What is a Float Tank?

Sensory Deprivation. Floatation Therapy. Isolation Tank… The Float Tank has many names, but for simplicity, we will refer to it as the process of floating.

The story of Floating begins in the ’50s with a neuroscientist and psychonaut named John Lily. To try and better understand the nature of consciousness, Lily created an environment to isolate the human brain from almost all sensory inputs, and thus the float tank was born.

The process is generally done solo, and involves lying down in 12 inches of skin-temperature water, so salty that gravity gives way to total buoyancy (weightlessness). The float tank is in a light-proof, sound-proof room, creating a tranquil environment free from the chaos of the outer world.

Since the 70s, when commercial float tanks entered the market, float centers have offered REST worldwide. Notable “floaters” include Joe Rogan, Stephan Curry, Tom Brady, Richard Feynman, and John Lennon, just to name a few.

John Lily’s method is known as Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), and yes, it is incredibly relaxing. However, the float tank offers so much more than mere stress relief.

The float tank is a portal to the inner realm — a mirror for consciousness to witness itself. By disrupting the constant barrage of noise and notifications, the float tank acts as a catalyst for healing, self-discovery, and transformation.

– Christian Dockstader, Founder of True North Project


Floating relaxes the body in a way that simply isn’t possible otherwise.

Scientific research has shown that floating reliably reduces stress and helps recovery from burnout. One study showed that 100% of participants meaningfully reduced their clinical anxiety and improved their sense of serenity and well-being.

Floating relieves muscle tension and pain while improving muscle range and athletic performance. For this reason, float tanks are used by professional athletic organizations around the world, including the Chicago Cubs, New England Patriot, and Golden State Warrior (all won championships with float tanks in their facilities).

By activating the para-sympathetic nervous system, REST supports the body’s natural ability to heal. The respiratory and heart rates slow, blood pressure and stress hormones diminish, and our brain wave frequencies shift from alpha and beta to theta and delta.

As the body begins to open, old emotions, traumas, and injuries come to the surface of consciousness, ready to be transmuted and healed.

This instinct towards healing is the primordial intelligence of the body — evolution’s eternal drive for change, growth, and transformation.

“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.”

— Khalil Gibran, The Prophet


By “turning off” the outer world, floating increases interoception — illuminating the inner frontier of consciousness.

One does not have to “travel” far in the float tank to find the edge of one’s understanding.

One’s disposition and environment (set and setting) when embarking on a float journey make all the difference. With curiosity and intention, in a safe and peaceful environment, the float tank functions as a doorway to self-discovery.

Even when the going gets rough (as floats sometimes do), floating can be an incredibly powerful and rewarding experience, and there is no better place to do the hard “inner work” of transformation.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek.”

— Joseph Campbell

Furthermore, scientific studies reveal that floating enhances learning, cognitive function, and creativity.

The tank has long been a haven for artists, empaths, and visionaries who are particularly sensitive to the world. It is the perfect portal to enter the void — that vast open space of pregnant possibility. There you may find the muse, the business idea, the next song, that piece of art that desires to be born through you.

Cosmic creativity expresses itself through each of us. The float tank clarifies the lens through which that creative light shines — illuminating your irreducibly unique genius.

– Christian Dockstader, Founder of True North Project


More research on REST certainly needs to be done, but anecdotes of metamorphosis abound.

Reports range from chronic pain relief to life-changing trauma release, from increased clarity to breakthrough epiphanies, from transcending negative thought patterns to stopping addictive behaviors.

The float tank can elicit altered states of consciousness, visionary experiences, and a profound reconnection to a more authentic Self.

That’s what happened to me in January 2018, when 60 minutes in a float tank changed my life forever.

When I was 12, I dislocated my left hip and had a metal screw surgically implanted to “hold it together”, but in the float tank I had a startling realization that the screw needed to be removed in order for my body to heal. Even though the experience was overwhelming and intense, I trusted my intuition and purchased a float membership.

After ten months of regular floats and a yoga practice, I underwent a second surgery to remove the invasive screw from my hip.

The recovery process was challenging, but I knew I had the tools to pull it off. So I upgraded to an unlimited membership at my local float center. I logged 50 or more hours floating in just two months following surgery, and catalyzed my metamorphosis.

The float tank was so instrumental in my healing and recovery process, that I built a float center to share this gift with others.

The physical aspects of my transformation with floating are just the tip of the iceberg. The tank has helped me release emotional baggage and old traumas, connect to authenticity and creativity, and to orient to my “True North.”

Floating is a disruptive technology that can help heal our world, one curious soul at a time. The tranquil waters of life hold the key to our collective healing, discovery, and metamorphosis.

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