Spending time in a physical isolation floatation tank attenuates external stimuli. When floating, a person is effortlessly suspended in water due to the high concentration of Epsom salt (often about 1,000 lbs.). The water is skin temperature and there is no light or sound. The reduction of the stimuli of gravity, changes of temperature, light and sound frees up circuitry in the mind for people to relax and reduce stress. People who float regularly also report a reduction in physical chronic pain. Perhaps most importantly, a person floating has the chance to examine how they relate to others. They often discover more advantageous ways of approaching the people in their life.
Floating is much more than a tool for relaxation and the information in the rest of this section describes how the benefits of floating go well beyond relaxation.
Understanding brainwaves is useful for understanding how floating is more than a tool for relaxation. As can be seen in the illustration to the right, there are four different brainwaves. Each one seems to have a distinct function. It even appears that we learn distinct types of programming as each of the brainwaves develop. The reduction of stimuli in the physical isolation tank results in a reduction of the faster brainwaves (beta and alpha) and an amplification of the slower brain waves (theta and delta), which allows a person to examine and adjust the neural programming and other information stored in and directed from the slower brainwaves.
The illustration to the right shows the different brainwave activity. For example, one can notice an increase in brainwave activity as one moves from “dreamless” Delta, to “dream” Delta, all the way up to alpha and beta.
People who float often report a great deal of dreamlike activity. They sometimes emerge from floating talking of traumatic events from their early life. These events seem always to be related to something they believe is real. Actual reality may differ from what they believe it to be and it often seems they are adjusting what they believe to be real to what is actually real.
The different brainwaves all function all of the time, even in small children, as is illustrated in the figure to the left. However, it also seems that any given brainwave can somehow take precedence within the thinking machinery under certain circumstances and, apparently, at certain ages. For example, the Delta brain wave is often predominant during the first three or four years of life. The theta brain wave takes precedence from ages four to eight years, followed by alpha. Then beta brain wave activity becomes predominant during the teenage years. Therefore, when a person floats they are amplifying the predominant brainwaves from early in their life. This explains why many people have early life memories while floating.
Beliefs-in-Real and the Human Biocomputer
It is also important to have an understanding of programming in order to discuss how floating affects the mind. John C. Lilly, in Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer, explained the mind is structured like a computer. He explained that what a person programs in their mind early in life controls the programming from later in life. He said floating in an isolation tank helps a person examine, understand, and adjust disadvantageous programming from early in life.
In the following montage of pictures you can observe two and three year-olds learning what they will believe is real for the rest of their lives unless they have the opportunity to recognize their belief and have the language to change that belief. Some of these little kids will be well served by what we can observe them learning. Others may suffer throughout their life.
In this illustration below it’s possible to see another way of considering how the thinking apparatus is configured. If we consider that the three year old is learning what he or she will believe as real for the remainder of their lives we could say that his or her beliefs about the nature of the concept “real” are formed in Delta between birth until about three years old. Such concepts as hot, cold, wet, safe, unsafe, comfort, need, right, wrong, and a host of other ideas and abstractions are learned at this time of life. Most of these beliefs have experiences connected with them that give credence to the idea that they are real events. But very few children ever experience the full definition of the concept of hot, for instance. Moms and dads instill in the children that hot is dangerous and the children, lacking physical burns, believe in the danger. The beliefs-in-real formed early in one’s life, such as “hot is dangerous,” may very well be the reason why the human species has survived. The beliefs-in-real help a person navigate reality (e.g., knowing to not jump out of windows) so they survive.
Beliefs-in-real, which form in the Delta years (up until about age 3.5) are also known as self meta programs. The self meta programs (beliefs-in-real) work directly only on meta programs (which can be considered one’s emotions or reactions). Therefore, a property of any belief formed in early childhood is transferred automatically to the emotions, which are formed subsequent to the beliefs and must then be built with those beliefs as a foundation. For example, if someone tries to force a person’s hand to the pot of boiling water, a person will react emotionally by resisting or even fighting because they believe the pot will hurt them. It will, in fact, hurt them so their reaction makes sense.
Not all beliefs-in-real work well. As can be observed in the illustration above a blue square introduced in the Delta/belief-in-real building block, which in the illustration is red, will automatically be transferred to the next layer of programming above it. This is a particularly important point and one reason that the physical isolation tanks are considered to be such important tools in self-exploration. Floating helps a person free up circuitry in their mind to discover disadvantageous beliefs-in-real. In order to change all the blue blocks in our illustration the first order of business would be to change the blue block on the red cube which represents the Delta beliefs formed in childhood usually before the age of three.
This is a truth about programming, which very few paths or modalities address in any fashion. That beliefs or self meta programs are not usually addressed in a path or modality does not change the effect that a belief will have on the thinking machinery or the body as we grow older.
Through the continuous use of floating it is very likely that an individual will begin to experience a gradual clearing of programmed conflicts within the thinking machinery. When we were little children we simply did not have the experience to know we were causing conflicts for ourselves in later life. How could we have possible known how much of our life could be affected by just a few minutes of misunderstanding when we were only two years-old? Fortunately, for the first time in our history we have a method of accessing those early memories, which became rules of our lives. We can use floating to help us change our beliefs so they work more to our advantage. The vast majority of the memories and beliefs we formed as little children work to our great advantage but for those few that pose a problem we now have a way of accessing them and changing them without any interference from anyone at all.
If a person is exploring the flow of energy through their body and mind like the person in the illustration above or if they are merely looking to remove some of the stress from their life, floating can afford them some extra time to address the issues they find important in their life.
Perhaps the most astounding thing people report is how they interact with other people as they accumulate time floating. It is normal to hear of people reporting that the life they share with their partners, children and even friends take on aspects which are calmer and beneficial. No matter how a person considers energy flowing in their life, as illustrated in the drawing of the chakras above or as physical movement as illustrated by the photo of the gymnast to the right, floating is a helpful tool.