What I Learned in an Isolation Float Tank
Or, Shut Up Already!
I just completed my second isolation float tank experience.
In case you don’t know, an isolation float tank is a sensory deprivation tank.
You get in this big enclosed humid room, lay nude on ten inches or so of warm salt-saturated water, bubble up to the top like a wine cork, watch the lights and sound go out and just, well, float.
Nobody else there.
You’re entirely alone.
Just you and your thoughts.
Not even a cell phone.
For ninety minutes.
So, why would anyone want to do that?
That’s why I didn’t do it.
I had a gift coupon to have an isolation tank experience at The Zero Gravity Institute in Austin, and never used it.
Not for five years.
I lost it.
Or hid it.
I didn’t care, either, as I couldn’t imagine “relaxing” in a dark room with no stimulation but my breathing, my thoughts, and the warm water under my butt. It sounded like an MRI tube and I hated those.
But after five years of avoiding my complimentary tank experience, I was given yet another gift coupon to have one, this time from my wife.
I figured the Universe (or my wife) was trying to tell me something, so I called The Zero Gravity Institute and booked my first session.
The institute is clinically clean, well kept, and futuristic looking.
I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew isolation tanks had been around for decades, stood the test of time, and that friends I trust, such as the publisher of Austin All Natural magazine, regularly did “the tank.”
So, what did I have to lose?
After a relaxing massage, and a quick shower, I was led to the tank.
I was surprised to see it large and spacious. You could stand and walk around in it.
It was like an enclosed hot tub.
Or a covered shallow swimming pool.
When I opened the large door, I felt the humid air and smelled the Epsom salts.
A soft light and gentle music were all I could sense.
I got in.
I lay back on the thick water and felt myself rise to the top of it, like an inflated big balloon.
Or a duck.
The lights dimmed to black.
The music softened to silence.
I lay there, with little stimulation, thinking, “This is different.”
And then all hell broke loose.
My mind was driving me up the sides of the tank.
It kept going into fear, wondering if I was safe, could I get out, what if I die in here, what if I go mad, and so forth.
I desperately reached for the inside door handle several times, wanting to assure myself that I could find it.
I occasionally reached down and pushed through the thick salt water to touch the floor, wanting to be sure I could stand and move if I had to.
I sometimes panicked in the dark, floundered about to get a sense of direction, splashed burning salt water in my eyes, and reached for the walls to be sure I could touch one.
This went on for at least 30 minutes.
I hated it.
I told my mind, “Shut up, already!”
I remember thinking, “I’ll never last 90 minutes in here! This is hell!”
I started imagining what I would say to the receptionist if I got out early.
“Sorry. Stomach upset.”
“Sorry. Forgot I had a call with Oprah.”
“Sorry. I thought this was for a haircut.”
But I let my monkey mind chatter and I kept breathing.
And then something happened.
Or maybe nothing happened.
The lights started to slowly come up.
The music started to play and gently grow louder.
Somehow “I” had left and the 90 minutes had passed.
And I was euphoric.
My brain was dancing with fireworks of delight.
I felt completely relaxed, and my body felt washed; as if it had been cleansed both inside and out.
I got out, showered off, got dressed, and felt giddy.
Now this is cool, I thought.
In the reception area, I was smiling.
I couldn’t stop smiling.
The owner told me I just detoxed my body and my mind. Endorphins were playing. I had gone into an alpha “non-mind” state of rejuvenation and relaxation. She added that I would feel the effects for a good week or more after this session.
She was right.
I slept better, had more energy, was more optimistic and relaxed, and accomplished even more tasks during each day than I normally would, and I’m already a pretty prolific and productive guy.
Afterwards I talked to a few people who had also experienced the tank.
They all had battles with their mind the first time.
They all realized that the monkey mind had to chatter and bite for thirty minutes before it would go on vacation and allow a deeper relaxation to occur.
So I wasn’t a wuss, after all.
I liked the first session so much, I booked a second.
The second was easier.
I already knew I’d be safe, so I didn’t flounder, reach for the door, or panic.
The “fight or flight” response was gone.
I just breathed, relaxed, and observed my mind.
When it’s just you and your breathing in an isolation float tank, your mind becomes the loudest voice in the room.
It can also be the most negative, belligerent and irritating voice.
My two tank experiences taught me what I already knew but needed to really feel: our minds are keeping us in fear all the time.
Not only in an isolation float tank.
It doesn’t want you to take risks or do anything unusual because you might get hurt. Even when it’s obvious that you won’t get hurt, the mind still keeps talking.
Your mind is talking right now, passing judgment on me and this article, warning you not to get in an isolation tank (or do anything out of your comfort zone).
Your mind is doing its job in keeping you safe, but it’s also, ironically, performing over kill.
You don’t need to be that safe.
While in the tank, I’ve learned to more closely observe and detach from my mind.
Sometimes I herd my thoughts like cats and nudge them into focusing on my goals for the week. That’s constructive use of my alone time. I call it The Intentional Tank Manifestation.
If my mind is going to talk, I might as well give it a task.
But at a certain point, about thirty minutes into my tank experience, “I” let go and simply unplug.
And that’s where the magic happens.
With my mind “off line,” my body can release, my unconscious can process, and I can remain open to inspiration and relaxation.
Again, when the lights came back up and music came back on, I was surprised that 90 minutes had passed.
Dressed and relaxed, the receptionist asked me how it was.
“It’s hard to explain,” I said. “I know I wasn’t thinking in there for ninety minutes, but I don’t know what I was doing if I wasn’t thinking in there.”
“You lay in there and think?”
“I lay in there and think I am thinking,” I replied. “But in reality, I have no idea what happens in there.”
Because I had no idea, I did a little research.
Turns out neuroscientist John Lilly invented sensory deprivation tanks in the 1950s. He and others discovered that complete isolation in a safe place triggered a relaxation even deeper than sleep.
The Zero Gravity Institute site explains it this way:
“The sudden lack of stimulation to large areas of the nervous system triggers a spontaneous chain reaction throughout the body known as the parasympathetic response. Muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption all drop dramatically. The entire chemistry of the body changes. The parasympathetic response is the body’s natural mechanism for healing and regeneration. “
Tank results prove erased anxiety and fear, and multiplied confidence and healing.
Most people experience profound relaxation, release of physical and emotional stress, and more.
Creativity increases, moods are brighter, and spirituality is alive.
People use tank experiences for ADHD, PTSD, addictions, depression, pain, recovery, spiritual exploration, athletic performance, improved sleep, high blood pressure and, well, the list keeps going.
It might grow hair, too. (Or not.)
The Zero Gravity Institute’s site also says-
“The endorphins released while floating create intense feelings of well-being, alleviating fatigue and chronic pain, as well as improving many of the higher brain functions such as memory and learning. The body’s endorphin level is what makes some people naturally happy and others less so. Happiness is not an illusion – it is an endorphin.”
After my second float, I drove home, turned on my computer, and wrote virtually all of this article in one sitting. I usually rewrite fifty times. Or more.
My next morning’s weight lifting workout was a record-breaker. I was unbelievably strong and energetic.
And an interview I did right after it was one of the best in my life; I was calm, articulate, and inspired.
I’m booking a third float right now. I’ll make “floating away” part of my self-care, along with massages, good books, music, exercise, healthy food and purring cats.
It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m writing yet another article here — my fifth — about the rock icon I love: Melissa Etheridge.
I saw her concert in San Antonio last night at the beautiful Tobin Center.
She rocked, of course, and tore down the walls of the new building.
Her power and charm remain high.
She is a bolt of lightning on stage.
I still marvel at her performances.
To my delight, Melissa spotted me from stage.
It was fairly easy for her to see me, as I was in the second row, basically not blinking throughout her entire show.
She blew me a kiss.
And when she was exiting at the end, she turned, pointed at me, and mouthed the words, “I love you, Joe.”
I thought I was hallucinating.
But the three people I was with all confirmed it. They saw it, too.
It gets even better.
After the show, I managed to get two minutes with Melissa.
I asked her if she had received my latest album, the one I created after my songwriting lesson with her, and the one she helped me name.
“Oh, I so got it,” she said. “I love it. It is great. And I’m so glad you called it The Great Something.”
The title “The Great Something” came out of my private music session with her.*
Apparently that moment was memorable for her, too.
And then she added what I needed to hear most.
She held the album in both hands, looked me right in the eyes, and said with all the sincerity of a turning point moment, “Keep at it. Do more.”
“Keep at it. Do more,” Melissa said.
Getting the encouragement of a music legend – who I happen to be a two decade fan of – was enough to fortify me to climb mountains.
I needed to hear it, too, as I’ll be performing with my Band of Legends for the first time on July 21st at The Townsend in Austin, Texas.
I am so grateful for Melissa, her music, her message, and how she has influenced my life.
I even wrote a song for her, called “Melissa Said,” as a way to show my gratitude. (It’s on The Great Something album.)
I’ve often said that a secret to success is to have someone believe in you almost more than you believe in yourself.
(That’s just one reason I created Miracles Coaching, so you can have someone believe in you, too.)
At this point in my life, I have numerous supporters.
But I’ve had a lot of them along the way, too.
Melissa Etheridge is one of them.
She’s been a coach, a mentor, and an inspiration.
Thank you, Melissa.
I love you, too.
PS – * Here are links to my previous four posts about my private songwriting lesson with Melissa Etheridge:
Bonus: Here’s Melissa Etheridge burning up the guitar as she tells you “Hold on, I’m coming!”
When I was on stage in Madrid, Spain a few weeks ago, someone asked –
“What if you are flat broke, have nothing, are totally alone, and feel desperate?”
It’s a question I’ve heard many times.
I could relate to it because at one time I felt the same way.
I was broke, unhappy, desperate, and in poverty for more than a decade.
But I obviously left that in the dust.
So what’s the answer?
How would you answer the question?
How do you turn your life around?
“No one starts with nothing,” I replied.
I went on to explain –
“You have the gift of life, you have the gift of a body that is regulating itself to keep you alive, you have the gift of air and all the elements that are keeping you here right now. And you’re probably living better than kings and queens of centuries ago. They didn’t have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, a microwave, a cell phone, or much else. You are so much more better off. In fact, everyone starts with a miracle.”
Everyone starts with a miracle.
But you have to take a deep breath, relax, and take inventory of all you already have.
You have to move into gratitude.
Once you feel grateful for what you already have, you will more clearly see your options and choices.
What you have to do after that is build from here.
Take the next baby steps in the direction of your dream.
Read the self-help books.
Listen to the self-help audios.
Don’t tell me you are broke and can’t afford them.
Go to the library and read the books for free.
Search the Internet for free resources.
Surround yourself with upbeat friends.
Use Facebook to find or create a support team.
And don’t just sit there.
Take action, action, action, and more action.
Read my free set of e-books, The Miracles Manual.
And get a Miracles Coach to help guide you, encourage you, believe in you, and help dismantle any limiting beliefs along the way.
In short, you start from where you are — appreciating the miracle of your life — and you take the next steps to build from here.
There are countless stories of people starting with nothing and building empires, making dreams come true, and succeeding despite the odds.
Why not you, too?
You got this.
PS – Want proof this works? Go see —
PPS – Want to hear reviews from people? Go see —
PPPS – Want coaching in Spanish? Go see —
PPPPS – Want a free resource? Go see —
I love crowdfunding.
That’s where the fans fund the dream.
I’ve seen authors, musicians, inventors, and movie producers raise the money they needed for their projects by going straight to the people.
But until today, I’ve never seen crowdfunding for spirituality.
As I write this, it’s 4 am here in Madrid, Spain.
I came here to give a presentation to 5,000 people.
Fifteen other speakers flew here as well, including Gregg Braden, Don Miguel Ruiz, Neale Donald Walsch, Mooji and more.
But the planned event – called BeingOne – didn’t occur.
It turned into a nightmare.
Five thousand people stood outside a bull fighting arena where the event was to be held.
But the organizers didn’t pay their bills.
Security would not let the people in. They hadn’t been paid.
Vendors left. There were no people inside to sell to.
They were upset.
The police came.
There were still thousands of people waiting for hours, confused, impatient and curious.
At least one author (I don’t know who) went to the standing crowd and spoke to them, comforting them, assuring them that all would be well.
The people appreciated him and the love he showed. But they paid good money for a three day event to see 16 speakers.
They weren’t happy.
Where was the event?
Where were the speakers?
Where was Dr. Joe Vitale?
I was in my room, reading social media posts about the missing event, and just as baffled as anyone.
After all, I flew to Spain from Texas solely for this event.
And I did it against the advice of my attorney.
Since I hadn’t been paid, the event organizers violated their contract. So my attorney said don’t go.
But I kept thinking about all the people who paid to see me. Many were flying from other countries. Many had to borrow to make the trip. Many had posted how they longed to meet me.
I knew I had to make the trip.
So I did.
But when I got to the hotel, I was told my room was not paid for.
I was stunned.
So here I am, sitting in Madrid, wondering why I and apparently 5,0000 other people attracted this experience.
I was looking for the lesson, not the loss.
But here’s where the story becomes miraculous.
Many thousands of people, after waiting half a day, left.
The thousands who stayed found out that the security detail needed paid before they would allow the crowds into the arena.
So these people raised the money among themselves.
They essentially crowdfunded the event.
But that’s not all.
When speakers needed translators, people volunteered.
When speakers needed audio for the event, people volunteered.
When the police needed people to move and sit, people volunteered to help the crowd comply.
It was amazing to see.
It was a miracle.
And it happened because good people decided to practice what they had been learning from the very speakers they came to see.
This brought me to tears.
By the time I took the stage, the crowd went wild.
They were almost delirious to see me.
I smiled liked the morning sun and opened my heart and repeated, “You are loved! You are loved! You are loved!”
“You are loved!”
I had two beautiful translators on stage with me. Both were volunteers.
They helped me and the crowd understand each other, though I suspect we were all just vibrating at a level of wordless love.
I spoke spontaneously. I answered questions. I did my best to deliver what these wonderful people had waited so long to see.
When my talk ended, the crowd roared like they were at a rock concert.
They screamed in joy.
And this was the same crowd that had spent hours frustrated and confused, but stayed the course, raised the money needed, and got to see the speakers they love.
And now, closer to 5 am here in Madrid as I write this, I am still processing the power of people.
When you are clear about what you want, you can move heaven and earth – and raise funds if you need it – to make it happen.
Madrid proved today that miracles are real.
But the people did it.
Anything is possible.
PS – I have to mention that during the chaos of today, three people who were at the event and lost in the confusion, discovered the hotel I was in and called me. I met them, went on a walking tour of Madrid with them, and had a great time. When I got the call that the event was still on due to crowdfunding, I went and presented. All in all, a great day – just not one that went as planned. Maybe that’s the point: miracles occur when you quit insisting life be a certain way and you instead work with what you are given in the moment. But what do I know? It’s 5 am in Madrid and I’m processing a miracle.
Note: Here are my new friends…and their account of the BeingOne event is here… https://www.facebook.com/maria.cognifusion/posts/545621902493048
The big mistake most people make when it comes to using the Law of Attraction – or using anything to achieve their goals and dreams – is wanting to know how.
“How do I make it happen?”
“What are the exact steps I should take?”
“How do I get from here to there?”
The thing is, you rarely if ever know how in advance.
Once you complete a goal and can hold it in your hand, or show it off to friends, you can explain the how of it.
You’ll then have a complete beginning-middle-ending story.
The puzzle will be revealed.
You can then explain the steps you took.
But not before you attract it.
Recently I surveyed my list, asking what book they would like to see me write next. While virtually everybody wanted more books like Zero Limits and AT Zero on ho’oponopono, a few wrote in some suggestions.
Those people were usually wanting to know how to attract something specifically, and how I did it.
They wanted stories of people revealing exactly how they attracted their goals.
They were asking for step-by-step plans.
This is the big mistake.
Let me explain:
When I was making a name for myself as a copywriter and marketer back in the 1990s, a lot of things occurred that I couldn’t predict, let alone know how to make happen.
For example, the Internet came along.
Who saw that coming?
I was one of the first to be online already – on what were called Bulletin Board Systems (a kind of miniature, local only, limited reach Internet) – so when the actual Internet was born, I was already there.
The speaking and writing I was doing in Houston, where I lived at the time, now being posted on CompuServe and AOL, broadcast my name across planet Earth.
It helped make me cyber-famous.
It was certainly an essential step in my career.
But I never saw it coming.
It was never on my to-do list.
How could it be?
Are you starting to see how this works?
During these same early years, I wrote a little book called Spiritual Marketing.
I released it online, free, and it touched millions of lives.
I never knew it would do anything. I released it to the world in the hope that it would help people.
But The New York Times wrote about it.
And Bob Proctor urged me to publish the book.
And it became an early print-on-demand book.
It was also my first Amazon bestseller.
But I wasn’t following a “how to make it happen” plan.
No such plan existed.
These synchronistic events were happening as a side result of my passion and persistence.
They were happening organically.
They were happening on the way to my dream.
I couldn’t predict them because I couldn’t see them.
They were on the unseen road ahead, to be discovered as I kept moving forward.
And along the way in this adventure a publisher contacted me. He later published my book, Spiritual Marketing, but with a new title: The Attractor Factor.
That became the most powerful and popular self-help book I’ve ever written.
And The Attractor Factor was given to a television producer in Australia. She read it and contacted me.
She said she wanted me to be in a movie she was making about the Law of Attraction.
It was to be called The Secret.
That movie changed my life.
It put me on Larry King’s television show, twice, and got me invited to speak in countries I didn’t know existed.
How do you make those things happen?
After all, none of them could have been foreseen.
When people ask for the step-by-step exact plan to make something happen, they are making the mistake of thinking there is such a plan.
There is a general formula, but not a specific one.
There are formulas for helping you choose your intention, start taking action, and maintain momentum once you get going.
But there isn’t a specific “do this and then do this” plan.
Even Mark Twain knew it.
Twain said, on his 70th birthday, “You can’t reach old age by another man’s road. My habits protect my life but they would assassinate you.”
Thinking you can copy the specific things I did in my life to attract and achieve specific results in your life is a big mistake.
Thinking there is a “how” to get where you want to go is an error.
You attract the results you want with the formulas I have revealed, in books like The Attractor Factor, Attract Money Now, and most recently in The Miracle.
Other self-help authors have other formulas.
Mine goes something like this:
You’ll notice there isn’t a specific task that will work for you and everybody else.
There isn’t because there’s no way to know it in advance.
Steve Jobs knew this, too.
Jobs once said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
Melissa Etheridge told it to me this way –
Have faith that it’s all working out in your favor.
Have faith that “The Great Something” is – as I sing in my title track song on my new album – your “hidden ally” in life.
Have faith in yourself, the Universe, The Great Something, and your journey.
And then one day, after the dust has cleared, and you realized you attracted your goal, you can look back and tell the how of it all.
You can then connect the dots.
But all you can do today is the next obvious action step.
It’s the next “dot” that will lead to your success.
Dot by dot, by dot, you will get there.
Now go do today’s “dot.”
PS – Check out www.MiraclesCoaching.com