If there’s one reason above all others that people are reluctant to try floating, it’s that they’re nervous about what will happen inside the tank. All alone in the soundless dark, floating effortlessly atop soothing Epsom-infused saltwater… what will I see? What will I hear?
So, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room tank – the question of “seeing things” while you float.
Thanks to “Altered States” and (recently) “Stranger Things,” there are many who’ve decided that the possibility of “seeing things” means floating is not for them. Which is a shame, because there’s more to floating than what Hollywood has shown you. Floating (aka Sensory Deprivation, aka R.E.S.T.) has been scientifically proven to have a host of awesome benefits: pain relief; insomnia help; lowered blood pressure; decreased stress and anxiety; sports training; muscle relaxation; and creative insights, to name just a few.
Now that you know some of the benefits, let’s talk about what you may or (more likely) may not see or hear, inside the float tank.
The science behind the prospect of hallucinatory tank moments is simple. Once you’re in the soothing environment of a tank, gone are any outside stimuli. In the completely darkened room, there’s no difference between what you see when your eyes are closed – or when they’re open. Likewise, the soundproofed room means you won’t hear much of the outside world – thus: sensory deprivation, all around.
The modern world falls away. No incessant beeps; no outside traffic; no more of the zillion and one distractions that are constantly begging for your attention. A float tank is one of the very last places on Earth where you can truly be alone with your thoughts.
But the pop culture side of the equation often gives floating a bad rap. If you believe “Stranger Things” or “Fringe,” it’s a gateway to terrifying dimensions. And we won’t even talk about “Altered States,” with its (SPOILER ALERT) Ape Man.
Much of this lore began with stories about floating’s brilliant inventor, Dr. John C. Lilly. Lilly’s forays into the tank, which sometimes involved taking hallucinogenics and attempting to communicate with dolphins, are what inspired “Altered States” – which then inspired many other pop culture works.
The Truth Is: your brain isn’t used to being deprived of any outside stimuli, so you might experience a few fleeting semi-hallucinatory moments during your float as your brain tries to process what it’s not seeing. After several hundred floats for the author, though, I can attest that these “visions” are, by and large, very mild. In fact, you’ll probably find them soothing! One regular experience involves seeing what looks like northern lights, as amorphous and colorful “clouds” dance across your field of vision (see: Lisa Simpson.) Occasionally, this author has also experienced brief auditory hallucinations involving snippets of music, the sound of rainfall, or (VERY rarely) spoken words, to name a few. But these moments are nothing like you see in the movies or on TV.
So while there’s no shortage of I HALLUCINATED IN A TANK clickbait stories online, rest assured that anything you might see or hear while inside the tank is bound to be subtle, brief, mild, and likely soothing. Sorry to disappoint if you were seeking passage to the Upside/Down!
Don’t let preconceptions of floating keep you from trying this modern day health and wellness marvel for yourself. In a world that’s constantly overwhelming our senses in a thousand different ways, the peace and quiet of the float tank is a virtual oasis in the desert. You can book your session with our convenient online portal – or give us a call at 818-639-3572, during normal business hours. Need more info? Email us at email@example.com, and let’s continue the conversation. Happy Floating!