Flotation tanks or Isolation tanks are increasingly becoming more popular around the world, receiving a lot of exposure in mainstream media as tools for attaining altered states of consciousness and deep relaxation. In Australia, float tank centres are opening all over obscure suburbs in the big cities. Demand is increasing so much so, that in Melbourne, you will generally need at least 2-3 days before you can even book a float tank session.
The procedure is very simple, you lie on your back in a capsule isolated from sound and light, in water containing hundreds of kilograms Epsom salts, in which allow you to completely float on your back for an hour or two. Floating by itself is great, but it takes some time to be able to acclimatise to the process. If you float for 2 hours +, the effects can especially carry over into your everyday life for a whole week. It appears the the resulting carry over effects are more startling than traditional forms of meditation, and the benefits of Float tanks have been championed by people like Graham Hancock and Tim Ferris, who have both mentioned floating in Joe Rogan’s podcast. Joe Rogan himself is a big proponent of floating and owns his own float tank.
Different people will have different sorts of experiences with flotation tanks. Some people in a regular float will have mystical experiences and experience some spiritual depth, while others can float hundreds of hours and only report deep relaxation.
With floating, as in meditation, you are really struggling against your own mind, to stop the constant flow of thoughts to hopefully come to a deeper state of consciousness. For myself, floating by itself is just fine, and I can get to quite a place of relaxation and thoughtlessness, but the state is really nothing too special. So recently when I was in a country where I had access to very cheap float tank, I wanted to go deeper and try floating with different psychedelics, inspired by James Jesso’s report of taking psliocybin mushrooms in the flotation tank in his book “The True of Light of Darkness”
Firstly, I tried 150 micrograms of LSD in a 3 hour float, about 8 hours into the LSD experience. 150 micrograms was probably a bit strong and I would recommend more like 75-100mcgs. Yet, I found the experience “too busy”, with not enough peace of mind and depth. This is unlike John C. Lilly’s (the man who invented the float tank) experiences with LSD and floating which in his writing come off as being very deep and cosmic experiences.
Then I tried a vine heavy dose of ayahuasca, which turned out to be stronger than I thought it was in the float tank, and the issue here was that the experience was so immersive, that I didn’t really know I was in a float tank at all. This defeated the purpose of being in a float tank, and so I decided that even lower doses of Ayahuasca may be the way to go.
Then I took about 2 grams of mushrooms two hours before going into the tank, to do a four hour float. I was a big fidgety and restless for the first couple of hours, and at the two hour point I went into total relaxation, a state where I felt left brain and right brain and my left side and right side completely merge. This state is the best I had felt in a very long time. It was like my brain and body was dissolving in feel good chemicals, and I could even see these chemicals clearly as crystalline bubbles. I understood that these endorphin like chemicals are results of communications within my body telling me, “Keep doing this! This is very good!”
I felt like I was melting there in bliss, moreso than I have ever felt with MDMA or any other substance for example. I felt completely mindful, totally awake and yet there were no thoughts. The closest I have been this state with any other substance, was the day after taking the highest grade ceremonial grade iboga, which was just like being back in the womb. So I found this state to be incredibly healing, resulting in a very optimistic state of being. For the 2 weeks or so I found, I could “come back” to this deep state in my everyday consciousness.
Since that time, I have tried floating with about 1-2g of dried mushrooms, for 1 and half to 3 hours. Sometimes these experiences can be quite strong and visual, depending on the mushrooms. Definitely the flotation tank amplifies the visionary experience of whatever compound it is you are taking.
Strangely enough, even though I will eventually be able to go into endorphin pumping, blissful, deep relaxation, I would very often meet malevolent beings in the tank. I felt at times, that there were beings who prey on people in this vulnerable and relaxed state, and they often would come to the fore after about half an hour of being in the tank, when you had reached that state of relaxation and openess.
Once after half an hour, I saw two guys in white suits spraying fluorescent yellow gas all over me, which seemed to be some sort of drug. I “torped” half a dozen times and a large octopus being landed on top of me, melting as its dead body landed on my body and ever so slowly slid off.
The guys in white protective suits looked at each other and didn’t know what to do, and then basically just left, having no reason to be there after their “boss” had died!
The issue here is that when you go into attack mode with these beings, they keep coming at you, and a couple of times I have had to take on quite a number of beings for an hour or two before being able to relax.
The main issue with this, is making this high pitched torping sound in float tank centres. The sound penetrates through the tank and through the walls of the float room, into the reception area of the float tank centre usually, sometimes resulting in the receptionist telling you to keep it down!
Recently, I had some sort of robot like being start praying upon me, but I made this quick blowing, that Amazonian shamans use to dispel evil spirits and I found that worked well. It’s a good technique in general to use with malevolent beings when you are not feeling like having an all out war with them OR are in the float tank centre and do not want to make too much noise.
In most of the sessions with about 1-2 grams of mushrooms, I am able to go into this bliss state for a time. However, for me the problem is that most float centres you can only book up to 90-120 minutes. Some centers allow you to book 3 hours, but I would prefer 4-5 hours to be honest, which in a country like Australia would also be prohibitively expensive as well.
I have recently tried 3 hours floating without mushrooms and completely straight. I find you really need to lie completely still and not move for two hours in order to go into the deepest states. In about 90 minutes I found I was am able to go into a visionary state, which I seemed to automatically snap out of quite after a few minutes so it doesn’t quite integrate. The more I float in general, the more relaxed and deeper I can go, but still, I am not able to go as deep as with the mushrooms. However, that may be a matter of practice. If I floated 2-3 hours every week, I may be able to go as deep as I do with mushrooms.
I believe low doses mushrooms and float tanks represent one of the most therapeutic healing states I have ever experienced. In this state, you are brought back to yourself and your own ability to create enjoyment and pleasure within your own circuitry, not seeking anything from the outside world. Therefore these states affirm the within, and this makes you feel more connected to yourself. I believe that with floating you can come back the raw ground of being in you, which could be called the soul. When all stimuli is cancelled out, you become aware of your insides, your feelings, your thoughts, and truly what you are as consciousness.
I have also found the float tank is good for shaking, as you can just let go and let your whole body shake and let go, and release trauma or whatever it is the body is doing in the active process of shaking and releasing and freeing up tension. I have found myself involuntarily twitching sometimes during floats as well.
I have also heard that the opiate like herb Kratom works well in flotation tanks, from James Jesso’s podcast, but am yet to try it. I would not imagine any other compound would work as well as mushrooms in the tank. Some people may think taking ketamine in a tank would be a great idea in the float tank, but to honest, the state is so disassociative, that you would not even know you were in a tank. The ketamine state is in a way creating the flotatation tank experience within your body and brain anyway, but blocking external stimuli and impulses to your brain. Potentially cactus containing mescaline could also work in the tank, but I feel the state that it puts you into may be too stimulating, as you really want to be able to let go and relax.
So my prescription for floating is 2-4 hours in the float tank with low dose mushrooms, going in the tank perhaps at the tail end or halfway through the experience when you have stabilised the peak. Of course Psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in most all countries. And you also must be very, very careful being in public even with low doses of mushrooms. I generally like to take an Uber straight to the float tank centre and then back again. You must also appear not completely bent to the people at the float tank centre reception. I generally don’t tell them what I am doing, even if I think they may be sympathetic, unless I have developed some trust with them over time. Many of these float tank centers are very commercial operations and of course it costs a lot lot of money to do a 90-120 minute float in most places in the world. It would be great to see more community based float tanks so that it is more affordable for people to float regularly. There is also a company now selling much more affordable Float Tents.
So there it is, this is my prescription for the deepest, most blissful and healing states that I know how to reach. For me at least, the pleasure is better than any drug and the resulting relaxation is more profound than can be achieved through any other technique that I know of.