Message Boards Message Boards

Non-specific/Broad/Generic

Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks

Toggle
Has anybody here ever gone for a dunk in isolation tank? I also see them called Lilly tanks, flotation tanks, and sensory deprivation chambers. Do you think they'd help with practice at all? I'd like to hear about other people's experiences before I drop $100 for a trial session at my local float center. I read a lot of stuff online about how people use them for meditation and how they're really helpful, but you know how that is: lots of stuff gets labeled "meditation" that doesn't have much to do with what we do here.

Basically, an isolation tank is like a covered bath tub. The water is heated to skin temperature and saturated with epsom salt so that the occupant floats like a cork on the surface. Inside the tank, it's sound-proof and perfectly dark. The goal is to put people in a state where external sensory input is greatly attenuated for the purposes of relaxation and therapy. Apparently, once you've been in one for a while, it's hard to tell up from down, the sense of the body becomes distorted and weak, and the mind grows very relaxed.

While there's obviously no substitute for just sitting down and grinding out the exercises, It seems to me like an isolation tank would be a great way to show people how their "monkey mind" works and provide environmental training wheels that could help beginners boot-strap themselves into the sort of access concentration needed to get into insight and concentration practice--maybe it could be the Scientology E-meter for "Hardcore Dharma" recruitmentemoticon

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
8/3/10 8:01 PM as a reply to Ben Darrington.
I haven't, but I know that Tarin is a fan of them, though for what I am not exactly certain. Perhaps he will respond.

The chances of you suddenly getting stream entry in an hour float is obviously low, but it may be very interesting just to see how it feels, so the question of whether or not it is worth $100 may be more related to how curious you are and how much money you have.

Daniel

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
8/5/10 5:00 AM as a reply to Ben Darrington.
Ben Darrington:
Has anybody here ever gone for a dunk in isolation tank? I also see them called Lilly tanks, flotation tanks, and sensory deprivation chambers. Do you think they'd help with practice at all? I'd like to hear about other people's experiences before I drop $100 for a trial session at my local float center. I read a lot of stuff online about how people use them for meditation and how they're really helpful, but you know how that is: lots of stuff gets labeled "meditation" that doesn't have much to do with what we do here.

Basically, an isolation tank is like a covered bath tub. The water is heated to skin temperature and saturated with epsom salt so that the occupant floats like a cork on the surface. Inside the tank, it's sound-proof and perfectly dark. The goal is to put people in a state where external sensory input is greatly attenuated for the purposes of relaxation and therapy. Apparently, once you've been in one for a while, it's hard to tell up from down, the sense of the body becomes distorted and weak, and the mind grows very relaxed.

While there's obviously no substitute for just sitting down and grinding out the exercises, It seems to me like an isolation tank would be a great way to show people how their "monkey mind" works and provide environmental training wheels that could help beginners boot-strap themselves into the sort of access concentration needed to get into insight and concentration practice--maybe it could be the Scientology E-meter for "Hardcore Dharma" recruitmentemoticon


i've had a lot of experience with isolation tanks, and they are tremendous fun, and are potentially very useful for examining weird zones of experience (think hypnagogia or lucid dreams or notions of past lives or parallel universes) and extremely fine sensate subtlety (think being able to feel - not just hear - a pin drop).

while i think $100 dollars is expensive for a float (i am assuming you are in the us and those are us dollars you are talking about), and that you might find a better price if you shopped around a little (are there other float centres anywhere near to where you live?), the matter of money is only an issue if you haven't got much and need to spend what little you have on other things.

my recommendation, should you decide to float, is to go in with an open mind and no pre-set expectation that you will use the experience for either concentration or insight practice.. you will likely spend a bit of time orienting yourself to the unusual environment, which strangeness may not be entirely conducive to a focused practice. most people zone out for somewhere between half an hour and an hour shortly after getting in. therefore, unless you have several hours in the tank, it may be better if you just aim to tune in (or out) and enjoy yourself. the experience is rich enough to be rewarding on its own, without needing to be considered in the context of a meditation practice.

if you do it.. happy floating.

tarin

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
8/8/10 5:34 PM as a reply to Ben Darrington.
To quickly throw in my admittedly brief experience with sensory deprivation:

This past week, after leaving a meditation center, I've found it incredibly helpful to just lock myself in a closet to meditate. It helps in some ways to "see" the vibes and catch hold of phase-shifts and so forth, especially if one's concentration isn't too terribly well-developed, like my own.

That being said, I can see (and have also experienced) how it's beneficial to meditate in a more exposed environment (within reason...or perhaps, if you're truly hardcore, not?). There's something particularly gratifying about being able to just note or maintain relatively concentrated awareness despite the presence of disruptive noise. Or at least it's informative to witness the mind come up with all sorts of righteously angry ramblings emoticon.

Anyway, if used skillfully, I believe both settings can help with concentration and confidence.

A sensory deprivation tank may be an interesting occasional experience that could impact practice some, but I would think one would have to do it consistently to gain any long-term benefit. Then again, it may help one cross a particularly difficult portion of the path in a one fell swoop sort of way...

Okay, just some thoughts - hope they're of some use.

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
9/12/14 8:33 AM as a reply to tarin greco.
Tarin,

so you would suggest NO practice for floating? I've only done it once, just recently, and went in with the intention to practice with the jhanas. I could not lose all physical sensations of the breath because, with the earplugs in, my breath was so "loud" and my mind never got the chance to create a nimita.

i want to do it again soon, and I get 2+ hours in the tank, so I'd like to create an effective game plan. Which might just be having no plan. Any suggestions?

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
9/12/14 8:46 AM as a reply to Gary Sanders.
Gary Sanders:
Tarin,

so you would suggest NO practice for floating? I've only done it once, just recently, and went in with the intention to practice with the jhanas. I could not lose all physical sensations of the breath because, with the earplugs in, my breath was so "loud" and my mind never got the chance to create a nimita.

i want to do it again soon, and I get 2+ hours in the tank, so I'd like to create an effective game plan. Which might just be having no plan. Any suggestions?
Hey Gary, Tarin hasn't been around for quite a while now, but I can throw my 2 cents in...

I've wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank in the past, but I've never actually done it. My suggestion is to take the breath as your object if you find it too loud, or to request ear-plugs. I know that this technology has been used for thousands of years, I seem to remember ancient peoples in Europe using ancestral tombs in this way, and Inuit shamans being out on the dark tundra in winter.

The best approach I've found when approaching a new practice is to be bright, alert, interested yet aloof. Let the process unfold and see what happens. Don't interfere.

I think a good float in a tank like this would basically mimic formless realms, but I could very well be wrong.

Eric

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
9/12/14 1:51 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:
Gary Sanders:
Tarin,

so you would suggest NO practice for floating? I've only done it once, just recently, and went in with the intention to practice with the jhanas. I could not lose all physical sensations of the breath because, with the earplugs in, my breath was so "loud" and my mind never got the chance to create a nimita.

i want to do it again soon, and I get 2+ hours in the tank, so I'd like to create an effective game plan. Which might just be having no plan. Any suggestions?
Hey Gary, Tarin hasn't been around for quite a while now, but I can throw my 2 cents in...

I've wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank in the past, but I've never actually done it. My suggestion is to take the breath as your object if you find it too loud, or to request ear-plugs. I know that this technology has been used for thousands of years, I seem to remember ancient peoples in Europe using ancestral tombs in this way, and Inuit shamans being out on the dark tundra in winter.

The best approach I've found when approaching a new practice is to be bright, alert, interested yet aloof. Let the process unfold and see what happens. Don't interfere.

I think a good float in a tank like this would basically mimic formless realms, but I could very well be wrong.

Eric
If you are having luck with jhanas I would say that floating will help you get into the formless realms easier....if you are already almost there anyway, or sometimes you just get a out of the blue lock on preview of stuff that you then have to work hard to get to.
Take breath as the object and go with it. Do some resolutions too.
lots of other fun stuff too...do some work and have some fun too
~D

RE: Isolation/Sensory Deprivation/Flotation Tanks
Answer
9/12/14 9:23 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Eric M W:
Gary Sanders:
Tarin,

so you would suggest NO practice for floating? I've only done it once, just recently, and went in with the intention to practice with the jhanas. I could not lose all physical sensations of the breath because, with the earplugs in, my breath was so "loud" and my mind never got the chance to create a nimita.

i want to do it again soon, and I get 2+ hours in the tank, so I'd like to create an effective game plan. Which might just be having no plan. Any suggestions?
Hey Gary, Tarin hasn't been around for quite a while now, but I can throw my 2 cents in...

I've wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank in the past, but I've never actually done it. My suggestion is to take the breath as your object if you find it too loud, or to request ear-plugs. I know that this technology has been used for thousands of years, I seem to remember ancient peoples in Europe using ancestral tombs in this way, and Inuit shamans being out on the dark tundra in winter.

The best approach I've found when approaching a new practice is to be bright, alert, interested yet aloof. Let the process unfold and see what happens. Don't interfere.

I think a good float in a tank like this would basically mimic formless realms, but I could very well be wrong.

Eric
If you are having luck with jhanas I would say that floating will help you get into the formless realms easier....if you are already almost there anyway, or sometimes you just get a out of the blue lock on preview of stuff that you then have to work hard to get to.
Take breath as the object and go with it. Do some resolutions too.
lots of other fun stuff too...do some work and have some fun too
~D

Hey DM & Eric,

 I can hit jhana 1-4, and use Shaila Catherine's technique of watching the breath so closely and intently, at a small microspot in the nose, that eventually the physical sensation goes away, the mind creates a nimita and then I relax/flow into 1st jhana, etc.

 The problem with floating is that you have to wear earplugs, to keep the high concentration of salt out of your ears, making the sound of the breath quite loud, thereby keeping a constant physical sensation of breath present, not allowing the brain to create a nimita.

I'm not sure what the work around here would be. I did hope the sensory deprivation would help these absorbed states....but to be honest, I could hear my breath, I could feel the tempurature difference between the water and my skin, I'm a big guy and would sometimes bump into the sides of the tank, etc...i was very aware of many sensations. That said, it was a very relaxing 2.5+ hours and I did practice metta just for the hell of it, since I was getting nowhere with the jhanas.

Hope that clarifys things more- gary