Floating – a natural halucinogenic experience
It was 1954 and John C. lilly was finding resistance in the world of psychology, who at the time believed “That if all outside stimuli were cut off, the brain would cease its activity resulting in a condition resembling coma, or dreamless sleep”. This had yet to be properly tested out in functionality though, and John… John was an explorer, a peerer into unknown worlds, unafraid to enter spaces within himself others wouldn’t dare. And so he did.
The first float experiment took place in a freakishly sci-fi chamber, complete with breathing apparatus and diagnostic equipment in the darkest lit of rooms, but what he discovered in that experiment would carry on a wave of experiments, and experiences lasting until today, and most likely far into the future.
“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits. These limits are to be found experientially and experimentally. When the limits are determined, it is f
ound that they are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind, there are no limits. The body imposes definite limits.”
― John C. Lilly, The Deep Self: Consciousness Exploration in the Isolation Tank
After the realization and confirmation that there is so much more going on inside us than our 5 external senses, John jumped head first, looking deeper into the sensory deprivation experience. Looking to make a tank his own way, He found a lovely couple (Glenn and Lee Perry) to build his first tank which immediately stepped away from the scary, sci-fi science lab experiment and into the therapeutic, revitalizing, and inspiring interstellar pod’s they’ve become today.
So, What are these tanks good for aside from laying in some warm floaty water in the dark?
From the Floathq.com:
“Getting rid of all sensory input allows the ‘constantly-make-sure-you’re-not-dying’ part of your brain to chill out for a second, allowing the creative, relaxed part of your brain to come out and play. Without the constant pressure of analyzing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of c
ortisol, the main chemical component of stress.
Not having to fight gravity lets your muscles, joints, and bones take a well-deserved break. Your body suddenly has loads of extra resources (usually spent supporting your weight, regulating temperature, and trying not to get speeding tickets), which it gets to focus on things like healing and resting.
Without old-man gravity pushing you down all the time, chronic and acute pain is relieved, and your muscles get to fully rest. Unlike lying on a mattress, lying in water allows blood to flow freely all throughout your body. There’s no need to readjust your position to get comfortable. Research shows that about 40 minutes into your float your brain stops producing its normal Alpha and Beta waves and starts going deeper into a Theta and even Delta state.”
Is the float experience alone anything like tripping on psychedelics? Does it make you feel high?
This fundamentally comes down to the individual’s makeup, previous experiences, and ability to surrender. After guiding 1000’s of people through their first experience, those who have had visual phenomena manifest in their daily life, or in meditative practices were far more inclined to have the float experience do the same. Those who were much less visual, did not have other practices, or had never experienced a psychedelic tended to have more of the stress-reducing, grounding, and defragmenting aspects of the float session.
There is although, an undeniable “float high”. Colors are brighter, food is tastier, essentially all external senses get re-sensitized from the constant battering of hyper-stimulating environments we put ourselves in. People seem to look and feel lighter, both energetically and within gravity. (they just spent 90 minutes or more in an 80% reduced gravity environment).
What about Psychedelics while floating?
Being a big advocate for both psychedelics and the float experience, naturally one wishes to combine the two. How interesting would that be? My direct experience, as well as shared among many others is that the float tank provides an ideal environment for enhancing the therapeutic, visual, and inner reflective attributes of the psychedelic experience, as well as the direct integration process.
Assuming one is a responsible tripper, possibly even has a trip sitter, the float tank has the capacity to provide a very safe, warm and comfortable environment to be totally at ease through one’s experience. Again, this assuming 100% responsibility of the tripper.
John C Lilly himself was a psychedelic renegade, and was known for 12 hour stints of Ketamine self-redosing while floating. This did, in the end lead to severe complications and big mistakes on his end, albeit his discoveries were also priceless, safety should be held in high consideration here.
There is so much that can be said about float tanks, but truly in the end, it’s what they are not that makes them so wonderful. It’s the experiences with nothing added that I’ve found most rewarding. It’s the consistency of practice and time spent doing absolutely nothing that has left me and so, so many just a bit happier, a bit lighter, a bit freer.
“I am not my opinion of myself, I am not anything I can describe to me. I am only a part of a large system that cannot describe itself fully; therefore, I relax and I am in the point source of consciousness, of delight, of mobility, in the inner spaces. My tasks do not include describing me nor having an opinion about the system in which I live, biological or social or dyadic. I hereby drop that “responsibility”.
I am much more than I can conceive or judge me to be. Any negative or positive opinions I have of me are false fronts, headlines, limited and unnecessary programmes written on a thin paper blowing about and floating around in the vastness of inner spaces.”
― John C. Lilly, The Center of the Cyclone: Looking into Inner Space
This article is by Jordan River