Float tanks, sometimes referred to as sensory deprivation tanks (which sounds far more intimidating), allow you to float effortlessly in a saturated epsom salt solution without light or sound. The water and air are your body temperature, so eventually you lose sense of both. You are suspended in space.
There is no sensory input.
This is novel in today’s age, where we are bombarded with information at every turn. Electronics chirping. Notifications. Emails. Pop-ups. Newsflashes. Memes. Sound bites. Short bursts of content.
Escape of this kind is increasingly rare.
Today, I make floating a routine part of my lifestyle. I’ve found its benefits to be life-changing. Here are some reasons why:
1) While floating, you realize that most of what you experience is just the content of your thoughts. It’s all such a daydream. A hallucination of sorts. This becomes obvious in the tank. You are simply floating there in complete silence and darkness, yet you continue living in this rich, colorful world as your mind wonders every which way. Your thoughts drift to this and that. Emotions come and go. Little motion pictures. Meanwhile, you are not actually experiencing any of these situations that your mind contrives. It’s all imagined. Throughout the hour of floating, you’ll drift from the past to the future and back again, but then you will return. You will realize that you are in a vat of water in pitch darkness. You will realize, perhaps never more vividly, that the past and the future only exist in your mind.
2) With the right approach, floating can be deeply meditative. No matter what form of meditation you practice, combining the two produces incredible results. By eliminating noise and sight, you can easily observe your mind until the space between thoughts widens. You can focus on your breath, immersed in the natural rhythm of inhale and exhale. You experience a deep sense of calm like never before.
3) We often think of float tanks as a way to escape our problems. This is entirely true. But it’s also a great way to solve them. Without any external stimuli, you have the opportunity to think deeply and intuitively about life situations. In such a state, true creativity arises. You may come up with solutions that would have never occurred to you. Perhaps you will come up with the plot for your next novel. Maybe a fresh business idea. For every hour I float, I have a breakthrough.
4) Let’s face it, we are ruled by the clock. From the moment we wake up (usually at a designated hour) we organize our lives around clock time. Inside the float tank, however, you lose all sense of time. You are in there for an hour. But you have no idea how much time has passed. You’re not sure how much is remaining. You might feel the urge to check your watch. You’ll wonder how much time has gone by. “Surely, my hour must be up.” You might think about what you have to do afterward. But you will remind yourself that it is not important right now. You’re just there. That’s a powerful thing because you are simply in the moment, which is all we ever have. We often forget this. But with no distractions, you have no other choice but to embrace it.
5) I admit it. I often fall into the trap of compulsive doing. Sometimes I am overcome with just how much there is to learn and accomplish. It’s often hard for me to relax because there’s so much I want to do. There’s a reason I value stillness… I find it difficult. Even when I meditate, it becomes far too easy to crack open a book. I might be winding down in the evening, but see or hear something that compels me to action. I might think of an idea and take out my journal, putting pen to paper. This is precisely why I float. Because there is nothing else to do. No post to write. No treatment plan to formulate. No project to work on or email to read. No place to go. No where to be. I become comfortable doing absolutely nothing.
I embody stillness and there I find ultimate peace.
In conclusion, your mind is full of resistance. The ego thrives on it. There’s a struggle at first. Your thoughts might put up a fight for a while. Your conditioned thought patterns will try to tell you how much you have to do. They might dig around for better uses of your time. They may kick up dust from the past. They might remind you of something you have to do tomorrow. Or next week. Waves of emotion will wash over you. Anxiety will tighten your chest. Depression will try to sink you, but you stay afloat. After a while the resistance subsides. You let go.
You will remember that you are in complete darkness. You’ve only been watching your own mental projections. Total silence. You’ve only been listening to your own thoughts. You will stop fighting. You surrender to the float. Only then will you experience ultimate escape.
What happens next is yours to find out.
Originally published at www.thestillflame.com on January 25, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com