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Whole Living: Floating

Flotation therapy has been around since the 1950s. We take you inside a St. Petersburg Float Center to show you the benefits of floating.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Imagine one hour of not worrying about anything. You have nothing to do. Nothing to think about. 

Seems impossible right?  

Well, there's a place in St. Pete where the catchphrase is "a space to be free from all the world's inputs."

In our series, "Whole Living," we introduce you to "floating" and how it may be relaxing, but it also has health benefits.

Just walking into a float room is relaxing. It's here that you shut out the outside world and...float.

"We've created an environment more than anything else. It's a space where you can remove all the inputs from the world to your nervous system," says Mark Anderson, owner of St. Pete Salt Works.

He's been floating for years and is now helping others as the "float facilitator."

"When you remove yourself from the stressful environments, your thought process goes to a more positive understanding of what you're working on."

That's why Lisa Marie Zimlin started floating. She was going through a really difficult and stressful time in her life, dealing with personal and medical issues. She says floating helps her refocus and reset.

"I'm able to decrease my anxiety, my back pain is less. My focus is significantly improved and my clarity and my peace and my calm is so elevated after leaving here," says Zimlin.

Each room has a saltwater tub with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt in just 200 gallons of water. That means the water is so dense with salt, you float like a cork, removing your sense of gravity. The water is 93.5 degrees, the average temperature of your skin. 

"The water is skin receptor neutral. So that's giving you that removing the sense of touch. And the room is soundproofed and light proofed as well," says Anderson.

He says it's more than just being in a tub of water. Floating goes well with what you're working on mentally and physically, like therapy. 

"If there's anything you're working on this is a place to process so you take a new understanding of something you're working on, go in there, remove those other elements so you're hyper-focused on what you're working on."

That focus is what Lisa Marie found here. 

"Honestly it's been the best thing ever for me. It's really just made me a better person all around."

There are studies on float therapy and its impacts on the body and the brain. 

St. Pete Salt Works has a contract with Rays and Rowdies for sports recovery. Anderson says there's a physical element of using it for recovery. He also works with Veterans Affairs to help veterans living with PTSD. Floating is also used with kids with autism, overstimulation and sensory issues.

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