Realization from a float tank

What I realized from floating in complete darkness and silence for 90 minutes.

Realization from a float tank
Photo by David Romualdo / Unsplash

A float tank offers a way to relax and meditate free from sense distractions, by floating on a bath of body temperature salt water (so salty that you float effortlessly), in complete darkness in a sound proof room.  You cannot see, hear, feel, smell or taste anything for up to 90 minutes. 🧖

I had done a couple of 60 minute sessions about 8 years ago, but this time I decided to try 90 minutes.  I am glad I did as the time tends to pass by rather quickly while the senses are deprived of stimulation.

Before the session I had a moderate expectation that the session would be relaxing with the chance to go deeper into meditation and gain profound spiritual experience.  It had been many years since I last tried floating at the beginning of my spiritual awakening, and I remembered it to be a deeply relaxing experience.

During the float I experienced a nice sense of relaxation and clear mindedness.  Many moments of peace and stillness.  It was nice.  Nothing hugely profound or deeply relaxing, and in fact I remember the first couple floats many years ago to be a lot more pleasurable and relaxing in comparison.  I later came to realize that this was a sign of good progress in my life, as I will soon explain.

At the end of the float I sat with some tea, feeling perfectly content, and with a meditative mind, reflected on my experience.

I already have peace. I already have happiness.

This was the key insight that arose.

After coming a long way along an apparent "spiritual path" it's easy to take the path too seriously, forgetting that it too is illusory, and believe its all about getting increasingly blissful and experiencing new levels of profound spiritual experience or wisdom.

For the first time the cracks appeared in this entire notion of "spiritual path" and "achieving bliss", and I came to truly see that I already have peace and happiness... in fact it seems that I already always had it.  The kind of peace that is talked about in scriptures - it's never created nor destroyed.

The thing is that there is a habit of turning away from this inherent peace, distracted by some new shiny thing, or a story in the mind about how things should really be or sometimes even a promise of some new "deep spiritual knowledge".  On a spiritual path, it's easy to form a habit of seeking something that doesn't need to be sought.  It just needs to be turned towards repeatedly, instead of turning toward distractions.  This contentedness is so close, so simple and so basic that we just ignore it, like the air in front of our face.  I am instantly content and happy if only I don't turn away from the contentedness and happiness that is already always there.

I think the reason that this float session did not feel as viscerally relaxing as the ones I did 8 years ago, is because nowadays I am already relaxed.  There is no more everyday struggle and stress to contrast to, as there was in the past.  This is why I feel that the apparent mildness of my more recent spiritual experiences compared to the past, have become a sign of progress in my life (though at the same time I don't take this as a hard and fast rule or expectation either).

Distraction, pleasure and stimulation are often not worth it

This was a related insight that came up.

It was much easier to see the peace and happiness which is always here, when I am not heavily stimulated and distracted.  This includes "pleasant" stimulation.

In fact it seems that such temporary pleasure tends to reinforce the non-conducive idea that happiness comes from some other place than whats already here.  Additionally, the extent to which I indulge in pleasure is equally the extent to which I will indulge in pain.  That is unavoidable.

A week after the float I found myself increasingly turning away from some usual sources of apparent pleasure like watching videos, scrolling the Internet and online shopping.  I'm still not an absolute monk about it but I more clearly question whether certain harmless pleasures are really worth it, given these newly observed downsides. Naturally I do not chase them as much as before.

Don't just copy me, realize for yourself

I'm not actually suggesting that everyone can find instant happiness by simply turning away from their usual pleasures and staring into space.  It might be just what you need right now, or it might not be.  Only you know for sure.

I am not a real monk, I still live an average life 90% of the time.  The above works for me because I realized it.  It's also what my mind and body needed right now at my stage in life, after years of chasing and stimulation (which is honestly a necessary prerequisite... don't skip this step 😜).  If my words did not induce a similar realization within you, enough to utterly convince you of the same insights, then it may not be what you need right now.  You may also see the long term wisdom in it, but at the same time you might feel that you are not ready yet, and that's OK.

This is why it's far more important to have your own spiritual practice (or its equivalent) that helps you unravel your own mind and gives you the insight that you need right now, rather than trying to directly copy anything I do or say, in the hope that its going to make you magically happy.  Though I would still encourage you to give it a shot and see if it works out.  If not, you can always come back to it later.

Just being

At the end of the day, it does seem more like I am "just being" rather than chasing something, including chasing "spiritual progress".  So I will naturally explore more in this direction.  The inner heart leads the way.  Perhaps I was always "just being" all this time... but I just didn't notice it 😉.

I hope you enjoyed my writing.  I would love to hear your own diverse insights and experiences, so feel free to comment below or drop me a message 🙏.