- Alex Styl
A sensory deprivation tank or floatation tank is a big futuristic looking device. It is filled with highly concentrated Epsom salt water that will make it impossible to sink. The water is body temperature. This makes the sensation of the water fade away after a short while. Essentially this gives you the feeling that you float in nothingness.
It is called sensory deprivation as while in the tank, none of your senses are used. There is nothing to see, as everything is pitch black. There is nothing to touch or feel, as your body touches nothing but body temperature water. There is nothing to hear, as there is no sound. There is just you.
Before you enter the tank, they ask you to take a shower. They told me that this is to get your body to the temperature of the water quicker. The tank is kept in a private room. You get fully undressed, put the special earplugs on and have the shower. All the preparation before entering the tank made me feel unease. I had never experienced not being able to see or hear or touch before, but this was something that got me interested in the experience in the first place.
Once in the tank, you are greeted with relaxing ambient music and soft blue light. You start making yourself familiar with the insides of the tank, trying to find a way to relax your body while floating. Five minutes in, the music stops, the lights turn off and you experience the true sensory deprivation.
It took me a good while to get comfortable in the tank. It was awkward at first to relax your body on the water, without floating to the sides and getting your hands or head touching the sides. Not sure if this was my case being quite tall or this is a common issue. One trick I found is to hold the inside walls and wait for the water to calm down, so that it doesn't move your body while you float. Once you are all comfortable and can finally "relax" there is this weird "now what" moment.
I remembered seeing a sign at the lobby, mentioning why people like to float in a tank like this. It is meant to help you relax, reduce stress, come to terms with yourself and think about the future. I laid down (floated rather) reflecting on my life for the past year. In retrospect, life has been good, despite all the craziness of the pandemic and the unstable nature of bootstrapping your own business. I thought about my close family and people in my life and how it gets harder and harder to relate to their way of living. In the end of the day though, everyone is working towards their life and goals. The best thing to do is accept that everyone's life and circumstances are different, truly listen to them and support them as much as possible when needed.
For the rest of the float, I let my mind run on its own and see where it would take me. Time flew by at that point and it felt like dreaming. They say that we see dreams through the whole duration that we sleep, but when you wake up it feels like the dream lasted a few seconds. This is the closest thing to describe how it felt.
After an hour of floating, the calm ambient sound comes on, notifying you about the end of the session. It feels nice listening to sound after an hour of nothingness. After a while, the blue lights turn back on and suddenly your sight turns full red. I guess that is a reflex of the eyes adjusting to light after such a long time in the darkness. When the time is up, you open the lid of the tank and experience the room you entered the tank from.
After having an other warm shower to remove all the salts, you are welcomed to the post floating area. It is a place where you can relax with some tea while you get used to your senses once again. I had the chance to have a chat with an other man relaxing in the area. It was this sea food business owner, father of two. This was his fourth (or fifth) time floating after a friend's recommendation for a way to relieve stress. He told me how it takes a few floats until you can get the full relaxation of floating.
Overall floating was a pleasant experience. Who knows? Maybe one day I will feel the need to float again to see where my mind can get me.