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.

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Weapons of Mass Distraction

You are what you watch

You are what you watch


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…


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



The “Integrity Food” Revolution




“A sure sign sir, that we live in a mad mad world is when a person has sane ideas and he comes across as a revolutionary”

-Joe Rogan referring to Joel Salatin

Industrial versus biological agriculture

Charismatic farmer Joel Salatin recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast to discuss the philosophy behind his successful business, Polyface Farms, and the current ideology of the modern industrial food system. Salatin first came to widespread attention in the US when he was featured in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Palatin begins the interview with Rogan by making the revolutionary claim that animals are supposed to move. To anybody who has ever seen a deer run, or a bird fly, this statement seems so obvious that it is not even worth saying. Yet a majority of our entire food system is based around the practice of animal confinement where animals are indoors standing on concrete floors without access to such basic requirements as sunshine, fresh air or green grass. Some call it the industrial food system, and others call it factory farming, either way Salatin describes the primary flaw of that type of agriculture as viewing animals from a mechanical perspective instead of a biological perspective. Raising animals is not the same as building iPhones, and Salatin provides countless examples of why that is.

Nutrient dense and pasture raised

To briefly summarize the Polyface Farm philosophy, Salatin raises his animals outdoors on green grass, and he does this by letting multiple species of animal access a portion of pasture in successive waves. First the cows pass, then the layer chickens, followed by the meat chickens, next come the turkeys, and finally the pigs. All this movement is achieved through a form of intensive management that utilizes simple electric fencing. To highlight the benefits, Salatin describes the high nutrient density of pastured pork versus factory pork. The pork industry had the famous slogan, “pork, the other white meat”, yet the absurdity of this slogan is evident in the fact that pork should be pink and not white. The pink color results from blood flow through the tissues and occurs only when the animals get regular exercise. This pink color also is an indicator of iron in the meat, so the pork industry was attempting to sell their product by boasting of the low nutrient content of their meat. Salatin provided many other examples such as the high folic acid levels of pastured versus factory eggs, and the high riboflavin level of pastured versus factory beef. I find it fascinating that Salatin claims riboflavin has calming effects, we don’t each much pastured beef in the US, and we don’t seem like a very calm society do we? A demonstration of food as medicine perhaps?

Antibiotic free

Increasingly people are becoming familiar with the food label, “free of antibiotics”, but have you ever wondered why all our food has antibiotics in it to begin with? According to Salatin the excessive use of antibiotics is simply a result of highly crowded animal confinement. The poor air quality in these dirty environments is abrasive to animal lungs, and as a result pathogens are able to invade the animals through their damaged lungs. Rather than viewing animals from a biological perspective the industrial food industry views animal sickness as a mechanical problem. Instead of simply giving the animals access to fresh air they decided to give them a steady diet of drugs to fight off the inevitable pathogen illnesses. Bacteria are not all bad, Salatin explains that giving the animals access to pasture, or even using compostable bedding are simple methods that can be used to let the good micro organisms defeat the bad. In fact, he states that the default mode of nature is for health and not disease. We only perceive this constant battle against disease because we have developed systems that allow pathogens to thrive.

Artificial people

I really hope you can take the time to listen to this podcast because my summary can’t adequately convey the importance of Salatin’s message, which is basically that the industrial system of agriculture is bad for the animals, bad for the planet, and therefore bad for us. He explained his philosophy best by paraphrasing Sir Albert Howard, known as one of the founders of modern organic agriculture: “when you use artificial manure (fertilizers) in the soil it makes artificial plants, which make artificial animals, which then become food that makes artificial people who can only stay alive using artificials”. Howard said that during the 1940s, and that is where we are today isn’t it? We are a society of people heavily dependent on pharmaceuticals.

Old knowledge seems new

From Ayurveda we now have access to knowledge of a preventive medical system that uses food as medicine. These concepts seems new to many of us because we are unfamiliar with them, yet they have existed for thousands of years. I see parallels to this in the paleo food movement, which is now adopting diet and lifestyle practices based on the daily routines of our ancient ancestors. Joel Salatin, who uses the term “Integrity Food” to describe his style of agriculture, is another example of this since he is now seen as a revolutionary farmer in this age of industrial agriculture. The funny thing is that he often borrows his ideas from agriculture books written prior to the 1950s. This has all been done before, in fact it was the only way that it was done before, but our view of the natural world has been so twisted and dominated by profit driven corporations that we think of Salatin as a pioneer. This is exactly what the Rogan quote at the beginning was referring to. We do live in a mad mad world, but fortunately with a little extra effort and education we can still have access to a high quality, and environmentally responsible food supply.

For more about this topic read my earlier post: Confessions of an Ayurvedic Counselor: Part 2, Meat