Sensory deprivation (in psychology) is an experimental situation in which all stimulation is cut off from the sensory receptors.
What we know about the benefits of floatation continuously leaves us amazed by the power of the human body. Not because of the states of relaxation and elation that floating can endure. No, rather the body’s improbable natural healing process.
Reduced pain, increased blood flow, mental clarity – the symptoms and reactions post floating is all we really tend to focus on when we discuss with our friends and family about the intimate experience that we had whilst floating. What we don’t recall, and perhaps, what is essentially more important than all of these responses are the powerful effects that are achieved through what doesn’t happen.
While John C Lilly initially ascertained that floating greatly alters our physical, mental and emotional frequencies within our bodies, another scientist by the name of Peter Suedfield reconsidered the ideals surrounding the sensory isolation that floating provides.
He ran a series of tests in subjects which concluded that periods of sensory restriction – simply being ‘without’ the mainstream issues we face in everyday life – resulted in increased visual actuity, improvements in tactile perception, auditory sensitivity and improved sensitivity to certain tastes. What’s even more astounding are the noted changes in learning, recall, IQ levels, concentration and memory as well as the extent of complete changes in attitude – some subjects even altering their smoking habits. From this outstanding result, Suedfield went on to test other habitual and mental manners including the effects of sensory deprivation on overcoming phobias, weight reduction and alcoholism – all with extraordinary results.
His testing results weighed heavily on two factors – Stimulus Hunger and Unfreezing Attitudes.
It sounds complex, but Suefield related stimulus hunger on simply the theory that when floating the brain actually experiences boredom due to being immersed – for a long period of time – in an environment with very little stimulation. Though the floater is generally unaware because he/she is usually in a deep and serene relaxation, the brain heightens its cognitive arousal channels to cling to any stimulant it can find – hence how Suedfield’s tests were so successful. Much like practicing hypnotherapy, he’d allow enough time to pass and at the point of stimulus hunger, would play pre-recorded messages through underwater speakers.
Unfreezing attitudes is the second factor in the two-step theory, and relates to the unearthing of stable attitudes, beliefs and behavioural patterns – those that are unlikely to change with time until a greater power is exerted to change, or ‘unfreeze’ them. Suefield basically believed that the mind is as stubborn as it is strong; it would resist any change thrown its way. By floating, he speculated that simply being in a state of sensory deprivation would confuse the mind, breaking down its barriers to make it weak; thus those stable attitudes lose their habitualness and allow the underwater messages to change them at a moment of weakness.
Boredom? Just another astonishing, yet intellectual benefit of floating.
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