I had my first experience in a float tank (Isolation tank) yesterday. I have been on a bit of a search as of late to find new ways to “work out” my brain. I mean if I can run across the Country, if I can complete an Ironman, if I can bush my physical limits. What will happen if I push my cognitive limits?
I have worked out my brain with programs, from simple things like Sudoku, Rubik’s cubes, Luminosity and lots of other so called “memory enhancers”. Do they work? I don’t know I still have brain damage. I do believe in brain plasticity. (oh Google “neuroplasticity and meditation”. There are allot of scientific studies on the changes to brain “wiring”with meditation”)
So this lead meditation research led me to Isolation tank. An isolation tank in a nutshell is a removal of all stimuli, so no sounds, no light, and no gravity. The idea is to remove all external stimuli and leave you in an ability to focus on the internal mind.
You sit in water that is filled with Epson salts so you “float”in the water. The water temperature is a little bit warmer than body temperature. With no outward stimulus you have no choice but focus on where your brain goes.
This is the first time I noticed I have a wringing in my ears. I am sometimes aware of this ringing when I am trying to sleep at 4 am and it’s very quiet. However I usually think it’s my location to electronics, or electrical devices or just the sound of the building we are in. It is not. I have a wringing in my ears. I was able to just say “hey I have a wringing in my ears” and see where that took me. I did notice that the wringing slowly went away.
As there is no pressure anywhere on the body, I was able to really relax. I felt some muscles literally relax. A point in my shoulder just “let go” like a when you realize your holding your fist super tight and you let it go. There was a kind of a pop and what I know is a “lactic acid” release and some blood flow. As I don’t have to focus on finding a comfortable position, a nightly hassle for me when I try to sleep because of the damage to my body, I found new things I was unaware off. What I mean is what is normally hurting seemed to be more a result of me avoiding something else hurting.
That was the physical experience of the float tank, a nice warm, snuggly, place to just float without pain. This allowed to me really focus on “where my brain went”. The first thing I noticed was that annoying ringing. A few minutes of exploring that and I noticed the volume of the wringing went down.
I then noticed I was kind of in and out of a dreamlike state. It was similar to when you are trying to fall asleep and you start to kind of day dream. I noticed my thoughts went to roughly the same place. I kept thinking about Mandy. I kept thinking about a place where she is calm, relaxed, not stressed, and secure.
We both had jobs that provided a sense of financial security so she had the freedom to explore whatever she wanted to. That is where my thoughts kept going. Various scenarios, day dreams, hallucinations, whatever you want to call them of Mandy being able to relax.
So I explored what that looked like and what I could do. That lead me to being relaxed, being unstressed, calming down a bit and finding a place where I am secure and comfortable.
Then a dog barked. I was unable to get back to where I was and I felt like I had had enough. I was in there for close to two hours and yet I felt it was about 15 minutes.
I took the bus home and was able to keep the thought and started to plant the seed of how to make that “lucid” dream possible. That is where I am now.
It was very interesting to go into the tank. The tank is a run by a private group so if you are interested and live in the lower mainland let me know. I will pass along the information. I am going to respect their privacy and not give out the name and location.
I have been doing allot of research on meditation and my understanding now is that meditation is pretty simply to live in the moment. Feel what you feel, notice the little subtle things. The feeling of your butt on the seat, the sound of the keyboard as you type, the smells in the air, all the little details. Don’t judge, assume, just notice and explore. Let it be what it is, notice your reaction to things, don’t act on the reaction, but recognize it and ask “that’s interesting, why do I respond that way”.
I may be wrong but that’s my understanding after reading a couple things online and getting part way through a book. The scientific research (credible scientific research, double blind studies etc) also state that there is a physical change in the neural actions in brain. This just means the electronic firing in the brain actually changes direction and there seems to be evidence of “gray matter’ being rebuild, or increased. Again I am not a scientist these are my opinions and my interpretation of the evidence. So keep in mind I have a brain injury and I am bias. I want to believe in this. I want this to be true.
Today I am out for a long run, and then some training for some martial arts. I will post on that experience tomorrow. I am now telling myself I have had enough coffee and I am exploring how that makes me feel. ;’)