Sensory Deprivation Tank Floating: An Intro

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By Jocelin Higgins

Sensory Deprivation Tank Floating- What is it?

What is it like floating in a sensory deprivation tank? Perhaps you are wondering what it’s all about and why people do it. Or, rather how does it benefit you?

Sensory Deprivation Tank

A woman floats in a sensory deprivation tank with the lid open. You  can float either way.

I became interested in floating in a sensory deprivation (otherwise known as reduction) tank about seven years ago. A wellness center where I was practicing hypnosis had a couple of the Samadhi sensory deprivation tanks (also known as isolation tanks) in the basement. I became curious about them and so I began floating in the tanks to see what it was like.  I had heard it was a type of meditation in water and quite a healing experience. Later, I would bring in hypnosis audio programs to listen to while I delved deep in the darkness resting my body by slightly submerging it in the 800-1,000 pounds of ebsom salt saturated water. I found it highly rewarding for not only feeling better emotionally, but physically and spiritually as well.

The Origins of Sensory Deprivation Therapy

In the 1950’s, scientists were experimenting in order to find out what would happen to a person when all environmental stimuli from the outside world disappeared. Dr. John Lilly is one of the most well-known of these scientists, along side Dr. Jay Shurley, that first created an isolation tank in 1954 at The National Institutes of Mental Health Lab in the Virgin Islands. They wanted to learn how people responded by eliminating contact with other people, light, gravity, sound, but yet heating the water to about 93 degrees Fahrenheit to remove the extremes in temperature.

They learned many important discoveries from these experiments. They found that when they removed all external sensations, that there was still a mechanism that generated internal experiences. A person’s mind does not go unconscious, but the brain is still active. It constructs experiences out of memories and stored impressions. If one does not fall asleep in an isolation tank, then there is a great opportunity to reprogram the mind for desired change-to consciously construct more positive thoughts and discard deeply held limiting beliefs. It is similar to being in a state of hypnosis as brain waves are slowing down to theta levels.

Yet, he also discovered that the mind fostered creativity while in the sensory deprivation tank, thus allowing people to present a problem when in the tank and retrieve answers quickly after coming out of submersion from the isolation tank. He goes into these discoveries in the book, The Deep Self: Consciousness Exploration in the Isolation Tank or Programming and Meta-programming in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments (if you are more scientifically inclined).

Since then, many others have studied the effects of floating in an isolation tank. John Turner and Tom Fine developed the more modern floatation R.E.S. T. technique, which stands for Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. Michael Hutchison published a ground breaking book in 1984, The Book of Floating. I’ll outline some of this research and current findings later in this post. Dr. Oz even tried it and recommends it. There is a fantastic documentary made in 2014 called Float Nation that answers many questions people have about floating and gives more insights into float therapy. Recently, in November, Time magazine reported that the United States opened its first float clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma: the Float Clinic and Research at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research.  This is a huge move in studying the science behind floating and its effect particularly, on neuroscience.

The Health Benefits to Floating in a Sensory Deprivation Tank

Floaters have reported numerous benefits floating. Depression lifts, anxiety  decreases. Whereas Dr. Lilly focused on the brain and the psychological aspects, there are many physical ones too. These include, a heightened state of relaxation from the deep rest your body undergoes and a release of dopamine and endorphins that go with this relaxed state. It’s the complete opposite of how you feel when your body tenses up from too much stress, adrenaline and cortisol buildup in your system! Consequently, relief from chronic pain often subsides after a few floats. A person can recover from jet lag quicker by floating after crossing time zones.  Athletes, artists and musicians float to enhance performance and relieve muscle pain and students find their memories improve and super learning occurs.

Most importantly, the metaphysical aspects are fascinating to note. I’ve often felt that I was “lost in space” as the weightlessness of floating makes me unaware of my body. On a recent session, I saw bright lights come and go in my mind’s eye and stars appeared on the ceiling inside the float tank. I had to ask afterwards whether they painted stars on the ceiling. “Nope. But, others have also mentioned seeing them,”a staff member at Float On responded. Hmm. Some mind expanding adventures here within this inner world. Many experts even believe that if more people took up floating, there would be less violent crimes committed. If there is a negative to floating, it would be a little salt getting in your eyes or it can sting if you have a scratch on your skin. However, you can dab some Vaseline on any scratches to prevent this from occurring.

How and Where to Float

sensory deprivation tank

Bird’s eye view of man floating in a sensory deprivation tank with lid open.

It’s really a simple, passive activity that just about anyone can partake in. You just need the physical mobility to get into a tank and lay down in salt water, which is so highly concentrated that you become very buoyant. Locate a local spa or sensory deprivation tank center to visit. If you are near or plan on visiting Portland, Oregon, you will find a few great options. We have the USA’s largest float tank center, Float On, (which is a colorful, creative and innovative place). Additionally, there are three different types of tanks at The Float Shoppe (whose owners are super friendly and generous.) I spoke with co-founder, Sandra Calm and she states that they have plans for an additional tank soon. There are two tanks at The Everett House Healing Center (where I stepped into my first tank), and Mudra Massage clinic has a tank as well. The combination of massage before or after floating is an added health benefit. Receive a massage before a float session if you desire mainly the psychological benefit, but if you’d rather focus on physical healing, float first and then get the massage after your muscles soften in the tank, stated Sandra from The Float Shoppe.

If you are a seasoned floater, did you know that a national float conference is held in August in Portland, Oregon each year? Come visit. Additionally, Portland Float Shoppe owner, Dylan Schmidt has started a podcast called The Art of Floating for people who want to open a float center and need support to keep it running smoothly.

How Much Does It Cost to Float?

It costs anywhere from $60 on up for a 90 minutes session (which is the least recommended at a time for best experience). You can sometimes find discounts for first time floats if you check Groupon or Living Social coupons in your area.  It can add up if you are not flush in the pocketbook, so I wanted to let you know about a new company that has created and built home tanks. Commercial ones begin at $8,000 and go on up, however the Zen Float company is manufacturing float tents for only $1,850 to give more people an affordable option.

Well, I hope this post is helpful in giving you an introduction to the fine art of floating in a sensory deprivation (reduction) tank. Give it time, you really need to partake in a few sessions to know what it’s really all about! Please feel free to share a comment below. I’d love to hear more about your experiences floating.

*If you have enjoyed what you have read, please consider clicking on the affiliate links, so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) to support this site. We only refer our readers to books or advice that we support and believe in.

Works Cited

Bynum, Brad. “Altered States Is a Session in a Sensory Deprivation Tank as Surreal, Dangerous and Psychedelic as It Is in the Movies?” Www.newsreview.com. News Review, 03 Sept. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <https://www.newsreview.com/reno/altered-states/content?oid=18187527>.

Float Nation. Dir. Jory & Carl Piglowski & Jessee. Perf. Various. Kickstarter, 2014. 27 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. .
Float Nation. Dir. Jory & Carl Piglowski & Jessee. Perf. Various. Kickstarter, 2014. 27 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. .
Hutchison, Michael. The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea. New York: Morrow, 1984. Print.
Oaklander, Mandy. “Behind the Strange New Science of Floating.” Time. Time, 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2015.
Stevenson, Seth. “I Floated Naked in a Sensory Deprivation Tank. You’ve Got to Try It.” Anything Once. Slate.com, 15 May 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
Stevenson, Seth. “I Slept All Night in a Sensory Deprivation Tank. Here Is My Story.” The Drift: A Blog About Sleep. Slate.com, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015.
Unknown. “Float Science – The Float Shoppe.” Float Shoppe. The Float Shoppe, 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://www.floatshoppe.com/floating/float-science/>.
Unknown. “Floating Overview – Float On.” Floating Overview. Float On Center, 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://floathq.com/learn/floating-overview/>.
Unknown. “More Information.” Samadhi Tank Co., Inc. First Manufacturer of the Floatation Tank ( Flotation Tank ), Sensory Deprivation Tank, Float Tank, John Lilly Isolation Tank. Samadhi Tank Co., Inc., 2014. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://samadhitank.com/moreinfo.html>.
Williams, Brittany. “I Floated In A Sensory Deprivation Tank; Here’s What Happened – Healthcare Industry Today – EIN News.” The Grapevine, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://health.einnews.com/article/287759735/-O_E6uyT8FLJceRX>.

Get in Shape: Running Beginners over 40

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Something Better Than the Gym

Beginning Runners Over 40, natural remedies for depression

An ideal spot for a run.

by Michael Lee Howard-Mayhew

I hate gyms!! Yet I knew that with the encroaching age of the big 4-0, I had to start working on what was the best way to keep my body in shape. I had worked very hard on my spiritual, mental and job portions of my life but I needed a way to increase my health stamina.

I would like to say I am not one of those stereotypical gay men that go to the gym religiously and people know if I’m not at work or home that they can find me getting healthier at a gym. That is not me at all!

I am intimidated by gyms and the whole idea of going to a gym and showering and watching everyone doing precise workouts and having amazing bodies while I sweat like a wild man, hoping I just don’t have the extra layer of cake, cider, and hot chocolate around my mid-section.

This led me to a crisis of sorts. How do I get in shape and move and continue to be active while not gymming it?

How it All Began

It was a cold Portland September and I was driving to work thinking,“Look at all these people running … I can do that.” I walked in to work and said… “That’s it! I am running, now I need to know how.”

I instantly began my research, okay let’s be honest… I googled “starting runner” on the inter-webs and my brain just about imploded with all the information. So going onto my trusty Facebook next, I got a few responses from friends of where to start and I picked one. The Couch25K app  was what I started using. I swear that first run,  I thought I would die and never recover.

Why Goal Setting is a Good Idea

Goal setting was my main objective and I made a lofty goal that I would run a 5k. The main reason for this is because that is what everyone told me was the norm. I had no idea how far it was at the time (by the way,  it is 3.1 miles), but I made the decision to run with it (see what I did there).  I met and accomplished my goal and then I made the lofty decision by asking myself… “Hey, why don’t I do the local Shamrock Run? I signed up for a 15K and honestly I am sure I wore myself out more than one could ever imagine that sunny March day.

Having started out hap haphazardly, I have begun a whole new regimen with running.  I want to share it with you so that you don’t have to suffer by making my mistakes, especially for other running beginners over 40.  But, it’s solid advice at any age:

“Michael’s Beginning Guide to Running”:

**First of All, Be Realistic with Your Goal– If you push yourself too hard and too fast you will end up either hurting yourself or failing to reach your goal and in effect beating yourself up.

**Next, Get Good Gear – the best thing you can do is get a good pair of running shoes, shorts and a good running shirt. Always look for deals or find friends that work in discount places. I am fortunate that both my husband and I get Adidas discounts of 50% off at the employee store.  It is also a great idea to make sure you get your feet measured to make sure you are wearing the right size.

**Use Modern Technology – The app I started with for running was great but there have been a few others along the way that also work well.  Runkeeper This is a great way to stay in touch with your friends that are running. You can also set goals and keep track of your progress. Charity Miles. Look at this… you can run and raise money for a favorite charity for free. Map My Run  This is a great app for keeping a  map of your route, add friends, know when to change your shoes out. I would suggest checking out getting a fitbit. This is a great way to keep track of your daily steps. I also recommend keeping a running log so you can track your progress You can also do daily challenges, track your sleep, water intake, and food intake. It’s great for people on the go. The only thing with fitbit is that you do have to purchase the equipment whereas all the other options are free. But, it’s well worth the price.

**Have Fun – There is nothing more exhausting than feeling like you are not having fun and that you are dragging along. The truth is that some days you will not want to go and you will have to fight yourself to get out, but I assure you that once you start going, you will feel great with another goal accomplished.

**Stretch & Pace – When running,  if you feel like you have to stop and do some stretching … remember our muscles are part of the complex system called our body. Running without any stretching will cause damage as will over doing yourself. It is okay to have a slow day and know that you do have to start somewhere.

**Support – Yes, you will become one of those people who tells others about your time from the last run you did or how you can’t wait to run that 5k or half marathon. That is awesome! The best way to keep your goal alive is to get support and to make friends that are runners as well. Who knows? You may get someone else started on running as well.

The Many Benefits of Running

Whether you are just starting out, just know that there are other running beginners over 40 or people who have never even walked a block let alone have run a marathon–just get yourself out there and get healthy. You deserve to treat yourself right and your body will love and appreciate it. The short-term effects of running are increased mental clarity, a boost in energy, and improved sleep. The long term effects include prevention of strokes, diabetes and heart disease, weight loss, lower blood sugar, and lower cholesterol and this could be your natural remedy for depression!

The best part is all you need is your own body. No gym is required thankfully!

Now go out there and get healthy and you can even run for the meditative aspect of it. A wonderful and insightful book I would recommend would be this one by Sakyong Mipham,

[amazonjs asin=”0307888177″ locale=”US” title=”Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind”]

*If you have enjoyed what you have read, please consider clicking on the affiliate links, so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) to support this site. We only refer our readers to books or advice that we support and believe in.

Meditation Versus Hypnosis-What’s the Difference?

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Meditation Versus Hypnosis, natural remedies for depression

Focus on the tranquil water scenery.

Meditation Versus Hypnosis–How to Tell Them Apart

By Jocelin Higgins

Meditation has really gained in popularity these past few years. Have you noticed? More and more people are taking time in their day to meditate and it’s not just for Buddhists anymore. Hypnosis is gaining in practice also and is now being seen more of a healing and self-awareness tool than the stage show of yesteryear.  Meditation versus hypnosis, let’s take a look. How are they the same, how are they different?

A Little History: When Each Began

Both hypnosis and meditation have been around for quite some time. The practice of hypnosis dates back to the 1880’s when coined by the Scottish surgeon, James Braid; meditation on the other hand, began even earlier about 500 B.C. by Siddartha Gautama Buddha.

The Similarities of the Two

Let’s start with their similarities. Both of these practices are about getting into a state of relaxation. When you are either meditating or practicing self-hypnosis, you are training your mind to focus, relax and your breathing to go deeper. In the process, your brain waves begin to slow down. They go from a waking state of Beta down into Alpha, a mild trance and then into Theta, a much deeper state of consciousness where a person is able to gain insight and tap into a higher vibration.

Both meditation and self-hypnosis can get a person to these states and in either of them, you feel very present in the moment as well as relaxed and clear minded.

The Differences Between Them

The difference between these two relaxation and healing practices is about where your focus is and what is your intention. While the experiences are very similar in that your brain waves alter in both, each has specific purposes.

The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and gain mindfulness to let go of anger, fear, stress, pain and whatever else is bothering you. You may passively receive creative ideas to apply to your life or insights from within on how to approach a certain problem or situation. Thich Nhat Hanh stated it well, when he said, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  You are finding emotional and spiritual health. This is from the book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.

Hypnosis, whether it be self-hypnosis or guided hypnosis is more outcome driven.  While a person meditates day after day just for the sake of doing it, the purpose of hypnosis is to enter into the subconscious to heal the mind and heart by changing automatic responses.

It is to identify the reasons why people act in ways that they don’t want to and find a way to change these habits to more positive ones. It follows the presupposition that the basis of behavior is buried in the subconscious mind and it is unknown to the conscious mind, unless it is accessed through the use of hypnosis.  By becoming hypnotized, a subject can gain a better understanding of a problem and a trained hypnotherapist can reprogram the subconscious mind to respond in a different, healthier way.

Thus, a client will go into a hypnosis session with a specific issue or problem to address and a specific outcome to reach (examples: to give up smoking, let go of excess weight, learn how to deal with depression or suicidal thoughts) . With trust in the process, the client will have either made progress toward this goal or have reached it entirely. A wonderful book on the subject is called, Hypnotherapy: A Client-Centered Approach.

Gaining Spiritual and Emotional Health

As you can see, both meditation and hypnosis share a common experience of slowing the brain waves and shifting consciousness but differ in their purposes and expected outcomes.

Well, I hope this post was educational to you and helped clarify any confusion that you previously had between the two. Please feel free to post a comment below. I’d love to hear your insights as well.

Namaste. Happy breathing and much enjoyment in your altered states as you are finding spiritual and emotional health.

Works Cited

Grayson, Jenna. “Jenna Grayson The Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 July 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

“James Braid (surgeon).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

“Meditation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

*If you have enjoyed what you have read, please consider clicking on the affiliate links, so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) to support this site. We only refer our readers to books or advice that we support and believe in.

Three Simple Ways to Feel Better

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by Jocelin Higgins

Are you wanting to feel better than you currently do? It’s totally possible!

Here are the top three ways that I found work really well to improve your mood and emotional wellness.

1) Take a deep breath, close your eyes and focus on a memory of someone of something that makes you smile.

Find some photos that bring back this memory if you need to. Allow this memory to fully enter your mind and body. Meditate on it for as long as you need to. Keep breathing in and out at a relaxed pace.

The Importance of Meditation

In a study done by Killingsworth and Gilbert, these scientists found that when, “people’s minds were wandering, they tended to be less happy, presumably because our thoughts often tend towards negative rumination or stress. That’s why mindfulness meditation has become an increasingly important treatment of mental health difficulties like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even sexual dysfunction”.  As you focus on this incredible feeling of content and happiness, let go of whatever is stressing you out by actually feeling it disappear from your consciousness. You have the power to do this. You are a creator and outside forces no longer control you!

daisy

2) Get outside, however possible and Feel so Much Better!

Go for a walk down the street to move your body. Breath in some fresh air deeply into your lungs. Admire the trees, flowers, birds or any indications of nature that you see. Dwell on all that you find pleasing and beautiful around you. I live in the Pacific Northwest and we have so many gorgeous areas to explore so I enjoy hiking in the forest away from the noise of the city. But, if you can’t get outside, then get your body moving in whatever way that you are able to..play a favorite song and dance to it with wild abandon. Remember the saying..”dance like nobody is watching”? Well, here’s your chance!

Or, do some stretches or yoga poses. Have you noticed how calming Indian instrumental music is while doing yoga?You don’t have to participate in an hour-long session, just allow yourself to create some muscle flexibility and get your circulation going. It works wonders!

3) Get immersed in something that you love and enjoy doing!

You may have heard this before, but it really does work! By doing this, you are getting into a state of mind that is called, “flow”. The Hungarian psychology professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi introduced the term back in his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. It’s a state of consciousness where you forget time and space and become absorbed in focusing and participating on this activity.

I find my flow when I am writing, reading, doing yoga, swimming or playing soccer. As you can see from my experience, it can be more than one thing. Sometimes, it takes an internal or external “nudge” for me to get started, but once I do, I find that the passing of time is as if it is standing still. Even if you are experiencing pain or loss or are feeling depressed just by going through the motions soon enough your mood will improve! Allow yourself to feel the joy in this activity. Embrace it! Live it! Let it  heal you inside and out!

So, here are a few of the best ways that I’ve learned how to improve my mood or to “get out of a funk”. Give them a try and let me know what you think by commenting below or feel free to share some methods that work for you! I’d love to hear more beneficial mood improvement activities.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you. May you be feeling better soon! Namaste.

*This post contains some affiliate links in which I will earn a commission but at no additional cost you. I only refer my readers to books or advice that I support and believe in.