Let Your Cares Float Away...
Sensory Deprivation can be achieved by isolating a specific sense for deprivation with simple devices such as blindfolds or earmuffs. However, the most common example of deprivation is a sensory deprivation tank (also called an isolation tank or flotation tank), which removes stimuli for ALL the senses.
A sensory deprivation tank is a dark, soundproof tank filled with about a foot of salt water. The tank is used for restricted environmental stimulation therapy (REST).
The first sensory deprivation tank was designed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, an American physician, and neuroscientist. By cutting off all external stimuli, he thought he could better study the origins of human consciousness.
In the 1970s, commercial float tanks were created and studied for their possible health benefits. Today, finding a sensory deprivation tank is easier than ever, with float centers and spas offering float therapy all over the world. If you have ever wondered about sensory deprivation for meditation, relaxation, and calming your mind, here’s what you can expect from floating.
Sensory Deprivation Effects
Inside the tank, you are cut off from all outside stimulation, including sound, sight, and gravity. As you float, the goal is for your brain to enter into a deeply relaxed, meditative-like state.
One of the effects of floating is that the weightlessness you experience counteracts the pressure of gravity. Your joints, tissues, and muscles are alleviated of stress, feeling like you’ve just received a superb massage (plus the Epsom salt will do wonders for your skin and circulation).
Increasing research, especially in Sweden and the United States, has found many benefits of this therapy including:
Benefits of Sensory Deprivation and REST
Research over the last decade has shown that the main benefits of Sensory Deprivation are the reduction of pain and stress. By providing participants with a stress-free environment and some personal time, flotation is a great addition to a wellness plan.
Interviews focused on the lived experience of Sensory Deprivation described the experience in the tank as meditative and reflective, which allowed people to escape the demands of their busy lives and provide clarity of thought. Participants were able to slow down their thoughts and gain insight to their daily life after the floating experience was over. Sounds like meditation, doesn’t it?
Another recent study examined REST on posttraumatic stress, generalized anxiety, panic, agoraphobia, and social anxiety. Participants reported significant reductions in stress, muscle tension, pain, and depression, accompanied by a significant improvement in mood characterized by increases in serenity, relaxation, happiness, and overall well-being.
Sensory Deprivation & Meditation
We have written previously about the importance of music and meditation. When these two worlds meet, they deliver benefits that enhance the other. We can add sensory deprivation as a third element to a transformative experience.
Floating can bring clarity to your thoughts and give you time to center yourself. Adding meditation music to the beginning of your flotation experience prepares your mind, bringing you to the present moment and allowing noisy thoughts to escape.
Typically, gentle meditation music is played during the first and last five minutes of the Sensory Deprivation session. The relaxing music allows you to surrender and release, helping you safely let go. You’ll leave the tank with greater self-awareness, concentration, and resilience.
The meditation music on our Sensory Deprivation channel was written by our founder, Eric Harry. His inspiration for the music came from the experience inside of a floatation tank:
“I tried to imagine, a dark room, with my ears submerged in a sensory deprivation tank, bathed in sound yet devoid of any thoughts. Let the sounds pull your focus into a solitary centre, single mind yet completely aware of all our five senses.”
This relaxing music is excellent for your flotation experience, while you are meditating, or when you need a break from the busyness.