The most effective way to treat fibromyalgia with flotation therapy requires you to float once a fortnight for a year. That is the essential habit to develop at the outset of the counselling and float program for fibromyalgia. If you can float on the same day of the week for several months at a time throughout the program, it is possible to make considerable progress with fibro.
Who will it work for
Advanced fibro sufferers are aware fibro is a spectrum of experiences. Given how much commitment is needed for any new approach to dealing with your fibro many of you will want to know if flotation therapy can treat your fibro? The answer to this question is not straightforward. Floating once a fortnight for a year — combined with 8 sessions of psychotherapy over that year — was the structure used in a Swedish study. 18 months after completing the program, a participant who had fibro for 10 years before entering the study, was in full-time employment, and still had not returned to using fibro medication. Going more than 18 months without medication while employed full-time in a place as cold as Sweden is a head-turning result for fibromyalgia sufferers. The study does not provide enough details about the participant to say, given the spectrum of experiences, whether this program will work for you.
However, if you have had fibro for many years and tried a few treatment protocols for say 3 – 6 months or 1-3 years, and even over 7 – 10 years, you already have a sense whether a novel new treatment is worth making a commitment to trial. You will also have enough experience to appreciate what your opportunity cost is when trying a new treatment, after learning how much other methods have cost you in life progress.
Why only float for 45 minutes?
So, what is essential is floating at least once a fortnight over a year. Each of these float should be 45 minutes. The 45 minute float is different from what is commonly offered at recreational float centres. Floaters looking for stress relief and other recreational reasons, usually begin with one hour floats. As they become more experienced this often changes to 90 minute or longer float sessions. This is understandable because the common experience for humans is that our days are comprised of 90 – 120 minutes cycles, just as our nights are woven from sleep cycles of the same duration.
Even for the skilled and experienced floater with fibro, 45 minutes should remain the standard duration throughout the first 12 months of systematic floating. This is one of the key differences between recreational floating and flotation therapy. The majority of floats conducted in psychology labs over the last 40 years have been 45 minute floats. Nearly all the results of recent studies published in the scientific literature are based on 45 minute floats in various treatment programs. The 8000+ laboratory float sessions conducted in the leading Canadian psychology laboratory also averaged 45 minutes.
Fibromyalgia sufferers can feel more fatigue after floating for longer periods. For the fibro sufferer, floats sessions of 90 minutes or longer can keep your energy low for a couple of days. So with fibro, floating for anything from 1 to 3 hours might help you to feel better, maybe even a lot better, three or four days after the float. However, those long floats make it very difficult to float regularly enough to activate the subtle, deep healing changes that make a counselling and float treatment program beneficial.
Shorter is better
Awareness of body sensations is essential to get the lab level benefits from floating. 45 minute floats allow for a more consistent development of that awareness. A factor that contributes to the working of flotation therapy is an experience of alternative states of consciousness. The experience of your body in a light and sound limited tank is one of those key alternative states. With longer floats you are more likely to experience mental or cognitive altered states, rather than physical sensations. With the relaxation of longer floats you may even drop off to sleep. While that can be a very welcome experience given fibro’s impact on night-time sleep, it may also inhibit the development of the full spectrum of therapeutic benefits.
Floating for fibro is a year-long proposition. It is best to stick with the fortnightly 45 minute duration as much as possible. After all, if it goes well there is the rest of your life to play with longer floats
Please seek medical advice if you are going to use the information provided here to treat a medical condition. I am not a doctor. This series is for information purposes only. It explains what I did to stop suffering from fibromyalgia after more than 20 years of misery. It has been published because for many people details from the scientific research that allowed me to make the breakthrough is difficult to access and identify.