After many months of constant consideration, I finally gave in to trying an Isolation Tank, or otherwise known as a sensory deprivation tank. I’d first become aware of these tanks through certain podcasts, including the Joe Rogan Experience and Tim Ferris. At first, I brushed off what I had heard and figured that it wasn’t for me. It’s funny how easily we can find ourselves dismissing something that could hold physical, spiritual, or mental potential, simply due to a lack of information about the subject in question. A fitting example of the maxim “we fear what we do not understand.” Little did I know, after my first 60 minute float, I’d realize the absolutely incredible benefits to doing this on a regularly consistent basis.
The establishment was clean and quiet, which was what I was expecting. I was escorted into my own room which included a shower, towels, ear plugs, and a large door on the wall. If you picture a generic bank vault that swings open (but square), then you’re on the right track. I wouldn’t think poorly of this door and the float chamber until I had gone a second time, only to be greeted by a more approachable pod-like tank, very similar to a cryogenic chamber you would see someone occupying in a science fiction flick – but I’ll get to that later.
Sensory deprivation tanks are filled with hundreds of pounds of Epson salt to aid in buoyancy and pain relief. As you crawl into the chamber, it’s an odd experience to say the least. The salty water and warm temperature is how one would imagine a malfunctioning hot tub would feel like (add the sensation of swimming in the Dead Sea, I suppose.) Once getting situated, I began to breath and attempt to relax. Now at this time, I had an extremely small amount of meditative experience. During the first few minutes, distracting thoughts jumped around my mind and I was uncertain how to deal with them. When exposed to silence and darkness, human brains (if not practiced in mental control) prefer to gravitate to what they know and are comfortable with; in this instance, it was the past and the future. Both uncomfortable and irrelevant memories bounced around my mind simultaneously for the first half an hour.
If I were to guess the time, it would be 30 – 40 minutes of floating when it happened. In a brief moment, I realized my mind was free. My body and thoughts became connected and one in the same, and I almost had a numb pulse that resonated within my entire body. There was no familiar emotion that could be compared to this when attempting to describe it. My mind was empty but content. Upon noticing this was happening, I was unable to maintain the peace and became aware, thus resulting in the fading of my momentary serenity. Although short-lived, the experience allowed me a chance to consider the beneficial qualities of more consistent meditative practice .
I had been meditating mostly everyday for about two months before I longed for the float once more! My girlfriend and I booked a local float therapy business that had excellent reviews and professional photos. Once we entered, I knew this establishment would be a greater experience than the former. For those interested, the specific place was Float Easy. We were escorted to a quiet room where we filled out waivers of understanding about the process and then watched an informative video. To my pleasant surprise, the tanks were pod-shaped! No more bank-security wall-vaults for me. If you are reading this and are fond of those types of tanks, more power to you. I enjoy them myself but feel that the Sci-fi pods are a little more approachable and friendly to a newcomer or someone that has worries of claustrophobia. Plus, this way I can feel like I’m in Alien or 2001: Space Odyssey.
The pods included their own LED lights, music or ambient sounds of your choosing, or even a guided meditation for those more confident in their abilities. Imagine a meditative Lamborghini.
NOTE: This photo was not taken at the aforementioned establishment. This pod was a located at a float therapy place in San Diego that I tried while writing this blog. However, the pod model (I believe) is the same as Float Easy in Costa Mesa.
I ended up opting out of the music and lights once I was comfortable with the understanding that at the end of the day, it would distract me and take away from the sensory deprivation part of the experience. So the float began. I started exercising the few methods that were taught to me via free apps during the previous months. What I’m guessing was around 15 minutes of floating, I felt incredible. Time no longer mattered and there was no worry regarding getting into a mode of relaxation or a premeditated (Ha!) mental track. My mind wandered into a strange state where I almost felt like I was having an internal monologue or conversation with myself, asking questions like “why haven’t you traveled lately? It makes you happy and gives you perspective. You should start doing that again” accompanied by “playing video games alone doesn’t bring you happiness anymore. Yet you still do it. Why?”
This exposure to myself in a little salt-filled world of emptiness allowed me to break down worries and frustrations through a contemplative and peaceful lens. There was no stress, anger, or doubt for those few minutes; only inner evaluation. I wouldn’t trade that time I spent alone for anything. As my thoughts began to take a more fluid and less philosophical course, my pulse (much like the first float) started to reverberate within my entire body. My muscles twitched infrequently as I continued the float until the LED light dimmed back on and music faded into reality.
I recommend doing this to absolutely anyone. If you are in physical pain, check it out. If you want to learn more about yourself or how your mind operates, it’s also for you. The price is generally $50.00 – $70.00 to float, but you can find Groupon deals that are as low as $12.00 for an hour.
Also, the podcast I mentioned before has been uploaded! Check it out over at You May Be Right: Mastermind Group. If you dig it, subscribe! Have a great weekend everybody!