Float Tank Science: Therapy Cuts Stress and Anxiety, Deepens Sleep, Accelerates Learning

by Mike Mutzel


sean mccormick Float tanks and your brain

Connect with Sean http://seanmccormick.com

Steven Cotler’s Zero to Dangerous flow cultivation course

Jan Venter podcast:

Part one: https://highintensityhealth.com/158-jan-venter-md-ketogenic-diet-improves-memory-brain-health

Part Two (all about flow states): https://highintensityhealth.com/depression-anxiety-helped-w-flow-by-jan-venter-md/

Rick Daublin MAPS https://maps.org/about/staff

Zendo project https://zendoproject.org

Purity Coffee https://puritycoffee.com

Float Tank Research

Heres some notes I took after reading half a dozen articles on the topic:

When the public talks about “floatation tanks”, scientists refer to this technique as “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy” (REST) and/or sensory deprivation.

The first sensory deprivation symposium was held at the Harvard Medical School 1961

            -REST was used in the 1950’s a means to brain wash subjects in Russia and China

            -NIH researchers in the 1950s John Lilly, who wrote a few books on the topic: The deep self: Profound relaxation and the tank isolation technique

  • Then in the 1960’s Canadian psychiatrists used sensory deprivation as a therapeutic tool
  • Why it works? During the floating session all incoming stimuli are reduced to a minimum, a profound relaxation and increased well-being are induced
  • Different theories have been postulated about the mechanisms: endogenous release of endorphins, affecting the EDC system and others are being discussed

-Studies on the effects of flotation-REST on muscle tension pain show reduced sleep onset and improvement sin depression and anxiety

            – alterations in thinking (e.g., multiple associations, a sense of increased creativity, or “magical thinking”).

  • reduction of stress, anxiety, muscle fatigue and chronic pain and the gain on range of motion and sleep quality


Kjellgren, A., Lyden, F., Report, T. N. T. Q., 2008. . Sensory isolation in flotation tanks: altered states of consciousness and effects on well-being. The Qualitative Report December 2008

Kjellgren, A., Lindahl, A., & Norlander, T. (2010). Altered States of Consciousness and Mystical Experiences during Sensory Isolation in Flotation Tank: Is the Highly Sensitive Personality Variable of Importance?:. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 29(2), 135–146.

Kjellgren, A., of, H. B. I. J., 2011. Preventing sick-leave for sufferers of high stress-load and burnout syndrome: A pilot study combining psychotherapy and the flotation tank. InternatIonal Journal of Psychology and PsychologIcal Therapy


Show Notes

03:25 Sean had an out of body experience on his first float. It blew his mind. When Sean decided to open a float center, he took a deep dive into the research of sensory deprivation.

05:47 Float is a peak/transcendent experience. It is safe and reliable. REST = Restricted Environmental Stimuli Therapy. Five senses are restricted, as is gravity.

07:22 Your sympathetic state shifts into a parasympathetic state when senses and gravity is restricted. Rest, digestion and blood flow are kicked on line. A float tank is a meditation device.

11:00 The science of sensory deprivation began with the military. They thought that you would go to sleep without sensory input, but the opposite is true.

11:37 When you are in that sensory deprived state, your brainwaves change from alpha to theta. Theta is a meditative state of consciousness. You will have longer durations of theta brain wave state and more frequent.

12:00 Floatation therapy is used in treating PTSD in veterans, quickening learning of languages and improving athletic performance from visualization while in the tank.

14:20 Theta wave state is tightly corelated to the subconscious mind. It feels similar to when, as you wake up naturally, there are a few seconds where you are awake, but your senses haven’t kicked in.

17:38 A Passive Float Experience: For the highly stressed, just letting go has huge benefits, including magnesium absorption and traction of your spine.

18:30 An Active Float Experience can involve visualization, focus and manifestation.

21:50 Default Mode Network is our ego. It is where our mind naturally goes. It connects to the HPA axis.

24:54 The most effective use of floatation therapy with the least amount of application was 9 floats in 27 days at certain intervals.

25:43 For massive life changes, float 3 or 4 times in a week. You will get in touch with yourself. It will reduce cortisol, epinephrine and adrenaline levels. It increases serotonin. It resets some of the deleterious brain wave effects that we deal with every day.

26:35 For a major change this year, float 6 times in 2 weeks. You will be different at the end of it. Magnesium fuels mitochondria, lubricates the synovial fluid in our joints and helps with digestion. Absorbed through the skin, magnesium is more bioavailable.

32:09 Breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, creating an anti-inflammatory interleukin 10 cytokine. Experiment to find the breathing practice that works for you.

37:05 Breath work prior to meditation makes it easier. Regulating ourselves with breath is a super power that kids should be taught.

43:18 Neurofeedback is simple. The neurofeedback headset has sensors on your head. You watch TV and the machine tracks your brainwaves. The picture becomes smaller and larger. The sound becomes softer and louder. You hold a stuffed bear that vibrates. Your brain makes the visual and sound vary, learning to correct itself. Energy is adjusted for different effects. With neurofeedback, Sean finds that he thinks more longitudinally – into the future. His creativity increased.

48:25 Neurofeedback can be effective for insomnia and PTSD.

49:44 Neurofeedback and float tank usage can bring brain hemispheric integration, helping your brain communicate more effectively.

57:51 Microdosing LSD and mushrooms helps business professionals see problems from a new perspective and helps them focus in a new way. Psychedelic mushrooms may help with state of mind during palliative care. 

58:53 Strategic applications of psilocybin mushroom can help with depression and anxiety.

59:56 Psychedelics, floatation therapy, and mediation allows us to be more present in the moment. Depression is about thinking of the past. Anxious is about worrying about the future. They keep us out of the present moment.

01:07:18 If you are interested in expanding your mind and expanding your consciousness and growing as a person. Explore. Be around people who are ahead of you in this exploration.

01:11:55 Sean’s morning routine begins with a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old around 6 a.m. He starts his day with a few deep breaths. He thinks of one thing that he is grateful for, which he changes each day. He asks his kids for one thing for which they are grateful. He makes coffee, but not fatty coffee. Makes breakfast for the kids, mostly bacon and eggs. They sit and read a book. Then he takes them to school. Then he starts his work day.

01:14:35 Sean’s Desert Island Nutrient is CILTEP by Natural Stacks. It acts quickly, is long lasting and is not habit forming.  It promotes better memory, better recall, better focus and longer focus/mental endurance.

01:15:51 Sean’s Elevator Speech: Drastically regulate chemicals, plastics and synthetic fragrance. The estrogenic effect of plastic is not widely discussed. Sperm count of men today is 30% what it was of their grandfather. These estrogenic compounds contribute to infertility, early puberty in boys and girls, and man boobs. 01:20:32 Intuition is teachable. Sean includes this in his coaching practice for his clients. Trust your gut

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