Floating In An Isolation Tank

Yesterday I floated for an hour in an isolation tank at Cloud Nine Float Center. It was awesome.

When I was in college, I spent a summer floating. I had recently seen the movie Altered States and was fascinated by it, but uninterested in drugs. I found an isolation tank in Dallas where I was living with my parents and working 100 hours a week at Petcom writing oil and gas software. Twice a week I’d go spend an hour floating. I loved it and it helped me chill out and recalibrate my brain which was deep in code most of the time.

After I’d float, I’d have this incredible calmness for the rest of the day. I generally floated at the end of the day and then took the evening off. Sometimes I’d go out to dinner with my girlfriend, sometimes I’d lay in my parents hammock and read a book, and sometimes I’d go for a run. When I crawled into bed a few hours later I would always have an incredibly deep sleep.

For some reason that I can’t remember why I stopped doing this after the summer. I think I never found a float center in Boston and just let it slip away.

Yesterday I rediscovered something that I did 27 years ago and loved. I floated from 5pm – 6pm. It took about five minutes to settle down – I had 55 minutes of extreme bliss and calm. I let my mind wander wherever it wanted to go and whenever I started thinking about something too deeply I’d just listen to my breathing until I stopped focusing on something. I have no recollection of what I was actually thinking of during that hour. When I got out, I was in a calm state unlike anything I’ve felt recently.

I went home and spent the evening with Amy. I was very quiet and it was hard for her to pry words out of me. I ate a light dinner, did a little end of day email, and then watched a few more episodes of Revenge. I walked Brooks twice. And I fell into a very deep sleep around 10pm.

I will be floating a lot more.

  • I wonder how long it would take my mind to chill since I have never done this. Do you feel claustrophobic? Or is it like an MRI?

    • I didn’t feel claustrophobic at all.

      It felt very different from an MRI or CT Scan.

  • You capped off perfect serenity with a couple of episodes of Revenge? That’s hilarious.

    • It was very Revengey. Amy and I are loving going to Revenge Camp each night.

  • Ben Apel

    Vice did a great piece about deprivation chambers this past winter, a good chunk of which was filmed in Boulder.

    http://www.vice.com/hamiltons-pharmacopeia/tanks-for-the-memories-part-1 – “It’s kind of like going on a date with yourself.”

  • I’m intrigued. For those interested, here is a list of float centers in the US: http://www.floatdreams.com/wheretofloat.htm

  • panterosa,

    I have been floating for 15 years. Wish I had more money to do it more often because I love it. My place has a tub that you can stand and walk into like a shower, which I like, to have the “ceiling” be high up not the coffin style. I float on my stomach as well which the owner thinks is cool and no one does. I use the inflated pillow. Have you tried that?

  • Great post from another read on his experience with isolation tanks – http://lifebyben.typepad.com/life-by-ben/2012/11/floating-thoughts.html

  • Great video from Joe Rogan about his experience floating – http://youtu.be/KeqmKwsvM58

  • tuppermd

    I love floating too. I can’t recommend it enough, but nobody ever seems to take my advice. I had back surgery a few years ago and for the year after it was always soar, permanently. I thought I was just going to have to live with it. Then I tried floating and the next day it was fine. I was blown away. I keep going back and it is always an amazing experience- good for body and mind. I float here in Portland at floathq.com and they do 90 min sessions which is perfect, an hour seems like it would cut it short.

    A quick story for fun: I was curious first time if you do it with eyes open or closed and so I asked. The guy said either and sometimes he doesn’t know if his eyes were opened or closed. I thought that sounded silly and didn’t believe him. A half-hour into the session I realized I couldn’t tell either and then had to blink in an exaggerated fashion to be able to determine– it was crazy.




  • Sounds phenomenal. WIll have to give it a try. I know that even in a pool, that I find just floating with my head half submerged is peaceful and meditative, so I can imagine that this is a fantastic experience. Thanks for sharing.

  • If you don’t have the time to float for an hour, I HIGHLY recommend the calm.com app. It sounded silly to me, but I gave it a shot and it’s been a huge anxiety reliever in the middle of a busy day. Give it a shot. 🙂

  • Dave Linsalata

    Is this hard to do if you can’t float in normal water? For the life of me, I can’t float on my back in a pool, so I’m not sure if I can pull off a float and be relaxed.

    • It’s very easy even if you can’t swim or float. There are 600+ pounds of epsom salts in the water. You literally can’t not float.

      • Dave Linsalata

        Great, thanks! Just bought credit for a float session via amazonlocal, and scheduling one for this weekend.

  • Bill Phelan

    Do you think this helps battle depression?

    • For me, yes. I don’t know in general.

  • Luke Light

    This is Luke Light from Cloud Nine — so glad you could make it, Brad! It’s always great to hear from people who get a lot out of the flotation experience.

    You hinted in your post that you like to float from 5-6 pm. Is this by far & away your favorite time to float? Does it hold more significance because of how you started? Is there any time you think you may enjoy floating more?

    If you are looking for topics to field, I would love to read more about how you came into floating — it seems like a miracle now-a-days when people stumble across our service, I can’t imagine how unique of a service it must have been a few decades ago (and before the internet)!

    Thank you for your support! We really appreciate the interest
    — Luke Light; at the Cloud Nine Float Center

    • I like floating at the end of the day as I transition into the evening. I’ll likely experiment with other times. Y’all are fantastic.

      • Luke Light

        Haha, well thank you so much for “Felding” my question. Float on! — C9

        • Luke Light

          hey Brad — did you refer a Mr. Gary Ditsch to C9? He mentioned you when you came in 😉 Thanks for spreading the word — we will add a referral to your account! — Luke

          • Yup – Gary is my running coach!

  • Rob Ryan

    I wanna thank you for telling us about this and inspiring me. I needed a short-cut to meditation – a cheat you can say. This did it. Did 60 mins. Signed up for 3 but know this will be a weekly ritual. AAAAaaaaaah!

    • Awesome – glad you liked it!