I had a wonderfully new experience yesterday that I want to tell you about, it’s called Sensory Deprivation, but those familiar will probably say “enjoy floating.”
If you were to look up Sensory Deprivation tank online you’ll see a lot of images of George Jetson-inspired pods with ambient color lit water. The pod has a handle on the inside to close down so you are completely enclosed.
Here is the process.
After cleansing your body of any oils and daily grime, you step into the pod, pull down the top and float in the water (which is a solution of water and Epsom salt).
Once turning off the light and alerting the attendant you’re ready to begin by pressing another button, you may or may not hear light music to ease you into a meditative state (this was my experience). And then you simply float.
As the name implies, while in the pod you have no stimulation of the senses. It is pitched black, there is no sound, smells, nothing. Even the sense of feeling the water eases away after awhile and you’re left with a unique experience- nothingness.
I imagine if you are claustrophobic this may not be for you, but if you are looking for a new way to relax and disconnect, I recommend checking this out.
As my previous post Meditation for the UnQuiet Mind implies, meditation is not something I’m “good” at, so this was no different. I had to adjust to how my spine wanted to be supported, release all the tension, and then work on quieting my mind. Once I did, that here are some things I learned during my hour in the sensory deprivation tank.
I don’t know how to relax as well as I thought
This was very apparent for the entire hour of my float.
No matter how hard I tried, I was unable to release all the tension in my body. My shoulders and neck refused to completely let go.
I imagine some of this was because my body is always trying to keep my spine supported, so releasing my neck will take practice.
Fortunately, I plan on going again sometime soon to reach a level of full relaxation in the tank.
The body is just a vessel
This was a very bizarre concept to embrace.
While floating, I almost felt as if I was having an out of body experience. Without anything for my conscious mind to lock on to, all I had was my mind and my thoughts.
I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face or my feet in the water. There wasn’t even a tiny bit of light seeping through the edge of the pod.
As I worked on entering a meditative state, I tried to acknowledge my thoughts as thoughts and then let them go. I was practicing meditation for the entire hour, which is a lot for someone like me who can barely do five minutes.
Every so often I would get the bizarre feeling of spinning, but again without any point of reference, it was like being in a dream. My mind was floating along a stream of consciousness and nothing more.
I have no concept of Time
As I floated around in this world of nonbeing, I had no concept of how time was passing.
Because we tend to use the change of light as our reference for passing time, I could have been in there for five minutes or five days without really knowing the difference (until my stomach started speaking at least).
It is very rare to be able to truly lose and let go of the concept of time. Giving up the need to fret about the moments ticking by to the attendant at the desk was a wonderful feeling.
I’m out of touch with my senses
Without my senses, I realized just how much I take them for granted.
I don’t think about sight and smell and hearing very often, they are simply parts of being alive in my day to day life.
It is so rare to not experience my senses. As a result, any little sound became much more noticeable. Any little splash of my feet or brush of my finger against the edge of the pod was almost a shock to the system.
It was almost like hitting the reset button.
My conscious mind needs a break
The most important learning was my need for a break.
Even though I think I unplug and recharge pretty regularly, it wasn’t until this experience that I realized how incorrect I am about that statement.
It is almost impossible to cut out every bit of distraction. We can turn off our electronics, turn out the lights and put in ear plugs, but how often do we really force ourselves to just stop?
I entered the tank completely exhausted and left energized and ready to go write a whole slew of blogs (this being one, but you’ll get to read the rest very soon).
If you look up the benefits of “floating” by clicking the link under the image at the top of the page, you’ll find a whole list of benefits you can receive.
Take a look into it if you’re feeling a little adventurous and ready to take back your relaxation and experience a whole new connection to your mind.
Share your thoughts with me if you have done this before!