The Seven Theories of Floating
by Michael Hutchinson, author of The Book of Floating

There’s no doubt that floating works – as a therapeutic, educational and entertainment tool it has powerful effects on a number of levels, including the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. But why is the floatation environment so effective? What can be so actively beneficial in an essentially passive device? This is a question that has intrigued scientists, and today there is floatation research going on in laboratories around the world. The evidence accumulated so far falls into a number of distinct, though interrelated explanations. Among the most important are as follows:

1 THE ANTIGRAVITY EXPLANATION
2 THE BRAIN WAVE EXPLANATION
3 THE LEFT-BRAIN RIGHT-BRAIN EXPLANATION
4 THE THREE BRAIN EXPLANATION
5 THE NEUROCHEMICAL EXPLANATION
6 THE BIOFEEDBACK EXPLANATION
7 THE HOMEOSTASIS EXPLANATION

2. The Brainwave Explanation

More interesting than the well known alpha waves generated by the brain in moments of relaxation, are the slower theta waves, which are accompanied by vivid memories, free association, sudden insights, creative inspiration, feeling of serenity and oneness with the universe. It is a mysterious, elusive state, potentially highly productive and enlightening; but experimenters have had a difficult time studying it, and it is hard to maintain, since people tend to fall asleep once they begin generate theta waves. One way of learning to produce theta waves is to perfect the art of meditation. A study of Zen monks conducted by Akira Kazamatsu and Tomio Hirai, in which the monks’ brain-waves were charted as they entered the meditative states, indicated that the four meditative plateau’s (from alpha to the more sublime theta) “were parallel to the disciples’ mental states, and their years spent in Zen training.” Those monks with over twenty years of meditative experience generated the greatest amount of theta, the monks were not asleep but mentally alert. However, since many of us are unwilling to spend twenty years of mediation to learn to generate theta waves, it’s helpful to know that several recent studies (at Texas A&M and the University at Colorado) have shown that floating increases production of theta waves. Floaters quickly enter the theta state while remaining awake, consciously aware of all the vivid imagery and creative thoughts that pass through their minds, and after getting out of the flotation environment, floaters continue to generate larger amounts of creativity-promoting theta waves for up to three weeks.