Want to learn more about floating but aren’t sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! Here are three of our favorites books about our favorite health practice – the tomes many floaters turn to first. If you have a few minutes after your next float, feel free to look these over while you relax in our post-float lounge.
The Deep Self: Consciousness Exploration in the Isolation Tank by John C. Lilly (1977)
The first full-length book devoted to floating comes from the man credited for its invention, John C. Lilly. In “The Deep Self: Consciousness Exploration in the Isolation Tank,” Lilly goes to great lengths in describing his many trial-and-error efforts to perfect the first isolation tank, based on his belief that sensory deprivation could benefit consciousness. Would it surprise you to know that the first/prototype float tank was created in 1954? A simple 2.5-meter tank filled with saltwater, the first float participants were completely submerged, standing, and breathed through a full-face oxygen mask. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that Lilly incorporated Epsom salts into the mix, thereby eliminating the need for an oxygen mask, and enabling participants to float horizontally. Initially written in 1977, “The Deep Self” is a great place to start for anyone interested in the origins, theories, and potentially far-reaching benefits of floating, direct from the inventor himself. Lilly was also the first to coin the acronym R.E.S.T., for Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. A fascinating and sometimes controversial figure in his day (one of his long-held goals was establishing communication with dolphins), Lilly was the inspiration for the on-the-fringe scientist in both the novel and film for “Altered States” – a fact not lost on the book publisher:
For a more down-to-earth look at floating and its benefits, let’s turn to:
The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea by Michael Hutchison (1984)
In the early 1980s, journalist Michael Hutchison set out to debunk what he was certain was an overly-hyped fad; no way floating could be so beneficial in so many different ways. But like most people, his views on floating changed dramatically after his first time in a tank, and he eventually became one of floating’s biggest advocates. Considered by many to be the definitive guide for all things floating, the book is packed with useful tips, advice, and scientifically proven methods for achieving specific results through floating. The book is divided into three parts. In part one, Hutchison takes us through a very brief but succinct history of floating, including the story of John C. Lilly, and the history of sensory deprivation. Part two provides readers with several sometimes-competing theories on why floating works, with ideas running the gamut from the common sense (the absence of gravity) to the slightly fantastical (the aquatic ape theory.) Not all of the theories may ‘hold water’ for you (pun intentional), but all are guaranteed to make you think. Part three – “Ways of Floating” – gets into the nuts and bolts of using float therapy for specific purposes. Pain relief? A better golf game? Help with addictions? There are highly informative chapters devoted to these topics and more, with scientifically proven methods for success, backed up with inspiring personal stories. You might find yourself turning to chapters 16 and 17 again and again; both are packed with terrific advice for getting the most out of your floats. Aside from a few dated references (including how the 1981 Dallas Cowboys utilized float therapy), the info and stories in this 1984 book are timeless.
For a book that brings us to this side of the millennium, let’s finish up with:
The Float Tank Cure by Shane Stott (2015)
We don’t have to tell you that stress and anxiety are two of the most pressing issues affecting people today; a few years back, Los Angeles resident Shane Stott knew these issues all too well. His high-pressure job in the music industry dominated his 16-hour days, leaving him wiped out physically and emotionally by each day’s close. Like many people under similar circumstances, Stott tried to self-medicate his problems away through alcohol; also like others, Stott reached a breaking point where his stress and anxiety turned into panic attacks and crippling depression. At a crossroads, Stott left Los Angeles, moved back in with his family, and began a journey of healing that ultimately brought him to floating. Counseling, medication, and meditation helped Stott initially, but the challenges of meditation found him actively seeking an alternative. A video from Joe Rogan inspired Stott to build his own personal float tank, and his life has never been the same. In addition to detailing his personal story in “The Float Tank Cure,” Stott became the co-founder of the Zen Float Company, which specializes in a tank for home use. Deeply engaging, personal, and packed with useful information from start to finish, “The Float Tank Cure” is a must-read for anyone interested in tackling stress and anxiety through the aid of floating (also of note: chapters that highlight the effective treatment of PTSD through floating, and what qualities to look for in a successful float center.)
Have you read any of these prior to the article? Did we inspire you to pick one up? We’d love to hear your thoughts and/or your experiences, and share them with our float community. Drop us a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what you think about our literary picks. Until then: Happy Reading & Happy Floating! (Just maybe not at the same time…)