group. MRI scans taken before and after the patients float sessions measured the brain activity in the “salience network” portion of the brain which is used to anticipate future events that a person might encounter. It is the activity in the salience network which is directly related to stress levels, as those who anticipate negative situations are more fearful and anxious. In all cases, the activity in the salience network decreased significantly in those who received float therapy and increased slightly for those in the control group.
TARGETED MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Regenerate Float Center has helped clients suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and epilepsy. They have an arrangement with the Veterans Administration to help people suffering from PTSD. They offer monthly pro-bono meditation classes to hospice patients and donate free float sessions to members of the local chapter of the ARC.
Pregnant woman find sessions in the float tank beneficial for lower back pain, swelling reduction and stress relief. A number of pregnant customers have reported that being in the womb-like atmosphere of the float tank allows them to understand their baby’s experience better and the restful quiet time helps create a deeper connection between mother and unborn child.
A FAMILY BUSINESS
Eric Sarmiento is an avid practitioner of martial arts, where the balance between a healthy mind and a healthy body is emphasized. While trying to be a better athlete and martial artist himself, he discovered the benefits of float therapy and later decided to offer this service to the public. The Regenerate Float Center was opened two years ago and is operated by Eric and several members of his family.
Customers are also considered family to the staff at Regenerate. Seeing the happiness exuded by his customers after they have had their treatments, either float tank, massage and/or oxygen treatments is what gives Eric gratification. Knowing that they have achieved a calmer, more creative state of mind, pain relief and an overall healthier lifestyle is why he started and continues to improve his business.
THE TANK EXPERIENCE
Eric recommends bringing an open mind into the tank, and nothing else. The purpose of the session is to completely decompress and enjoy the experience. That’s why every float can be tailored to the customer’s preferences.
The float tank is located in a private room which contains a place to hang clothes, a chair and end table, a shower, the tank and the filtration system.
Once you’ve rinsed any residual powders or deodorants off in the shower, you climb into the tank. I chose to wear a bathing suit, but that is completely optional.
The lighting in the private room is already dimmed, but there is a light over the shower and a colored light in the tank. Turning off these two lights will achieve complete darkness. The light in the tank may be displayed in a variety of colors, as the customer prefers and can be left on during the float, or turned off. Relaxing Tibetan flute music can be set to three different volume levels, or not used at all. An overhead fan provides circulated air, but can be shut off with a wall switch. The lid on the tank may be set fully open, completely closed, or any range in between.
I would recommend using the ear plugs provided to prevent excess salt from draining down the ear canal. A halo float device is provided to support the head while floating so that the arms can be placed in a relaxed position and you don’t have to think about supporting your head and neck.
Once situated in the tank, all you should do is relax. Eric recommends not trying to suppress thoughts, even worries, but to let them filter through your mind as part of the decompression process. If you are experienced in meditation techniques, this is a perfect time to practice meditation.
After your float session saline is provided in the event that salt enters the eyes during a float. Just as you would if you visit a chlorinated pool or the ocean, you should rinse off in the shower before redressing.
Hair shampoo, conditioner and liquid body soap are provided in the shower. Towels, cotton swabs and lotion is provided for after the shower.
I would recommend following your float session with a trip to the relaxation room for a chair massage and/or oxygen/aroma therapy treatments.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
First time floaters should allow extra time to learn about all the options available for your float session. Don’t shave or wax right before a float.
If you do have a cut or razor burn, petroleum jelly is provided to protect the area. Don’t use contact lenses in the float tank. Don’t use the tank if you have recently dyed your hair and the color has not settled yet. Avoid eating large meals or caffeine just before a session in the float tank. You may wish to bring a comb or brush to use on your hair after you float.
The water used in the float tank is filtered three times and cleaned using micron filtration, ultraviolet rays and ozone generation between float sessions.
If you have any untreated medical conditions it is prudent to seek a doctor’s advice before trying any therapy or treatment, including flotation therapy.
A VARIETY OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
In addition to single appointments for float therapy, zero gravity massage, oxygen and/or aroma therapy sessions, Regenerate Float Center offers monthly membership plans, special package deals, monthly meditation classes, coordinated sessions with Sol Yoga Studio, ONNIT brand supplements including the 5HTP serotonin supplement and an energy supplement made from cordyceps mushrooms which gradually increases energy levels, and gift certificates. E-certs are available from their website.
During the month of December 2016, Regenerate Float Center will offer a Holiday Float Special. An hour float session followed by a zero gravity massage will be available for a special price of $59. The regular price for this package is $99. Holiday Float Specials can be purchased as gift certificates and redeemed throughout the year.
Contact Regenerate Float Center Eric recommends scheduling an appointment two to three days in advance. Weekends are generally busier than weekdays. Regenerate Float Center is located at 20 West Washington Street in Hagerstown.
Their phone number is (301) 992-4249. They can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Learn more about their products and services, including pricing, or schedule an appointment on their website at feel regenerated.com. Like them on Facebook at facebook.com/feelregenerated.