While the practice of withdrawing from sensory stimulation or entering into remote environments for solitude and reflection are hundreds, even thousands of years old; The first flotation tank was developed in by the American neurophysiologist Professor Dr John C. Lilly in 1954 while working at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr Lilly and his associate Dr Jay Shirley began to question conscious activity within the brain and whether the brain depending on external stimuli to be conscious.
Lilly’s first tank would have been a bit intimidating in today’s world as it suspended the individual, entirely underwater, with a breathing apparatus and mask. In the years after its initial invention, the tank design was simplified to allow the subject to floating on their back and improved with additions such as water heaters, air circulation systems, filtration pumps, and sanitary procedures. Lilly had perfected the design of the flotation tank by the 1970s and is pretty much the same design used today.
Flotation tanks were mainly used by doctors & scientist in research and medical facilities for some time but as its benefits on the human body and mind began to emerge floating increased in popularity. Nowadays float tanks are used by professional athletes, doctors, businessmen, lawyers, artists, meditation practitioners, and everyone in-between for a plethora of benefits including muscle recovery and rejuvenation, chronic pain relief, insomnia, visionary work, stress relief, super learning, and even behavioural modification.