sensory deprivation tank

BUSTED: 3 myths about Floating that stop you from trying it. E.g. “But what if I’m claustrophobic?”

BUSTED: 3 myths about Floating that stop you from trying it. E.g. “But what if I’m claustrophobic?”

Three misconceptions that hold people back from using this effective form of therapy.  

“But what if I’m claustrophobic?”

This is probably the most common fear that stops people from starting. To dispute this concern, let’s look at claustrophobia and floatation tanks.

This is the first of a 3-part blog series dedicated to the new floater.  In part 2, we’ll cover preparing for your first float, and in part 3 we’ll discuss the learning curve and accumulating benefits of floating. 

5 Reasons to Actively Practice Stress Management

5 Reasons to Actively Practice Stress Management

As our stress levels increase or as we are chronically in a stressful (fight-or-flight) state our mind's ability to be easily triggered and reactive increases. We may say and think things that we normally wouldn't say or think if we were in a calmer state.  Actively practicing stress management can allow us to be a "better" version of ourselves when dealing with others.

Sensory Deprivation Boosts Musicians’ Skill Level

by Tom Jacobs

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Everybody knows the standard answer. But newly published research suggests that, after you’ve labored all day in the practice room, you might want to spend an hour in a flotation tank.

Oshin Vartanian of the University of Toronto and Peter Suedfeld of the University of British Columbia report floating in an Epsom salt solution one hour per week for four weeks boosted the technical ability of a group of college music students. This suggests such periods of minimal sensory stimulation can improve performers’ perceptual-motor coordination.

Don’t start filling up the bathtub, however: This experiment, described in the journal Music and Medicine, featured a level of sensory deprivation achievable only in a specially designed tank. The device was invented in the 1950s by neuroscientist John Lilly; in the years since, its use has been linked to improved sports performance and heightened levels of creativity.

But would it work for budding be-boppers? To answer that question, the researchers conducted an experiment using 13 students enrolled in an intermediate-level jazz improvisation course at Vancouver Community College.

float-house-music-sensory-deprivation-tank

Eight of the students — six men and two women — engaged in flotation sessions for four consecutive weeks. They spent an hour each week in a fiberglass shell, floating in a solution of Epsom salts and skin-temperature water. They were in the dark, and outside sounds were muffled.

All the participants — including the other five musicians who comprise the comparison group — made two five-minute-long recordings in which they freely improvised. The first took place one week before the flotation sessions began; the second, one week after the sessions concluded. Each session was rated by the instructor (who was unaware which students were undergoing the treatments) on five dimensions: improvisation, creativity, expressiveness, technical ability and overall quality.

The researchers found “a significant difference between the treatment and comparison groups on technical ability, but not on any other dimension,” the researchers write. Thanks to this enhanced skill level, those who had floated “had significantly higher grades in the jazz improvisation class than the comparison group.”

Vartanian and Suedfeld concede this was a small sample. But they note that, based on their initial recordings, the instructor rated the treatment and comparison groups essentially equal on all five dimensions. Since “The two groups can be considered equivalent in terms of motivation and baseline ability,” the difference in their ability was very likely the result of the flotation sessions.


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So why didn’t the treatment group’s creativity scores also rise? The researchers suspect this reflects the one-week lag time between the final flotation session and the second recording.

That was purposeful on their part: They wanted to gauge long-lasting rather than immediate effects. (Previous research found increased creativity in university students after floating sessions measured their abilities immediately after they left the tank and dried off.)

Of course, for a musician, technical expertise can inspire increased creativity, as it gives one the confidence to take risks. So perhaps this boost in skill will lead to higher levels of originality in the long run.

In any event, the results suggest this technique holds considerable promise for musicians in general and jazz artists in particular. As Vartanian and Suedfeld note, flotation isolation “has been shown to induce a state of relaxed alertness, concentration and reduced stress.”

Which is exactly where you want to be when the bandleader gives his cue.

Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is quite the experience mentally and physically

Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is quite the experience mentally and physically

The isolation tank isn't a new thing and has been around since the 1950s which has given it plenty of time for experiments and research.

Floating has been shown in various studies to provide benefits of wellbeing, induce profound relaxation, stress reduction, and pain reduction to name a few.

Floating: Can It Buoy You To Better Health?

Floating: Can It Buoy You To Better Health?

Here’s a trend you may have missed the memo on—flotation tanks. It entails lying in a large tub (think the length of a walk in closet) filled with warm, very salty water, in a soundproofed and pitch black room.

Love As The Absence Of Pain: My Time In The Sensory Deprivation Chamber

Love As The Absence Of Pain: My Time In The Sensory Deprivation Chamber

Wet and sweaty, dark and silent, I sat in an oversized tub filled with supersaturated medicinal salt water for sixty minutes. I learned about my body and mind, and the futility of my existence was reaffirmed.

Seven Tips to Float Like a Pro

Seven Tips to Float Like a Pro

Floating is as much of an art form as it is a science. It can take some practice to avoid the common pitfalls in a Sensory Deprivation Tank that can take away from your experience (if you let them)! Master these seven tricks and you’ll be on your way to floating bliss in no time!

After Facilitating Over 26,000 Floats…The Hard Truth I’ve Learned About Float Tanks

After Facilitating Over 26,000 Floats…The Hard Truth I’ve Learned About Float Tanks

One of the most important realizations I’ve had in a float tank is, that floating is ALL about the individual! We’ve all heard the phrase,“Only boring people get bored,” this is most definitely true about our time spent in the void. The float tank is an inanimate object; the pitch-black environment doesn’t care how hard my workweek was. The 900 lbs. of Epsom salts is completely indifferent to what my significant other/boss/friend/co-worker said or didn’t say.  And when I close the hatch, the tank isn’t smirking about how it’s captured another self-proclaimed claustrophobic person. After facilitating over 26,000 floats, I can safely say most people who thought they would be claustrophobic, actually have no problem being inside a float tank.

How I Learned to Lucid Dream When I Float.

How I Learned to Lucid Dream When I Float.

My floats tend to be very visual in nature. Sometimes I am overcome with waves of emotions, other times I am able to enter into a lucid dreamstate and explore the vastness of my mindscape and sometimes my mind just rants, raves and yells at itself.

I've been obsessed with sensory deprivation tanks for about a decade now. Throughout my time in university, I was lucky enough to have amazing professors who allowed me to research them as my theses, which greatly added to my theoretical knowledge of floating.

Until Float House Vancouver opened, I was only able to float sporadically, once or twice a year and more often than not, I would enhance this experience with psychedelic substances, going for extended lengths of time, inducing intense and personalized Sacred Ecstatic Experiences full of religious imagery. Now that I float on a more regular basis, I have learned how to include it as a constant practice and have seen how it has changed many aspects of my life.