The most painful thing about float tanks, perhaps, might be exploring those less comfortable areas of the mind. I’ve never had any significant problems with this, but I’ve talked to others that were apprehensive about the experience for that, or other reasons that were rooted in that unknown. Taking the time to float through traumatic, dramatic, or otherwise painful events in one’s life doesn’t seem terribly pleasurable, but I’ve found it’s helped me achieve serenity.
The most pleasurable thing about float tanks, to me, is letting my mind explore where it needs to go. I had a two-hour session today. Though it was mainly a “physical” float, in that I used the time to diagnose problems with my physicality, that’s fine because I made significant progress there, and also, thought through some things that were incomplete thoughts. Taking the time to float is something I want to do more often.
Before I started floating, I couldn’t let go of myself or aspects of myself, or in other words, I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t trust my thoughts or opinions, good or bad, or let them enter or exit. My mind was a constant mess of ideas and thoughts, like a crowded highway, or a grocery store with one open register, where it wasn’t the first shopper that got the register but the pettiest and loudest.
It’s Sunday at midnight and I haven’t had a headache since I left the float tank on Wednesday morning. That’s almost four full days. Before that, I had been struggling to get more than two or three days without a headache for the past three months. There are other factors involved, to be sure, however letting the buoyancy of the body-temperature, magnesium sulfate heavy water, cradle my aching muscles helped release that deep muscle tension.
The ideal way to use a float tank for back, spinal, neck, and other physical issues might be laying flat on the water. I don’t like getting water into my ears at all so I use a pool noodle under my neck to keep my ears above the body temperature Magnesium sulfate. Before going into the tank, I was having a terrible time. After leaving the tank, I felt great, persisting nearly a day later.
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…