Kristin L. Sauerhoff, PhD

Ahhhhh. That is an oversimplification of how I felt the other day after experiencing my first, and hopefully not last, float. As a person with mild Tourette Syndrome (TS), floating helped me to actually relax! My TS manifests itself primarily in the need for my entire body to be “even”. In other words, if I something touches my right arm, I have to “even up” my body by similarly touching my left arm. If I see something out of my right eye, I have to “even up” by looking to my left. This is why floating made it possible for me to relax.

Many have suggested that I use massage to alleviate the soreness in my body due to my motor tics (involuntary head, neck, hand and arm movements); however, massage is problematic for me due to the fact that even the best massage therapist will inadvertently apply pressure unevenly, thereby driving my “even up” symptoms through the roof, negating the therapeutic and/or relaxing nature of the massage. In addition, even though my motor tics are minor, I often feel self-conscious during massage and try to hold them in which, as TS patients know well, only exacerbates the condition.

In contrast with massage, the sensory-free experience of floating presented no stimuli to my body that required my brain to “even up”. The pressure was even, the temperature was even … everything was even! To be clear, I still had tics while I was floating, resulting in minor waves now and then, but the rate of tics was far less due to the fact that my brain was not racing in order to keep my senses even. Also, I wasn’t self-conscious about my tics because I was alone. While floating may not be ideal for someone with more severe tics, I highly recommend it for anyone that has high sensitivity to touch and/or minor motor tics.

I am grateful for the experience of floating and plan to do it again … often! 🙂