Altered States: Just add water. And a lot of salt.

If you solve problems using code you understand the storm that is within. It’s Tron meets The Matrix. Everything in your head is fighting for resources, algorithms crunching numbers, pointers going astray in your stack and the garbage collector nowhere in sight to clean the mess up!

Monkey Brain

There are solutions to this madness. The process is called calming your monkey brain typically through Meditation. But Meditation isn’t for everyone. Many have tried and failed because let’s face it, the classic method of Meditation sucks. It is a pain in the back side to sit there for an extended period of time trying to cut out all the distractions of the growing pain in your back to the ~70db pollution hitting your auditory sensors. Why do we still encourage meditation the old school way when there are far easier and more effective methods to calm the monkey mind?

John C. Lilly

In 1950s we knew little about sensory isolation. Many great minds speculated that insanity would follow any attempts to turn off our core senses — visual, auditory and kinesthetic. All with the exception of 1 badass scientist, John C Lilly. He proposed that if one could isolate the mind from external stimuli one could experience heightened sensory perception. He devised the first isolation tank, a dark soundproof tank of warm salt water in which subjects could float for long periods in sensory isolation. He proved his hypothesis right. And the rest is history. Google John C. Lilly to learn more about his work.

John C. Lilly built a modern day version of a meditation tank.

The Architecture of an actual Isolation Tank aka Floatation Tank
The Architecture of an actual Isolation Tank aka Floatation Tank

Today, such isolation tanks (aka floatation tanks) are found all around the world. From spa centers using it to relax the body to sport centers to expedite recovery (eg. Australian Institute of Sports) and to private use to explore the mind like John C. Lilly and myself do. Yet very few people know about it. So let me tell you more.

Where it all began for me

I have been “floating” starting in Australia since 2008 and later in the US. I was inspired by the 1st episode of Fringe. Dr Bishop used an Isolation Tank (also known as sensory deprivation tank) to connect Olivia and Agent Scott’s mind to tap into the dead agent’s mind to retrieve information related to the case. Low level protocol stuff. Yeah pretty insane utility but what if. So I took the red pill and went down the rabbit hole.

You may hear the word “floating” being used. This reference is more rosey but means the same thing; isolation tank experience. You float inside the isolation tank like a cork on water due to the high concentrate of epsom salt. If you have been to the Dead Sea you will know what I mean. A secondary benefit of the salt is muscle relaxation. Epsom salt has been used for centuries for muscle aches.

The Apollo ELV Float Tank — #1 Floatation Tank
The Apollo ELV Float Tank — #1 Floatation Tank

As you can see from the pictures, the cause creates an effect ~20mins into the journey you will feel like a brain floating in space. Disconnected from your auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses. This heightens the mind’s processing ability so you can begin exploring your private sea, your mind, in a conscious state.

At the end of a 1 hour floatation session you will feel like your body and your mind got a massage.

The Theta State

The goal with both meditation and floatation is to reach the theta state. This is a state where you can consciously listen to your subconscious mind. Or let’s put it a different way, experience hallucinations without drugs, insanity or sleep. Monks train years to do this through meditation while staying consciously awake. Your body does this naturally every night but you consciously switch off aka fall asleep. Recall those auditory or visual flashes you get before your off switch kicks in and you fall asleep? That’s a glimpse into theta state. In an isolation tank you are consciously awake observing your subconscious mind. Most of the time. No years of training required. For me it turned out after 3 floatation sessions I was hallucinating baby!


Our subconscious mind is a powerful supercomputer (no surprises there) which constantly gathers, calculates, builds patterns & connections faster than we can consciously observe (process). I think this is a natural safe measure so we don’t go insane. Now imagine being able to tap into this wealth of stored info for a bit. You know when you sometimes get a gut feeling — I believe that is the output from all the processing bubbling their way to your conscious mind. I use the isolation tank to tap into this and get my answers faster then waiting for them to bubble to the top.

Why isn’t this a Company benefit yet?

Floating should be a company benefit. Heck, even more.. a company policy. If an employee is having a hard day for whatever reason (personal or business) just send them to an isolation tank for 1 hour.

That’s empathy right there;

  1. Identifying your employee is experiencing some distress and
  2. Do something about it that will have a far reaching impact on their emotional state than a 1:1 talk or sending them home.

We are human creatures with emotions. Fact. Ignoring this fact in my opinion is narcissism. If you have empathy do something constructive and help your colleague.

Finished a big project? Scrap the default lunch mode celebrations — take the team to a Zen center and have them all float. Afterwards you can all reflect on the achievement while sipping camellia tea. Better?

Run an experiment

There are float centers up and down the Bay Area and all around the world. Google it. Run an experiment with your team or yourself floating at least 5 times — 1 every week. That’s a tad over a month. Measure the experiment so you can quantify it and remove any cognitive bias. Then reflect on your calmness, clear head, relaxed nature and more empathy. Let me know what you find. There’s nothing more powerful than experiencing the power of this amazing mind and body hack for yourself.

Float already!

Few final snippets before I wrap this up.

Be vigilant about the tank

The Tank you choose needs a good ventilation system. High temperatures will race your heart just like a steam room does. It will become extremely unpleasant. I had it happen to me. Reached 144bpm and it was the worst experience ever. The Apollo ELV Float Tank is the best tank I have ever experienced. It is the Tesla of Tanks!

If its important, don’t sleep on it

Float. You will get more insights.


Float. The Epsom salt does wonders to your skin and muscles. Afterwards, you will feel super relaxed. And if you fall asleep from exhaustion inside the tank you will be fine floating like a cort. Should you tip over, the high concentrate of salt will burn a hole in your head *j/k*. It will sting tho.

At a minimum, start with 3 float sessions

It will take some time for you to learn how to fully let go and relax your body while suspended like a cork. Only then will the mind let go.

Installing a tank at your company?

If you were inspired by what you learnt here and decided to install a tank at your company then please invite me over for a float session. Or if you need help or have questions please reach out.

More juice on Isolation Tanks & Sensory Deprivation

Happy Floating!

PS. This article also appears on

~ Ernest

Buddhism: How to Tame your Monkey Mind

Buddha described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.

This is your mind – the monkey mind

Monkey Brain
Monkey Brain

I’m sure we can all relate to this. You lay down in bed wanting to relax / sleep but you mind is so busy you can’t stop thinking about a hundred things at the same time. An hour passes by and you still can’t sleep. Living in a busy world has its toll on our mental state. This toll is what the Monk’s call “The monkey mind”.

How to still your mind – Meditate

The single most effective way to still your mind (rid the monkey mind) is Meditation. Of course you can disconnect from society and go on a holiday but this doesn’t teach you how to manage the monkey mind rather temporarily escape from it.

Meditation is a great way to relieve anxiety, manage stress, and focus your mind.

There are many sites describing different methods (some overcomplicated) on how to meditate. The complexities scare the masses and they try to deal with it another way. The truth is that it’s very simple. Forget about those 300 page books and just do this:


1. Find a quiet place away from all distractions.

2. Get into a Lotus sitting position. As shown to the picture to the left. This is the statue in Bangalore depicting Shiva meditating in a Lotus position.

3. Close your eyes and start “deep breathing“. In through your nose and out through your mouth. It doesnt matter to what count you do it as long as you are breathing properly – using your diaphragm. If you aren’t not sure how to breath deeply read my post on breathing here.

4. Focus on each breath. Imagine the air coming in as pure white energy which gives you life. Imagine the exhaled air as black poison leaving your body. Did you know that the respiratory system is actually responsible of getting rid of 70% of the body’s waste.

5. Keep on doing this over and over. Your monkey mind will soon cease the wilderness and come to a standstill. When you reach this stop, you will experience “inner peace”. A feeling that cannot be explained, only felt and experienced. Enjoy this state for you have found yourself.

At first, start with a 15 minute meditation session and increase this up to an hour or more only when you are comfortable meditating for longer periods of time.

Why this works?

In a previous post I said “conscious mind creates the belief and the subconscious mind then executes the belief”. If your conscious mind is too busy with thoughts rushing in and out on s daily basis then how are you to send a consistent message to your subconscious mind on where you want to be in life and / or the level of success you are pursuing. Simple answer is you cannot. Your brain will filter all the noise and miss the key points.

Stilling your mind is the key here. So that you can consciously make clear and concise decisions and to tell your subconscious what you really want out of life.

Extra benefits – Bigger Brain!

The experts at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) have found that meditation helps build a bigger brain. Click here to read the article on this scientific finding. They used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate and people who don’t and found that certain brain areas – specifically “the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus” – were significantly larger in people who meditate.

“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. “The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities.”

Because these areas of the brain are closely linked to emotion, Luders said, “these might be the neuronal underpinnings that give meditators’ the outstanding ability to regulate their emotions and allow for well-adjusted responses to whatever life throws their way.”

This alone is a good reason to meditate. Gain a competitive edge today! … for free.

Let’s speed this up – how to make it work quicker

If you are impatient, like me, then you may be asking “Ernest, how do I speed this meditation process up?”. I too had this question and finally found the answer – Isolation Tank. After 20-40 minutes of floating in an Isolation Tank your conscious mind will come to a stand still and you will get to see and hear your subconscious mind. What does this all mean? – I explain in detail this natural wonder here:

There are also other methods like using the Silva Method to help with switching mental states. I will cover this in future posts and share with you free special audio to get you started instantly.

Here are other audio resources I use to get the extra edge

The Secret Universal Mind Meditation – This one is great to fall asleep to. As you sleep your subconscious mind will absorb the positive messages. This is my favorite.

Brainwave Meditation – The easiest way to meditate during the day.

Awakening Kundalini – Kundalini is the name for the extraordinary powerhouse of cosmic energy that resides within you.


Until then, silence your monkey mind and enjoy the inner peace.


Breathing exercise for anxiety and stress

Take a deep breath and relax is so common a mantra that most of us miss its core message.

Focused, controlled breathing has the power to defuse anxiety & stress and to boost energy. In fact, the notion of breathing as therapy has ancient roots in Pranayama, an aspect of yoga that means “expansion and control of cosmic power.”

It’s no secret that breathing is essential for:

  • Sustaining Life – the oxygen you take in is picked up by the hemoglobin in the blood and distributed to all of the body’s trillions of cells where it is then used to fuel the cells and release energy.
  • Cleansing inner body systems – balancing levels of Ph, CO2 & O2 for normal body functioning.

During stressful situations we rarely notice how the pressures of the moment keeps our mind occupied on almost everything but our physiological function – breathing. Consequently leading to irregular and short breaths leaving us in an unhealthy state of being. When we are in this state our mental and physical state diminishes leading to unsound decisions, behaviour and heightened anxiety states.

By becoming aware of this and practicing correct breath technique, stressful situations may be handled better and your overall mental and physical health will be improved.

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” – Andrew Weil, M.D.

Breathe through your belly not your chest!

Breathing properly starts at your belly. Not your chest.

Alveoli, where gas exchange occurs between oxygen & your blood supply, are more densly packed at the bottom of your lungs.

Chest breathing is shallow breathing and mobalises the top part of your lungs leading to less oxygen consumed by your body. Using your belly helps move the diaphragm (helpful for breathing and respiration) like a pump pulling & squizzing the lungs. This gets more oxygen into your blood supply and ultimately into your body.

The Breathing Technique – the 1-4-2 ratio

There are many different techniques which aim to teach you this art of breathing properly. In my opinion, the simplest and easiest to implement is the 1-4-2 ratio. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Inhale in through your nose all the way down to the bottom of the belly for 4 seconds (ratio 1-4-2). Let the belly rise. You may hold your hand on your belly to make sure you are breathing properly letting your belly rise.
2. Hold for 16 seconds (ratio 1-4-2).
3. Exhale out through parted lips (ratio 1-4-2) for 8 seconds. Your belly should fall back down.
4. Repeat steps 1-3, 10 times, 3 times a day.

This technique of breathing through your belly is often refered to as Diaphragmatic breathing and used to treat hyperventilation and high levels of anxiety.

Walking – your lymphatic system & breathing

We should all aim to walk at least 30 minutes per day. Walking stimulates your lymphatic system to move toxins out of your body and is also a great way to burn those unwanted calories. Add a correct breathing technique to this and you are on your way to a healthier you.

While walking you can vary your breathing pattern so that you inhale using short breaths 4 times in a row for each step you take and exhale 4 times for each step. Do this for around 15 minutes and it will change your current mental state.
There is a University research article which described these 4×4 technique – I’ll try to locate it and update this post soon.

Forming this new habit

You may be thinking, but Ernest do I have to always conentrate on my breathing. I already have a busy schedule… Like most things in life, there is a solution.

Research has shown that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So if you practise this breathing technique “daily” for around 30 minutes, after 21 days this new habit will became an automatic routine. Just like learning to drive a car required effort at first before it too became an automatic routine.

So, change your life today and start feeling better and full of energy – Breath.

Happy Breathing!

Recommended further reading

Floatation (isolation) Tank – indepth and upclose

Welcome back for more juice on Flotation Tanks. If you have not read my previous post “Floatation (isolation) Tank – fringe science?” then I highly recommend you go there first and read the introduction to understand what they are, the benefits of the experience and see some screenshots of tanks I’ve been in, in Sydney (Australia) and San Francisco (USA).

Let’s delve inside – how to temporarily turn off your 3 senses

Isolation Tank specs

  • The tank is not airtight – it is designed to let air in via the roof.
  • It’s pitch black inside. Used to disassociate your visual senses from the environment.
  • The tank environment is humid – 37° celcius (99° Fahrenheit) – your body’s temperature. Helps with disassociating your kinestatic senses from the environment.
  • Around 10 inches of water in the tank with 800 lbs. of Epsom Salt dissolved in it. When you lie back you will float like a cork. Your ears will be under water. All places I’ve been to provide you earplugs. Use them to cut out all remnants of noise. That’s how your auditory senses are disassociated from the environment.
  • Keep the salt out of your eyes. Once inside do not rub your eyes or touch your face – the salt is very strong and even a small drop will sting. Make sure you have a towel near the tank to dry your hands before touching your face / eyes. The same goes for any cuts you have on your body. Make sure you cover them up with Vaseline or similar to stop the salt from entering the wound.
  • At the beginning of each float set an intention for what you would like to accomplish during your float. Then enjoy the float – the rest of the journey your mind will take you through.

What to expect during a float

The following is based on my experience. Each experience varies but they all share similar stories.

  1. First 20 minutes is calming down your mind and relaxing your body. First timers will find it strange to let go at first because being buoyant is a strange feeling and letting go of tension without touching anything in the tank is even stranger – yes you do float in the tank without touching the bottom or the side walls. When the tension pain is gone that’s when you have fully let go (especially neck muscles).
  2. Concentrate on your breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try this approach, 4 seconds in, hold for another 4 seconds and 2 seconds out (I will cover breathing techniques in a future post and why doing it correctly is super important). Also try to resist moving or scratching an itch. During the start of a meditation session when your senses are slowly being turned off, your brain will send signals to your body to try to awaken them – this will come through as an itch or a muscle twitch. Resist it for couple of minutes and it will pass. Concentrating on your breathing will also help you with the fight against the “monkey mind”. The monkey mind are random distracting thoughts which rush in and out of your mind.
  3. After 20 (or so) minutes have passed you will find yourself in an open minded state. Your mind should feel clear & open, your body free of tension. This is the relaxed state. Your mind will be in a frequency state called Alpha. A state which you can also use for accelerated learning.
  4. After another 20 minutes (40 minutes into the float) you will enter Theta state. You will be conscious in this state and know when it comes. In this state your subconscious mind awakens and your concious mind will experience auditory and visual hallucinations. You will feel as though you have separated from your physical body and are pure energy, a part of something  greater. Monks practice years to reach Theta in a concious state. Do not resist. Do not get frightened. This state gives you access to insights, bursts of creative ideas – a key state for “reality creation” through vivid imagery.
  5. After 1 hour of floating, soft music will start playing inside the tank. This is your queue that the journey for now has came to an end and it’s time to go back to the reality we call society.

With time you will want to float for longer and longer. I have floated for 2 hours before and even though it may sound like a long time there is no sense of time during a good float. John C. Lilly was known to float for up to 6 hours and trained himself to reach such high states that his experiences are what some people would call out of this world.

I would love to hear your experience in the tank. Please use the comments section below to share your journey in the tank.

Common questions & answers

  1. Q: Will I drown if I fall asleep in the tank?
    A: No. You are always buoyant, floating on top of the water like a cork. Same as the dead seas. If you did roll over, the strong Epsom Salt in the water would instantly wake you up.
  2. Q: I have a fear of being alone in the dark, drowning, not having enough air, claustrophobia, and others
    A: For some the first time might be a bit overwhelming. You can go in and out of the tank as you please. You can use the tank with the door completely open, you can keep it partially open, or you can close it. There is no particular way to use the tank that is more correct than another. Any way you use it, that is comfortable for you, is correct. But once you relax and let go you will experience peace and tranquility and want to come back for more.
  3. Q: I did what you said to do and nothing happened. What gives.
    A: Practice makes perfect. Like anything in life you need to immerse yourself in it and embrace the offering. I recommend you give it a go at least 3 times and each time be open and willing to let go.

Joe Rogan on Floatation Tank