my experience in a sensory deprivation tank
I wanted to come out of my first experience in a float tank a changed woman.
My boyfriend and I went on New Years Eve - perfect time to have a life-altering epiphany before starting 2017. I heard a lot about them, and as I scanned through the guestbook I was even more convinced that I would have a crazy experience. Pages were filled with people saying they've never felt so disconnected and relaxed in their lives, they came out with an idea for a creative project or sorted out some of their greatest internal struggles. I was ready.
A sensory deprivation tank (or a float tank) is a large pod that you enter wearing earplugs and lie in total darkness. It's filled with salt water making your body completely buoyant. The water is a comfortable temperature. There are no distractions. I went in for 90 minutes which is the shortest amount of time you can sign up for.
Some people might imagine this as a scary endeavor - but you're in complete control. You can open the door and stop at any point. The tank is spacious and the staff was very pleasant.
When I initially stepped in and closed the door the first thing I noted was that it didn't matter whether my eyes were open or closed - it was pitch black. The feeling of effortlessly floating brought me back to my trip to Israel floating in the Dead Sea - a good mindset to start in.
There was a bit of an adjustment to my new reality, perhaps five minutes or so of mild discomfort. It took a little while to sort out a comfortable position. Once I did I focused really hard on hallucinating...but alas, could not force it. I'll leave that to Joe Rogan. It was, however, the closest I've ever felt to being in space.
I attempted to go through the items on my checklist that I wanted to think deeply about, but I was TOO relaxed. Instead, I just let myself be. Sometimes I pushed myself around in the tank because it felt neat.
I did have a period of time where I reflected on a few days in the last couple of months when I was really happy, and thought carefully about the elements that contributed to that happiness. I also felt proud of myself for being so content in such a state of solitude. I know not everyone can achieve that.
I started thinking about the New Year and how everyone makes resolutions and wishes each other a "happy" New Year- vowing to be better at this or more committed to that. That concept never really sat well with me. It almost seems like an excuse to not be doing exactly what you want to do RIGHT NOW. Before I knew it the music woke me up from my extremely relaxed state and it was over. It went by surprisingly fast.
I debriefed with my boyfriend. We both agreed it was very meditative and a totally new experience. He brought up an interesting point that resonated with me - it's quite a bit of equipment, money and resources just to help someone relax. I guess that's what our modern world has come to, though. I'm able to achieve a similar state of relaxation in my home. But perhaps someone who has a more demanding job, kids and a tough time finding peace in their home NEEDS a float tank, and I respect that. I'm glad wellness and mental health has become more integrated into society and that businesses like this exist for that purpose.
After my experience, I jotted this down during our car ride home:
"Writing down your resolutions is supposed to help them manifest. I decided to write down a reminder instead. Happiness is exactly where I am. It's not hidden within a new city, a new job, a new partner or a new year. If we always put happiness in front of us, somewhere else, we will never catch up to it. So happy new year, and happy you."