A friend post a YouTube link on Facebook called “The Sensory Deprivation Tank – Joe Rogan” http://youtu.be/KeqmKwsvM58 with a comment that reads, “I need to try this Sensory Deprivation tank ASAP!!”, I respond likewise, another person chimes in and post a website of a local business with a tank. The next day I am calling to make an appointment, and hence the journey begins.
Leading up to the float session I begin to research sensory deprivation on-line and find that there are only 60 locations to float in the United States a lot of which are located in peoples personal homes, but that there are hundreds of locations in Europe. I read articles about the health benefits, watch videos put out by the float centers that include personal testimonies, rent Altered States and basically mentally prepare myself for what to expect.
As I was preparing for this “life changing” experience I start to become more and more excited about the potential to truly tap into something beautiful, something that will hopefully help me change the world for the better. I start talking to people about it, I tell my partner, I tell my mother, I tell my kids, I post it on Facebook!
The reactions that I get are anywhere from, “Wow that sounds really cool, please let me know how it goes” to “Shit floats and you are full of shit!” I try not to let other people’s opinions influence my commitment to go through with this, but it did make me question my decision to share this with the world. I come to the conclusion that everyone should know about this regardless of their own closed mindedness or judgment of my character, so I proceed to spread the word.
The day of my appointment I get off of work at 7am after working the night shift and go home to take a short nap. After about an hour I wake up and make the 1hr drive to nearest float tank in my area. When I arrive to the address given to me by the person who made the appointment I realize that this is someone’s home. I double check the address and do a street view on Google maps and there it is, a blue ranch style residence with a handicap ramp leading up to do the door.
One of the first things that I notice as I am walking up to the house are the statues of Mary and Jesus standing in front of the house. For some reason this made me feel safe, so I knock on the door. A middle aged woman with a perm opens the door with a big smile and says you’re a little early but come on in. She reminds me of one of friends mothers back in high school so I say thanks and follow her in the house.
Once inside we sit at her kitchen table and she hands me a piece of paper to get some personnel information, name, address, email and a couple of medical questions. She then asks how I heard about the float tank, she says that she is doing market research so, I tell her the Facebook story.
She then begins to tell me how she got into this business and says that she floated for the first time 8 months ago in Chicago. She instantly fell in love with it and bought her own tank and floats all the time, her longest session lasting 4hrs.
After a little more chit chat she tells me about the procedure, first you will take a shower then you get in the tank. After an hour I will ring a door bell installed in the float room to signal that it is time to get out. You should take another shower after you’re done because you will feel like a salt pillar.
She then explained to me that the water in the tank is only 10in high and heated to body temperature and filled with 800lbs of Epsom salt. The Epsom salt is what makes you float and also helps with the healing benefits of the whole procedure. She shows me the float room, which has a shower room, robes and plenty of towels. She explains that there are ear plugs if I want to help keep the water out of my ears and ask if I would like to listen to some music during my session.
She then tells me how to get in and out of the tank safely and lets me know that I can prop the tank door open a crack with a floatation device if I get claustrophobic or am afraid of the dark. She asks if I have any question and reminds me again of the doorbell and the she would ring it when the time was up. I say thank you and head to the shower room.
As I entered the float tank I immediately noticed the temperature of the water, it was soothing and there was no shock of really cold or hot water that you feel in a swimming pool or Jacuzzi. I turned around and shut the door and was immersed in total and complete darkness. I laid down and tested out the floating claim by trying not to float. I moved around in different positions stretched by arms and hands over my head, laid them on my chest and then finally just relaxed and floated away.
Several thoughts raced through my head from are my eyes open or shut, how long have I been in here? To I wonder if there is an infrared camera in this tank. After a while I just started to breathe remembering my meditation attempts and really wanting to float into some other worldly trance. I listened to my breath and my heart beat became louder and louder, I thought okay this is the beginning, but then a drop of condensation fell off of the door into the water and it scared the hell out of me….focus, Sonny.
Back to the breathing then back to trying to figure out how long I have been in there. It can’t be more then 15-20min, more breathing more heartbeats. Then a light bulb moment I will do the third eye mantra, but I could not remember what it was so I did the root chakra mantra instead LAAAMMM, LAAAAMMMM, LAAAAAMMMMM, LAAAAAAMMMMMM….Nothing!
After this I started doing some physics experiments by wiggling my finger and toes in the water to see if it would propel me to one side of the tank or the other, it worked. I laid my hands on my chest again and man was I slimy. Wait, how long have I been in here, now? It can’t be more than 30-40 min and then the doorbell rang. I got out and looked at the clock on the wall and it had indeed been a whole hour.
After showering I walk out of the floatation room and the proprietor Alma (which means love in Spanish) is sitting on the couch waiting for me. The same smile she had when I walked in the door and ask me how it went. I said it was different than what I expected but that I enjoyed it and would definitely be back. She gave me some business cards and asked me to tell my friends about it. I thanked her again and made my way towards the door. As I was walking out she said to be careful driving because you are still pretty relaxed, I thought her comment a little strange because I felt completely normal. It was not until about 5 min after I began my drive home that I started to realize that I was in a different state of mind than when I had arrived.
My mind felt clear, my lower back did not hurt and overall I felt in a state of serenity. Although I was working on less than an hour of sleep I felt rested and did not feel the overwhelming drowsiness that I would normally feel at this hour on a “regular” day. The more time went by the more I started to feel like the session had a positive effect on my overall wellbeing.
Although I did not delve into the unconscious trance that I was hoping for the first session was transforming and rejuvenating. I keep thinking of how I first learned about this, the Joe Rogan YouTube video and I remember the onion metaphor and that this is just the beginning of the journey.
This is how Joe Rogan describes the experience:
“The sensory deprivation chamber has been the most important tool that I have ever used for developing my mind, for thinking, for evolving. The experience is like peeling off a layer of an onion, the first couple of times that you do it you will only get past a couple of layers, you can’t really go to the core, it’s too hard to completely let go of who you are.
But as you get better at it as you get more and more comfortable with the experience you get better at actually letting go, of really letting go, letting go from letting go, letting go from the feeling of letting go, letting go from that point,then you’re like okay, I’ve let go…no you haven’t. Let go some more and then you become GONE, you disappear.
While you are disappearing, this is what happens, you start thinking, I can’t believe I’m disappearing, FUCK, then you’re back. Now you got to start from square one again. You gotta let go and you got to let go and you gotta let go, you got to get to the point where you literally completely relax.”
More information on sensory deprivation float tanks: