Contemplation: The action of looking thoughtfully at something for a long time.
In the tank, I do not replicate my seated meditation practice, early on I tried to and it just didn’t work. I use it in other ways and one of those is as a tool for contemplation.
Early on in my relationship with the float tank, the possibility of using it as a contemplative tool was offered to me; a float tank owner explained that you can go in with a very specific question and you will always come with more clarity. Should I leave my job? Am I ready to have a baby? What shall I have for lunch? All valid ways to use the tank. I have also found that for the spiritually inclined, you can go in with a specific teaching and use the tank to delve deeper into its meaning.
But how and why do we get this increased clarity? I will look to answer this first through the lens of ancient yogic practice: “Bhavana” is a sanskrit term used to describe the contemplation of spiritual teachings. It is an important part of any spiritual seekers practice. As we turn the gaze within, we can delve more deeply into the subject of our contemplation, a little like looking under a microscope. Then, as we begin to refine our knowledge, biases (known in this tradition as samskaras) are slowly removed so that we can see more clearly what is under the microscope. And the answer, the realization we soon find out was there all along, bhavana just helped it pulse up to the surface. Infact bhavana, in this tradition, not only translates as a practice of contemplation but also as a state of consciousness; a state of consciousness which they describe as a gift of Grace.
Now that we have the technology to measure brain waves, this ancient practice can be supported by science.We are now able to prove that whilst our ordinary awareness runs at 13 – 30Hz, it is possible to drop into states known as alpha or theta states in which the brain runa at 4-12 Hz. The theta state particularly is scientifically proven to be a place of sudden insight and inspiration. There was, it seems, a reason that the great sages dropped into these states using meditation to practice bhavana.
Having used the tank in this way for many years, I can personally attest to its ability to allow for insight and inspiration. I would love to hear from you – have you ever gone into the tank with a question? What happened? And if you haven’t yet used the tank in this way then why not give a go on your next float. As inspiration, I would like to share with you a traditional mantra that was used by the great sages before they would enter the state of bhavana, a mantra that calls forth your own inner wisdom, perhaps you could remember next time you use the tank:
ETAD GUHYAM MAHĀGUHYAM KATHAYA SVA MAMA PRABHO
Powerful Lord! My very Self! Tell me that mysterious secret, great, unconcealed!