Health and Wellness

Sensory Deprivation: Exhibit One

I was shaking as I stepped out of the shower, dripping, naked–partly because I was cold, but also because I was absolutely nervous. About what you may ask. Well, sitting silently in a tank of water. My teeth were chattering as I rolled the wax ear plugs in my hands and jammed them into my ears. My body convulsed in the wet coldness. I stepped into the tank, immediately relaxing in the warmth. Grabbing the handle of the tanks’ door, I slowly descended onto my knees closing myself in the ‘capsule of tranquility’. For the first five minutes, lights at the far end of the pod changed colors from relaxing red, to perceptive purple, sunset orange, and mellow yellow. Music gently lulled me into a state of relaxation.

I tilted my head back until the water met my eyebrows, being careful not to submerge my head in the salty bath. Letting my limbs float on the lid of the water, drifting from side to side, I began to slip into sleep, and then the music stopped. I turned off the light, and there I sat in darkness for an hour.

The first thought I had was of death. If consciousness persisted after the death of my body, then this is what it must feel like to be dead.

I wasn’t allowed to completely disassociate from my body. Every couple of minutes my muscles would twitch and bring me out of my meditation as if to say, “We’re still here fucker!–Don’t go too far now”. I focused on my breathing. The rise and fall of my chest. I heard and felt my heart throbbing in my chest. I felt the breath of life cycle through fleshy bags of air. I saw old friends. I heard my inner voice.  I realized how shut off from the world I have become. My ears rang in the hollow silence. And before I knew It my float was over.

I stumbled out of the tank, my body feeling like rubber. I felt as though I had left the womb for a second time. Lighter than air. My mind felt as though it had just been messaged. I left the wellness center with a smile on my face, but the euphoria didn’t last long. I was back into the Twin Cities traffic. The maniacal havoc of everydays’ professional and recreational toil. The malaise of errand was slightly broken during my sixty minute float. With nothing but an extemporaneous inner dialogue, I left the apathy I’ve been feeling behind, with the hope of finding answers to certain life questions.

I was unable to sufficiently get answers, nor even ask the right questions, but there is always next time. Sensory deprivation tanks (or float tanks) allow for an otherwise preoccupied mind to explore the space of self, untethered to the body. If it wasn’t so obscure and expensive, a significant percentage of the population would be able to reap the benefits of floating. Be calm, relax, and float.  

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