LSD, Lilly and me, floating in a tank

Float pod, photo by Sattvic Planet

Float pod, photo by Sattvic Planet

 

“In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits”

-From The Center of the Cyclone, written by John C. Lilly, M.D.

 

Literature cited
Isolation tanks, or float pods, are increasingly popular these days and can now be found in large cities throughout the US West. Celebrity Joe Rogan deserves some credit for spreading the word as he often raves on his podcast about the benefits he enjoys from owning a tank and floating regularly in his home. However, the person who deserves the most credit is a scientist named Dr John C. Lilly who invented the concept during the 1950s. You may have heard of Lilly if you ever listened to The Joe Rogan Experience, and you can usually find one of Lilly’s books for sale at a float studio. Lilly did much more than pioneer this meditative therapy, he took the concept further than any of us can imagine. Lilly was fascinated with exploring the human mind, and unlike most scientists today he was willing to experiment with his own mind rather than the minds of his test subjects. One such experiment involved taking LSD and then entering his isolation tank on multiple occasions to learn more about human consciousness. Since I was interested in having a similar experience I decided to read his book The Center of the Cyclone prior to my first journey. The book is a personal account of his LSD influenced float tank experiences along with other stories of mind exploration. Lilly seemed to be writing the book not only to document his pioneering efforts, but also to provide assistance and warnings to others who might follow his path.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Weapons of Mass Distraction

You are what you watch

You are what you watch

WAKE UP!!!

Last week my yoga instructor said the American society has been attacked by Weapons of Mass Distractions. I think he was referring to things like TV, advertisements, video games, casinos, professional sports, smartphones, mainstream media, and the everyday culture you experience at the office, grocery store, and even in your neighborhood. The WMDs are exploding all around us, and we are all the victims, so how do we wake up from these distractions? It’s not an easy question to answer. I know we all think that we are awake; there is a Starbucks on every corner, but that is not the type of awake I’m talking about. If you’re not one of the fortunate few who wonders if there is more to life than the next episode of America’s favorite TV show then perhaps you need to be blasted into consciousness. Many people have profound experiences while experimenting with various chemicals during summer music festivals with their friends, though I don’t think that is the ideal scenario. If you really want to get serious about this then you may even consider participating in a medicinal plant ceremony with an Amazonian shaman. Of course chemicals are not the only way of being awakened, though they can be fast and powerful tools. A less intense method might involve beginning the practices of breathing, meditation, yoga, or float tank therapy. Another option might be to substitute your daily mind numbing activities with something more stimulating, such as listening to these episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast…

JRE498

The Joe Rogan Experience

I know the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast is not for everybody. For example, as a martial artist and a commentator for mixed martial arts, often times professional fighting is discussed on his show; which is probably a turnoff for some people. What I find fascinating about the JRE is that he is one of the most famous people I know that openly discusses taboo subjects with his guests, and there are thousands, if not millions of people listening to him every week. Joe’s guests often include fighters and comedians, as you might expect from a man who is a fighter and a comedian, though they are not the guests who I normally listen to, but if you know what to look for there are some real gems in his archive of podcasts. Among my favorites are the episodes with Amber Lyons and Aubrey Marcus discussing in great detail their trips to the Peruvian Amazon where they participated in traditional Ayahuasca healing ceremonies conducted by a native shaman using plant medicines. There is no place else on the internet that I know of where you can find such lengthy and highly detailed conversations about these subjects, led by such a well known moderator, and listened to by so many people. He may not be the best choice for academics or the spiritually advanced, but I see that as his strength. Because Joe speaks in a language that appeals to the common person he reaches a wide audience of people that normally wouldn’t be exposed to his message. Though it is difficult to measure, I imagine that Joe and his guests are responsible for waking many people from a life unconscious. One of my good friends owns a float tank studio, and many clients report on their first session that they first learned about floating from Joe.

JRE-amber lyon

Conscious Consumption

When I talk about being awake, or attaining consciousness you might think of some mystical eastern religious concept that is difficult to relate to, but I’m simply referring to the act of being aware of your surroundings and considering the consequences of your actions. Life is really just a long series of decisions and the choices we make constantly shape our bodies and the world around us. What should I do with my free time, watch TV, or read a book? How should I go to the store, in a car, or by bike? What should I do with this waste, compost it, or throw it in the garbage? Should I sit down to eat my meal on a plate, or order it to go in a disposable container? What should I eat for breakfast, a donut, or some whole foods? Do I need to buy the newest smartphone or does my old phone still serve me well? Do I feel good about my career, and does my job make the world a better place? Taking a look around I think it is safe to say that a majority of the American people are distracted and unconscious. Our consumption is high, our health is poor, and we are killing the planet we depend on for survival.

In Ayurveda

Everyday, we are surrounded by a constant stream of distractions. The billboards on the side of the highway, the commercials playing on the radio, the incoming messages on your phone, and the big football game Sunday afternoon. Some of them are desired, and others are annoying, but they are both distractions. They are a source of constant noise that prevents us from listening to our bodies, observing our natural environment, and focusing on the things that really matter. With advancements in technology, and the increased sophistication of capitalism it has become more difficult than ever to escape these Weapons of Mass Distraction. This is why including breathing, meditation, yoga, or float tank therapy into your routine is beneficial. I can’t recommend psychedelics from an Ayurvedic perspective, but I know they are extremely powerful, and can quickly cause people to examine their lives and ask why they do what they do. In some cases they may be appropriate when used responsibly.

Related posts:

0 Easy Steps to Consciousness

Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod

 

 

Advertisements, you are what you watch

You are what you watch

You are what you watch

With Seattle still feeling the high after smoking Denver at the Super Bowl two weeks ago I thought now might be a good time to share my perspective on the big game, from a health perspective of course. While you may have been expecting another recipe from this preventive medicine blog, I want to change the subject material on occasion to reflect the major current events happening around us. More specifically I want to draw the connections between our lifestyles and our health, especially with subjects where that connection may not be so obvious.

Like most young men growing up in the US I watched the NFL. I could tell you all the rules of the game just as well as the next guy, and had no problem identifying the star players. However, I rarely watch football anymore. Perhaps it is my distaste for all the commercials, the recent revelations of brain injuries to the players, or maybe I’m just too busy floating in sensory deprivation pods. Regardless, as a Washington resident I felt compelled to watch my first game of the season in the playoff game against San Francisco. I couldn’t ignore this team anymore as the buzz around me grew louder, quite literally as they were measured during home games to be the loudest fans in the league. After a thrilling victory in that game, there was no doubt that I would be watching Seattle attempt to win their first championship in team history.

The Super Bowl was excellent, if you were a Seattle fan, as the Seahawks completely dominated the Broncos. It really was fun to watch, but in between all the Seahawks touchdowns I was exposed to a barrage of commercials, and reminded why I rarely watch TV anymore. Now I know that many people enjoy the commercials almost as much as the game. At a cost of $4 million per 30 second advertisement, corporations are certainly going to put a lot of effort into making those 30 seconds as funny, exciting, heartwarming, and memorable as possible. While the Super Bowl ads may be considered entertaining to some, I couldn’t stop thinking about the tens of thousands of commercials people watch throughout their lives.

In Ayurveda the term ahara refers to anything that we consume and includes some obvious materials such as food, water and air. It may come as a surprise to learn that emotions and information that we perceive through our sense organs are also considered as ahara. This means that we are consuming sights through our eyes and sounds through our ears, in other words not only are we consuming food, but we are also consuming TV commercials. You probably think that I smoked a super bowl before writing this, but before you judge think about what happens when you watch a comedy versus a drama. You feel different right? Watching two types of movies can make you feel different in the same way that eating deep fried onion rings makes you feel different than eating a kale smoothie. If you were trying to practice a healthy lifestyle you wouldn’t consume junk food, so why would you ever consume junk information? Everyone has heard the saying “you are what you eat”, but in this case I would ask you to consider the possibility that “you are what you watch”. Just as the food that we eat requires digestion from our gastrointestinal tract, the information we perceive requires digestion from our mind, and just as eating food improperly causes indigestion, I would argue that watching excessive TV commercials causes mental indigestion. The problem as I see it is that corporations care only about making money. They don’t care about your health, and if you don’t believe me then look at all the Super Bowl commercials for junk food and beer, and don’t forget about the car and technology advertisements telling you that you don’t have enough already. If you want style, and if you want happiness then you need to buy more, more, more. Profits are made, your health suffers, and the planet suffers from resource extraction and waste generation.

In summary, what I’m recommending is to reduce or eliminate your exposure to commercials and mindless junk information in general, from radio to magazines to TV to internet. Replace the time you spend consuming this information with silence, see my post Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod for details. If silence is not what you’re looking for then try other beneficial activities like cooking, exercise or gathering knowledge that will make you a better person. Listen to an educational podcast, read a good book, or watch a revealing documentary. What you should really be doing is reading Sattvic Planet more often, though I am slightly biased.

Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod (~*~)

Is it a mushroom, or a clam?

Is it a mushroom, or a clam? Click the photo to visit the Urban Float lounge in Seattle.

 

I assume that this is a new subject for many people, so allow me to briefly explain what I did and why I did it. Floating is an increasingly popular therapy similar to meditation that is used primarily for improving mental health, but it also has many physical health benefits. The way it works is you lie down in a pod or tank structure that has a shallow amount of extremely salty water inside. Once inside you pull the lid closed, lie on your back and then press a button to turn the light off. As a result of the added salt you will have no problem floating near the water surface, which I find to be a very pleasurable experience. Floating is only a part of the experience though; the sensory deprivation is what really makes this therapy unique. I think most people enjoy the feeling of floating in an ocean, lake, or even a pool, but in these situations you will still feel the inflatable mat under your back, the taste of salty waves splashing into your mouth, the smell of chlorine, the sound of kids yelling nearby, or the sight of the sun shining on your face. I’m not saying that all these sensations are necessarily bad, but they are all a form of stimulation that is difficult to avoid. In the controlled environment of a float pod nearly all of your five physical senses disappear. With the lid shut it is pure darkness inside, in fact you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. The pod is so quiet that you can hear your heart beating, and if you decide to use earplugs the silence increases further. Floating in the comfortably warm water nearly eliminates any sense of touch, and the smell of salty water is so faint that you can barely notice. Keep your mouth shut and taste nothing other than the inside of your mouth. The result of this extreme sensory deprivation is a meditation environment perfect for either a beginner or an advanced student. As a beginner there are no distractions to hinder your practice such as when an inflexible person tries to sit in the traditional cross-legged position on the floor. For the advanced student this can be an opportunity to take your practice to the next level of mind control.

Continue reading