sensory deprivation

How To Experience Sensory Deprivation At Home

Float tanks and people raving about sensory deprivation seems to be all over the media these days. From professional athletes that float, like Steph Curry and the New England Patriots, to comedians Joe Rogan and Duncan Trussell.

So what is all the hype about? And if they are that great (which, they are), how can I experience it at home?

To answer this question let’s dive a little deeper into sensory deprivation and float tanks...

zen float sensory deprivation tank for home.png

 

What is sensory deprivation?

Sensory deprivation is technically when you “deprive” your senses of all stimulus, such as light, sound, touch, etc. Though this may sound freaky, sensory deprivation is a great way for your body to fully relax, your brain to refresh and for you to take a moment, disconnect and be with yourself. This technique is commonly used in meditation, as it allows easier access to deeper meditative states.

As you are probably thinking, it can be very difficult to get total sensory deprivation in today’s world. And that is where a sensory deprivation tank, or a float tank, comes into play. These tanks make it extremely easy to achieve this sensory deprivation. A float tank is basically a giant pod filled with body-temperature, salt-water. The water is supersaturated with epsom salt, so any person can float easily on top of the water. And, because you are in a pod, no light or sound enters, helping to completely remove you from outside stimulation. And with the relief of gravity, your mind and body can relax too.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the different types of float tanks.    

 

What does it feel like to be in a sensory deprivation tank? 

At first, heading into a sensory deprivation tank can seem a little scary. A lot of fear can come up around being claustrophobic and getting anxious (even though floating helps with anxiety… but more about that later). But once you get comfortable and are able to relax, being in a sensory deprivation tank is like nothing else. You feel weightless. Not only in your body but also in your mind. There is no pain in your joints or neck or back. Eventually your mind starts to relax too, you reach a state of deep meditation, and it almost feels like you are asleep.

For anyone new to floating we recommend trying it three times before deciding whether or not it’s for you. That will allow you a few floats to find your groove and get comfortable. For tips on your first float and avoiding claustrophobia check out this blog: 6 Steps To Overcoming Claustrophobia And Enjoying Your First Float   

 

Benefits of Floating 

It's important to understand first what sensory deprivation does to the body, so you can understand why it has so many positive health benefits. 

Sensory deprivation from a float tank provides the body with relaxation, relief from pressure + tension, and a chance to heal sore muscles. Float tanks are filled with over almost 1,000 pounds of epsom salt, and the magnesium in the epsom salt helps break down lactic acid that has built up in the muscles. This allows any tightness or soreness to decrease within the body and prompts muscles to relax. Also, you are lying down but fully suspended in water. This takes the pressure from work and gravity off of your body. It allows your spine and joints to be released of any weight that may be pressing down on it.

The epsom salt in the tanks also lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is our stress response hormone, and even a slight increase in stress can build up overtime increasing your cortisol levels. When our cortisol levels are too high for too long we start to experience anxiety. And floating actually lowers these cortisol levels, helping you relax.  

pexels-photo-103889.jpeg


Sensory deprivation and floating have a similar effect on the brain as meditation. But, there is much research specific to floating and the brain thanks to Dr. Feinstein at the Laureate Institute of Brain Research. His work has shown that floating in a sensory deprivation tank can have the same effect on your brain as taking anti-anxiety medication (Schumann).

Not only does floating help ease anxiety and panic, but it can also reduce chronic pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia (Kjellgren, Anette, et al) and patients with severe whiplash (Edebol, Hanna, et al). Though these are very specific studies, floating can reduce pain and tension throughout the entire body.

Lastly, many people using floating for their creative endeavors. One study found that floating boosted creativity by assisting one to think more freely. And floating has been used as an effective tool for problem solving, brainstorming new ideas, and learning new information. 

CLICK HERE to read more about the benefits of floating.

 

How do you achieve sensory deprivation at home?

As mentioned above, the easiest way to achieve sensory deprivation is with a float tank because that is exactly what they are designed to do. There are generally two ways to access a float tank. The first is to go to a float center. Believe it or not, there are full-on float spas popping up all over the world. CLICK HERE to find a float center near you. Some of the benefits of going to a center is you will meet like-minded people, and the employees are float experts who will be able to set you up with everything you need for an enjoyable float. However, they can get costly depending on how often you float.

Two alternatives to going to a float center are either building or buying a tank for your home. Up until only a few years ago a sensory deprivation tank would cost upwards of $20k to purchase. However, now with Zen Float Tent/Tank you can get started with a floating practice at home for just a few thousand dollars. And if you float enough this will save you money and time. Some more pro’s to having a float tank is you can float at your own convenience, no scheduling necessary. Plus, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.   

If you want to learn more about the new Zen Float Tank CLICK HERE   

Brenon and Lauren.png

There is also the option to build your own float tank. The founder of Zen Float Co. built his own home tank about 8 years ago.All of his plans to build an at-home float tank can be found online at isolationtankplans.com. This comes with shopping lists, receipts and step-by-step instructions.

 

Confused about what option would be the best for you?

Register for a FREE float consultation with one of Zen’s floating experts by clicking the button below. They will be able to answer any questions and come up with a solution of the best floating options for you and your lifestyle.


Bibliography

  1. Edebol, Hanna, et al. “Chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorders and Their Treatment Using Flotation-REST (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique).” Qualitative Health Research, vol. 18, no. 4, Apr. 2008, pp. 480–488

  2. Kjellgren, Anette, et al. Effects of Flotation-REST on Muscle Tension Pain. Karlstad University, Sweden, Nov. 2000.

  3. Norlander, Torsten, et al. “Treating Stress-Related Pain with the Flotation Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique: Are There Differences between Women and Men?”Pain Research & Management : The Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, Pulsus Group Inc, 2009.

  4. Norlander, Torsten, et al. “Effects of Flotation REST on Creative Problem Solving and Originality.” Research Gate, Dec. 1998.

  5. Schumann, John Henning. “Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress.” NPR, NPR, 16 Oct. 2017.

  6. Seppala, Emma. “20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Sept. 2013.

  7. Turner, J W, and Thomas H Fine. “Effects of Relaxation Associated with Brief Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) on Plasma Cortisol, ACTH, and LH.”Research Gate, Apr. 1983.

  8. Vigneron, Peter. “Steph Curry's Secret to Mental Strength.” Outside Online, 14 Nov. 2016

  9. Vigneron, Peter. “Steph Curry's Secret to Mental Strength.” Outside Online, 14 Nov. 201

  10. Wagaman, Jeffrey D., et al. “Flotation Rest and Imagery in the Improvement of Collegiate Basketball Performance.” Research Gate, Feb. 1991

Try Floating 3 Times, And Then Tell Me You Still Don’t Like It

I remember the first time I heard about floating. My brother described it to me by saying, “You lie in a giant bath tub and you can’t hear or see anything — it’s great!” ...Huh??

I thought he was crazy. In no universe did that sound enticing. Fast forward a few years and now my brother is running Zen Float Co. — an entire business developed around making float tanks. How is this working? Why do people like it so much they are willing to buy their own float tank? Still confused at why people enjoy this alien activity, I thought maybe I should try it.

Let me pause here for a moment and tell you a little bit about myself. I recently graduated from college and am working as a part-time yoga instructor. While I was in college, I had your typical existential crisis and was endlessly searching for my “purpose”. That is when I found yoga. It was a meditation that allowed me to look inward in a way that I never knew how to do. It built my confidence and developed a trust in myself, showing me that I do know what I want in life.

Why is this important? Because I thought I already had it figured out. My mental game was strong, I knew how to meditate and my anxiety was under control. I didn’t think I needed to float, I didn’t think it would bring me anything new. But considering my brother is a floating guru, I was urged to try it.  

So here I go, about to float for the first time. And I should mention — my brother made me promise him I would try it at least 3 times before I made up my mind about it. I rolled my eyes at him, “yeah, yeah, floating 1 time versus 3 times won’t make any difference, but sure”.  

So there I was, standing in the float spa, ready to go. Calming music played overhead, it smelled like essential oils, and the room felt peaceful and inviting. I was starting to like this place - it reminded me of being in an actual spa. So I stepped inside the tank and the water felt good. But then I shut the tank door. The light and music disappeared, I was left floating in this dark abyss, and I completely lost my mind. I became so disoriented, it felt like I was spinning and spinning and spinning in circles. Feeling trapped and lost, not knowing where the door to get out was, I felt the onset of a mini-panic attack. Quickly, I jumped out of the tank, my mind racing, I stared back at it trying to get my bearings.

After a few long, deep breaths, I regrouped and climbed back in the tank — this time leaving the door wide open. With the door open I could orient myself and got more comfortable in the tank, but I never got into any type of meditation.

Finally, my first float was over. I left feeling so angry and frustrated. Why wasn’t I able to relax? How is sitting in a dark, claustrophobic pod good for anxiety? I didn’t understand it, I didn’t connect with it, and I simply decided I didn’t like it.

I thought about the promise I made to my brother — I will go three times before I make up my mind about it. So I showed up to float a second time. I tried to keep an open mind, but was very reluctant to go as I remembered how scary it was the first time. I  thought to myself, “just get three floats out of the way and then you can be done”.

I climbed inside the float tank and didn’t even attempt to shut the door. I left it cracked, so only a little bit of light was shining through. And though it was a lot darker this time, I wasn’t completely disoriented. My body was able to relax and slowly my mind followed. I was able to get into somewhat of a meditation, but nothing profound happened, my life wasn’t changed. The float was over and I didn’t leave feeling completely discouraged. I just felt calm and pretty indifferent about floating.  

So now it’s my last time having to go. I was both excited to try it again and anxious to get it over with it. As soon as I stepped into the water, I knew it was going to be different. I felt instantly calm. I was immediately relaxed and all of my anxieties and stressors so easily melted away. I shut the door completely, so no light was getting in — and no disorientation! With all the noise and light that usually distracts me gone, I drifted off into another world. I got into the deepest meditation I have ever been in.

Ready to learn how to free yourself of stress, anxiety? Claim your free copy of this Amazon Best-Selling book before they're all gone!

Ready to learn how to free yourself of stress, anxiety? Claim your free copy of this Amazon Best-Selling book before they're all gone!

I lost all track of time and don’t remember what happened between the moment I first stepped in and the moment I got out. It almost felt as if I was sleeping, yet I was fully aware and in tune. I didn’t feel any sensation, in my body or my mind. All of my worries and my thoughts disappeared. I was completely free — free of pain, free of doubt, free of worry, free of fear. And afterwards, I felt so light. I walked out of the building like I was walking on clouds. I was glowing and beaming, feeling so much joy within myself.

Now I understand why my brother made me promise to try it at least 3 times. Removing all of our senses that usually distract us from what is really going on inside can be scary. As all your thoughts and pains release, emotion comes up and it can be terrifying to become aware. But slowly, you get used to darkness and the quiet, and eventually you crave time that is free of all sensation.

To this day, I still float. It gets me into a meditation state that I am unable to access in any other circumstance - even when I am practicing yoga. My body feels better, my mind is lighter and I can think more clearly. It is amazing what you can achieve in one session of floating compared to hours spent on other forms of meditation. So don’t be discouraged if you don’t like you’re first time. And, from the wise words of my brother, promise me you’ll try it three times before making up your mind.  

 

 

Behind The Author:

My name's Monique! I recently graduated from college and am currently a yoga instructor who will complete a 500 hour Yoga Teacher Training in August 2017. I also co-founded ZenAF, a space dedicated to helping millennials learn how to meditate and create their most badass life.