Online journal of my experiences in a float tank or sensory deprivation tank. With adjacent observations that come with managing a flotation business.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nothing quite like the feel of something new...

Okay so this will be my first venture into the world of blogging. In this blog I hope to share my ongoing experiences using a sensory deprivation tank or float tank as they're also called. Not only am I excited on an individual level to see how regular use of the tank effects me physically, psychologically and spiritually but I'm equally excited to see if I am able to map out the effects on my local community both personal and at large.

For those of you who don't know anything about sensory deprivation tanks here is a quick six minute video that does a good job presenting some introductory information featuring commentary from someone who is brand new to floating, an artist, and a float business owner as well. Hopefully, it will be enough for newbies to get an idea until I get a chance to write up a more comprehensive post on the flotation experience.


For this first entry I just want to jump right in and talk about my recent trip to Arizona where I got to try out an i-sopod, the newest model of float tank on the market. This is the model that I'll be making available to the public and using myself on a regular basis. The i-sopod tanks are a much sexier and updated design compared to the older model tank featured in the video but in the end they are pretty much functionally similar.

I can really say that my journey to Arizona could be split into two parts, pre-float and post-float. Considering I had the pleasure of traveling with my parents and that there were lengthy amounts of time where I had no choice but to be in confined spaces with them whether it be in a plane or rented vehicle...lets just say that by the time we arrived in Scottsdale the edges were a bit frayed. Which in hindsight actually allowed for an astute observation as I could really feel a significant shift for the better in everyone's mood and our general interaction with one another after just an hour in an i-sopod. You might be asking yourself why we had to travel all the way to Arizona in the first place. Well, True REST in Scottsdale was the closest float center that had the i-sopod model tanks, the same tanks we'll be using here in Lubbock. So the trip was a very enlightening experience in many ways.

So we had to fill out some quick paperwork and after we watched a short instructive video the girl at the front desk gave us a towel and walked us back to our own tank rooms. She made us aware of the earplugs sitting on a wooden shelf to the left of the tanks and encouraged us to use them if we didn't like water in our ears. She also directed us to a bathroom at the end of the hall if we needed it, wished us well on our first float and promptly went back up through the dimly lit hallway.

Walking into the room I noticed the tank was a bit bigger than I had perceived it to be from the pictures on the website. The other thing that hit me right away was the very warm and humid air. So after taking about thirty seconds to just stand there and really observe the room I shut the door, turned down the lights and began getting undressed. Once the room lights were off I noticed the tank itself was glowing from the inside and gave off a really cool blue ambient light. I was actually giddy! I stepped into the shower on the right of the tank and quickly washed and rinsed myself off.

Stepping into the tank a smile came to my face as it felt like I was stepping into some kind of futuristic space pod. I grabbed the lid and pulled it down with me as I knelt down and began to sit back into the warm water. My muscles naturally hesitated to fully let go at first but the more you lay back the more you realize how buoyant your body is in the dense salt water. It's a bit challenging trying to describe the feeling of floating on water. One way I found myself describing it was if you could imagine lying on top of a water bed but without the bladder being between you and the water. Of course that really doesn't do any justice to the actual feeling of being suspended by liquid. Anyway, I'm adjusting my arms and trying to find the best position for them as soft music wafts in the background. The tank has a sensor that can tell when you enter the tank and shortly after begins playing soft music. Actually, this model of tank has a built in mp3 player and although silence is the best it'll be interesting to experiment with different soundscapes. After ten minutes it fades out and at the end of the session it fades back in to let you know you have five minutes left. So once I started getting my bearings I pushed a rubber button to my right and turned off the ambient glow of the tank light. I'm now in total darkness, a complete cessation of visual stimulus and there's not any difference whether I shut my eyes or leave them open. Without any visual distraction my attention moves back to my body.

My neck is still a bit taut and I slowly lay my head back into the water adjusting my arms laterally to get into the most comfortable position for my shoulders and neck. After a few minutes I find what seems to be best position for my arms. This is all done slowly as any sharp movement sends you drifting into the boundaries of the tank. Okay, now I'm really beginning to relax. The more comfortable I am the more I become aware of the tiny micro muscles in my legs and lower back that are still flexed. So I let them go and my legs slowly drift apart a couple more inches and now my body is totally suspended. There isn't a single muscle that is engaged and it feels incredible. It's pitch black, the music has faded away and the only movement is my breath and the beating of my heart which is beginning to slow. I let out a deep sigh and it feels great. It becomes so still and quiet in the tank that my breathing actually starts becoming a bit of a distraction! My mind flashes Darth Vader and I try and slow my breathing down a bit to dampen the sound. I find myself wishing I could stop my breathing somehow but I finally just let that go and Vader soon drifts away as well.

For the most part I didn't have substantial difficulty keeping a handle on my mind. From what I have read and the advice I received about getting the most out of my float was that the first couple sessions would really be about getting oriented with the float experience and trying not to let the chattering mind overwhelm you. Which is what my parents expressed to me after we were done but more about that later. Due to the lack of sensory stimulation in the tank a person's mental activity tends to increase but usually will subside within thirty or so minutes and will be less and less of a factor during subsequent floats unless one intentionally engages the enhanced creative capacity the tank allows you to access but again much more about those aspects in a later blog.  Fortunately, I have several years of meditation practice under my belt and have a certain amount of discipline over my brain activity which went a long way in making my first float so rewarding. 

In fact I think one of the more interesting things is the distinction in the perception of time between myself and my father. Actually, this aspect in general will be something I'll be interested in investigating further. So one clear difference between my float experience compared to my father's was how the hour of time seemed to pass for us. My father reported that he thought there was no way an hour had passed. He said that he was just beginning to truly sink into the experience when the music came back on to indicate the end of the session. Myself on the other hand thought that surely someone had made a mistake and we had gone way over an hour's worth of time. I felt we had been in the tanks for at least 90 minutes or more.

I have some ideas as to the reasons behind the difference in our perception of time such as the meditation training I have and so on but I'm going to wait until I have bigger pool of feedback to draw from and I'll save that for a future blog. But in the meantime and when you get a chance here is an interesting little video about time that is tied in with what I'm talking about here: The Secret Powers of Time 

So getting back to my float. Although I was trying to just let my mind go for the most part I did notice an enhanced ability to visualize. Of course one of the things that began to occupy my mind was my own business location. As I began imagining what it would look like I realized how effortless it was to conjure up the details. I had read about the enhance learning and visualization capacities of the tank but I have to admit was bit skeptical as to the extent of it but now as I think back to some of the testimonials from musicians to architects I can easily see the potential for creative visualization. Now that I'm thinking about it I recall that athlete Carl Lewis reported using visualization techniques in a float tank to prepare for the 1988 Seoul Olympics and went on to win gold. Although it was fun engaging my mind I let that go fairly quickly as I was really more interested in getting a rejuvenating effect from the tank. And that aspect is something all three of us were satisfied with. After getting back to the resort we had a great meal and like I said earlier everyone's mood was much more uplifted and jovial. The resort had a great outside setup and we all ended up lounging by the pool enjoying the balmy night air. 

You know it's funny because I've only floated once so far and as I comb my memory for this blog my body will react even though it's been a couple months since I was in the tank. I hate to repeat myself here but the depth of release I felt is simply nostalgic and I can't wait to get into a tank again because one thing I realized from my first float is that relaxation and rejuvenation are seemingly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flotation. 

My tanks will arrive in the next few weeks so stay tuned!


  1. Awesome detail of your experience. You have me highly curious. Look forward to seeing what can be learned.

  2. I checked out the i-sopod site and their site seems to be geared towards businesses. I'm eager to see you bring them to the private market.