My brother Cody had been talking about it for a while, but when we tentatively planned to go a few weeks ago, something came up and it never happened. This time, however, I didn’t have any excuses, so we made an appointment in Tampa for an hour and a half in a ‘sensory deprivation tank,’ also known as an ‘isolation tank.’ For those of you who haven’t heard about them and want to learn more:
Basically, you strip down naked, rinse off and then slide into a coffin-like tub filled with epson salt, and other things. You then put in your earplugs (optional), shut the capsule’s lid and do your thingso long as your thing doesn’t involve adding your own fluids to the tank.
According to the wikipedia article above, these torture devices were first introduced in 1954 to study the effects of isolation. Apparently they are getting more and more elaborate as their popularity grows, including light shows, music and other goodies, but the one we went to was of the basic variety. Incidentally, this is considered the purest form of the practice. It’s you, your thoughts and a lot of salt, which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the individual. My brother claims it helps him relax and recalibrate. My experience was a little different.
The very first thing(s) I felt were claustrophobia and fear. I immediately began to think of every possible negative scenario and pictured how many different ways someone could lock me in this godforsaken thing, which lead me to this thought….
If my life as I know it were to have ended in that moment, would I be go satisfied? Well, I like to think I’ve been pretty fortunate thus far and have lived a relatively interesting life, but the short answer to my own question was an emphatic NO. There is more of my story to be written; much more I hope.
Once I got over the initial panic, I settled in and attempted to focus on my breathing. As a rule, breath is more labored inside the tank, it being a closed off, incredibly humid environment. My thoughts were all over the place. I’ll not mention the details, but let’s call them ‘interesting’ and leave it at that.
Around an hour in (I think?), I got disinterested of laying completely still and began very slowly pushing myself from one side of the tank to the other, because the sensation was so foreign. This is quite common for the beginner apparently, and the young guy working the counter seemed to take great joy in pointing out how amateurish my behavior was. The gentleman went on to explain that the more times you ‘float,’ the more deeply you are able to relax and reap the real benefits of the experience. He himself was a regular ‘floater,’ and told us that his max time in the tank was around 7 hours or so, which immediately made me wonder if it were possible to hold off peeing for that long. Hm….
I’m really glad Cody made me go. If it weren’t for him, I might not be questioning the value of my life right now! (j/k, hermano) To be fare, I did feel super relaxed after it was over and would do it again if the price were right, but I don’t know that I’ll be running out and spending a small fortune to purchase a floater for myself.