Brisbane Float Centre

Do you even REST bro?

- By Luke Sparrow, Movement Coach and Remedial Massage Therapist

“I want to be stronger, get fitter, faster, feel less tired, have more energy, be in less pain …” sound familiar?

As a Movement Coach and Remedial Massage Therapist I hear these request regularly. The first thing that I say to my clients when they ask me such questions is, what do you mean by that? Almost all of them draw a blank, because if they knew, they wouldn't be asking in the first place.

As crucial as moving and improving the body is, in my experience, I have never been asked the one question that we should all be asking ourselves and that is, how do I rest?

STRESS COMES IN MANY FORMS

Whether you're training for a marathon, hit the gym a few times a week, climb mountains on the weekend, have a demanding job or lifestyle the one thing all of these have in common is stress!

STRESS IS NOT ALL THAT BAD

Stress is a word that has received a lot of insult in recent years but it is a very important part of a physiology. Stress (in any form) tells the body that it needs to be stronger and more resilient. It is this ability to adapt to the stresses in our environment that makes us the dominant species that we are. However for the body to make these adaptations it needs REST. All the intense strength training, sweat dripping boot camp classes and grueling runs are a big fat waste of time if you don't provide your body with the necessary rest it requires.

REST, WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS

So what the hell is rest? Firstly rest is subjective, I could write a whole article to try to convince you that something like meditation is incredible for rest and recovery, but if it's just not your thing then it's probably not going to be very effective in achieving the desired results (but seriously, meditation, wow!). Rest is that feeling you get when you can just let go and there is nothing, at least for the next moment or so, that you have to, want to or need to do. The result is a relieving blissful sigh that makes you melt inside just a little bit and nothing, it seems, could possibly bother you in the slightest.

Now ask yourself when is the last time you felt this feeling? If you know when and what it was that made you feel this way, perfect you now have a rest and relaxation practice. If you are struggling to remember the last time you felt like this, don't stress, you're not alone and there are many ways to find that feeling.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

Remember, what relaxes and helps us achieve a resting state is different for all of us. For some it's after a walk, others a good chat with a friend or a float and a massage (or, floatage as we like to call it at CITY CAVE), some, it's meditation or just simply stopping for a second to do absolutely nothing. My advice to all rest seekers is to have an open mind and try lots of different things. However, there are two things that you must do:

1. SCHEDULE YOU REST: In our busy stressful lives, just like any other important part of your lifestyle, rest needs to be scheduled. You have the power to make a conscious choice to have time for yourself.

2. BE CONSISTENT: However you rest, keep it consistent. Just like you exercise your body, resting requires practice. If you knew how to do it then you wouldn't have drawn a blank on my previous question. But like any new thing start slow. Maybe put aside just a few minutes a day or a few times a week, whatever is manageable for you and increase it slowly.

I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you in City Cave Paddington for a relaxing massage before or after your float.

If you have any more questions feel free to book a consultation with me.

Are You Asleep To The Importance Of Your Vagus Nerve?

Written by Samuel Minkin BHSc Musculoskeletal Therapy, Dip. Fitness, Level 1 tVNS

Vagus Nerve, Brisbane Musculoskeletal Therapist, Depression, Memory, Anxiety, PTSD

The Vagus Nerve (Cranial nerve X) is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves and plays a HUGE role in the body’s functions. First of all, the Vagus nerve is a neuromodulator which has motor and sensory fibres that connect the brain stem to many organs in the body which include the heart, lungs, stomach, large intestine, small intestine, spleen, liver, gallbladder, ureter, female fertility organs, kidneys, ears, tongue, and is the main parasympathetic nerve in the body.

The Vagus nerve also affects different parts of the brain such as the amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, insula in a bi-directional manner from these organs. Recently it was found that stress directly inhibits the Vagus nerve…. Hmmm, it is interesting when comparing the symptoms of stress with Vagus nerve dysregulation. You would be splitting hairs to draw a difference, with striking similarities between the two.

Vagus Nerve, Musculoskeletal Therapy, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD

This nerve is grossly underappreciated and utilised even with the growing body of evidence showing major improvements in gut health, mental health, cardiac health, inflammatory disorders, autoimmune conditions and epilepsy. Vagus Nerve stimulation may involve manual manipulation of the nerve in the neck, exercises which strengthen Vagal tone, neural tensioners and electrical stimulation with auricular clips (transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation) or electro needling.  Stimulation of the Vagus nerve improves signals going to and from the brain which improves negative feedback loops (If its too high brings it down and if its too low brings it up).

As well as tVNS there are a variety of things which can be done to increase vagal tone with some being more effective for particular conditions than others. Exercises such as gargling, gag-reflex, singing, uvula elevations, meditation and putting the face in a bowl of ice water (divers reflex) all upregulate vagal tone and improve its functions.   

So what can we treat with non-invasive tVNS?

  • Migraine
  • Motivation and optimism
  • Chronic Pain
  • Reflux
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Allergy
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Behavioural Issues (e.g. autism)
  • GIT Complaints
  • Digestion
  • Depression
  • Crohn's Disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Anxiety
  • Working Memory
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Inflammatory Disorders
  • Neuroplasticity via BDNF (stroke, rehabilitation)
  • PTSD

How can the Vagus nerve treat the gut?

The Vagus nerve is what modulates the release of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) and digestive enzymes Gastrin and Leptin in the stomach. When there is too much hydrochloric acid in the stomach the Vagus nerves afferent fibres perceive this and inform the brain to make a change. An efferent message is then sent down the efferent fibres of the Vagus nerve and levels of hydrochloric acid are adjusted to suitable levels. The same can also be said when there is too little hydrochloric acid when we get slow digestion and bloating as a result.

The Vagus nerve also has a motor role and that is it sets the tone of the pyloric sphincter which is the sphincter between the oesophagus and the stomach. When this is weak as a result of Vagus dysregulation, stomach acid can travel up the oesophagus causing heartburn and chronically Barret’s oesophagus. It has also been found that tVNS increases gut permeability, improves peristaltic activity and treats inflammatory gut disorders such as Celiac, SEBO and ileitis.

Vagus Nerve, Musculoskeletal Therapist, Depression, Anxiety, PTSD

How can Vagus nerve treat depression and anxiety?

Research shows the tVNS increases noradrenaline, adrenaline, 5-HT and dopamine in the brain. In depression, there are lower levels of these monoamines which has been found to be correlated with decreased mood, focus and attention, memory formation, however, tVNS has been shown to increase focus, mood, memory and anxiety. It has also been found that tVNS can upregulate the prefrontal cortex which is the area for reasoning and responsible for inhibiting inappropriate thoughts or behaviour to normal situations. This is an important part of improving anxiety. Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor is the fertiliser to neuroplasticity and also a mechanism of action for treating depression and anxiety.

Vagus Nerve, Brisbane Musculoskeletal Therapist, Anxiety, Depression, PTSD

As a Musculoskeletal Therapist which is a branch of functional medicine, it is clear to me the importance of this modern medicine technique in integrative medicine. I have been using tVNS at City Cave to treat patients suffering from thyroid conditions, depression, anxiety, reflux, memory, rehabilitation for the past 4 months with patients reporting weekly improvements. Currently, there have been no reported side effects since the begun studies on the Vagus nerve in the 1990s. As the new year is upon us it is time to “wake up to the power of your Vagus nerve and what it can do for you”.

How can this help with your new year's goals?

People who have been receiving Vagus Nerve stimulation have found improved motivation and optimism after just one treatment. As they continue to receive the specialised treatment they report feeling improvements in mood, motivation and daily life. Vagus Nerve stimulation does not hurt and takes 30 minutes to complete.

For bookings or if you are curious if it can help you, please contact the clinic or myself.

Tune in or Tune Out? Part Two.

The tune out floats are the ones people chase, that feeling of nothing and nowhere. These are the easiest to find but the hardest to maintain.

Most of us will glimpse this float in our first or second try. If you have floated before you will recognise the ‘tune out’ by a sudden jolt or flicker like you have woken abruptly from sleep at the end. This state is called the ‘theta state;’ a deep meditative state before sleep where the left and right hemisphere of the brain fuse and leave you in an abyss.

This float is by far the hardest thing to explain as the truth of the matter is nothing happens.. But that is the goal. It’s in this nothingness that you find a true rest from the mind and the body. The best way to describe the nothingness is when you jump into a pool for the first time, as your head passes through the water you hear the explosion of bubbles and for a split second when your brain processes that you are underwater there is a silence, a nothing. It is very faint and happens in an instant but that moment there is what the ‘tune out’ feels like.

The beauty of this moment is if mastered, afterwards that rushing feeling of endorphins is amplified by how long you are “tuned out” for.

But you never know how long it is, nor where you've been, nor where you are right now. You become so disassociated from everything that you have no idea how to comprehend it. Imagine something with no time, space or matter. You can’t, nor can you explain where you go or what happens whilst you are gone.

Second versions of the ‘tune out’ can be experienced by hallucinations (whatever that means for you). Colours and visions have been described by longtime floaters but your mind will explore itself in ways no one other than you can describe.  The main point of the exercise is to really kick back into chill mode, you will find after this you seem to wear a bulletproof vest over your mind. It’s completely refreshing and addictive all in one.

Back to my original thoughts: it’s near impossible to decide what happens when you go in for your float, but they key is to not resist in order to make the most of it.  


I want to include some tips I use before and after to again maximise the experience;

  • Avoid the use of your phone for at least 30 minutes to an hour after your float. This helps you graciously migrate back into the world without being bombarded or struck with anything ‘over dramatic’.

  • Have gratitude for yourself for taking the time out and valuing your wellness above all else.

My key floating times:

  • 9.30am start your day right with this float. Generally after exercise or before a busy day. See how productive and energised this makes you.

  • 3.30pm & 5.00pm after work floats solidify a successful day or ease a stressful one. Its also amazing going in when its light and coming out in the dark!

  • 8.00pm for the night owls; It’s an extremely peaceful time to come out of your float and either set yourself up for the best sleep or relax into the evening.

  • Hydrate! Before and after your float make sure you are hydrated (A toilet is a good option beforehand always).

  • Like a good episode of ‘Cops’, STOP RESISTING! Resist and the problems persist.

  • Not all floats are created equal! Floating over a long period of time, I have had the good, the bad and the blissful. All serving a specific purpose regardless of how I perceive it.

If you have any questions about floating, my experiences or have shared a similar experience, please get in touch with me at jeremy@citycave.com.au

Tune in or Tune out? That is the question.

Float therapy is one of those things that progress with time. You get better and better at it and allows you to listen to your body and what it needs. We sat down with seasoned Floater and Co-Founder of City Cave Jeremy Hassell, to find out a bit about his experiences with floating. 


Part one. Tune in.

As a Co-founder of City Cave I have floated my fair share of hours. Every time is different and I learn something new every time I float, but something is to be said for a person that floats who owns a float centre. So here are some thoughts and realisations in the mind of an owner of a quite unique experience.

Firstly, what we all do as owners of a business, we critique everything. The first 10 minutes of every float the checklist goes through the head. How is the music? What is the light in the room like? How is the temperature? What was the cleanliness like? What do I need to change? Who do I need to tell? What's the urgency?...deep breath....ahhhhh
As I mentioned before every float is different and they generally consist of two mind frames; Tune in or tune out. Dependant on the lead-up, how life is or what's going on physically determines how it will go. Your mind and body will decide this on its own, you just need to accept what you actually need from this session. A common mistake is to fight what's happening.

Today I tuned in. What to expect from this mind frame? Initially, thoughts will be loud. As you progress through your float a thought process might come to you or a feeling in the body. Whatever it is will become clear and you may need to focus on an injury you have or ponder on a decision. This is all about tuning in. At some points in your world you need to listen to what your mind and body are saying to help maintain balance and control over your circumstance; Reducing a reactive mindset and helping you think laterally over your situations.

This float was in the morning before I started my day so I half expected it to be a tune in session. I felt amazing and ready to attack my day, cleared up any things that I was carrying mentally from the week prior and gave my body a good rest. I developed a scope over some niggling pains and discomforts in the body and created a plan for the week in my training to work to strengthen and avoid injury.

The benefits of the tune in float to a working week or stressful time are amazing. Giving clarity to decisions, productivity to the workspace and checking in with the needs and feeling of the body.

I feel grateful for these floats.

Take time for yourself and let your body and mind guide your next session.

- Jeremy Hassell

Stay tuned to for Part two, Tune Out next week. 

Want to chat with Jeremy more about his or your floating experience? Contact him directly on jeremy@citycave.com.au

 

Pumpkin and Halloumi Pasties

We love seeing the amazing creations that our Dietician Andrea whips up each week. This week she has opted for a savoury pasty filled with Pumpkin and Halloumi cheese.. you had me at cheese! *drools slightly*

Brisbane, Brisbane health, Christmas Recipes, Brisbane float centre

Ingredients

  • 500 g pumpkin

  • 2 tsp olive oil

  • Pinch of salt

  • Olive oil spray

  • 250 g halloumi

  • 1 red onion

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

  • 3 sheets puff pastry

  • 1 egg

  • Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. On a baking tray lined with paper, place pumpkin cubes. Toss lightly with oil and salt and bake for 30 minutes, until soft and caramelised around the edges. Remove tray from the oven, but keep the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Spray lightly with oil. Cook halloumi until soft and crispy. Remove from heat.

3. Using a little more spray oil, sauté red onion until caramelised. In a bowl, combine cooked pumpkin, halloumi, onion, pumpkin seeds and parmesan. Stir to combine.

4. Slice puff pastry squares into four smaller squares. Divide mixture into two squares, pull all four corners together and twist. Fold each side in so the filling is enclosed inside the pastry. Brush each pastie with egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until crunchy and golden on the outside.

For more amazing recipe ideas that you can try at home, book in with Andrea and get yourself a personalised meal plan. 

How To Switch Off When You Float

We know that switching your mind off and practicing mindfulness when you float can be incredibly challenging for some people. So we asked one of our Psychologists, Kobie Allison to give us her top 5 tips for how you can prepare for your float experience by training your brain to switch off. 

Floating, Float Therapy, Float Therapy Brisbane, Brisbane Float Centre
  1. Opt for music on for the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes to fully engage in sensory deprivation

  2. Prepare for the thoughts in your mind to race. This is natural and its okay.

  3. Take a personal inventory, by asking yourself "How am I feeling? How am I feeling now?" Repeat.

  4. Focus on your breathing: when you breathe in, your stomach expands, when you breathe out, your stomach deflates. When the thoughts start to race, keep bringing attention back to your breathing.

  5. Know that you can opt out at any time & enjoy a warm shower

Acknowledge your thoughts that come into your mind and allow them to pass you by. Mindfulness experts Head Space suggests treating the thoughts coming and going in your mind like a highway full of traffic. You can't stop all the cars that come past, but you can see them, acknowledge them and watch them go past.

For more information on Floating, check out our What is Floating? page or our FAQ page. 

We were on TV with Zoe Marshall! #madeit

We had Zoe Marshall and the House of Wellness Australia crew come down and visit us at the Paddington centre to find out all about the benefits of Epsom salt baths and float therapy. Check out the segment below that screened on 7Two and find out how Epsom salts have found their way back into fashion in the wellness scene as people re-discover how amazing they are for your body.