Floating & Lucid Dreaming
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
In previous posts I have talked about visuals and hallucinations in relation to floating, these can happen on occasion and are not as common as you might think.
You can read the previous posts here,
Lucid dreaming is something most people experience at least once in their lives. To lucid dream on a consistent basis, however, is an art reserved for a special few.
You too can learn how to lucid dream, but it takes practice. Today, it’s estimated that only 20% of people have mastered lucid dreaming. This is something I will explore in this post in relation to floating.
Before we dive in, I need to clarify the difference between sleep hallucinations and lucid dreaming. Some people claim to have had a lucid dream whilst floating, which is definitely possible and something I will talk about later. But more often than not, they will experience sleep hallucinations.
‘Hallucinations during sleep are a phenomenon that can target any sensory perception, be it visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory or other. Hallucinations are often confused with both illusions and dreams. Sleep hallucinations occur in the state between waking and sleeping (the person is considered to be technically asleep during these hallucinations though), as opposed to dreams or lucid dreams, which occur while asleep.’
Although it is possible to fall asleep whilst floating (It is safe to do so btw), the likelihood is pretty low unless you are floating for a longer period of 1.5hrs or more. It also depends on how tired you are, also the time of day can have an impact if we look at our body’s natural sleep cycle.
Hallucinations can cause confusion, as they will often be indistinguishable from reality in your mind. In contrast, upon waking from a dream during REM sleep, most people will clearly recognize it was a dream they were experiencing, or may immediately forget about the dream entirely upon waking. Hallucinations may also cause fear, especially upon waking, as they may include clear and complex visual images, that may be distorted or make no sense realistic sense.
Sleep related hallucinations can occur in as many as 25% of people, as opposed to under 5% for non-sleep related hallucinations. They are most commonly found in young adults and teens, and frequency of hallucinations seems to decrease with age. Females are more likely to experience them than males.
What is Lucid Dreaming?
‘Lucid dreaming is the ability to consciously observe and/or control your dreams. ... But when lucid, the conscious brain wakes up during sleep. This is a safe and natural state. It is not anything spooky or paranormal (in fact, out of body experiences are thought to be explained by the lucid dream state).’
A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. Many people wake up from lucid dreams, but lucid dreaming is the practice of staying in the dream state and exploring it.
In some cases, the practice goes beyond that. Lucid dreamers may use certain techniques in order to influence their brains to dream about a particular problem or idea. As they drift off to sleep, they might think about a challenging work problem they haven’t quite worked out a solution to.
In this way, lucid dreamers are able to train their minds to work toward their goals while they sleep, such as improving their confidence or athletic ability.
Lucid dreamers are also able to open up their minds to be more creative, by exploring the dreams that they experience. By taking agency and making active decisions through the dream, rather than passively experiencing them, they can make creative connections and test how things work.
The most advanced of lucid dreamers can even indicate to researchers when they’re experiencing a lucid dream. Lucid dreaming occurs during the REM stage of sleep.
During REM, most of our muscles become paralyzed, in order to prevent us from injuring ourselves while acting out our dreams, However, our eye muscles are still able to move.
In one study, participants “told” researchers they were lucid dreaming by moving their eyes from left to right twice during their dream. Since the movement matched their real eyes, researchers were able to study the impact to brain waves and other biological functions while they slept.
A lucid dream can feel as real and vivid as real life. In a lucid dream, your more literal right brain takes a break, and you can experience yourself free from all your fears and inhibitions – giving you insights you can then take into your waking life.
Lucid Dreaming and Floating
I mentioned earlier on that falling asleep during a float is possible, but your chances increase if you float for longer. i.e. 90 mins or more. Like most dreams, lucid dreaming will typically occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. For some people, it occurs spontaneously. However, others train themselves to start dreaming lucidly, or to become better at it.
The float tank is a fantastic environment to help you experience lucid dreaming. In research on states of consciousness, floatation tank users have found that they experience spontaneous bright images which are like a vivid dream – although they are awake and conscious. The images can be scenes from long-ago memories, or random images. This is sometimes called a ‘WILD’ or Waking-Induced Lucid Dream.
Some experienced lucid dreamers report that while in a float tank, lucid dreams are more intense, easier to initiate, and longer-lasting than dreams they experienced outside the tank. I believe this is in part down to the lack of sensory stimulus. Once you reach a deep level of meditation and are no longer aware of the water it shifts from reduced sensory input into sensory enhancement. This means that once you are no longer aware of your physical self all that is left is your mind and access to your subconscious. This can make it a more intense experience as you are tapping into higher states of consciousness, free from physical constraints. Because your subconscious mind is more active and vivid, once you enter REM sleep the potential to have lucid dream increases as you have set the stage internally so to speak.
The float tank provides the ideal environment, all you need are the relevant techniques and knowledge to open the doors of perception. Most lucid dreaming techniques revolve around triggering the realization that you’re dreaming. The first steps often include keeping a dream journal to increase your awareness of your dreams and identifying common themes or signs in your dreams. Many lucid dreamers recommend habitually questioning your waking state at all times—i.e., practice asking yourself if you’re dreaming or awake during the day, so that when you are sleeping the habit will pop up in your dreams. If you are able to answer—in your dream—” Look, there’s a fuzzy clock, which I know is a theme in lots of my dreams. I am dreaming!” …then you have initiated a lucid dream.
I have provided a link below to a simple guide on how to lucid dream, it is worth practicing these techniques at home to hone your skills before taking your float session to the next level.
If you would like to learn more about lucid dreaming I would check out Charlie Morely's book, Lucid Dreaming Made Easy: A Beginner's Guide to Waking Up in Your Dreams.
Well-known Float therapy advocate Richard Bonk has even developed a system combining lucid dream initiation techniques with floating—and describes experiencing lucid dreams approximately 80% of the time he uses his system, with spontaneous lucid dreams increasing in and out of the tank as well. Floatation Tank & Consciousness.
Whether you are a long-time lucid dreamer or a beginner, spending time in the float tank may help you initiate lucid dreams more easily and experience them more intensely. Book online now to see the effects of floating on lucid dreaming first-hand—and be sure to share your story with us post float!