During the early 1950s there was a big question in the world of neurophysiology as the source of our brain’s consciousness. Is the brain simply an organ reacting to external stimuli, or is there some internal force that it responds to as well? There were many theories as to how the brain would react to a completely sensory-free environment.
One man named John C. Lilly decided to find out. By 1954, Lilly had built the first ever floatation tank in the National Institute of Mental Health Lab in the Virgin Islands. Lilly’s tank used water to allow people to float comfortably and to effectively reduce all sensation of touch.
The results were incredible. Lilly found more and more people coming out feeling amazing, reporting of personal discovery and self-actualization. This encouraged Lilly to continue his exploration of the float tank, building one or two more tanks in different laboratories in the United States.
For the next 20 years, floating remained exclusively in the laboratory setting, until 1972 when Lilly partnered up with Glenn and Lee Perry. He asked them to design a commercially available float tank that people could have in their homes. The first float center was opened, a five-tank center in Beverly Hills in 1979.
This center was met with immediate success and was emulated across the US. Float centers started popping up in every major city, new manufacturers started to enter the market, and the industry as a whole began to make a name for itself. After 60 years of progress, the world of floating is becoming mainstream. Tranquil lighting, therapeutic music, two-way communication and lobby controls, aesthetically pleasing design, and a welcoming environment have led to a new beginning in the industry.