Floating in a sensory deprivation tank is quite the experience mentally and physically

By Kirk Nankivell

 

The Experience

After getting my consciousness transported to another realm of major relaxation and psychedelia under the PandoraStar, it was now time for me to undertake my real purpose for coming here. Floating in a sensory deprivation tank for the first time.

This had been something I heard about 7 years ago and had always wanted to try it.

After the owner discussed some basic procedural steps such as showering off, ensuring your face is completely dry, putting your earplugs in properly, and keeping your hands behind your head when floating, I was ready to jump into the chamber. 

As I looked into the massive bank vault like structure that was the isolation chamber, I suddenly had my doubts of should I go in. Those thoughts disappeared immediately as I stepped into the warm and enticing water. 

It was completely black inside once I closed the door and I cautiously got into supine position. The floor and walls was constructed of a strange soft rubbery material that made me feel like I was in the belly of some giant creature. 

My immediate thought was, “Hmm… this is odd. Never thought I’d find myself in this situation.”

I began to relax after getting settled and tried to focus on clearing my mind. My thoughts began to roam immediately to present issues I needed to take care of, life goals, things I wanted to improve upon, etc. I could almost feel the neurons prickling my scalp as they fired, allowing my mind to race through an incredible amount of information.

After 20 minutes or so of this had passed, my body naturally adjusted to its new environment and I slowly began to realize I was physically existing solely within my own consciousness. As soon as I thought about it further, I suddenly became aware of my body again. The water and air temperature are set inside the tank to be near body temperature (~95°F / 35 °C) so that you lose "sense" of all your senses, except for your conscious thoughts.

As Joe Rogan puts it, “...it’s just pure thought. It’s like the mind completely untethered from the body.”

During the duration of my float, I had several other instances in which I was able to “Let go” only to be disrupted by my right leg jerking sporadically (randomly happens due to a previous injury). This would bring me back to conscious thought of my body and existence on Earth in this tiny warm black box I was currently in. 

My perception of time was completely lost. It seemed like I had just gotten in the chamber, had a few mediation sessions of letting go, and then it was over. My 90 minutes in the isolation chamber was over.

Graham Hancock captures the sensory deprivation experience very well in this quote:

“There you are in the darkness, completely without sensation totally by yourself for the first time, in a way, ever… Sometimes we are alone, but to be completely alone in total darkness, suspended in that… saline solution with no sensations coming in. No sounds. No light. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to meditate, to reflect, to just drift away into another place.” - Float Lab

The experience of being partially submerged and floating in complete darkness with no sense of reality is incredibly remarkable. 

I felt so calm and at ease. It was as if I had just experienced a full body massage given the elation and relaxed mindset I was in.

It is an experience I will never forget and I look forward to doing it again.

Technology

I heard Joe Rogan raving about Float Lab tanks in the past and sought out a place nearby that had what I was looking for.

The chamber I floated in was very roomy measuring 8' Long x 4' Wide x 7' High (2.4m Long x 1.2m Wide x 2.1m High). There are many designs from other manufacturers such as this pod like version below.

float-house-pod-sensory-deprivation-tank-isolation-chamber

 

There is usually around 10-14 inches (25-35 cm) of water and 700-1,200 pounds (317-544 kg) of dissolved Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate). The large amount of magnesium sulfate used creates the high buoyancy effect that enables easy floating.

The technology behind isolation tanks isn’t all that complicated. Build an enclosed structure and properly setup temperature control and filtration systems. There was even a Kickstarter project that created an inexpensive tent in which you could float in at home. 

However, the most important component of these isolation chambers is the filtration system... which can get quite complicated given the setup below.

isolation-chamber-filtration-system-float-house-sensory-deprivation-tank

 

Per Float Lab, the water in their tanks are running through a high tech “disinfection filtration system certified to produce a minimum 3-Log kill (99.9%) or greater per cleaning cycle without the use of any chemicals.”

Also, given the massive amount of salt in the water, it also helps to maintain a bacteria free environment that does not contain any pathogenic organisms.

Benefits

The isolation tank isn't a new thing and has been around since the 1950s which has given it plenty of time for experiments and research.

Floating has been shown in various studies to provide benefits of wellbeing, induce profound relaxation, stress reduction, and pain reduction to name a few.

Some studies go beyond the typical physiological aspects and delve into the altered states of consciousness many have experienced while in isolation chambers. The use of floating has been shown to be a type of psychotherapy enabling some to undergo psychological life changes.

“An altered state of consciousness was induced, varying from a milder state including profound relaxation and altered time perception, to more powerful with perceptual changes and profound sensations such as out-of-body experiences and perinatal experiences.” - Sensory Isolation in Flotation Tanks: Altered States of Consciousness and Effects on Well-being

The most obvious benefit of floating is the fact that your body is soaking in copious amounts of magnesium sulfate from the water. It is commonly known for alleviating headaches, fighting sickness, releiving pain, and more. Your body most easily absorbs magnesium sulfate through your skin, which is why many athletes soak in Epsom salt baths to soothe their muscles and ease pain.

Even Stephen Curry is getting in on the floating action saying, "With the Epsom salts and magnesium that are in those tanks, they're helpful with recovery and relaxing your muscles and things like that," he says. "And also, the sensory-deprivation aspect of it. It's one of the only places where you can really get unplugged from all the noise and distractions that go on with daily life."

Ready to float?

In this video, Joe Rogan discusses sensory deprivation tanks and gives some very interesting insight and perspectives worth noting.

If you still haven’t decided you want to give it a try, check out Good Mythical Morning’s video below of their humourous experience. You may just find yourself flabbergasted and unable to properly explain the “nothing” experience either. 

Float on!


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