I was lucky enough to have the following article published on Elephant Journal!
A float tank, also known as a isolation tank or deprivation tank, is a healing tool used for relaxation, meditation, and consciousness exploration. Big enough to house an adult lying down, the tank is filled with about a foot of water saturated with about 700 pounds of Epson salt. The water and air temperature match the temperature of your skin. With these combined environment elemental factors, you are able to experience floating.
Years ago when I first experienced floating, I had a hallucinogenic, spiritual break-through. I even had a flashback of being in the womb. So, when I was getting ready for my second float this morning I prepared myself to not expect anything. Being uncertain and open is a tool I picked up with my meditation practice. Don’t expect anything and be completely open.
Tips for floating:
1- Begin a Daily Practice of Yoga and/or Meditation: Start months, or even years, before your float. It is best to float with a centered viewpoint.
2- Develop a Breathing Practice That Works For You: What works for me is Three Part Breath or Dirga Pranayama:
Step 1: Begin by bringing your awareness to your belly. Notice the breath expanding here on your inhale. Maybe even place your hand on your belly to really feel the effect.
Step 2: Exhale, and feel your belly deflate.
Step 3: After a few breaths in this fashion, notice your belly rise, and then your lower lungs expand as well on the inhale.
Step 4: On the exhale, allow the lower lungs to fall, then the belly, falls.
Step 5: After a few rounds of this bigger breath, on the inhale: belly rises, lower lungs rise, and then upper lungs all become inflated.
Step 6: As you exhale, deflating: upper lungs, lower lungs, belly.
Practice this style of breathing all throughout the float.
3- Watch From Behind Your Eyes: A meditation practice I picked up and never put down, this technique primes your mental state to receive anything that is to come your way. When you’re traveling through consciousness, you never know what you’ll find! In my experience, it is best to train yourself to not be overtaken by astonishment. Be cool, and just watch!
4- Find a Mantra… or Find a Few Mantras: I come from a lineage that believes in the Teachings of Silence; however, a mantra can be an amazing tool to keep your mind from running away. Know the multiple meanings of your mantra, and know the definition of the words, too. My two favorite mantras:
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Mani Padme Hum.
5- Stretch!: During my first float, I was focusing so much on my mind-space that it wasn’t until the end of my float that I realized, “It feels great to stretch in here!” Move around and feel. Extract poses from your yoga practice, or move with your natural flow. Once we stretch-out, we are able to relax-in. My favorite tank-stretch so far:
Clasped Standing Yoga Mudra Arms, but with the arms behind you, hands near your butt. Extend in all directions! Amazing for the fascia system! Each time I held this pose, I felt like I was soaring through the cosmos!
6- Visualize Your Spine Lengthening: After the breathing, centering, and stretching, I realized that I could use my breath and awareness to lengthen my spine. Imagine that each vertebrae is gently floating, rather than being compressed with gravity.
7- Visualize Your Chakras Shining & Aligning: If you haven’t already, learn the chakra system beforehand. Starting at the lowest chakra, place your awareness on each chakra center while visualizing the corresponding chakra color. I have practiced this technique numerous times over the years. This practice has produced some of the best visions I have ever received.
8- Feel Love, Gratitude, Compassion, & Connection: Coming in contact with the deepest layers of yourself is the perfect time to realize that we are all One. If we are able to open our hearts while we simultaneously dissolve our boundaries (possible to achieve due to the tank’s setting), there’s a chance we can open to something much bigger than our singular perception. Quieting the mind and opening the heart is a beautiful practice.
9- Know the Stages:
Throughout the first 10 minutes or so, you’ll be getting centered, so you might be bumping the side of the tank. Don’t get discouraged, this will pass. Also, do what you need to get comfortable. I prefer to place my hair into a bun on top of my head to prevent the weight of my hair from straining my neck. Maybe you’d like to place the provided pool noodle behind your neck, or possibly the earplugs will suit your needs.
Next, you might realize that you’re thinking about what just happened in the hallway, or you’re running away with a thought from yesterday. Don’t worry, that’s why you’ve been practicing meditation. Use your breath and mantra to quiet these thoughts.
Then it comes: you’re floating, quietly. This is the time to relax into yourself. Trying to make visualizations appear is not going to make them happen. Breathe into your expansion, and drink it up.
Lastly, visualizations may occur. Hopefully your breathing and focusing practices will give you enough juice to stimulate a little endogenous DMT production. Watch from behind your eyes, and enjoy the show. Bring a notebook or have a voice recording app on your phone to record your experience afterwards. If you don’t record your experience, share it with someone. The sooner you repeat your experience, the more likely you’ll retain it.
10- Last But Not Least, Feel Good While You’re in the Tank: All too often we are trying to achieve when we really should be enjoying. Take it easy, relax, and sink deeper into the present.
If your float spa offers massage, go for it! The longer the better. Be present with each stroke across your back, and relax into the experience. Pamper yourself whenever you can! You deserve to be feeling your best, and the rest of us will benefit from you feeling great, too!
Also, I was lucky enough to experience floating in both the newer and older tanks:
The Samadhi Tank: The float tank style I originally floated in.
(John C. Lilly Style Tank- Sensory Deprivation Tank)
I snapped this photo before I stepped in today.
The I-sopod Floatation Tank
Even though the newer style was prettier, had more leg and arm room, and had optional colored, mood lighting and music, the older deprivation tank had a better seal, creating the full soundproof, lightproof experience. Both were enjoyable and novel experiences!