In 1954, physician, neuroscientist and psychoanalyst Dr. John C. Lilly devised the flotation tank as part of his research at the National Institute of Mental Health. He was testing the premise that mental activity would cease in the absence of external stimuli. Instead, he found floating to be profoundly relaxing, and that it facilitated the discovery of richly elaborate states of inner experience. Since then, many people have discovered the multiple benefits of floating.
With more study and use by both researchers and the public, the initial terminology for flotation, “sensory deprivation”, was changed to Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. R.E.S.T. Therapy. With the research that followed came a greatly enhanced understanding of the many benefits for those who practice floatation. A great volume of published work continues to show improvements for users in managing stress, lowering blood pressure, reducing the presence of stress-related chemicals in the bloodstream, ceasing addictions, controlling chronic pain, enhancing creativity and mental acuity, among other known benefits.
Such studies and their results merely confirm what veteran floaters have known for years—floating is a natural, healthy way to relax and rejuvenate.
Meanwhile, floating has caught on in America, Australia and, more recently, Asia and Europe as a powerfully productive and creative form of recreation in
its own right.