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Fresh Off the Float | Elf

Visit True REST in Keene and feel your troubles float away.

That’s not the slogan of True REST Float Spa, but it accurately describes the experience you’ll have there.

Tracey Krasnow, owner of the Keene franchise of True REST (an international company) in the West Street Shopping Plaza, says anyone can benefit from a good float.

The isolation tank was developed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuropsychiatrist. During his training in psychoanalysis at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Lilly experimented with sensory deprivation.

A pitch-black, light-proof, soundproof environment heated to the same temperature as the skin, flotation tanks are widely advertised as a form of alternative medicine.

Widespread commercial interest and use of the isolation tank didn’t occur until 1972, when Glenn Perry, a computer systems programmer, began selling the first commercial tanks after he attended a five-day workshop by Lilly.

The isolation tank was used as a form of therapy in the ‘70s, but hit a snag in the ‘80s during the AIDS epidemic amid fears of shared water leading to contracting the disease.

Float tanks saw a resurgence in the early 2000s. Today, scientific research with float tank therapy generally uses the term “Floatation-REST” (restricted environmental stimulation therapy) to refer to the technique. This term is preferred over “sensory deprivation” because the float tank experience can be conceptualized as a form of sensory enhancement, not deprivation—and the term “sensory deprivation” carries negative connotations of torture and hallucinations that have likely impeded legitimate research in the field.

“It was originally thought people would lose their minds (in the float tank) because they were being deprived,” said Krasnow. “Researchers found out the opposite—that they benefitted from it.”

At the Keene facility, which opened for business Feb. 15, there are four pods, which Krasnow said are of the newest generation. Each oval-shaped pod has a sliding door (which helps avoid feelings of claustrophobia as float tanks used to have hatches) and are filled with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts and 250 to 300 gallons of water that creates a 30 percent salt solution, enabling effortless floating. This anti-gravity environment drops all weight and tension.

Epsom salts not only help prevent inflammation in your joints and muscles and treat sprains, strains or sore muscles, they are great for your skin, hair, nails, and act as an exfoliate and detoxifier.

The spine naturally elongates and straightens, and the body undergoes the same regeneration process that transpires during sleep. Floating helps with increased circulation, easy healing, and immune system functioning and even boosts creativity.

An hour of zero gravity and zero distractions will decrease the production of cortisol, a stress hormone, leaving us feeling refreshed and serene after the float. The brain enters the theta brain-wave state, associated with deep sleep and dreaming. As all external sources of distraction are removed, floating provides an extreme form of rest.

While it’s recommended you float without any lights or music, True REST offers options for multi-colored lights and relaxing music to enjoy during your float.

“Different types of musical rhythms induce theta wave production in the brain,” said Krasnow, adding that you can listen to your own music or even learn a foreign language while floating. It is also possible to sleep, because the buoyancy of the water keeps you from sinking.

Krasnow, who is trained as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, heard about float therapy from a friend who had learned about it from comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast—Rogan is a proponent of the float tank. Krasnow did his on-site research at a float spa in Northampton, Mass.

“I was wishing there were ways to help people get well that don’t involve medication,” he said.

He had been living and working in Brattleboro and was looking to locate his business in a nearby but more suburban area, which is why he settled on Keene for the float spa.

When a client visits the facility, they first watch a video to know what to expect and dos and don’ts at the spa—one don’t is to not submerge your head in the water because the Epsom salts can burn the eyes and nose. Before entering the tank in the client’s individual room, they are instructed to take a shower to wash away any chemicals in the hair or on the skin.

The water in each float pod is mostly salt—a solution which is inherently sterile. After each float, and anytime the pod is not in use, every float pod’s water is purified four times with a 5-micron filter and both ozone and UV light technology.

As far as a float therapy regimen, Krasnow said it’s individual.

“Sometimes more frequent visits are helpful—once or twice a week,” he said. In other cases, a monthly visit is all that’s needed.

“It depends on what you are coming in for,” he said, adding that before beginning a float therapy regimen, people should consult with their physician.

In learning about float therapy, Krasnow has discovered scientists are gaining ground with research on the modality, which is more commonly being used to help combat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues.

As a psychiatrist, mental health is important to Krasnow, who also practices meditation and yoga.

He’s looking forward to continuing to learn more about float therapy.

“It will be great to have other options to help people get well,” he said.

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