My experience with a Lucia light therapy session and an hour inside a flotation tank

I am interested in exploring the different ways in which technology can be used to enhance well being. One of these ways is to explore how meditation experiences can be improved with technology.

With this aim in mind, I had a session inside a flotation tank (sensory deprivation tank, isolation tank) along with a Lucia light therapy session at 1000 petals in Bangalore. Both of these use technologies to enable the person to go into a meditation ‘theta’ state of EEG. The light therapy session was for 30 minutes and the flotation tank session was for 60 minutes.

Light Therapy session

Light therapy works in the following way, the person sits in a comfortable posture, closes the eyes, then light patterns are shown on the closed eyes by a specialized machine. Its got some relation with the energy of the chakras at the position of the ‘third eye’ on one’s forehead.

The patterns vary from slowly changing bright and dim light along with relaxing music, with which one has to synchronize the breathing.

Next come faster lights in different patterns, where one gets a feeling of floating or moving with the light. Depending upon ones background, one might hallucinate different shapes and figures.

My feeling was quite strange. At first it was just lots of light shining on your forehead. Then at some point, the attention moves away from the body feelings and towards the space created by the light patterns. One feels at one with the light, as if we have an ethereal body and are floating upwards, dancing with the lights. It’s almost as if the body doesn’t exist and one is expanding consciousness to the world. The feeling is of immense joy and of being at one with everything. Who would have thought a simple light session could work such wonders?

Lucia light therapy apparatus

Flotation tank session

Sensory deprivation has an association with deep states of meditation in some traditions, with Tibetan dark retreats being an important example. Cut off from the senses, the mind can reach states of being that are not easy to reach in the everyday world. Modern day flotation tanks are a continuation of this principle.

The idea of being in a flotation tank is to cut off all the senses and having no stimulation whatsoever. One just floats in a tank, in complete darkness and quiet. The water is salty and warmed around 32 degrees Celsius, so one can comfortably float and not feel the body or anything touching it. One can close the tank and be in absolute dark or leave it slightly open.

For me, it felt a bit scary at first, literally having nothing to hold on to, not even the body. The feel of having no support whatsoever and no stimulation is not what we are used to. But after some time it becomes familiar and one slips into a trance like state or even sleep. one can try to be aware of sensation and thoughts, or breathing, or just let everything go. It’s a very unusual experience but soon one hour is over and the session finished.

Sensory deprivation tank, by Floatguru [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

I would describe the experience as different from a usual mindfulness meditation session, since here you might tend to lose touch with the breath. Its quite an effort to remain mindful when the environment is so relaxing. But its not boring at all, I might have drifted into a deep sleep like trance.

One is advised to take a shower before and after the session, have little or no food before, including no stimulants like tea, and light food, such as a fruit salad, after.

Overall it’s a relaxing and de-stressing experience and one that I need to explore more deeper again.

Working as a software developer in machine learning projects. Interested in the intersection between technology, machine learning, society and well being.

Working as a software developer in machine learning projects. Interested in the intersection between technology, machine learning, society and well being.