Floating My Way to Nirvana

New experiences slow aging, so for my birthday I tried to float my way to nirvana. As a gift, my Frenchman offered me a Flotation Therapy session. I left my comfort zone, overcame claustrophobia and closed myself in a flotation tank for a total mind and body experience.

Flotation therapy dates back to 1954 when Dr. John Lilly, a physician and psychoanalyst, studied altered states of consciousness, brainwaves and the effect of sensory deprivation. His research led to the development of a flotation device creating a weightlessness state, void of sensory stimulation, which can lead one to a state of mindfulness.

At the Surface Center in Lausanne Switzerland, entering the tank felt like stepping into a space ship. When I lay out in a bath of water heated to skin temperature of 94-95 degrees F and highly concentrated with (800 lbs.) Epsom salt to remove gravity, I felt as weightless as an astronaut in outer space.

Did you know about 90% of your brain’s activity focuses on calculating where gravity is and in which direction to enable you to move without falling over?

Without the necessity of maintaining posture, your mind frees from the physical world, creating a state of sensory relaxation.

Later Ohio State University research showed flotation improved creativity in jazz musicians. The therapy is currently used by elite athletes, like Stephen Curry, to enhance performance.

Hey, if it worked for basketball’s “Baby-Faced Assassin”, it could work for me.

So I floated and waited to reach nirvana.

Nothing happened.

Once I realized I could open the door, I overcame my anxiety of being entombed in a pod the size of a double-wide coffin. Starting from my crooked toes, I visualized each bone and body part being released from every injury and accident. Then, I repeated the process imagining killing off bacteria, viruses and germs plaguing my health.flotation center's relaxation room

Therapy accelerates lactic acid removal, lymphatic tissue flow and reduces the blood pressure, maximizing blood flow. In theory in this state, endorphins are released reducing pain but instead of euphoria, my spine still felt crooked. Even as I visualized symmetry, my posture still felt out of whack with my head twisted one way and my shoulder and hip the other way.

“Your head falls back weightlessly,” the instructor explained beforehand, “so prop your head with hands.”

In spite of my deep breathing and mindfulness, after 20 minutes, tightness in my neck and shoulder blades distracted me. Pressure built up in my head and sinuses.

I began to think, enough already.

For a brief period though, I was a hidden pearl floating in a clam-shaped cocoon on the Dead Sea.

When I stepped on land afterwards, a tsunami hit.

My head ached, my brain fogged, my limbs weighed tons and I remained comatose for the rest of the day.

But to be honest, I can reach paradise a whole lot faster floating on Summit Lake.

float on your favorite lake

For more information on where to float, go to http://www.where-to-float.com/

Posted in health, inspiration.


  1. Hi Pat, while theoretically floration therapy sounds like a relaxing procedure, I’m not sue I could tolerate being enclosed in a capsule. Floating on the lake sounds like a perfect alternative!

    • I wasn’t real at ease being closed in, but I knew I could open the door at any moment which helped ease the anxiety. Floating on a lake under a blue sky to the sound of children giggling and birds chirping is much more relaxing.

    • You should try it Lynne. I think it takes more than one session to really reap the benefits, but I find massage more helpful. You might want to try it just as a mind altering experience. Who knows it may spark the create juices and inspire your next series of books.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on flotation therapy. I think I’ll give it a pass if anyone ever decides to give it to me as a gift! I’ll come float with you on Summit Lake. Sounds like a lot more fun.

    • With your ability to heal from injuries using visualization, I think this type treatment would be just your thing. Although you have never needed a mind altering experience to spark your zest for life. That said, floating with a sister friend on Summit Lake sounds like the best therapy.

  3. Hi Pat! I first became interested in floating after watching that movie years ago with William Hurd in it, “Altered States.” But it took years before I actually found one close by and took the “plunge.” I agree that it didn’t transport me to another reality…but it was very interesting. I have been told that you need to do at least a couple of floats so you can adjust to the sensation and get the biggest benefit. And yes, I wrote about my experience on my blog as well. Here is what I learned… https://www.smartliving365.com/who-are-we-without-the-stimulation-and-the-noise/

    • Thanks for sharing Kathy. I found it interesting how you tied your sensory isolation flotation experience to our modern day addiction to constant stimulation. You wrote about it 4 years ago and the distractions have only become greater. Did you find it helped spark your creativity? Like you, as writers we spend a lot of time alone in our minds, so the sensory isolation did not bother me, but the inability to physically move around did. I kept wanting to swim around but the space was too confining. I should try it again now that I know what to expect.

  4. Yikes, you’re a braver woman than I am, Pat! No way would I want to “hole up” in a pod, even if it meant I *might* feel better. That sounds too much like being in an MRI machine . . . or a stuck elevator. Of course, claustrophobia kind of runs in my family, so there is that! Thanks for being today’s guinea pig and trying it out — so I don’t have to, ha!

    • To be honest, Debbie, when I saw a picture of a flotation tank, I freaked out and was afraid to try it because of my claustrophobia. But I overcame my anxiety when I knew I could control opening and closing the lid. Even so, I much prefer floating on lakes and seas where my mind and body really feels free.

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