The Natural Evolution Podcast

Season 3

Episode 01

S3E1 – Reboot your Brain: Exploring Flotation Therapy with Michael Cordova

Michael Cordova began experimenting with flotation therapy over a decade ago as a way to cope with the stress of his job. Now, he is the co-founder of Floating Point Float Centre in Pangbourne, UK and regularly appears on BBC Radio Berkshire’s wellbeing panel. Michael gave the world’s first TEDx Talk on Floatation Therapy and his float practice currently partners with British Rowing to support the performance and recovery of Olympic athletes.

In this episode, Michael discusses his thoughts, observations, and the history of the science-backed methodology of floatation therapy. You’ll gain a better understanding on the benefits and why sensory deprivation is important considering the busy world we live in today. If you’ve ever been curious about floating – including the best time to float, what to expect, and getting over the fear of stepping in the tank – tune in for tips on getting started!

Want to expand your knowledge of flotation therapy even further?

  • Check out the Flotation Tank Association’s website for more resources.
  • Follow the Floating Point Float Centre on Instagram and Facebook for the latest news and offerings in flotation therapy.
  • Watch Michael’s TedX Talk here.

Add Michael’s newest book to your reading list: Beneath The Blue – Enhancing Your Float Session available on Amazon!

If you like the Natural Evolution Podcast like us, subscribe, review, and share us with your friends, and come join our Rebel Health Tribe group on Facebook.

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About our Guest

Michael Cordova is the co-founder of Floating Point Float Centre in Pangbourne, UK. In 2017 he gave the world’s first TEDx Talk on Floatation Therapy and regularly appears on BBC Radio Berkshire’s wellbeing panel. Michael has also spoken at the Float Conference in 2020. He chairs the UK & Republic of Ireland Float Tank Association and is on the board of directors for the Float Tank Association in North America, he also chairs the medical & research committee.

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Podcast Transcript

Michael Roesslein:

We’re live. And this is an episode I’m pretty excited about. We’re going to talk about one of my favorite self-care practices and things to do in my free time is floating. And I’m here with Michael Cordova. Michael, thank you for joining us.

Michael Cordova:

Thank you.

Michael Roesslein:

I know it took us a little while to get it put together between my move and some scheduling things and rescheduling, but we’re here and this might be some new information for our audience. It’s not something I’ve interviewed anybody about before, or really talked about a whole lot if you’re not in our Facebook group or other places where I kind of share things. 

But before we get into floating and what we’re even talking about, I’d like to introduce Michael, and then we can get into chatting about a really cool practice that I think pretty much everybody would benefit from trying. So Michael is the co-founder of Floating Point Float Centre in Pangbourne. How do I say that? 

Michael Cordova:

Pangbourne. Yeah, Pangbourne.

Michael Roesslein:

Pangbourne. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

In 2017, he gave the world’s first TEDx talk on flotation therapy and regularly appears on BBC radio Berkshire’s wellbeing panel. Michael has also spoken at the float conference in 2020.

I apologize for any future butchering of places and names that I don’t know how to pronounce. He chairs the UK and Republic of Ireland Float Tank Association, is on the board of directors for the Float Tank Association in North America. He also chairs the medical research, medical and research committee. 

Michael has a great interest in performance and optimization and how floating can play in imp important part in improving one’s self, even tracking his full sleep cycle during an overnight float session. That is something I’ve always wanted to do. We’re going to talk about that. Using wearable tech and helping to coordinate research studies, Michael and Floating Point have supported a number of elite athletes since 2011 and are currently associate partners with British Rowing, supporting the Olympic athletes with recovery and performance. 

He’s also supported a number of float centers in the UK and Europe providing knowledge, advice, and consultation where needed to help the businesses develop.

And his own personal story began floating in 2010 after suffering with stress and anxiety due to work, which I’m sure nobody out there can relate to, and knew after the first session that he would open a center one day. He and his wife floated for five years before opening their first center in the UK, and flotation therapy changed his life. And now he and his wife are helping countless others through the power of floating. 

You’re a busy man and-

Michael Cordova:

Yep.

Michael Roesslein:

Thank you for doing so much on behalf of floating and floats owners and people who are advocates for this. I think that many float center owners probably have a similar story to yours. That they tried it out and a light switch went off and was like, “I need to have this in my life,” and open a center. I know Marilyn, shout out to Marilyn who introduced us. My friend, Marilyn, she had some days to kill in New York city a lot of years ago, and she said, “What should I do on my days off in New York?” I said, go to this float place that my friend took me to. And I got a text a couple days later that said, “That was awesome. I’m going to open one of those.” And now she’s got a center in near Portland, outside Portland, in Oregon, Washington, actually, but there. So what are we talking about? I guess we’ll start there. What is floating and what is a sensory deprivation tank?

Michael Cordova:

Okay, well, so floating or they call it flotation rest, which is restricted environmental stimulation therapy, is essentially just a practice where you float effortlessly in either a float tank or you can get float pod or they have, you can get float rooms as well. So that’s filled with around about half a ton of Epsom salt in obviously heavily dense Epsom salt solution water. So that’s then heated to around skin temperature, so around … well, as they say in UK you’re at 35.5 degrees Celsius. So the environment tank is essentially controlled. 

So you try and keep the air temperature as close to, and the water temperature as close to skin temperature as possible. So once you are obviously settled in, then you’ll get to a point where you won’t necessarily feel like there’s water there. So it won’t be possible to sort of feel where different parts of your body are in the water and which are not.

So without obviously all this constant distraction from the world around us, then it allows our bodies to lower its levels of cortisol and helps us to reduce stress. So it gives our, essentially, our minds and bodies a well deserved break. And we have suddenly less of a load of extra resource- … essentially we have less stress, less anxiety, everything just reduces. Your heart rate reduces, your breathing rate reduces. And then what we do have is an extra … extra resources. So that allows us to focus on things like healing and resting. So hence forth, the stress and anxiety just sort of reduce or simply just float away.

Michael Roesslein:

And so, and it’s dark, yeah?

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah. Well you can, yeah, yeah. So the interesting thing is they’ve … so yeah, yeah. You can have the lights on or off. The interesting thing is, is what they found with other research previously, I can’t remember the study exactly, but they found that actually having the lights on and off in the tank don’t make, in terms of the outcomes to the studies, it didn’t really make much difference.

So-

Michael Roesslein:

Interesting.

Michael Cordova:

But I mean, I prefer to have lights off, to be fair, because I think you can get to a much deeper state of relaxation in terms of much deeper level of floating. But essentially, if you think about it, once you are … I think if people want to leave lights on then it makes them feel comfortable and that’s fine. People are going to have their eyes closed for very much majority of the session anyway.

But I like having that, the … I think a lot of people just like having, being in the dark, and I guess it’s could be very similar to when people go to bed, once the lights are off, once it’s dark and your body’s going to then start to potentially produce like melatonin, ready for sleep and things. So it’s sort … do you know what I mean? So I think those little aspects may help further to help people get into that deeper state faster. Do you know what I mean? So it is a double bonus there.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. And you mentioned that you lose track of where the water is or is not on your body, and I can definitely attest to this. Within about five minutes, I mean, at first you know you’re in water, everything’s wet, feels wet, but once you get situated and you’re not moving anymore and the water’s not moving, and everything’s solid, it only takes a few minutes, and then where that water line is on your body kind of just dissipates, and to feel the air or the water, you really have to bring your awareness. Like you have to really try. If you’re not trying, it just kind of feels like you’re just in this space.

And what about the sound? So traditionally, I started in Chicago, at Space Time Tanks, which I think was one of the first, at least in the US commercial places. They closed a few years back to remodel and I don’t think they ever reopened, but it was an old school place. It was like walking into something that was designed and built in the seventies. The tanks looked really old. They were like big rectangular things. And it was quiet, no sound, no light. But now when I go to the more modern places, they ask if I want music, if I want sound. Do you know anything, if the sound has an impact at all? Has that been studied or is silence-

Michael Cordova:

I think-

Michael Roesslein:

Does it matter?

Michael Cordova:

I mean, it depends. I mean, I don’t think there’s anything in terms particular research wise that’s been done with the sound audio side of things.

I think some it’s, so Flight, for example, where we are, my center here, we have the same. So we offer by the music beginning and end of the session, which is obviously 10 minutes in silence for 45 and five minutes to the end, or music throughout the session. 

So some people like to have their music, it just gives them their extra security, I think that they … and it’s a good way to get people used to floating that may be slightly kind of anxious or a bit wary about doing it, to be honest with you. 

So, because we have the music throughout, it might be in there few sessions, they have music throughout the session and they may come to a point where they’re like, “Okay,” then because they zone out a point, they won’t be aware the music’s playing or not. So after maybe three or four sessions, they may just have like no music throughout the session. So it’s a good way to get people used to it, if you know what I mean?

Michael Roesslein:

It’s more approachable if there’s music for the new people.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the same with the lights and that sort of thing. So the more they get used to it, then the more they’re comfortable with the environment. They don’t … And then the other side of it is, so we use other specific tracks with different frequencies embedded than them. So we have, like some people may even know certain tracks as like Binaural Beats, where you have your left and right. 

So that’s all done in stereo. So because a lot of the tanks were necessarily working stereo with speaker wise because they’re usually, they maybe have one transducer, the back one may have other transducers in the walls and the tanks or the pods. But even then, you’re not going to get the exact because you may shift and move slightly. So you’re not going to get the sound exactly the same left and right. So we’ve used the isochronic tones in the tanks, with music. So that sometimes is … for some clients, once they’ve had a few sessions, they get really into that, really into it. Sometimes they like to use these tracks because it just sends them somewhere else, in much deeper float sessions as well.

Michael Roesslein:

Interesting. 

Michael Cordova:

So I like to try different things basically, you know what I mean?

Michael Roesslein:

Gotcha.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, just … do you know what I mean? So I like to switch things-

Michael Roesslein:

I’ll have to give that a try. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. You should.

Michael Roesslein:

I started out as a purist. Like I started out in the dark with no sound, and I did probably a hundred floats like that. And then I, once I was like, “Okay, I’ll try the music,” because there was this girl at the place I was going to in Berkeley who was really adamant that I at least give it a try one time. And so I did and I hated it, but it wasn’t tones like that. It was like meditation spa music. And I think I’m too used to the black nothingness and no sound and no light. And so-

Michael Cordova:

I think it depends on your mood. Like, I mean, so sometimes I’ll float and I’ll have like complete silence or sometimes I’ll feel I just need some music and I just [inaudible 00:10:45]

Michael Roesslein:

Seems to me it’d be more approachable with the light and the sound. Because honestly, the first few times that I went, it’s … I know a lot of people will say like, “I don’t like to be alone with my thoughts or alone with myself or alone with whatever.” Like the same people have a difficult time with meditation. Being put in a float tank in the dark with no sound, that’s where you are and that’s what you’re doing.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

And so I was one of those people at first, but it actually shifted me in a way that eventually I was going once a week or once every other week, and it was like my reset button. Like it was, I could tell by how I felt, how long it had been since I was there a lot of the time. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. 

Michael Roesslein:

The first few days afterwards was this different kind of lighter, easier feel. And after a couple weeks of like regular life and stress, I knew I had to get back in there. So I want to just, a little bit of the history, like where the hell did this come from? Who thought of this? Where did it come from? How long have people been doing this?

Michael Cordova:

Okay. So I’ll give you a little bit of a background anyway. So we know that John Lilly, John C. Lilly created the float tank. So the idea came from John Lilly anyway, and that was more, that was back in 1954. And this was in … So basically he, it wasn’t really to do with kind of sensory deprivation because John Lilly didn’t do any research with sensory deprivation, but it was more … it was more response to the prevailing idea in science, at the time anyway, that consciousness was not primary, but was as a result of interaction with the material world. And he wanted to know that if there was no sensory stimuli coming in at a person, then what would happen to the brain? Would the brain cease to function? 

So Lily then, he’d been fascinated with all the subjects of reality and consciousness apparently since childhood, so then that’s why he wished to scientifically explore the idea and sort of find the truth behind that, to be honest with you. The first iteration of the float tank was come as 1954. So that was an upright tank, and then the person would have to wear, and this was in the regular water by the way. So they’d have to wear like a large helmet basically. So it looked like one of those really old scuba diving like helmets from the ones … Yeah, yeah, you know the fishbowl job. And they had like a hose that goes in for air.

So that was initially the first iteration of the tank. Yeah, so then he then started spending hours in the tank, and as its benefits essentially became more and more apparent, he started to call it an isolation tank, more in appreciation of the fact that it isolated the person from the external world and distractions, and actually created a, more of a space for inner solitude, to be honest with you. Yeah, so essentially, and … yeah. So essentially, he pointed out as well that isolation in a safe space allowed yourself, one’s consciousness to expand and explore anything the person could allow themselves to imagine. So this is a powerful idea really, that this has been corroborated by countless people since Lilly’s time as well.

And the safety isolation and peace offered by the tank allows a mind with freedom, the freedom to expand the unfathomable reaches of the conscious universe. And then, in 1970s, that’s when Glen Perry attended a workshop. So that was delivered by Lilly himself. And they tried out a makeshift float tank. And then with John’s blessing and mentorship, he became the first designer and manufacturer of tanks for the public in the US. So hence why the tank you may have used before may have been the Somali tank, which was from the original ones that Glen Lee Perry

Michael Roesslein:

It was. I remember the name. The name was on it. Yeah.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. So Glen Lee Perry, their company is still around and millions people around the world still use their tanks. And because of their work with their first commercial tanks, are able to float now. So I mean, unfortunately Lee Perry passed away fairly recently, but Glen’s still around. Glen’s still here, and they’re still working hard within the float industry.

Michael Roesslein:

Oh. So a lot of words in there; consciousness and awareness and like-

Michael Cordova:

Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

So people, because I’ve met … spending time at float centers, you meet interesting people, and I’ve met people in like the … a lot of them have a room you hang out in before or after to relax, things like that. I’ve met some interesting people at these. And I’ve met athletes who go there for recovery purposes. I’ve met like hardcore meditator, Yogi types, who are there to do like deep states of meditation. I’ve met people who just say, “I just feel better when I do this. Like I have anxiety and I just feel better when I do this.” I’ve met people who had injuries and this helps for me a lot, I have some nagging pain, chronic shoulder, knee stuff. After I float, it almost feels like I had a massage, but I didn’t have anybody touch me. And I think that’s because my muscles and everything can relax so much in the water.

But I’ve met countless different people who all have a different reason for being there. And they all get a different benefit out of being there. I’ve also noticed that, for me, I run two businesses, I juggle a lot of plates. There’s a lot of like things on my mind all the time. There’s a lot of problems I’m trying to solve all the time or things I’m trying to figure out. And I’ve noticed that it’s gotten to the point where people that I work with, if we’re like stuck on something or we can’t figure out a way forward with something, everybody says like, “Mike, go get in the float tank because I’ve gotten a whole bunch of ideas when I’m in a float tank, and not like sitting there consciously being like, “Okay, I need to figure out the solution to this problem.”

It’s more like, I’m just there. And then I get like, bing, there’s this idea. Bing, there’s this idea. And it’s like a portal to the place where ideas come from. So, I mean, what kind of people do you see coming into your center there and what are they looking for or getting?

Michael Cordova:

So I would say we have quite a wide range of people that come. So we’ve run artists tour programs before. So we’ve had artists that have produced artwork based on their float sessions. So where different ideas have popped into their heads. I’ve had other musicians. So interestingly, I had a guy that came a little while ago, but he came for like a two hour float session and he came out the tank and went to go sit in our chill out area. And then his bag was there, but he like disappeared from the building. I’d like try to find him everywhere. And then, running around trying to see where he is and I came back and then he was just there in the room, and he had his electric guitar. He had his headphones plugged in and was just sat there, writing music after his float session.

So I’ve got everything else in between. We have partnerships with the British rowing team, so all the Olympic rowers. Some of them will come for recovery. Some of them will come because they’re preparing for like trials or competitions and things. So they’ll come in maybe a week before and use it for like visualization techniques or just to sort of calm their mind to sort of just reset everything. 

We also have a lot of people with like chronic pain conditions. So like the fibromyalgia, for example. So that really helps in terms of managing their chronic pain conditions, even if it’s just to give their bodies a break during the time for the float, or even afterwards, where they’ve had like reduced pain. I mean, there’s a whole range of different people, to be honest with you, man.

But yeah, like I say, in terms of the meditation side of things, I’ve got a lot of people who want to come, and more to explore the consciousness side of things and kind of take their hands off the wheel when they’re floating and see where they end up. But I mean, everybody comes for various different reasons and it just, it’s … what I’d say is that the tank or the pod itself is just essentially a vehicle. 

So it depends where you want to go. It’s kind of up to you, to a point. Whether you set intention about going in or whether you decide to take your hands off the wheel and just see where the tank takes you. Do you know what I mean? Just that’s the kind of the best way I’d see it really, to be honest. It’s just like an intergalactic consciousness space machine, man.

Michael Roesslein:

Perfect. That [inaudible 00:19:54]. I think I would agree. I used to go and be like, “Okay, today I’m going to go in there and I’m going to focus on this, or this is going to” … Now, I just like shut the game off and get into the thing, and whatever happens, happens. And it’s always different every time, as same as it is too. It’s always different. I don’t have the same experience twice. 

And I’m curious though, before I forget, you slept in the tank and you wore some sort of wearable tech that-

Michael Cordova:

Oh, yeah. 

Michael Roesslein:

… was giving biofeedback. But were you able to like sleep like normal? Like a whole bunch of hours sleep? Or was it kind of on/off, kind of dozy like it can get in a regular float session? Or what was that … I’ve always curious. I’ve never been friendly enough with someone who owns the center that I can get the keys for the night.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So essentially, I … okay, so basically I got in the … I did like a prep sort of the routine. So I had infrared red light therapy before, and then I did some CBD just to kind of like chill out a little bit because I knew it was going to be a long, long evening. So I wanted to be in the best sort of … give myself best possible advantage in terms of actually getting to sleep and staying in the sleep really. 

So yeah, I mean, I went to bed about 10 past 11 at night. I mean, I slept for about six and a half hours, to be honest with you. I mean, I did sleep. I mean, I tracked it on … Yeah, so I tracked it on the Oura Ring, which, I mean, I … the issue I had was literally the day before I did like a four hour session with the Oura Ring, but for whatever reason, the ring must have moved or there was … yeah, or something got between the ring or there was space, so it didn’t take any readings the night before. 

So I was quite lucky it was only four hours. So I had a good session, but that was a kind of prep, I guess, float. And then the next day, that’s when I did the longer one. So I managed to get, yeah, about six and a half hours sleep. So REM sleep was about an hour and 20, an hour and 21 minutes. And then, I’d light sleep for about four hours, 40 minutes. And then about another half hour of like deep sleep. So it was more like a … it wasn’t like a full sleep, sleep, you know what I mean? But it was like quite a well … I definitely felt well rested after that. And then my heart rate went down to about, I can’t remember, it was like 59 BPM, I think, during that time.

Michael Roesslein:

And that floating has a really positive impact on heart rate variability. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. 

Michael Roesslein:

Which is conversations, I’ve interviewed and hosted a presentation with Rollin McGraty, the head of research from Heartmath. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Heartmath Institute at all, but they’re big in heart rate variability, and he’s given presentations that are like mind boggling about some of that stuff. But I would guess floating has a really positive impact on …

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah. A hundred percent. I mean, and weirdly, you mentioned the Heartmath stuff, but we actually have got … so I use Heartmath to record my data as well, after the float session. So in terms of my … you know the coherence rate as well?

Michael Roesslein:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Michael Cordova:

So my coherence rate definitely improved as well, which essentially means I was just a lot more relaxed in terms of my higher variability. It was very more, yeah, it was all positive stuff basically. I mean, you know what I mean? I wouldn’t necessarily go and sleep in the flight tank every day.

Michael Roesslein:

No, no. But even, no, I just mean regular sessions. Like I’m sure … I’ve never tested my HRV before and after I went in there, but-

Michael Cordova:

No, you should. 

Michael Roesslein:

There’s no way it wouldn’t be better because I always joke about my post float float, that I feel like I’m floating as I move through my day. Like I try not to schedule anything, and maybe you could talk to this a little bit. I try not to schedule anything in a day after my float that is either going to be like really stressful or involve like a ton of mental energy or anything. I tried, if I do it during the day, I do it to where the rest of my day is pretty easy. Or I go in the evening. Maybe that’s backwards. Maybe some people do great with the work day after a float.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. I think it depends on the individual as well. Like so same, some people have preferences for like just normal morning floats or afternoon or evening floats, or be people want to have … I mean, I do have clients that sort of work in tech and the entrepreneurs and things, and they’ll come and float like middle of the day, just take a break and then they’ll come and sit in the chill out room again, and they’ll have their laptop out, or their notebook or their journal, and start journaling or writing ideas down, or work on like … start working on a project. It just sort of gives them that space to, in the tank, to sort of just … not just switch off, but like you said, when you get different ideas and things. 

It’s basically, it’s one of those things, it’s like when, you know when you have, like if you have a shower and you’re not really … first thing in the morning, you’re not really thinking about anything. You may have like an idea or something will just pop into your head it’s because you’re not really, it’s the same principle really, but like more of a, like a hardcore extreme in like level to do it. Because essentially what you’re doing is you are, apart from getting, or trying to get your brain toward the brainwave state, so you’re more, you’re getting to the point where you are … obviously you’re not quite awake, but you’re not quite asleep as well. So you get into that hypnogogic state, which is, I imagine it’d be quite close to like daydreaming and things. Because daydreaming is a something that we don’t do enough of.

And if daydreaming is considered as a negative thing, but actually daydreaming is supposed to be really, really positive. Especially if you’re working on doing something really stressful and you’re just … because then you are, what you are doing is you’re giving your brain like a mental break for five minute, five, 10 minutes, and just letting it process what needs to process, and then go, “Okay.” Because as soon as you start putting too much information into a computer, sometimes it’ll just get clogged up and slow down and it just won’t work. 

So it’s just giving your … it’s the same with the tank, you’re giving your brain a chance to process thoughts and ideas and things without putting any pressure on it. Because it’s obviously, our brain’s continually working all the time. So it’s just like the background programs are sort of there doing their job, but we don’t have to work. We don’t have to focus on doing anything with the programs. It’s just, they’re just running by themselves. But Lilly, John Lilly, he wrote a book about that, about the human biocomputer, and programming and meta programming. So essentially, he’s one of the first people that basically related the human brain to being a computer and our brains like hardware, like their hardware and all the programs, everything that’s running is all the software. It’s an interesting book. It’s quite full on.

Michael Roesslein:

Sounds like it.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. It’s quite. It’s, yeah. Yeah. So it talks a lot about his study, his experiments in the sixties and things. And yeah, it’s kind of interesting because a lot of studies he did were mainly on himself.

Michael Roesslein:

What’s the name of the book?

Michael Cordova:

It’s called, it’s just, if you look up the Human Biocomputer, John Lilly.

Michael Roesslein:

Is that the title?

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll throw it … let’s have a look.

Michael Roesslein:

We’ll put the link in the show notes. 

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

So that people can find it. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. That’s [inaudible 00:27:55]

Michael Roesslein:

Programming and Meta Programming in the Human Biocomputer.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, that’s the one. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

This is pretty intense. Cool. Oh, it came out-

Michael Cordova:

I mean, it-

Michael Roesslein:

It’s translated into Italian because that’s what came up when I searched my computer. 

Michael Cordova:

Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay.

Michael Roesslein:

I don’t need that one. I can barely read children’s books at this point, but cool. I will check that out.

Michael Cordova:

It’s definitely, it’s interesting to read. I’d say, to some people, it might be slightly challenging in terms of the content to try and wrap your head around, but it’s one of those things you have to sort of take it at its pace.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Yeah, if you’re like a consciousness and mental nerd out there, this is probably for you, and if not, maybe a lighter book would be better.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s definitely a heavier book in terms of … I mean, I can understand why because you look at how current research in terms of anxiety with Justin Feinstein and looking at how the mind/body relation and talk about interception and how the idea is for people to be able to focus more on their breathing and their heart rate. So you’re essentially creating a new association rather than being negative with like obviously increase the heart rate and increase in breathing if someone’s having a panic attack or anxiety attack, for example, then what you’re doing is then trying to create a new association. 

So essentially you are, to some degree, you are trying to reprogram your software or the program, to help people manage their anxiety better. How to create a new association with those parts of their body that they normally associate with being negative. So yeah. So that’s closer.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool. We’ve talked a lot about some subjective benefits that people see when they go floating. Less anxiety and more creativity, more relaxation. I feel like I’m floating, muscle soreness goes away. Like those kind of things. What the hell’s actually going on? Why does any of that happen? So like you’re involved in the research side of things and keeping track of some of that with the different organizations. 

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah. 

Michael Roesslein:

What research has been done? Like what do we know about how our physiology responds to being in these tanks?

Michael Cordova:

I mean, there’s a few different sort of, I guess, studies that are quite interesting that I can pick out as well. So I mean, I mentioned the Justin Feinstein one, but I can come back to that one. But so there’s one to do with basically they looked at the blood flow reduced, reduction in blood pressure, cortisol levels, and other stress related chemicals, such as adrenaline and ACTH 11 and 12. 

So basically, there was a study that was done that was back in 199,1 and that’s where Turner and Fine. So basically, what we know is that these neurochemicals are known to trigger the fight or flight response, right? So it’s obviously great, everyone to react quickly to life threatening situations, but not when our body overreacts to any stresses. They’re not life threatening, so traffic jams, work pressure, et cetera. 

So basically, the idea is that the environment, I guess, and the whole aspect of floating, because of you’re reducing all these stresses, everything just sort of naturally just slows down. So cortisol levels reduced and other stress related neurochemicals drop, so we’re looking at kind of increases in kind of endorphins, those side of things as well. So anything that’s good, all the feel good kind of chemicals and drugs and like natural [inaudible 00:31:50]

Michael Roesslein:

Which is probably why you see people … positive results with those chronic pain conditions, like fibromyalgia and things like that are nervous system related. So it’s kind of giving the nervous system a break, in a sense. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

And …

Michael Cordova:

So essentially, yeah, you’re slowing it down. But it’s the same thing, though, with the anxiety side of things and the depression, the anxiety, said the Feinstein study, they had like 50 people with stress related symptoms, everything from anxiety disorders of social and generalized anxiety, panic control, traumatic stress. 

So yeah. So basically what they found is that within kind of 10 to 15 minutes of the float session that their diastolic blood pressure dropped by about 10 points, and those people with the highest levels of anxiety post float had the biggest drop in anxiety levels, basically … well afterwards. Yeah. And that continued for a few, well, at least for a week, I think.

But it’s one of those things, I mean, I’ve had clients here that’ve had panic attacks since they’ve had like lung COVID, for example, and they’ve had panic attacks like twice a day for up to six days. And after their first float session, they had like two panic attacks the whole week. So it’s just to help kind of re-

Michael Roesslein:

It’s pretty traumatic.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. Just a little bit, you know. But I mean, obviously it’s different for everybody, as I say, you know?

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. That’s brilliant. And I’ve had people, you probably have heard this, being the owner of a center, but I’ve had people that know that I float and I’ll post about it or I’ll post a picture of the pod, or I’ll do something, and they say, “I could never get in there, or that’s too scary, or I’m claustrophobic, or I would not do well in one of those.” When people say that or people come in and they’re curious about floating, but they’ve never done it, and they have these reservations about like, “It’s going to feel scary in there,” or something, what do you say to those people and how do you help them kind of ease their way in? Is it the light and the sound or what’s the …

Michael Cordova:

I think the biggest thing for most people like that is to know that they’re in charge of their environment. People like to have options. Like I mentioned, with the music and the light sort of things, as long as people know that they control the lights, they can have music, they can leave the tank. We normally say that people will leave the lid open, they can, or they won’t leave it partially open, they can. 

What I tend to do is get people to leave the lid partially open, that way it makes it a bit easier if they want to close it or they want to push it open, it’s up to them. So they have like some sense of control. But to be honest, after about 10 minutes or so, most people will just to say that or close it. I mean, I’ve had clients here who’ve floated and they stayed in the tank for an hour, who’ve had traumatic experiences with water and swimming, they’re scared of water, but they’ve floated the whole time, they stayed in the tank. They’ve people that have not been able to swim and they stayed in the whole time. It’s very rare.

Michael Roesslein:

We didn’t talk about the water itself. You mentioned one ton of-

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Epsom salt, which is a lot of Epsom salt. So you float, float, float for serious float. 

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

How deep is this water? People might not have any idea or any visual. Like it is, what is it about eight inches or a foot or something?

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. Something like that. I think of it, it’s quite a similar depth to a regular, to like a standard bath, I guess. So I’d say, yeah, probably around that. Maybe try to work it out. Yeah, maybe like 40 centimeters or something like that. So, I mean, basically you could sit in it.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Like when you sit up, if you sit up, yeah, it’s like waist high.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. It comes up, it comes just above … yeah, just above your waist.

Michael Roesslein:

Like your legs.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Exactly.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I just wanted people to get a visual. We’re not talking about like some big pool.

Michael Cordova:

Oh no, no, no.

Michael Roesslein:

This is very shallow water. Like when you lay, if you just push your arms, like a little bit, you can touch the bottom of the pool really easily.

Michael Cordova:

Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. So I mean, it’s big enough that generally most float centers, I mean, the tanks are a lot bigger than they used to be. And again, the thing is, is people, we always say, people want to get out early, people don’t want to stay in, then that’s fine. It’s up to them. 

But to be on someone else to you, it’s the people that people are the most skeptical about it, or a bit more concerned, actually, I’ve tended to find they’ve probably got most benefit of it because they don’t tend to have any expectation about what it’s going to do. Or it’s easy because then they’re more pleasantly surprised because they’re in a sort of slightly negative mindset anyway, potentially, about the experience. “I know I’m going to be in here for an hour by myself, my thoughts. La, la, la, la.” This kind of stuff, right?

And then it’s like, “Oh, actually,” then they get to a point where they just sort of zone out anyway and they don’t remember like most of the session. Or I’ve had people that think, “Oh, I’m going to think loads of things,” and then they go in and they can’t think of anything, their brain just goes, “No.” Your mind and body knows what it needs. If your brain wants to process stuff, it’s going to process stuff. If it doesn’t, if it wants to go, “Okay, I’ve had enough of thinking. I’m just going to like, just like not,” it will.

I mean, that’s whole point in the tank, is just you have to let your mind and body kind of guide you for what it needs. The thing is, I say to people, it’s like, “Yeah,” because a lot of people won’t expect to have this expectation, I guess, they’re going to switch off the tank, it can be really relaxing. I’m not going to do anything. It’s technically, I mean, if people want to think about like, “Oh, it’s like a bit of a spa treatment, a nice thing to do.”

I mean, it can be. I’m not going to say it’s not because for some people, that’s what it does. But for generally speaking, I’d say that it’s not necessarily about what happens during the session, whether you switch off, whether it takes time to switch off, whether you feel relaxed. It’s more about how you feel after the session, when you come out of the tank. If you come out of the tank and you feel like really relaxed, de-stressed, but you spend like over half the half an hour or so just thinking stuff, and you come out and you feel a lot more relaxed, then clearly it’s done what it’s supposed to do. Your brain’s done what it’s supposed to do.

Because if our lives are so busy, I mean, I’ve got clients that plan that go float and they’ll plan their whole week in the tank, because they’ve got, there’s no outside distractions. There’s nobody to … no bit, no work, no anything else, and they can plan their whole week. It just means they’re less stressed. Everybody’s version of stress is slightly different. Different things stress people out in different ways. Some people just want a break from their kids and family stuff, that’s fine. I completely understand that. Hence why I float quite regularly. [inaudible 00:38:36]

Michael Roesslein:

I like that you brought it up to just like kind of let it do what it does because there is a period for a while where I’d started to have these kind of breakthrough, like with ideas and work things, and whatever. And then I started to create expectations around my floats. Like I would line up problems that I’m going to solve in my float. And if that didn’t happen, the float would then feel like a failure, and then it was like, “I didn’t do this right,” or whatever. And I got through that, I don’t do that anymore, but I did for a while. And not having the expectation of, “It’s going to be this, or it’s going to be this, or I need this out of it,” and just kind of letting, like you said, your mind and your body do what it’s going to do.

And that’s almost similar, I mean, I’ve had conversations around people who are integration and guides with psychedelics, and it’s almost the same advice, of let it do what it’s going to do, and it’s where the expectations or the resistance, or the whatever comes in, and the projections that it can become a little bit of a frustrating experience. 

Michael Cordova:

Sure. 

Michael Roesslein:

So, that’s brilliant advice. And the last question I have is, if somebody wants to try this out and find a place to float near them, how do they do that, both North America or Europe, or anywhere. How do they find a place to float? And are there any questions that they should ask a float center or spa location?

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. I mean, sure. I mean, it depends. I mean, everywhere is like different. For example, every year in the UK, then we have like a flotation therapy directory, which I created like a little while ago. So I mean, generally, to be honest with you, a Google search for … I mean, most float centers, or because … we’re not talking about massage, because obviously there’s hundreds and hundreds of massage places. If you can literally go and type in ‘float center’ and then wherever you are, generally, it should come up because there’s quite a few of them around, but there’s not like, in Europe, there’s not [inaudible 00:40:42]

Michael Roesslein:

Not enough and it’s going to flood the Google searches.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So for that. And I’m not sure, like flotation locations is a website as well, so I’m not sure if they’re still … how up to date it is, but they had a list of all the European ones, and there’s the ones in the US as well.

Michael Roesslein:

What’s your UK database? What’s the website?

Michael Cordova:

So the UK one is … hang on. So-

Michael Roesslein:

We’ll put the link in the show notes.

Michael Cordova:

Okay. Yeah, yeah. yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

You can email me the link after we’re done.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. So basically, it’s UKfloatcenters.co.uk.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay. Dot-co-dot-UK? Okay.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. So I mean, Europe’s-

Michael Roesslein:

And then, is there a database in the US?

Michael Cordova:

The US one, you’d have to probably go onto somewhere like flotation locations.

Michael Roesslein:

Okay.

Michael Cordova:

I think that’s like the main one. But yeah. So they’re like the main one-

Michael Roesslein:

Any red flags? Like, are there people out there running float centers that shouldn’t be, or is there any like things going on that are-

Michael Cordova:

I wouldn’t-

Michael Roesslein:

Any red flags or any questions to ask or anything?

Michael Cordova:

I think the main thing is, is that, well you probably have, unless you’re in like place in Australia, so like there’s … I mean, in US, you’ve got a place like True Rest that obviously part of a franchise.

Same with Australia, there’s another company that’s kind of a franchise, that’s sort of spreading across. But what you probably find is majority, pretty much all the rest float centers, they’re all independently owned. Do you see what I mean? 

So but the thing is most … what I’ve done and what a lot of float center done is they put information about themselves and why they opened this center. So I’d definitely check that out, if they’ve got it on the website. Look at their history in terms of where they’ve come from, in terms of why they’ve started floating, whatever. You can sort of tell a little bit more, because they’re independent if you’ve got more of a passion for it, or if it’s had a really big impact on you. Not to say that other centers that don’t, there’s some great centers out there that don’t put that up, I know loads. But what you probably tend to find, the main reason why these individuals have opened their centers, I’d say about 99% of the time, is because the floating has probably had an impact on them initially themselves.

And that’s why I did decide to open. And it’s always good to know or find out as well if the owners and staff float regularly as well, I guess. Because, do you see what I mean, you’re not going to … yeah. If they don’t float, then it’s kind of like, “Okay,” you have to question why [inaudible 00:43:16]

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah. Don’t trust a chef who doesn’t like food.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Basically. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. To be honest, most of the time, I think about 99% of the time, the centers are fine. What you’ll find is the main difference, the main thing that every center will be slightly different because every owner’s going to put their own personality on it. It’s not kind of run [inaudible 00:43:39]. Because it’s like the center’s sort become part of them because they love floating so much. 

So, yeah, yeah. So it’s kind, it’s always interesting to see, and those who care about it a lot more will be … their centers will show it as well. [inaudible 00:44:01]

Michael Roesslein:

I always find it interesting going to new ones because I’ve probably been to about, I don’t know, 15 or so now. And there’s little nuances that are different. Like the check in process, what you do with your shoes, you wear sandals, where do you go? Where do you change? Do you change or do you … in the float room? Is the shower in the float room? Are there separate rooms? Is there a chill out room? What’s the décor like? Some of them, I’ve been in, are really kind of dark and they have like salt lamp type lighting. Other ones are really well lit and it’s more of like a hygienic type feel to it. Like it’s like a super clean feel. 

The pods with the lights on the inside that look like little space bubbles versus I’ve been in the room, I’ve been in the full room. There’s one in St. George, Utah that I went in where I opened the door and it’s just boom, you’re in a room with a little bit of water in it. I’ve been in the ones that you go on the wall.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

And it’s like a closet almost, and it’s in there. I’ve been in the white ones and then the old, the Somati was the square one. That was the first one. 

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah. 

Michael Roesslein:

So I’ve been in probably like five different kinds of pods and tanks. But once you get in there and the light turns off and the sound is off, and you’re floating, it’s exactly the statement it doesn’t matter where you are.

Michael Cordova:

No, exactly, exactly. I think just the important thing is just, for me, it’s the customers, it’s the service kind of thing. It’s like from when you’re coming through the door to when you leave, basically. So I want our, like for us, we’ve got clients members that have been with us for like seven years, and I think it’s, and to be honest with you, I try and just be myself. I’m not going to … I’m generally pretty relaxed and things and we’ll have good conversations with people and whatever, but it’s people just want to talk and be engaged. And especially after a float session, it’s always important to make time. Sometimes some clients don’t really want to talk too much, whatever, that’s fine. They have their books and things they can read in the chill out room.

But I usually try and make at least five, 10 minutes or so just, in between clients, if I can to at least conversate with them and learn a bit more about them and vice versa. Because they always have questions. They want to talk more and they want to learn more. And it’s just about building relationships basically, if you are willing to, if the staff and the owners are willing to make efforts with the … not treat them as just, “Oh, someone’s coming in for a float. Oh, let’s try and upsell them to get all three floats, and da, da da.” 

See, that’s just like, I don’t believe in all that kind of side of things, to be honest. It’s more important for me to build relationships with people. And I know people that keep coming, they’ll come back or they’ll be a few months, but I know their names. I know who they are. Just-

Michael Roesslein:

Let the tank do the sales.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, yeah. Exactly, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

I got out of there and I was like, “How many of these can I buy at once? Is there a way to do this for cheaper? Can I get a membership?” I used to have a membership, I’d get to go twice month. And that was like my … that was my jam. And some places have memberships, some do packages, some have both. Some have other services. I’ve been to one that’s a float tank, had cryotherapy, had saunas, had all kinds of other stuff. I primarily just floated. But yeah.

Well, thanks for all the info, Mike, Michael.

Michael Cordova:

That’s all right.

Michael Roesslein:

If you haven’t tried it, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s between the float tank and the infrared sauna are pretty much my two favorite things to do. And they’re very, very different, but I feel awesome after both of them, and I can’t imagine my life without either of them, like it becomes part of my life, and it’s my thing. 

Like it was one of the first things I looked up when I got here, to Italy, was where can I float? And I found it and I drove 90 minutes, and I was telling him before we went on air, I was basically learning how to drive a manual car in the city, in Florence, just so I could get to the float spot. And then I really, really needed the float by the time I got there because I was like blood pressure of 200. 

So it was the first thing I searched out when I got here, and I’ll definitely … it’s 90 minutes away, so I’ll probably only be able to go once a month, but I’m going to be going until I can figure out a way to get one here. I’m already working on a couple of the fancy bed and breakfast owners around here in the Hills, in Tuscany, being like, “You know what your guests would really like? It’s this thing, it’s a float tank.” So I’m trying to get a couple of high end bed and breakfast owners here to invest in a float tank for ultimate relaxation in the Tuscan Hills.

Michael Cordova:

That’d be pretty sweet, man.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Michael Cordova:

Pretty sweet.

Michael Roesslein:

So thank you so much. And thanks for all the work you’re doing to help out, spread the news and the research, and the organizations that you’re part of do a lot to support float center owners and really help them be successful in what they’re doing, because then they can reach more people. And I’ve noticed, I went for the first time, probably 10 years ago now, maybe a little longer, and float centers were not … there were not very many. 

Michael Cordova:

No.

Michael Roesslein:

It didn’t seem, and they were harder to find. And now it’s much easier to find in many parts of the world. So the news is getting around.

Michael Cordova:

It is. I mean, it’s interesting. I mean, we opened in 2015, and since then, a number of centers across the UK, it’s doubled. So yeah, and I think there’s definitely been an increase, even with COVID lockdowns and stuff, there’s been maybe’s five, six centers, I think, across whole UK, the new ones have opened. I think we’ve lost maybe like three, but that’s part of … it’s going to happen, I guess, with COVID and businesses being shut, and et cetera. But we have a lot of, whole bunch of new ones and things. 

So it’s definitely growing. And I think it’s going to get, there’ll be more and more, but it’s just going to be a matter of time, I think.

Michael Roesslein:

Every town. Get a float center and every town. Some towns need two. Cities need like five.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah. We got to start you a Tuscany one, man.

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, it has crossed my mind to open a little place that has a float pod and an infrared sauna, and maybe a couple services or something. There’s a lot of people that come through here that I think would really-

Michael Cordova:

Oh yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Dig checking that out.

Michael Cordova:

I think it’d be great, man.

Michael Roesslein:

Relax you for your trip for the wine.

Michael Cordova:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Michael Roesslein:

Cool. All right. Well, thank you, Michael. It was great chatting with you. I’ll definitely reach out when it’s time to open a center here, in Italy.

Michael Cordova:

Happy to come visit.

Michael Roesslein:

Take it easy.

Michael Cordova:

Have a good one. 

Michael Roesslein:

Yeah, for sure.

Michael Cordova:

Take care, man.

Michael Roesslein:

You too. 

Michael Cordova:

Thanks for the talk. 

Michael Roesslein:

You too.