February 15, 2013

Deprive Your Senses: The Therapeutic Benefits of Flotation. ~ Darin Lehman

Flotation: The art of doing nothing on a cloud.

While all matter was created in the cosmos, we know that organic life on earth was created in the salt of the sea.

Sensory deprivation flotation takes you out of the world you know and into a simple and all-encompassing state of being, an intimate experience with yourself and hopefully with all of creation. Flotation gives an opportunity for the mind and body to escape (in an accelerated way) into a primordial state of inner tranquility.

What is sensory deprivation flotation?

Sensory deprivation flotation is credited to Dr. John Lilly, a neuropsychiatric who was interested in the origin of consciousness. In the early 1950s, the first sensory deprivation tanks were designed to study the way the brain is controlled; how the brain functions on its own and what energy is used to regulate the mind.

A light and sound isolation tank is filled with about six inches of water; epsom salts are then diluted into water (about 1000 pounds per 50 gallons).

The saturation level is just below the level needed for the salt to recrystallize—the water therefore becomes extremely dense and the human body floats high on the surface of the water.

The tank and the water are heated to mimic the outside temperature of our skin. The epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate; magnesium is an electrolyte and the second most abundant element found in human cells. It helps to regulate enzymes in the body and helps in the proper functioning of our nervous and muscular systems.

The salt soothes the muscles while its buoyancy relieves stress brought on by gravitational pull.

Here are just a few of the health benefits associated with epsom salts:


> Eases stress and improves sleep and concentration

> Helps muscles and nerves function properly

> Regulates activity of 325+ enzymes

> Helps prevent artery hardening and blood clots

> Makes insulin more effective

> Reduces inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramp

> Improves oxygen use


> Flushes Toxins

> Improves absorption of nutrients

> Helps form joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins

> Helps prevent or ease migraine headache


You are fully nude, floating on the surface of warmed salt water. You begin to center yourself in the tank away from the walls, the water stills. Aware of tension in your body, you relax your feet and toes; legs, shoulders, head and neck.

The surface of the water is just below your eyes, your ears submerged, you hear your heart beating. As your senses slowly become more static, your mind becomes dynamic and begins to race.  Thoughts stream through your media and you may begin to see colors lighting up the back of your eyelids as the rods and cones which make up your sight begin to fire off.

You notice your breath, constricted and short at first, begins to soften and lengthen. As you feel your belly rise and fall with your breath, every exhale becomes an opportunity to release the tension you’re unwillingly holding onto.

The mind becomes relaxed and you drift off into the outer levels of your consciousness. You feel as though you are on a cloud, zero gravity.

Traveling deep into your consciousness, there is no time, there is no thought, no worry, it’s just you. You stop conceptualizing, you stop trying to understand or contemplate, you are pure soft understanding. You hear a noise, or you see a light, it takes a moment to realize what’s happening, so you questions yourself: Was that a full hour?

You slowly emerge from the tank, your skin dries quickly producing white streaks on your skin; you take one of the most refreshing showers of your life.

You notice the way you walk first, a little slower, a little lighter—colors seem brighter, sounds are full and vibrant.

You feel weight, burden, worry, stress, all lifted off your shoulders.


Darin Lehman is a yoga instructor and co-owner of ZAZEN in San Francisco, CA. The Zazen Center offers yoga, massage, daily meditation and sensory deprivation floatation.






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Asst. Ed: ShaMecha Simms
Ed: Bryonie Wise


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