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Flotation and Body Harmony - A unique healing experience

by Peta Knaggs(more info)

listed in bodywork, originally published in issue 25 - February 1998

Wellspring combines the benefits of flotation therapy and Body Harmony. It is an experience which clients describe as, "exquisite", "profound", "extraordinary", "unlike anything I have experienced in my life".

FLOTATION THERAPY was discovered in the 1950s when space scientists were trying to simulate weightlessness when training astronauts.

The benefits of floating have been well documented. It is a quick, simple way of attaining very deep relaxation and it helps a wide variety of conditions. Blood pressure and heart rate drop and oxygen intake improves. It also helps to alleviate pain and stress, leaving you feeling renewed.

BODY HARMONY, the other part of the Wellspring equation, is a hands-on healing treatment influential on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.

Working with the individual's uniqueness in that moment, it recognises the client as the expert on themselves. Observing and listening with every sense, the practitioner follows the body's guidance to release stories and imprinted traumas from the tissues, emancipating its limiting patterns.

Don McFarland, the founder of Body Harmony, is certified in over 80 different bodywork systems across the world and has synthesised the elements he found most effective. He is continually adding to his repertoire so Body Harmony is perpetually evolving.

Girl in Flotation Tank

How Wellspring came about

I was an experienced 'floater' when I encountered Body Harmony and immediately saw the potential of giving Body Harmony in a flotation pool. Don McFarland's descriptions of group Body Harmony sessions in hot springs fuelled my desire to combine the benefits of both Body Harmony and floating. The supporting buoyancy of flotation would allow me to work in water one-to-one with my clients. The notion was enticing and insistent.

The results of experiments in local flotation tanks were exciting, inspiring and beyond my expectations. I knew I had to have my own pool – and had one custom built.

The Wellspring float pool is larger than other flotation tanks and is not enclosed, being housed in its own tranquil room. We observe stringent water hygiene regulations. The strong solution of mineral salts means the water is sterile (like the Dead Sea), a small amount of disinfecting chemicals is added, the water is filtered thoroughly and is treated with an energy balancer and cleanser after every session. The salts make the water extremely buoyant so even non-swimmers can't sink. The salts are also beneficial to the skin and prevent it from crinkling in the water

Safely supported, your body has unrestricted opportunities to unwind through every plane. Our bodies remember everything which happens to us. Memories of trauma and difficult experiences can cause compression in the body tissues which leads to restricted function and mobility at many levels in our bodies and lives. The fluid working environment of flotation gives access to complete liberation and unwinding of compressed tissues. The conductivity of the water enhances the communication between the tissues and the practitioner. It enables effective work on fine and minute levels – the most subtle levels are the most profound. Gentle techniques, unique to this environment, have developed and by its nature it is a continually evolving form of work.

Traditionally, water is healing and is inherently relaxing and we have evolutionary and gestational origins in water. Two-thirds of the human body is composed of fluids and naturally responds well in water.

Stress

It is well documented that an individual's state of mind and life condition are key factors to his or her own inner healing abilities. Being over-stressed creates imbalances which can lead to a variety of conditions and can hamper the body's attempts to maintain homeostasis and good health. A major feature of the Wellspring therapy is profound and total relaxation. Sessions have a lasting impact on stress-related conditions and sense of well-being.

My Experience – ANNIE

I was very sceptical about the benefits of floating in a tank of water but my first experience in Peta's pool changed me – not only my viewpoint, but myself as well.

All my stresses and strains filtered away. The nerve ends of my skin felt the warm water in an acute sensation of all-over touch, like liquid velvet. My arms and legs stretched out in a star shape and slowly one arm freed itself and began to move of its own accord. Peta discovered a build up of tissue under my collar bone (probably where it was broken before I could crawl). But it felt that this arm was symbolic of the right side of my body having other more obscure reasons to want to free itself.

When the session was over I felt as though I had been on holiday. In fact I was still on holiday, lasting well into the next day when I was supremely confident and successful at an important business meeting.

Each session is different, each having its own benefits. The most dramatic is connected to an intestinal problem I have been experiencing for some time but only recently took medical advice, when the doctor booked the earliest hospital appointment (several months ahead). My body writhed and moved in the pool quite dramatically and it felt as though a loop of intestine was unwinding, releasing a constriction. Through the following week my symptoms went back almost to normal and now I no longer have any.

Also, a patch of eczema I have had on my neck for years has been eradicated.

My Experience – WILL

I approached the Wellspring therapy without any real idea of how I would react. I had already received Body Harmony for fatigue and asthma and thought the treatment, in the main, successful. Certainly, my tension was removed enough for me to enjoy several good nights' sleep. I wanted to pursue release of tension and a general sense of panic within me, so readily agreed to treatment in the pool.

No amount of explanation could have prepared me for my experience. I closed my eyes and, very quickly, all sense of time and space faded away and I felt, rather, that I was floating in space. I never knew where Peta was, though I always felt a reassuring contact. My body began to move, and gentle hands moved with me, assisting rather than guiding.

My body, especially neck and shoulders, was unwinding, unravelling tensions and traumas that seemed so old and hidden. I allowed this movement to continue, witnessing rather than initiating and, suddenly, a wave of grief passed over me and for a period, I don't know how long, I shuddered with that grief, as if weeping silently. Again, I could feel the contact of those reassuring hands. After a while, this unravelling receded like the tension in a clockwork motor and only stillness and calmness remained. I hung in space and a distant voice called me from deep within it – Peta was calling me back. I was unaware I had reached so far inside myself. I have never experienced such detachment before or since. I felt, quite literally, that a load had been lifted from my shoulders.

I have tried to make sense of my reaction to this treatment and can only conclude that my tension was a result of the various traumas in my life that had not been absorbed and released. In any event, my conclusion was that the "making sense" of a cure is not so important as enjoying the benefit of it.

My Experience – IAIN

I have had a stammer for as long as I can remember. During a brief consultation I talked about my stammer while Peta observed how my body responded to my words. She explained that she was noticing the places which would be most appropriate for her to start working on.

We adjourned to the flotation pool. The first session was very energetic. I found myself unwinding in ways I had never thought possible. I had a marvellous feeling of freedom and unrestricted expression. I became conscious how I had compressed and shortened myself trying to please and fit into other people's requirements of me. All of which was now being let go.

The results of this treatment were immediate. Although I still stammered it was not as often. I did not care as much about stammering and I did not have the same feelings of being rushed. Stammering no longer held a grip over me. I could now skip through it rather than plough through it.

The second treatment was very different. I wanted to commit myself to a deeper level of work to move forward with my issue. Once in the water I was a lot calmer. I wasn't unwinding physically nearly as much as before. Instead, I lost track of time and my surroundings and I knew intuitively that what I was 'dealing' with was on a much deeper level. At the end of the session I had a profound feeling of calmness and ease.

The people around me have also noticed that I stammer much less now and that when I do stammer I come out of it much more quickly. I have changed. I will continue to work on this with Wellspring.

My Experience – MICHELE

I had been a grateful receiver of Peta's Body Harmony work for some time when I became aware that I needed to go deeper into myself to truly heal before I could move my life forward. At this time Peta was developing Wellspring.

First I had to overcome my deep fear of dying by drowning before I could bring myself to go in the water. As my first session began, I realised my apprehension was actually because I was handing over my control to the unknown, not something I felt comfortable doing. Within minutes, it was like I had been transported to a place where calmness seemed to take over my body. The fact that I was in water was now irrelevant, my fear had vanished and I felt totally relaxed.

I was aware that even though I appeared not to be moving, deep within my body things were happening, muscles releasing something they had held on to for as long as I can remember. All the time Peta was there supporting me. I had never felt so safe and secure.

All of a sudden things became clear – I was not really able to live life fully because of my need to control everything. Wellspring opened the gate for me but the decision was mine whether to go through. I chose to go forward. Peta is now helping me to work through what is on the other side. The gate would have remained shut had it not been for Wellspring.

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About Peta Knaggs

Peta Knaggs has been a body worker for six years. She initially trained as a Shiatsu practitioner with the European Shiatsu School, and then continued to explore and train in other bodywork systems including Body Harmony – which is her main focus. She has pioneered Wellspring in her search for a highly effective, liberating and enjoyable treatment.

WELLSPRING is situated in Isleworth, Middlesex near Heathrow Tel: 0181 580 7878.

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