In November 2016 my friend and I were having breakfast when the word floatation, written on a sign, caught my eye across the street. After we had finished eating, on the way to our nearby beach walk (Santa Cruz), my friend and I entered the quantum age Floatation Center called: Equilibrium. We received a warm greeting from Dominique, one of the owners of the new business. He smiled brightly at us and appeared to be immersed in some Oceanic bubbly: extra-curricular floatation. Dominique’s inner delight was on display during our entire visit to this shortcut to Atlantis. He wowed my friend and I with an enthusiastic overview of floatation, technology meets tranquility at their cutting edge Center.
The primary highlight for me was getting to see the two floatation tanks. Both tanks were the largest I had ever seen, utilizing 1200 pounds of epsom salt. Each had a built in air filter, water heater (that keeps the water temperature at a constant of 93.5 F – what is known as the sacred temp. This being skin temperature, so there is no sensation of hot or cold-enabling the body-mind to let go even deeper). Besides the natural purification from the high density epsom salts, the tanks had built in UV light and hydrogen peroxide sterilization and a high capacity filter. After each float the tank water is cycled through this natural and powerful purification system 7 times between each float. (NO chemicals are used.) I was impressed and booked on as a monthly floater – with options to buy additional floats whenever needed.
When I first encountered floating, I was working for a high-tech transportation company. A stress-related itching syndrome was literally, as they say for a reason, ‘driving me crazy’. In truth suppressed frustration, anger and rage were igniting and crying for release. A horrific feeling experience;yet pure grace incognito. This itching was not like a mosquito sting or surface sensation relieved by a few appropriately aimed scratches. I would dig at spots, particularly on my forearms, often until they bled, with little or no relief. These buried feeling states and inclinations are what they call in India vasanas, a term which covers a wide variety of conditioning patterns, including: unconscious propensities, perpetual thought patterns, childhood psychic injuries and karmic residues. My initial intuition, that the tank was a gateway to consciousness and a new life, would take years to be realized. As John Lilly, the tank’s inventor once discovered through his own direct experience, referring to isolation therapy in the tank:
“…the mind does not pass into unconsciousness, the brain does not shut down. Instead, it constructs experience out of stored impressions and memories.” These latent impressions and ancient memories come vividly to the fore while floating thus accelerating the release of vasanas. And according to the sages of India, the vasanas must be scorched or purged from the system in order to sustain the natural state (true meditation), that is: pure awareness and bliss.
John Lilly was a neurophysicist who worked for NASA and also did human dolphin research and was involved with the cutting edge liberals of his era: Ram Dass, Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. In the last two decades of his life, Lilly used the Self-inquiry meditation of the famous sage Ramana Maharshi.
The floatation tank is truly one of the great aids for true spiritual practitioners of all walks of life and religious affiliation. An equally valuable tool to enhance devotional depth while also heightening intuitive wisdom – since floatation minimizes external interaction and distraction while greatly enhancing exploration of the internal domain.
In 1987, 30 years ago, I initially discovered the floatation tank. The only place offering floatation in the bay area at that time was in Los Gatos, California. Soon I was getting a walk through introduction, told to shower before and after-along with all the rest. The Samadhi tank I used at that time (Samadhi-one of the original pioneering companies), was a soundproof and lightless isolation vessel filled partway with 800 pounds of epsom salt. This quantity of epsom salt allows one to float on top of the water in zero-gravity environment. The epsom salt makes the tank waters naturally sterile, helping to create an atmosphere of buoyancy unknown to our human organism since gestation in the womb.
It took some time to get use to but almost instantly I fell in love with the dynamic stillness and my sense of physicality, the body-mind began to slowly unwind the holding patterns. The floatation tank opened a doorway to the light inside myself. As an early floatation explorer and author once wrote:
“…A new tool has been developed that has the potential to fundamentally change our way of life as a society…the tank provides a method of attaining the deepest rest that we have ever experienced.”
I floated a lot for the first few months, with a year or two break, then some more floating periods. During the first years there was a more surface quality to the floatation sessions-with the subsequent psychological and physical unwinding aspect. Floatation, however, can spontaneously adjust the spine, release muscle holding pattern and emotional blockages, making it an ideal adjunct for stress reduction; the epsom salts are magnesium based and help with relaxation, blood pressure regulation and other disorders; floatation also increases creativity, improves athletic performance, recovery and pain management.
The primary use of floatation in my opinion:
A tool for true meditation.
I received a foretaste of this on one particularly early float. I reached a profound meditative state, what I later learned must has been the alpha-theta brainwave state on the border at about 7-8 Hz. At this point, only breath, heartbeat and stillness and then I disappeared: Awareness remained without identity. I was on the knife-edge ridge of existence- the natural state of being. A vision came in and suddenly I was outside the tank looking through the wall of the tank with seeing-eye vision, watching the Michael-body floating nude inside the tank. I sprang up to a sitting position in shock, full body consciousness returned, self-identity. This experience has never left and has been a guidepost to the pristine purity of the Self.
In the last few months I have been floating regularly again and the stillness and meditation during these sessions have reached a point that I enter the tank and immediately assume the horizontal position and do not move the entire time. Everything disappears except the breath and the heartbeat, nearly imperceptible during regular waking life, takes on an immense presence inside the tank, filling the entire space with her majesty. I let the water medicine reconfigure and dissolve what in truth is not really there. Joy floods awareness or awareness floods with joy; the two are one. Form becomes obsolete and indistinguishable.
Emerging from the tank everything is lighter, like stepping off the plane into Aloha. Bodiless, spaceless, timeless, you begin to get a glimpse of what the spiritual masters point to when they say things like:
“The design of the body does not signify your identity, nor does your name. The indwelling presence, that beingness without words, That Itself you are. Stabilize yourself there and all doubts will clear and everything will be opened up in you.”