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October 17, 2019

Finding Peace: How to Use a Sensory Deprivation Tank for Meditation

Posted In: Flotation Therapy
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sensory deprivation tank

Close your eyes and picture yourself floating quietly and gently down a river.

You find yourself lost in the darkness with only the sensation of being buoyant. Your thoughts start to slow down, and your pulse calms. Doesn’t that seem like a nice scenario?

It turns out you can achieve the same effect without needing a river or even being outside. Stepping into a sensory deprivation tank (commonly known as floating) has become a popular way for people to unwind after a long workday. It’s also increasingly popular as a way to promote meditation.

Here are some ways you can use float tanks to achieve greater mindfulness…

Just Breathe

When you’re in the tank, you can focus less on outside distractions and more on yourself including how you’re breathing. Chances are you’re doing it wrong, especially if you spend the bulk of your day sitting in a chair.

When you’re inside the tank, draw in deep breaths through the nose until your lungs can’t hold anymore. Hold the air for a moment before slowly releasing it through your nose or mouth. Try to get a steady rhythm going – there are no “max repetitions” for this meditative exercise.

Learning how to control your breathing and make it deeper can help you ward off stress more effectively, which you can apply outside the tank.

Let Your Mind Visualize

It may seem counterintuitive to “see” something when you’re in a dark tank, but visualization meditation is actually a thing.

There’s a couple of different ways you can approach this type of meditation while floating. One of them is more of an active method, sort of like the visualization used by top athletes to help them perform at their best.

You wilfully picture a scene and play it out in your head. For example, if you have an important presentation to give the next day, you can visualize the people that might be in the room and confidently pitching to them.

This is sometimes referred to as “lucid dreaming.”

The other is more of a by-product of meditation. Instead of actively picturing a scene or a person, you let go and let your mind visualize whatever it wants. Don’t judge the thoughts that enter your brain, just let them flow.

Some people even report seeing objects and colors while in the tank (hallucinations), so just let them be and enjoy the show.

Increase Body Connection

During your busy days, you probably don’t check into how tense various muscles are in your body until one of them cramps up.

However, the float tank is the perfect place to correct this. Using integrative body-mind training while floating can give you a better sense of overall well-being.

But how do you achieve it? Using deep breathing, shift your mind to a specific part of your body during each breath. For example, check-in with your calves, your arms, your neck. Put all of your attention to those body parts one at a time to determine how they feel.

Once you’ve focused on the specific body part, let the muscle tension melt away as you slowly exhale. You may find some places in your body are holding more stress, so focus on them more during the meditative exercise.

Calm Your Thoughts

Shamatha meditation is a way to achieve calmer thoughts and emotions, and the sensory deprivation tank is an ideal way to achieve this.

While there are different postures for practicing this type of meditation, laying down is an effective one. It involves allowing yourself to acknowledge all of the thoughts in your head and realize that it’s normal to have them.

With practice, you start to judge your thoughts less and instead just let them be. That can help you focus less on negative outcomes or having thoughts that don’t contribute to the greater goal.

Gain Greater Insight

As you learn to calm your thoughts using the previous meditation method in the tank, you can turn your attention to vipashyana, also known as insight meditation.

The purpose of this type of meditation is to separate your delusional beliefs from reality by examining them in your mind. It helps you see yourself and others in their true light.

That can mean you realize what you thought was a threat may be harmless upon reflection. However, this insight can also help you identify things in your life that demand more attention than you’re giving them.

Focus on Love For Yourself and Others

There’s a form of meditation that’s called “loving-kindness,” or LKM, and it’s particularly easy to practice when you’re alone with your thoughts in a float tank as silence helps.

During this type of meditation, you conjure feelings of love and forgiveness towards yourself and other people in your life. In order to achieve it, you start by imagine experiencing a high level of physical and mental wellness (even if you don’t feel that way entering the tank.) However, after a few visits, you may find your natural well-being increases, as float therapy has some health benefits.

You can even repeat some positive messages about yourself in your head or out loud (don’t worry, chances are no one will hear you because the tanks are soundproof.) Whenever you feel your thoughts drifting back to something negative, return to the feelings of love and let them wrap around you.

If you feel sufficiently self-loved, then move your attention to others. It’s best to focus on yourself for the first few sessions.

Enhance Meditation In a Sensory Deprivation Tank

The float tank can help you enhance the meditation experience. The tanks are ideal because they block outside distractions and let you focus on your own breathing and thoughts.

With a bit of practice, you might find you have greater compassion for yourself and others, while also dealing with everyday stress more effectively.

To find out more about the benefits of spending time in a sensory deprivation tank, and the different types of tanks available, contact us today.

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