Ready for some adventure with a float tank that is designed to fully isolate and disconnect you by shutting out all light and sound? This post from ‘Why I Left Google’ demystifies floatation/isolation tanks and presents a 360-degree view of floating: what to expect, its benefits, and how to have a solid experience.
Let’s get weird. Float tanks. Sensory deprivation tanks. Isolation tanks. I’m not one to argue over nomenclature, so let’s keep it simple with float tank. Well, they’re here, and they’re taking over every hipster neighborhood in the world by storm. Facetiousness aside, this topic is exploding and for good reason.
Float tanks vary, but in general you will find a large tank filled with warm, body temperature water and around 1,000 pounds of epsom salt (here’s the Wiki). They are designed to shut out all light and sound, i.e., you are fully isolated and disconnected. You’re left with nothing but your bare naked body and your mind, all floating on top of warm water in a pitch-black tank. Interested yet?
My first experience at a float tank was well over a year ago. A very good friend of mine (who’s opinion I trust) was raving about his experience. I didn’t know much about these tanks at all. In fact, I had only heard about it once before from another float evangelist friend of mine through a couple Facebook posts.
One day my friend offered to take me with him to a place called Zazen in San Francisco. Being the overtly adventurous person I am, I made the prudent decision to say yes. Like any good friend, he gave me no other background about the adventure ahead other than to “let go”.
What to Expect from This Post:
Below you’ll get a 360 degree view of floating: what to expect, its benefits, and how to have a solid experience. My aim will be to distill this practice down to the essentials. I’ll also share my actual personal notes and give you a detailed account of my first experience. While no two experiences are ever the same, you’ll get a first-hand read on just how deep the rabbit hole can go (and this was just my first attempt). Trust me.
What to Expect When Visiting a Floatation Tank
There are a few different types of float tanks. The ones at Zazen are called theSamadhi Floatation Tank, and I like these because of their size and spacious nature. They’re very well made and quite industrial looking. The more commonly found tank is a pod style.
Many people are also building these in their homes, and there seems to be quite a cost-benefit to doing so. Joe Rogan swears by floating. If you want to get inspired, watch the short clip below. He talks about this on nearly every other episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Your local float tank facilities should have a shower. You should shower before your float, but especially after because if you’re like me it will be one of the most relaxing showers you’ve ever taken (plus you’ll want to rinse all the salt off). After the shower you can head in the tank, close the door (all the way, don’t be scared), and lie on your back in the water.
But wait, is the water clean? Yes, after each float all the salt water in the tank is cycled through an advanced filtering process. In addition, the 1,000 lbs. of epsom salt that are dissolved into the water acts a natural disinfectant.
Okay, now you’re in. This is where the fun begins. Don’t worry about feeling claustrophobic, there is plenty of space in these tanks. At first you may have difficult relaxing, and this is a process that will take some time, around 10–20 minutes for most people. Once you relax enough, time may slow down and you can begin to finally disconnect from the outside world (and your thoughts if you let go enough).
What’s the Point of Floating?
It’s different for every person. Don’t expect anything, keep an open mind, and just let go. At best you will end up traveling through a rabbit hole to other dimensions. At worst you will have an incredibly relaxing experience so you can disconnect and let your mind and body relax.
Benefits of Floating
- Epsom salt does wonders for your body – improve your circulation, improve your body’s ability to use insulin, ease muscle pain, and regulate electrolytes.
- Promising in tackling “problems involving the autonomic nervous system, such as insomnia, stress symptoms, dysfunctions of the skeleto-muscular system, chronic headache, and the like.” – According to Dr. Peter Suedfeld in a Men’s Journal article.
- Reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels
- Manage chronic pain, injury, and illness
- Fight addiction and depression
- Elevate mood
- Improve sports performance
- Increase in the positive theta brain waves (this is the part of the brain that gets activated during meditation)
- Conditions improved: anxiety, insomnia, back pain, depression, pre-menstrual tension, and post-natal depression
How to Have an Optimal Flotation Experience
- Let go of your body and mind.
- Expect nothing.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal beforehand. Why? You may hear your stomach rumble in the incredibly quiet environment.
- Don’t shave immediately beforehand.
- Use earplugs to block out sound if you’re comfortable with them. Most floatation facilities will provide these.
- Close the door all the way to block out all light.
- Don’t be concerned about your safety or not being able to open the door. When your time is up, an attendant will knock on the door.
- Have an outcome or problem you want to solve? Feel free to use this time for that. Your thoughts will be incredibly clear.
- Want to learn something? A friend of mine listens to audiobooks on hyper-speed while floating.
- Let your body take over. You may find that your body naturally stretches or wants to move in certain directions throughout your float. Go with it.
- Optional: Some floating evangelists and patients use cannibus prior to floating to help relax and slow down the mind. Obviously, I’m not telling you to do anything illegal, this is for patients or those living in places where it is legal.
- Optional: Meditate. Here’s a video for beginners on how to do that.
- Optional: Direct your thoughts toward specific areas of your life, or let go and allow them to take you on a ride.
- Let go. Did I say that already?
Read the full article here: Floatation (Isolation) Tanks: How to Upgrade Your Mind, Body, and Soul