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Crash Hoefler: Pioneer of Sensory Deprivation

Uplifting, other worldly – take leave of your senses with a mini-vacation for the mind.

The Sound of Silence

The sound of my heartbeat began to fade. I didn’t know silence could be so loud. But I’ve been waiting for this… Here I am, completely naked as I step into the chamber and slowly submerge my being in the saltwater, only my face was above the perfectly warmed liquid. I do not recall how long it took, but something did happen to me. As my mind transcended the physical world, I began to forget my body. Did I even have one anymore? In the darkness, in the trance, anything is possible because nothing seems to exist.

Have you ever heard silence? It’s powerful. I heard it and have one man to thank. He is dedicated to harnessing this power through this experience brought on by his sensory deprivation tank (also called float tank, flotation tank, or sensory attenuation tank). It’s filled with saltwater, devoid of all light, soundproof, and at perfect skin temperature. When a human floats locked inside in these conditions, it feels as though they were in a void, deprived of senses. The effects of sensory deprivation can range from insane to ethereal.

Woman at the spa relaxing at the swimming pool floating with eyes closed

A Calling for Peace

One man felt a calling and shortly thereafter became an isolation tank pioneer. Originally invented by John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuropsychiatrist, it needed a visionary to introduce a version for the public to use.

Crash Hoefler is the founder of Float Lab Technologies from Venice Beach, California. This company makes the NSF/ANSI 50 CCS 12804 and UL 1795 sensory deprivation chambers which are the only ones in the world certified for commercial use.

Hoefler spent the first quarter of his life managing clubs, disappearing in the nightlife and felt generally void of intent. He booked, operated, managed, and owned night clubs and other venues starting in 1979. Ergo, he moved to a large ranch in Vegas for peace, and it was there that he found his calling.

“And one day, I was out in the back in this property, and there was an old tank thing out there, probably for water for horses at some time. I put my head inside the tank, and was listening to my voice in there, and it hit me: I’m supposed to build deprivation chambers,” says Hoefler.

Creating Solitude

He found himself tinkering away at his creation since 1999. He opened the Venice Beach Float Lab location in 2002, and many would follow in the years to come. In the lab, he came up with the Cellular Influence Device (CID). The CID is essentially a Float Lab chamber with advanced underwater audio elements and a specially designed visual display unit.

These tanks allow you to meet yourself. Truly, comprehensive solitude does not allow the mind to concentrate on anything but yourself. Perhaps Hoefler was looking for Hoefler…

“The first chamber I built was kind of scary. I angled the tops to avoid condensation, so it kind of had a coffin-on-its-side look to it. I’d never considered that anybody’d be afraid to go into the thing  —  but nobody would get into it. That’s when I started building the big ones. Finally, I built rooms they could go into, so I could say, ‘Look, it’s a room. There’s the door. How ridiculous can you be?’” continued Hoefler.

The chambers cost $45,000 and go up to $53,500. Float Lab’s chambers use technology that constantly evolves in their laboratories. So much so that the company set the industry standard for health and safety. Ever becoming closer to home use, they take safety seriously. Their Ozone and UV disinfecting sanitization system purifies the entire system to an extreme level.

Experiencing One’s Self

The experience is what makes it all worth it. And while a lot of people experience a feeling of deep relaxation during their time in the tank, for others, the isolation proves to be hard to take. Some recall having crazy or religious or out-of-body experiences during the session.

The technology and process has been around for more than half a century. But it only lived underground and in fringe parts of society inhabited by scientists or eccentrics. The population silently and unknowingly began to crave tranquility and self-awareness. Hoefler wanted it to be ubiquitous throughout. Because humanity needs to center itself. We need a release or a vacation from ourselves.

“You try to let go of everything, try to zero out, try to blank your mind all the way blank. And if you can do that then you can get somewhere else. It becomes sort of a travel device,” he says.

His company is a huge success. Additionally, Hoefler is a member of the National Sanitization Foundation (NSF) joint committee and the chairperson for their Sensory Deprivation Task Group. He is also a member of the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC).

Sometimes ideas just need a push, then they become a movement and finally become a part of life. Hoefler’s Float Lab Technologies has two California branches as of now, Venice Beach and Los Angeles. He can still be seen busying himself at those locations.

For more information visit floatlab.com and if you’re wanting to escape yourself for a while or are just curious, you might want to try out a float session. Click here for our exclusive interview with Crash.