Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
Post Reply
Dharmaswede
Posts: 215
Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:22 pm

Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Dharmaswede » Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:14 am

Using a floating tank easily generates deep relaxation and deep states of consciousness.

In "The Book of Floating", Michael Hutchinson recounts the effects of floating. In the latest edition of the book, he has added a chapter where he tells about his experience after a severe and traumatic accident that left him disabled. During his rehabilitation, he started to practice meditation (quite ad hoc, no particular method). After months of quite severe practice, he reached states of consciousness that he easily had achieved in floating. Obviously, there are correlations between meditation and floating, but exactly what they are and how the could be utilised.

So I am pondering upon the potential of using float tanks to enhance meditation, pros and cons.

Any experiences or thoughts on this?

Thank you!

Jens

Jesse
Posts: 1729
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 6:54 am
Location: Virginia, USA

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Jesse » Tue Aug 11, 2015 3:38 pm

The sensory deprivation tank has one purpose, to shut off input from your senses. The water/enclosed tank shuts out sound, and a majority of gravity's weight on you, it makes you feel like your floating (salt water.) and the tank is pitch black, so no sight.

It makes people hallucinate just be being inside of it. So I wouldn't recommend it for meditating unless you're already capable of the jhana's, or have alot of experience and want to experience something like them. If you were to meditate inside of one, I would bet your visualization would be amazing. since there's very little sensory input and meditation increases your capacity to visualize anyway, you should be able to visualize complete sensory experiences. (sight/sound/touch/smell etc.)

I'd like to try it one day for sure.
The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.
-Henry David Thoreau

User avatar
conebeckham
Posts: 4943
Joined: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:49 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA, USA

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by conebeckham » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:51 pm

I've done it. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Before I started taking my meditation seriously. Things would be different now, for sure...but it was an interesting experience. Extreme sensory deprivation, basically....I imagine some of the things that mind produces in these circumstances would be similar to Dark Retreat, or to that "Silent Room" i recently read about--the world's most silent room, where people have auditory hallucinations.

From my own experience, I think only pretty advanced meditators would benefit themselves from this sort of thing. Not a beginner's way in, IMO............
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

User avatar
Paul
Posts: 1726
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:12 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Paul » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:58 pm

There's a definite intersection with dark retreat, although cyou are going to be much more limited with time. But the level of sensory deprivation is going to be higher in a tank.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell

User avatar
Karma Dondrup Tashi
Posts: 1615
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:13 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Karma Dondrup Tashi » Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:24 pm

Kind of odd idea to adopt correct posture in an isolation tank. Your bottom would get wet.

Bakmoon
Posts: 746
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:31 am

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Bakmoon » Tue Aug 11, 2015 7:02 pm

It depends on what kind of meditation practice you are doing, but I suppose it could be helpful in developing calm abiding. For other kinds of meditation it's probably less useful.

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1167
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Anders » Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:58 am

I've tried it a few times - Of course I used the opportunity to meditate. I think this post nails the limitations of it though:
Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:Kind of odd idea to adopt correct posture in an isolation tank. Your bottom would get wet.
Don't get me wrong, it's a very nice experience, I'll do it again happily, and of course the environment is a nice incitement to shamatha, but I consider the main benefits of it to be physically therapeutic.

For meditation purposes, I find arranging the body in lotus or half lotus a more powerful setup than sensory deprivation.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Kaccāni
Posts: 1083
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:03 pm
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Kaccāni » Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:02 am

If you don't get it on the chair you're sitting on, you probably won't get it.

Best wishes
Kc
Shush! I'm doing nose-picking practice!

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1167
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Anders » Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:05 am

conebeckham wrote:Before I started taking my meditation seriously. Things would be different now, for sure...but it was an interesting experience. Extreme sensory deprivation, basically....I imagine some of the things that mind produces in these circumstances would be similar to Dark Retreat, or to that "Silent Room" i recently read about--the world's most silent room, where people have auditory hallucinations.

From my own experience, I think only pretty advanced meditators would benefit themselves from this sort of thing. Not a beginner's way in, IMO............
I've tried meditating in both sensory deprivation tanks and anechoic chambers - I don't get any of these hallucinations, so I couldn't say.

Fwiw, the anechoic chamber was really really good for meditation - Really helps put natural attention on the body, as you hear your breath, heartbeat and every movement of the body very intimately. I guess those who say no one can sit there longer than 45 minutes have never asked a meditator to go hang out in one.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7091
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Astus » Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:05 am

Some words from Huineng (Platform Sutra, BDK Edition):

there are also those who teach meditation [in terms of ] viewing the mind, contemplating tranquility, motionlessness, and nonactivation. You are supposed to make an effort on the basis of these. These deluded people do not understand, and in their grasping become mixed up like all of you here. You should understand that such superficial teachings are greatly mistaken!
(ch 4, p 43)

if you cultivate motionlessness, just see all people: when doing so, do not see the right and wrong, the good and bad, the transgressions and disasters of people. This is the motionlessness of the self-nature. “Good friends, the deluded person may be motionless in body, but he opens his mouth and speaks of the right and wrong, the strength and weakness, the good and bad of others. This is to go against the Way. If you concentrate on the mind or concentrate on purity, this is to impede the Way (i.e., enlightenment).
(ch 5, p 45)

If you are sentient, then you are able to move;
That which is insentient is immobile.
If you cultivate the practice of motionlessness,
You become identical to the immobility of insentiency.

If you are seeking the true motionlessness,
[Then realize that] there is a motionlessness of motion.
Motionlessness is motionlessness;
Insentient [objects] lack the seeds of buddhahood.

If you are able to discriminate well characteristics,
The cardinal meaning [of Buddhism] is motionlessness.
Just to have such a view
Is to have functioning that is suchlike.

(ch 10, p 85)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1167
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Anders » Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:41 am

Astus wrote:Some words from Huineng (Platform Sutra, BDK Edition):

there are also those who teach meditation [in terms of ] viewing the mind, contemplating tranquility, motionlessness, and nonactivation. You are supposed to make an effort on the basis of these. These deluded people do not understand, and in their grasping become mixed up like all of you here. You should understand that such superficial teachings are greatly mistaken!
(ch 4, p 43)

if you cultivate motionlessness, just see all people: when doing so, do not see the right and wrong, the good and bad, the transgressions and disasters of people. This is the motionlessness of the self-nature. “Good friends, the deluded person may be motionless in body, but he opens his mouth and speaks of the right and wrong, the strength and weakness, the good and bad of others. This is to go against the Way. If you concentrate on the mind or concentrate on purity, this is to impede the Way (i.e., enlightenment).
(ch 5, p 45)

If you are sentient, then you are able to move;
That which is insentient is immobile.
If you cultivate the practice of motionlessness,
You become identical to the immobility of insentiency.

If you are seeking the true motionlessness,
[Then realize that] there is a motionlessness of motion.
Motionlessness is motionlessness;
Insentient [objects] lack the seeds of buddhahood.

If you are able to discriminate well characteristics,
The cardinal meaning [of Buddhism] is motionlessness.
Just to have such a view
Is to have functioning that is suchlike.

(ch 10, p 85)
Meh. I love Huineng but this is such a stale context to quote him in. The discussion has been about the effects of technology Huineng never knew and has been well based in questions of conditions, circumstance of the practitioner, results and outcomes. Attempting to situate it in a context of orthodoxy is just... whatever floats your boat I guess.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7091
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Astus » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:27 pm

Anders wrote:Meh. I love Huineng but this is such a stale context to quote him in. The discussion has been about the effects of technology Huineng never knew and has been well based in questions of conditions, circumstance of the practitioner, results and outcomes. Attempting to situate it in a context of orthodoxy is just... whatever floats your boat I guess.
The point of being in a floating tank or anechoic chamber is sensory deprivation. Similarly, one can block external stimuli on the cushion in a meditation hall or any ordinary place. And that approach is what is criticised by Huineng, don't you think?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Anders
Posts: 1167
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Anders » Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:55 pm

Astus wrote:
Anders wrote:Meh. I love Huineng but this is such a stale context to quote him in. The discussion has been about the effects of technology Huineng never knew and has been well based in questions of conditions, circumstance of the practitioner, results and outcomes. Attempting to situate it in a context of orthodoxy is just... whatever floats your boat I guess.
The point of being in a floating tank or anechoic chamber is sensory deprivation. Similarly, one can block external stimuli on the cushion in a meditation hall or any ordinary place. And that approach is what is criticised by Huineng, don't you think?
I think attachment to it is. Quoting Huineng in a discussion like this to me just comes across as close-minded and unwilling to explore different avenues of practise.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

User avatar
Astus
Former staff member
Posts: 7091
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Astus » Wed Aug 12, 2015 5:55 pm

Anders wrote:I think attachment to it is. Quoting Huineng in a discussion like this to me just comes across as close-minded and unwilling to explore different avenues of practise.
The point I have intended to deliver via those quotes is that there are certain reasons against using sensory deprivation, not unlike to what was said about body posture previously.
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.


1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

Bakmoon
Posts: 746
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:31 am

Re: Using floating tank as part of meditation practice?

Post by Bakmoon » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:21 pm

Astus wrote:The point of being in a floating tank or anechoic chamber is sensory deprivation. Similarly, one can block external stimuli on the cushion in a meditation hall or any ordinary place. And that approach is what is criticised by Huineng, don't you think?
Just going into a sensory deprivation tank isn't going to grant anyone automatic Samadhi. I don't think anyone is claiming that.

I think the question of the OP was whether or not practicing meditation in a floating tank could be helpful at reducing possible distractions.

Post Reply

Return to “Meditation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 22 guests