Sensory Deprivation Tanks

Sensory deprivation tanks, or isolation tanks, aren’t nouns that conjure up scenarios of relaxation and meditation when left to the imagination. Today, they are now commonly referred to as float tanks. Float tanks were created by John C. Lilly, a neuroscientist, psychonaut, and writer among many other titles. He was regarded as a controversial figure in the scientific community, most notably for his psychedelic drug research and his attempts to communicate with dolphins.  

John created float tanks as an experiment to see how the mind would act without external stimuli. Essentially, the float tank is soundproof, lightproof, and you float in about 1200lbs of Epsom salt water at or around body temperature (98.6 degrees).

While floating may seem like a trippy, meditative experience at first thought, there are actual physical benefits: relaxation, reduced stress, improved sleep patterns, normalized blood pressure, unlocked creative centers in your brain, relieved muscle soreness, etc. Not to mention, you’re floating in a thousand lbs. plus of Epsom salt! Epsom salt has been a natural remedy for hundreds of years and has numerous benefits, such as magnesium absorption and detoxification of the body.

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of float tanks thanks to media figures such as Joe Rogan, and star athletes like Stephen Curry(Video: Floating With Stephen Curry).

Flot is the passion and brain child of owner Fred White, who on occasion is known to spend an entire night in the tank. "Flōt’s ethic: to provide our customers with the safest and most hygienic isolation floatation environments/chambers and facilities at the fairest rate possible while striving to leave the smallest environmental footprint."

Each individual responds differently to sensory deprivation. Some people can fall asleep instantly, and others simply can’t handle the lack of stimulus. I fell comfortably in between those two extremes. My mind wandered and I had to battle thoughts of “I hope I’m doing this right,” learning to let go. In its many shapes and forms, floating is a form of meditation. Floating almost feels like being in zero-g. I became conscious of the amount of stress and tension that I was carrying in my muscles, ligaments, and bones. I had the desire to stretch out and found myself striking Shavasana poses. My go-to was the Supta Baddha Konasana, more commonly known as the reclining butterfly.

It was hard for me to relax and eventually I had had enough. In a way, I felt overwhelmed by the lack of stimulus and had to leave the tank. Upon doing so, I was a bit disappointed that I could only handle 20-30 minutes. Had modern society caught up with me in all it glorious yet monstrous forms? The constant texting, checking, sexting, liking, posting…? Of course the first urge I had upon exiting was to check my phone and google “sensory deprivation.” I noticed the clock and it read 8:30PM. I had been in the tank for an hour and a half! I’ve never experienced a time warp like that outside of general anethesia, but I’m eager to get back in the tank for another mind-drift and see where the next float takes me.

Learn to let go at Flot San Diego. Browse Flot’s specials here.