Why I Float – A Doctor’s Perspective

The Benefits of Floating

When the public hears about sensory deprivation tanks an image comes to mind of strange movies & fantastic hallucinatory psychology experiments. Nothing can be further from the truth. Floating in the safe, calm, private environment of a flotation centre is about finally, for once, even if for only one hour, calming the mind & relaxing into a state of deep meditation.

I work as an emergency physician in the hectic mayhem of a city ER. I also have worked as a family physician. I have been floating here in Saskatoon for three years. I first experienced flotation thirty years ago in Montreal at the Salon Ovarium when flotation was a novelty. We are very fortunate to have the YXE Flotation Centre here in Saskatoon.

There are strong, validated scientific papers that speak to the many benefits of sensory deprivation flotation sessions. More research is being done all the time. There are psychological, physical & spiritual benefits.

Floating in the dark is a profoundly serene experience. Our world is rife with anxieties & distractions. Conditions like anxiety, depression & ADHD respond to the process of calming the mind. With no sensory input the continuous flow of pointless negative thoughts slows right down. For once, you can be in touch with your deep self. The worries evaporate. The real world awaits but the clarity attained while floating continues to work as a reference point. Floating won’t magically cure mental illness but it is a powerful strategy… or tool to work against it. Used in conjunction with other therapies it is powerful medicine.

Many illnesses like Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain conditions are difficult to treat. While floating your body becomes completely weightless. In that state, it is possible to do an effective “body scan” to become deeply aware of the source of the trouble in the body. That awareness is invaluable. The process of relaxing & focussing opens the possibility to healing. After floating the ability to enter proper sleep cycles returns. This is part of a treatment for Insomnia. There is solid evidence that all illnesses improve when stress levels decrease. Flotation is by far the easiest way to achieve complete relaxation which opens the possibility of progressive stress release.

All spiritual practice includes meditation as a key practice. I have always had difficulty with meditation. My mind wanders hither and yon. In the float tank I have finally connected with the true possibility of shutting my mind down and focussing on my breath and my deeper self. If you are interested in widening your spiritual practice flotation is a powerful tool for connecting with your deeper self. It trains you in the art of meditation. There are profound, gentle discoveries to be made while floating in the warm dark space of the flotation pod.

Finally, I have heard people say they are claustrophobic & would be fearful going into a pod. You need to know that the space is private. At any given moment, you can sit up and open the hatch on the pod. There is a light inside the pod if you wish to not float in the dark. My experience is the opposite of claustrophobia. There is a feeling of floating in wide open dark outer space. It is as if the universe opens up.

Bacteria cannot live in the high salinity of the tank water. The water is continually filtered & maintained by the staff. The environment is clean & perfectly maintained…. like a beautiful spa.

Floating in a sensory deprivation pod may not be something you do for the rest of your life but it is a life experience… something everyone should experience at least once. There are clear medical benefits. Moreover there are profound spiritual benefits. I, for one, as a physician am a strong proponent of the profound benefits of floating in the weightless, dark environment of the sensory deprivation pod.

-Robbie Drummond MD