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IamA guy who floated in sensory deprivation tanks for 30 days in a row AMA!

Mar 1st 2018 by Thehealthygamer • 14 Questions • 88 Points

My short bio:

I'm 31 and have been fascinated with the study of consciousness and altered states of consciousness for over a decade. I recently had the opportunity to float for 30 days in a row in sensory deprivation tanks at a float spa that my buddy opened up in town. It seems that everyone I talk to is quite interested in the float experience so feel free to ask me anything about floating!

I also made a documentary of my experience that is available free on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/d1_xV5bXv_k

My Proof: You can see that I occasionally post videos from my YouTube channel to reddit using this account. Here's a post I made a couple months back about my AT thru-hike video: https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/72trg4/in_2016_i_hiked_all_2189_miles_of_the_appalachian/

Q:

What was the length of time you floated each day? Any epiphanies while floating?

A:

90 minutes everyday except for one night where we floated for 6 hours.

Oh sure. I had lots of insights while floating. Mostly personal so they're not worth sharing.

The float state is a really great place to problem solve. If you've been stewing over a problem for a while or trying to make a decision hop in the tank, get relaxed, bring your mind to the problem, and the answer will just be clear as day. I think this is because we have many different layers to ourselves that sometimes can be in conflict. For example your logical mind may tell you one thing while your heart may want something else. Getting in the tank clears away all the surface level layers and connects you to the deeper parts of yourself and I think it's those deeper parts of yourself that make the best decisions and know what's best. But that's just my theory.


Q:

Getting in the tank clears away all the surface level layers and connects you to the deeper parts of yourself

Some of my experiences with pot (which are relatively few) were similar in that sense.

A:

It's all tapping into the same place. I've recently started meditating 2 hours/day and doing that I tap into some similar states of consciousness as I do in the tank. These states of consciousness I've also experienced while on shrooms, LSD, and pot. The benefit with floating and meditation is that you have a lot more control over the experience.


Q:

Just because the epiphanies were personal doesn't mean they aren't "worth sharing"... Right?

Since they're personal, you may not want to share them, but they might be worth it.

A:

I mean I just wouldn't even know how to go about sharing them. They'd require paragraphs of backstory to make any sense.

But I'll share one:

I was born in China, adopted when I was 8. My adopted mom was single and never married so I grew up with a single mom. In the tank I had the realization that I had been seeking the approval of older males for most of my teenage and adult life and that this need to seek male approval had manifested in many ways:

  • Bodybuilding
  • Joining the Army
  • Doing start-up stuff(to win awards, get mentor-ship, and get accolades from old successful businessmen)

And by making this realization I could then let go of that need to seek approval from male figures and thus stop this cycle that really wasn't serving me.


Q:

You’re a badass for recognizing this and making changes

A:

Haha thank you.


Q:

How does it start to change your perception? Do you constantly realize you are just floating in a dark tank or do you start to feel different or feel changes in the way things are around you?

A:

I would say the most obvious changes to your perception is that it makes all of your senses exponentially more acute.

Many people(myself included) will come out of a float and notice many more things. For example you may notice a lingering perfume on your shirt from when you hugged your girlfriend that morning that you hadn't smelled until you got out of the float. Everything will look brighter outside - comparable to when you take a small dose of psychedelics. Things have a kind of a glow to them sometimes when you get out of the tank. Your hearing is heightened. You'll notice the feel of the towel on your body more acutely and the feel of the water on your skin as you shower. Really if you've taken psychedelics it's very much like that experience where everything is just heightened.

To the second part of your question... not sure what you're asking exactly but during a typical float you will become more and more relaxed. You will lose sensation of your body and your mind will naturally start drifting into altered states of consciousness. From there the experiences become very individualized. Some people will leave their bodies, some people will go to sleep(I fell asleep a lot), some people see colors, some people interact with entities, it all depends but you're not going to float there for 90 minutes thinking "I'm floating inside a dark tank" the whole time.


Q:

What is it about floating that is better for muscle recovery than say, lying on a mattress? I haven’t watched all of the documentary you made yet, but several of the people interviewed shared that the muscle recovery from training was much improved with floating.

Also, does the 90 minutes inside feel like 90 minutes (more or less). Do you sleep or get bored inside?

Very interesting topic!

A:

The short answer is I don't know and no one knows.

My theory:

  • Less restricted bloodflow. We know that blood-flow is crucial to exercise recovery. That's why connective tissues heal much slower than muscles, because they receive less blood flow. When you're laying on a bed half of your body is still constricted to a greater or lesser extent. The float tank is the closest we can get to a weightless environment in our day to day so I think there's some benefit derived from just overall better circulation.

  • There's the magnesium element. The tank is filled with 1,000lbs of epsom salt and while the science is still out many people claim that you benefit from transdermal uptake of the magnesium. Athletes burn through magnesium stores with exercise so it could be replenishing those stores. Again no hard science on this yet but people are starting the research studies.

  • The deep state of relaxation. There's something about the float tank environment that just facilitates a very deep state of relaxation. Many people(myself included) come out saying "wow I didn't know I could get that relaxed." So somehow that environment is allowing your muscles to let go of the tension it normally holds and I think this process then contributes to speeding up the recovery of your body.

Bottom line though is that no one really knows but many many athletes are finding now that float tanks really does help to cut their recovery time down. Funny that you ask because Brooke Wells just came in for a float(I'm at the float shop right now, it's slow, so I'm doing this AMA lol). The CrossFit open is here again and I'm sure she's coming in to prep her mind and body to hit the workout hard this weekend.


Q:

How would you compare the first time in the sensory deprivation tank and the final day?

A:

First day was all about getting used to the tank. Remembering not to scratch your face so you don't get salt in your eye. Lots of hypnic jerks as I start to fall asleep, etc.

Last day I just got in and dropped down into this deep state of relaxation within 5-10 minutes. That's the only way to describe it, after 30 days I could almost immediately drop down into a deep place within myself where I was calm, my mind was quiet, and my body was relaxed.


Q:

Have you tried to achieve that sensation outside of the tank now that you've gotten so used to getting there?

A:

Yes and I am able to achieve that same feeling of dropping down deep inside myself through meditation.

I went to a 10 day vipassana retreat in January and have been meditating 2 hours/day since then.

I have experienced many of the same benefits meditating 2hrs/day as I experienced during my 30 days of floating.

I would recommend serious meditation over floating if you had to pick one. My meditation practice gives me many more benefits beyond the simple peace, quiet, and relaxation of the tank.

But the nice thing about the tank is that it's not hard work. Meditation is hard work. With a tank you can just go lay in there for 90 minutes and get out super calm, relaxed, at peace, and drop down into deep places within. With meditation you really have to be diligently working to drop into the same places.

However meditation you can do anywhere, anytime, for free. And like I said you'll gain many more benefits aside from the simple relaxation/calm/peace that you get from floating. The tank is not nearly as accessible.

If you do BOTH that's the sweet spot. I can get into super deep states of meditation within minutes in the float tank. These are states that took me 7-8 days of meditating from 4am until 9pm at the retreat to get to.


Q:

I've tried meditation before with very limited success, because of all the worldly distractions. It sounds like doing some float tank stuff first to get into that mind-set would help, and then once having channeled that moving to more regular meditation would be nice. Like a cheat to get to the end result, and knowing how it feels to get there.

Thanks for the insight!

A:

And I would also recommend getting some formal training in meditation. I never really "got it" until I went to my 10 day retreat. There are various retreats all over the world with different lengths and different teachers. Just find one that sounds right for you and attend. I think to truly "get" meditation you have to practice really diligently for a while, and it's really difficult to establish that firm practice without something like a retreat to help you.


Q:

Who braugth you food and what did you eat?

A:

I just floated for 90 minutes everyday for 30 days in a row, didn't stay in the tanks the whole day.


Q:

Oh ok lol

A:

Yeah I think if you stayed in for 30 days you'd probably have blood clots and die or something lol.


Q:

How deep is the chamber? I'm a skinny, muscular guy so I don't float in pools haha. Does your body rest on the bottom of the chamber or are you fully suspended in water? Is there anything in the water to make you float more, like salt?

A:

8-10 inches of water. Don't worry you'll float. There's 800-1,000lbs of epsom salt in there. Your body won't touch the bottom.


Q:

Ah yeah I figured there was some salt in there. Thats cool. Maybe I'll see if theres one in my area. Always seemed like an interesting activity. What drove you to do this? Was there a particular problem you wanted to solve or did you just think it would be a fun and beneficial exercise?

A:

If you take a look at my doc that's link it explains it all. I'd basically just come back from thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, almost 2,200 miles and I needed both physical and mental recovery.


Q:

Oh ok. Cool. I've always wanted to do that. Thanks for answering my questions.

A:

You're welcome! I have some more AT videos on my channel if you wanta check em out.