Body, Mind & Spirit

How to Float Your Way to Enlightenment

Published on August 15, 2017

Article by Julie Hand for Bodhi Tree

Imagine no external noise, no light, limbs relaxed, almost zero gravity, only the sound of your own heartbeat to capture your attention. This is one effective way to unwind. Floating in saltwater—think the Dead Sea—has been around for centuries as a way to purify, detox and restore. But now, sensory-deprivation tanks are experiencing a comeback as a path to rejuvenation and deep healing—even a way to gain deeper insights into your own existence. Some would say flotation is a way to open a channel to the higher self.

“The flotation tank is an environment where the mind has nothing to focus on and the body feels like it’s floating in air, or even space,” says Jeff Ono, owner of Pause Float Studio in Venice, California. “The mind starts to slow down and approach theta state. A deep spiritual relationship can happen—the brain can unwind, let go and open up. Creativity flows and thought processes come to life that you might not be able to access during your waking day.” Ono was so inspired after his first float three years ago, he opened his business to bring floating mainstream.

The Science Behind Flotation

The elements are what make flotation so thoroughly relaxing. Water, of course, is the key. Each pod is in its own room and is soundproof, lightproof and provides buoyancy due to the 900 pounds of Epsom salt inside of it. Harper Botorowicz, a yoga teacher and meditation instructor at Pause Float Studio says, “Water—being in an anti-gravity-like environment—enhances the theta state. Your brain energy is allocated to go inward. This opens up the possibility for a much more powerful meditation in the water.”

Stress reduction, pain relief and achieving a meditative mind are the three main effects of flotation, according to psychologist Roderick Borrie, PhD, who has previously included flotation tanks in his private practice in New York. He has combined flotation with therapy, hypnosis and music to achieve all three benefits. He has also studied fibromyalgia and flotation, and found that patients experienced less physical pain and even magnesium absorption into the muscles from the magnesium in the water. Borrie maintains “the use of flotation as a therapeutic tool seems to amplify other techniques that are used along with it—such as therapy, music and hypnosis.”

Flotation, which has been around since the 1950s, is making a serious comeback—and not just in California and New York, but also around the country. Some believe it’s due to the convergence of our heightened levels of stress combined with available float technology that have us yearning to achieve a deep meditative state in the tank.

So, you might ask, what will the water whisper to me?

What to Expect in a Floating Session

I decided to find out. After a quick shower in my private room, I adjusted the floatation pod’s lighting to a soothing blue. As I settled into the body-temperature water and closed the lid, a recorded meditation guided me into my breath through underwater speakers. After around 20 minutes, I began to experience a loosening in my physical and mental state. Gently and slowly, I became the observer of my own experiences.

As I heard my own heartbeat, I was exhilarated and drawn into a deepening sense of being. My mind flooded with joyous thoughts of family and friends, recent experiences and memories. I floated in pure bliss for half an hour. And then a woman’s voice announced through the speakers that the float was ending. I felt at peace.

While everyone’s float is entirely personal, the water offers up a meditative place to face oneself—safely and comfortably. Borrie maintains that it’s best to float at least three times; by that third session, “the body and mind settle down more.” That might also just be when the magic happens and the water whispers precisely what you need to hear.

Published on: August 15, 2017

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