Flotation Tanks And Meditation Pods: Are They The Future?


When you first see a meditation pod, you’ll probably think you’re on the set of Star Wars Episode VIII. That’s because most meditation pods look uncannily like a spacecraft.

To be a nerd; they specifically look like an escape pod.

That’s a surprisingly fitting term, actually.

An escape pod is precisely what this is.

You sit back in the meditation pod, an illuminated dome lowers over a reclining chair (though I have definitely sat in more comfortable meditation chairs).

And then you’re completely encapsulated; cocooned.

That’s where things go from sci-fi-esque to just plain psychedelic.


What it’s like being in a meditation pod

You rest your feet, recline, and the meditation pod lights up a certain colour.

The meditation pod I sat in was purple, which is the colour associated with spirituality. But other pods are aqua blue or a warming orange. And each colour produces different moods.

Those moods are enhanced when the music starts playing.

Meditation pods use binaural beats.

Essentially, that means they play different frequency sounds in each ear. Your brain then balances those frequencies out. (Personally I’d prefer it if they has acoustic sounds such as a Tibetan Singing Bowl).

These binaural beats produce a calming effect on the brain.

“When signals of two different frequencies (sounds) are presented, one to each ear, the brain detects phase differences between these signals,” says MindFit Hypnosis.

“The brain processes this anomalous information differently when these phase differences are heard with stereo headphones or speakers. A perceptual integration of the two signals is perceived in the brain, producing the sensation of a third “beat”. The difference between the signals waxes and wanes the two stereo sounds mesh in and out of phase. The binaural beat is perceived as a fluctuating rhythm at the frequency of the difference between the two auditory inputs.”

Then the meditation pod fills with water, hence becoming a “flotation tank”

This is when the meditation pod becomes a flotation tank.

Meditation pods that use floatation then fill with water that matches the temperature of your own body.

A hefty dollop of Epsom salt increases the density of that water, making your body float (hence, “flotation tank”).

By the end of this distinctly sci-fi affair, you’re floating in a room full of water, surrounded by soothing light and binaural beats.



Meditation Pods Are In-Vogue In The US

Those on the western coast of the US have already experienced the wonders of meditation pods. Pods have been popular there since about 2014.

In 2015 Canada opened its first flotation therapy centre in British Columbia [2].

But you will probably struggle to find a meditation pod  or flotation tank in your area, unless you’re in a large city. Because the world has still not taken to them… yet.

Perhaps that’s not surprising. Floatation therapy has always struggled to catch on.

In the 1980s, before the world went digital-crazy, spas installed rudimentary floatation devices. But hardly anyone used them and they soon went out of fashion. Will history repeat itself?

That depends on two things.

  1. how beneficial pods end up being
  2. how readily available they become.

Meditation pods are currently around $30,000. Clearly, that’s a tall order when you could just lie in bed meditating.



What are the benefits of a meditation pod / flotation therapy?

Anette Kjellgren and Jessica Westman from the Human Performance Laboratory, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden, researched the effect of flotation tanks and meditation pods in 2014.  [3]
 The researchers took 65 participants and assigned them to either a control group of to a flotation tank treatment group. The latter group has seven weeks of flotation programs with 12 flotation sessions in total. They were then asked to complete a questionaire about their levels of stress, energy, anxiety, depression, insomnia and other areas of health.
The results showed that flotation tanks are highly beneficial for stress, depression, anxiety and physical pain, and that quality of sleep also improved significantly.
As a bonus, being isolated in the flotation tanks also increased mindfulness and altered states of consciousness.
The authors state that the experience of being in an isolation tank may also help people to find general relaxation in their everyday lives.
However, there are risks of isolation tanks too.

Feeling clautrophobic in a flotation tank

Many people experience claustrophobia in flotation tanks.

“I have claustrophobia,” says Jane Simmons, a spa aficionado and lifelong meditator. “The moment the lid closed I started screaming. The creepy binaural sounds and the water just made it worse. No way can I relax in this. It’s a nightmare for me.”

The experience has been downright bone-chilling for some.

“I started seeing these lights swirling above me. And I heard an eerie voice,” says Tamzin Oakland, who had her first meditation pod session last month.

Tamzin is not alone.

A Swedish study in 2008 showed that many people experience imaginary voices and light phenomena when in a meditation pod. It turns out that when the brain is cut off from external stimuli, it begins to create its own. ­


So where do meditation pods stand? Will meditation pods catch on? Or are they just a fad?

As things stand, meditation pods are in the same position virtual reality was a year ago.

Both VR and meditation pods (or “floatation therapy decideis”) were around in the 1980s. But they failed to take on. Both have seen a resurgence. And both have both benefits and drawbacks. Virtual reality offers complete escapism at the possible expense of motion sickness. And meditation pods offer escapism at the risk of claustrophobia and hallucinations.

VR is finally getting its time in the sun. Sales of VR units are currently strong. And there are tons of relaxing VR apps meditators use today. That once so futuristic technology is now looking very contemporary. And meditation pods will likely fair the same way. They may not catch on this year. Maybe not the next. But with all the benefits meditation pods offer, they will be the must-have item for the next decade.

Right now, there are more important products for meditators.

But soon, meditation pods could be right up there at the top of our shopping lists (at least, if we can afford them).

Sure, they might look like they come from Star Wars. But they’re darned relaxing.

Subscribe and receive our ultimate guides to meditations, mantras and mudras as a welcome gift

* indicates required
About Paul Martin Harrison 494 Articles
Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.