Brain

Fringe and floating

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There are no boundaries to where an isolation tank will take you in the world of “Fringe.”

FBI agent Olivia Dunham, the lead character on the TV series, uses floating – combined with psychedelic drugs and electrodes placed on her body – to enter the consciousness of a comatose former lover.

Floating is a major plot device during the during the first season of the show, which ran from 2008 to 2013. Olivia, played by Anna Torv, uses the float tank to enter the mind of her boyfriend John Scott, played by Mark Valley. John is in a coma after an accident in the debut episode.

Olivia uses psychedelic drugs to aid her journey into a different state of consciousness. Electrodes hooked to her brain and linked to John’s brain allow them to enter a shared dream state together.

After her initial session in the tank, Olivia finds part of John’s consciousness has crossed over to her mind. She begins to have hallucinations and waking dreams as her mind tries to purge itself of John’s memories. When he dies, Olivia continues to use the tank to access John’s memories that are trapped in her subconscious. Those memories contain vital information pertaining to a vast conspiracy involving a parallel world.

Eventually a session in the tank allows Olivia to not just access John’s memories, but finally connect with his consciousness as though he was still alive. This is only a temporary connection before John is finally completely purged from her mind.

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Many of the feats accomplished on “Fringe” through using an isolation tank are purely fiction. One thing that “Fringe” does get right is that isolation tanks can be used to access memories, just maybe not those of your dead boyfriend.

Isolation tanks are the perfect way to explore the subconscious. Floating opens the door to meditate, problem solve, and even work out your next big idea. Olivia uses the tank to explore memories trapped in her subconscious, but real life floating can also help you visit your subconscious. Floating lets you relax and purge your stressful thoughts of the day, so that more pleasant thoughts or memories may take their place. Floating is a perfect way to visualize a creative thought or revisit childhood memories.

Floating is designed to learn from the past, enjoy the present and embrace the future. As long as your session doesn’t involve a mad scientist and electrodes linking you to a comatose person, it should be an experience in complete bliss. 

Making the grade through floating

Floating makes your brain work smart instead of working hard.

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There’s a better way to get ready for final exams instead of staying up all night studying. Floating can unlock your brain power and help you get better grades.

What is the connection between a float tank and the classroom? A simple answer is that floating opens the door for improving concentration and retaining short-term memories.

Living in the digital age has made it harder for the human brain to carve out time for deep thinking. A fast food mentality has seeped into virtually every aspect of life. We don’t just want everything right now. We wanted it yesterday.

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This fast-paced world is creating a brain strain. A study done at the University of California, San Diego found that the average person living in the United States in 2008 processed three times the amount of information as their counterparts did in 1960. This is one reason why people now seem more rushed and frantic to get things done and less effective in doing those tasks.

Getting away from the noise and stress of the outside world calms the mind. It helps people refocus on what is important. Their brains work better because they become more attentive and improve their memory.

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Spending even an hour inside an isolation tank is enough to calm your brain. You allow yourself to think more deeply than normal. Doing this will unlock your subconscious mind. It will stimulate creativity and innovative thinking.

After your time in the tank, problems that seemed impossible to solve may finally offer a solution. The mental clarity you get from floating beats a cram session any day of the week. It is like having an internal study aid and tutor rolled into one.

Does floating equal brainwashing?

Floating and brainwashing have some unusual historical connections.

Will floating open the door to brainwashing?

Seems like a crazy concept at first thought. Brainwashing conjures up all sorts of negative imagery. The concept of brainwashing is associated with spies, assassination plots and other sorts of intrigue you would find in a good political thriller. Is it that true to life?

Early uses of flotation tanks did include brainwashing experiments. Fears spread during the Korean War that North Korean and Soviet communist leaders engaged in brainwashing captured American soldiers to embrace communist propaganda. This sparked an interest in the U.S. Government finding ways to control a person’s brain to counteract such brainwashing attempts.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) first used isolation tanks forbrainwashing experiments in 1954. People participating in these experiments were submerged in sensory deprivation tanks for extended periods of time. The results were startling.


Participants reported experiencing everything from vivid hallucinations to blank periods where they were unable to form cognitive thoughts after less than two hours in the tank. Depriving them of senses for longer periods boosted their cravings for any form of sensory stimulation. These desires made them more willing to mold their behavior to get what they wanted.

NIMH researchers concluded a person who underwent extensive sensory deprivation could be influenced into making profound changes in their values and behavior. Essentially, an isolation tank could be used to strip a person of free will for a short time.

It sounds scary. The good news is that such forced changes were temporary. A person changed back to their normal personality and behavior once returning to their normal environment. This made the idea of using isolation tanks for long-term brainwashing impractical and the concept was abandoned.


There is nothing sinister about floating these days. Regular sessions in an isolation tank can be quite therapeutic. Floating can help people find solutions to many problems affecting their lives. It has been used by people who are looking for ways to treat anxiety, depression, stress and even curb addictions to drugs or alcohol.

Brainwashing isn’t an appropriate concept to associate with floating. Nothing about floating is predicated on a loss of free will. The brain can be changed through doing it, but the changes are through a conscious choice made by the floater.

Joe Rogan takes on floating

Rogan uses floating to unlock incredible mental journeys. 

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Joe Rogan knows floating. There’s no celebrity who has devoted more time to unlocking the secrets of what an isolation tank can do for the human mind.

Rogan made a career out of pushing ordinary people to their limits on the popular NBC series “Fear Factor.” Each episode featured contestants facing their deepest fears through completing physically or mentally challenging stunts. They learned more about themselves through facing and conquering the fears represented in those stunts.

Rogan has applied the principle of testing limits to his own life. He has given many interviews in recent years chronicling the metaphysical journeys he has undertaken while experimenting with floating in an isolation tank.

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For Rogan, time spent in an isolation tank is time devoted to evolving one’s mind. He described it in one video interview as “the most bizarre physical experience I have had in my life.”

During each floating session, Rogan spends 20 minutes experiencing a life review. This gives Rogan a chance to see what issues he needs to resolve in his life and which of his choices are correct. From there, he lets go of his thoughts and enters into a state of pure relaxation.

“Your body gives you amazing energy,” Rogan says. “The tension release you have in your body from a couple of hours in the tank is incredible. You feel lighter. You feel like more oxygen is in your body. You feel more vibrant. And it’s because somehow you have calmed the tension.”

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What happens next to Rogan feels like it could be ripped from the realm of science fiction. He describes losing his feeling of boundaries. The feeling of the water, the air and his skin all vanish and evaporate like a mist.

Rogan eventually reaches a point where he passes through all physical boundaries and feels like he has become a being of pure energy. He is truly at one with the universe.

Rogan equates the mental effects of floating in an isolation tank with an onion. Each session peels back a new layer in his mind.

“Everybody should do the tank,” Rogan says. “You will learn more about yourself than any other way.”

That’s advice no one should be afraid to follow.

Floating and Your Brain, Part I: Theta Waves

Nothing is more fascinating than the human brain. It possesses a capacity to learn and grow that cannot be duplicated – even by the most complex computer. If a person could spend an hour observing a human brain during a floating session in an isolation tank, they would witness firsthand just how much that brain is capable of changing and adapting to its environment.

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Floating in an isolation tank promotes relaxation. The effects are immediately felt throughout the body. Muscles relax. Blood pressure drops. Breathing becomes less labored.

In these relaxed moments, the brain generates alpha waves and theta waves. It feels like a door is opening and letting our creative side enter. Theta waves promote vivid memories, creativity, inspiration and a feeling of serenity. This state is commonly experienced by the average person just before they drift into a deep sleep.


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It feels different for a floater. They remain awake even while  they experiencing waves of theta waves. The floater remains aware of all the images and thoughts passing through their mind. Their brain continues to produce an abundance of theta waves for several weeks after a floating session. For a person who participates in regular floating sessions, theta waves can boost their creativity long after they exit the isolation tank.

This offers insight into why floaters love spending time in a flotation tank so much. Feeling more creative energies surging through your body can make it easier to find solutions to problems and deal with the pressures of everyday life.

 

Did you enjoy this post? This is the first article in a three-part series. Click here to read Floating and Your Brain, Part 2: Left Brain vs. Right Brain

No Fear in Floating

There is no denying that floating has a powerful impact on the mind. Studies have shown that brain waves are altered in significant ways when a floater spends significant time in an isolation tank.

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Is floating dangerous? That’s a common question for many people who are unfamiliar with how an isolation tank works. They hear crazy rumors and start to think that floating in a tank will simulate the high experienced on drugs like LSD.

Popular culture helps perpetuate this myth. Movies like Altered States portray characters devolving into lower life forms and losing their humanity as a direct result of sensory deprivation while floating. Such a concept might make for an entertaining movie, but it is far fetched.


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It is true some people see certain images and hear certain sounds inside an isolation tank. Nothing about the experience endangers the mind. Quite the opposite is true.

Floating impacts your five senses in positive ways. You see, hear and feel things that heal your body and your mind from the damage caused by the outside world.

Mental benefits associated with floating are almost limitless. A floater can experience rejuvenation on so many levels. Regular floating sessions help them experience enhanced memory, concentration and creativity. They sleep better. Many floaters find chronic pain and stress that normally holds their body hostage dissipate.

In essence, they feel like a new person because they are a new person.

Floating is nothing to be feared or dismissed through ignorance. It is a vehicle for rejuvenation and relaxation. Mind-blowing hallucinations associated with certain types of drugs are an exception in defining the floatation experience.

Spending time in an isolation tank is a gateway to peace, not fear.

Floating: is it a chemical thing?

Human behavior is driven by neurochemicals.

It is a scientific fact. Scientists have discovered – through extensive research on the human brain – that our brains secrete a type of hormone known as a nuerochemical. These hormones are what determine our moods. They make us happy, sad, bored, fearful, shy, aggressive and loving.

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Creation of nuerochemicals can affect how we perceive ourselves and the world around us. Someone who gets a higher dose of endorphins, for example, will feel happy and calm. They experience more pleasure than a person who receives fewer endorphins. The same is true with adrenaline. A person who gets an adrenaline boost will be more excited or stimulated than someone who is functioning at normal adrenaline levels.


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How does this relate to floating in an isolation tank? The answer is simple. Nuerochemicals can help shape our floating experience.

Floating stimulates the release of a higher volume of endorphins. At the same time, it reduces the level of nuerochemicals related to stress. Chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol are reduced throughout the body.

Stress, tension and anxiety are literally driven from the body as it floats in the warm saltwater. When the floater lies enclosed in darkness, the body floating peacefully on saltwater and the brain dispensing endorphins like gumballs, true bliss occurs.

Neurochemicals have a powerful effect in shaping the direction of our lives. That is one reason why floating has so much power to heal if it becomes a regular fixture in our weekly or monthly routine. It holds the neurochemical key for bringing peace to our body and soul.

Floating and Your Brain Part III: Delving into the three brain theory

The human brain is more complex than any machine. Few people have truly unlocked its full capabilities or mastered everything the human brain can learn or do. Does floating offer a glimpse into the raw potential of that brain power?

Floating unlocks the door giving a person full access to their brains. There is no reason to not believe the isolation experience cannot be the means of radical change. It accesses all three layers of the brain and gets them working in harmony.

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One popular theory in modern psychology holds that the human brain is actually divided into three layers. Each layer corresponds with a stage in our evolution as a species.

  • The first layer – also known as the reptile brain – controls self-preservation instincts, reproduction and life sustaining productions.
  • The second layer is the visceral or limbic brain. It generates and controls all of a person’s emotions.
  • The third layer is the neocortex or gray matter. It controls memory, intellect, language and consciousness.

All three brain layers are different in function and action. Communication between layers is not always harmonious. This means the three brains can be at odds with one another and it can manifest in clashes between conscious logic and unconscious emotion.

Floating promotes harmony between these three brain levels because it opens communication pathways. The three brains are allowed to unite. In these moments, our bodies and minds are charged with new energy and we can see things more clearly than ever before. New solutions to problems arise and new ways of thinking materialize.

Floating, it seems, can unlock the parts of the human brain that are closed off at other times.

Floating and Your Brain Part II: Left Brain vs Right Brain

A human brain is divided into two distinct hemispheres. Each hemisphere is responsible for carrying out different functions that are important to keeping the human body alive and healthy.

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The left hemisphere is the logical side. It pays attention to detail and processes analytical information. Reason and logic are the products of left brain functions The right hemisphere, on the other hand, operates by pattern recognition. It absorbs large amounts of information and stimulates emotional or creative responses. This makes the right hemisphere the driving force behind creative expression such as painting, writing and singing.

How does this relate to floating in an isolation tank? A simple answer is that flotation opens the door to the right hemisphere of a floater’s brain. It allows the right brain to become dominant over the left brain – even for a short time.

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A floater experiences increased right brain function inside an isolation tank. One reason is that the external distractions that enable the left brain to dominate are shut off during a floating session. When our bodies are able to relax, it also frees our mind.

The clutter of thoughts reduces to a trickle and the negative energy dissipates. Our natural creative side emerges and we are able to see the world in a brand new light.

There’s no sense suppressing your right brain. Letting your creative energies roam free can let you find inspiration and meaning on days when the world seems overwhelming. It offers another reason why floating is good for you.

 

Read for more? Check out the third and final article in this series! Floating and Your Brain, Part III: Delving into the three brain theory