The first time I went into a float tank, over five years ago, when I laid down in the epsom salts, I heard about twelve cracks from my upper back. I’d held tension there for years. Even my previously last deep stretch, stretching my back with a 6′ PVC pole, didn’t get that deep, and I’ve never replicated that level of stretching. I hate thinking that was a lifetime of tension built up in my back.
Besides the healing physicality of sensory deprivation, meeting my personal therapist – myself – has been the biggest benefit I’ve gained from floating. To really meet yourself, you have to come to terms with your greatest failures and your most benign successes. You can’t lie to this therapist. Conversely, nothing is lost in the translation from your psyche to your spoken language and back. It is difficult peering behind the masks we subconsciously wear, but it’s worthwhile.
I don’t meditate like most people. Traditional practice asks that you should empty your mind, clear your thoughts, and calmly sit. While I’ve had some success with this method for reaching thought equilibrium, I’ve had more success in float tanks (or when I have downtime) letting the errant thoughts freely roam, with the most success occurring after going in with challenging questions that need time to develop, like a photo of an unclaimed optimal future.
Float tanks just host isolated meditative environments. There’s no prerequisite to get stoned, nor are you forced to do anything, other than perhaps relax. Sure, you can keep the tank lid open and some tanks can play music. Otherwise, it’s just you and your mind. I’ve found that with my sensory inputs dampened by the tank environment, I can conceptualize bigger or broader ideas, or I can address deep rooted psychological issues. Nothing psychedelic, man…
We’re taught to only go for the sure shots, play it safe, and at all costs do not step outside your comfort zone! I got into floating after seeing a sandwich board on my lunchtime walks, and after some research, I jumped in. That business recently stepped toward inviting sensory deprivation chambers into everyone’s comfort zones by working with health insurers to provide discounts. Maybe doctors will prescribe float sessions like they prescribe chiropractic sessions?
After 2 days of warehouse work, moving boxes and shrink-wrapping pallets or heavy abuse to my body, I needed a float session. It’s been over 2 months. The tragedy of life is that you can abuse many parts of your body and mind, and usually they’ll snap back into order, except your spine. Your spine is the foundation for all activities, to be considered “spineless” is a sin, yet how do we go about repairing our spines?
If you want to get better at anything, you’ve got to practice. In basketball, if you want to practice free throws, it works best on an empty court. Just you and the hoop. It’s not as interesting as a basketball court filled with people and it’s not as fun as playing a game. Studying how you’ve thrown each shot, however, will lead to more insight. Similarly, float tanks are like clearing the court of distraction.
Nature unites us, even in the digital age. Natural events like 2017’s solar eclipse may occasionally remind us that there are more important events out there than the technological trivialities that we’ve accidentally become addicted to as technojunkie zombies. We will probably still process this information through digital lenses, either through photography or interacting with others abroad, though is that really that bad? Shouldn’t we embrace tools that enable us to experience life more vivaciously?
Most people meditate to clear their minds of thoughts. I meditate to defragment the thoughts in my mind that chatter. I organize the idle ideas that linger loudly. Float tanks are specialized daydreaming spots for me, like the Hyperbolic Time Chamber in Dragon Ball Z, because that hour or four you’ve booked is reserved for you tending to your thoughts. Sensory deprivation chambers can be overwhelming if you’re not fully ready to declutter your mind.