If you are unaware of what a sensory deprivation pod is, let me give you a brief description. A sensory deprivation pod is what is used in floatation therapy, also known as floating. A sensory deprivation pod is like a large bathtub filled with about 12 inches of water, 800 to 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt and is heated to about the same temperature as your body.
Due to the salt content, you are able to float on top of the water, freed from the force of gravity. The lights are then turned off so it's pitch black, silent, and feels like what you would imagine floating in space would be like.
I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work at a float center. Because of this, I have been able to gain a unique perspective on the benefit of floating, as well as the inner workings of my own mind and body. To date, I’ve managed to log 100 hours in a sensory deprivation pod. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Your mind has a mind of its own.
After spending so much time watching my thoughts without distractions, I’ve come to realize that thoughts tend to come and go as they please and it’s our conscious decision whether or not we think more deeply about them.
Some thoughts are harmless and pass by without any issues. However, there are other thoughts that are more charged and when they come by it is very difficult not to think about them. Think about a time when you got into a heated argument with someone that became very personal and emotional. How many times did you end up rehashing that same argument in your head, after the interaction had ended? It’s probably more times than you would like to admit, yet this is the nature of the mind.
The good news is that you can choose to end a thought at any time, focus on your breath, and let it go. By bringing awareness to your emotionally charged thoughts and then realizing that having imaginary arguments in your head does not serve you, you can cultivate a more relaxed, permeable state of mind.
2. Our thoughts have no power except the power we give them.
There is a famous proverb that says “the mind is an excellent servant but a terrible master.” If we give our thoughts too much attention, they will begin to affect our emotions. Those emotions can lead to impulsive actions. This is how we allow our thoughts to control us.
By developing awareness of our thought patterns, we allow for more of a buffer zone between our thoughts and actions. A calm mind makes you more responsive and less reactive. In this state, you are less likely to act impulsively. This in turn leads to more rational decision making and will result in fewer conflicts.
3. Floating is like meditating on steroids.
Developing a consistent meditation practice is one of the more difficult habits to build. There are very few times when and places where you can sit in complete silence, free of distraction. Even if you do manage to find a place, you still have to deal with your body getting uncomfortable and restless. You also have to fight the constant urge to peek at the clock to see if you’ve reached your set time.
The main goal of meditation is to learn how to hone your concentration so you can use it to shut off the distractions around you, which will then allow you to focus solely on the inner workings of your mind. However with floating, the sensory deprivation pod shuts everything off — with no effort on your part. The water is even heated to the same temperature as your body in order to dull the awareness that you have of it. This allows your mind to wander freely, completely untethered from everything. This makes floating the optimal place to easily reach deep states of meditation, even if you’ve never meditated before.
4. In the right environment, the mind and body can heal itself.
I’ve come to realize that when the mind and body are relaxed and absent of chronic stress, it has an amazing ability to heal itself. Science is showing that chronic psychological stress can lead to depression and dementia but is also one of the leading causes for the development and progression of physical diseases. Researchers are discovering that chronic stress can hinder the ability of our body’s immune system to control inflammation. When inflammation is uncontrolled in the body, runaway inflammation occurs, which is thought to lead to the progression of disease.
After spending 100 hours in a sensory deprivation pod I have learned that cultivating a relaxed mind and body can positively affect every single aspect of your life and is, in fact, an essential part of living a truly healthy life. Unfortunately this area of health is mostly overlooked in today’s society but I hope that my experience will encourage you to explore the benefits of floating and relaxation more seriously.