History of Human Floating, Pt. 2: Modern Floating

Some are wary of the idea shutting off all the senses by entering a float pod. However, the past seventy years of using float pods have shown that this “lack” of outside stimulation allows the mind to focus and relax.

The invention of the float pod came about during a time that “sensory deprivation” left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Prior to the late 1950s, many experiments suggested that sensory deprivation caused adverse reactions. Americans were also wary because, following the Korean War, there were horror stories of “brainwashing” prisoners-of-war using techniques such as sensory deprivation (which were proven later to be myths, no worries). Obviously, these ideas associated with sensory deprivation were misunderstood. The experiments using “sensory deprivation” were instead using sensory overload; researchers flooded rooms with diffused light and white noise and tied the subjects down to beds. Not very relaxing. And since these subjects were already frightened by the concept of sensory deprivation, they were highly susceptible and fulfilled the negative expectations of the researchers.

Neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly invented and tested the first float pod in 1954 for an experiment into the realm of the mind. Lilly's original pod, however would not be recognizable today. His first "tank" held the subject floating upright and completely immersed, with a breathing apparatus and mask. His tank was sound proof and light proof, but it was exceedingly awkward to float with a huge distracting air mask on the face.

Many scientists at the time were still skeptical, but Lilly continued to improve his design. He used salt water in order to allow the floater to float on their back, and he found that Epsom salts worked the best. He added water heaters, air pumps, water filters—anything to make floating more comfortable and sanitary. And less... well... scary.

Lilly conducted experiments for over 10 years on himself, colleagues, and those volunteers willing enough to try this odd experience. Prior his first float, he expected to feel deprived of his senses. Instead he felt, in his own words, "richly elaborate states of inner experience.” He was surprised at how relaxed he became, and he even reported that he discovered many states of consciousness that he did not realize existed.

Lilly had made an important discovery: this environment was extremely relaxing, like an extreme sleep. His original theory was debunked. Instead of the brain ‘shutting off’ from a lack of external stimuli – like Dr. Lilly and other researchers hypothesized - the brain’ functions were enhanced, focused, and more powerful. He discovered the brain does not need external stimuli to remain conscious.

By the 1970s, people that had floated in John Lilly’s tanks were spreading the word. A few of those floaters began working with computer engineer Glenn Perry, and created an affordable pod that was easy to maintain and began selling it commercially. And in just a few years, float pods could be found across the US in homes, spas, biofitness institutes, hospitals, and salons.

Though floating lost popularity in the nineties, floating has come back more popular than ever! It’s not hard to see why it has. An analysis found that out of a thousand tests of sensory deprivation, 90 percent of floaters found floating deeply relaxing. Today, people all over the world are floating in these pods - which vary greatly in size and shape. The endless health benefits have drawn famous athletes like Joe Rogan, Stephen Curry, Wayne Rooney, several Olympic Teams, and both 2015 NFL Superbowl teams.

Floating has changed the nation’s attitude toward sensory deprivation. It does take away external stimuli, but it does not deprive you of your senses—it heightens your senses by eliminating external distracting stimuli! By floating weightlessly in a light less and soundless place, you don't have to waste brain power on combating gravity or watching and listening for possible danger. Your brain can focus on whatever you need it to: relaxing, meditating, visualizing, and healing. If you are still curious or skeptical about floating, allow Blue Oceans Float to change your attitude.


Ambassadors, LifeWise. "Living Lifewise: Float Your Way to Relaxation." 4 May 2014.

Fan, Shelly. "Floating Away: The Science of Sensory Deprivation Therapy." 4 April 2014.

Hutchinson, Michael. The Book of Floating. Nevada City: Gateways Books and Tapes, 1984.

"La Casa Spa and Wellness Center: Benefits of Floating." 31 December 2011.

Float for Health. "Who Uses Float Tanks?" September 16, 2016

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