Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sensory Deprivation / Flotation: My First Experience

I took a trip to Bloomsburg, PA on Labor Day to experience a sensory deprivation tank at Art of Floating. Overall it was a pleasant experience but did not live up to my expectations.

For those of you unfamiliar with sensory deprivation, you lay in a tank of body-temperature salt water that is so dense that you float effortlessly... You don't feel the effects of gravity the same way as normal. It is dark and supposed to be quiet.

Shortcomings of the tank:
Water was a bit colder than body so I felt it. The air/water interface was particularly noticeable.  There was a heater in the room that would kick on occasionally and I would hear it even with ear plugs in and my ears under water.  Furthermore, there is a yappy dog that I heard at least once.  I felt at least two drips of water coming down from the top of the tank.  I never reached a trance-like state or anything, but that sort of thing could pull you right out of it.  The filters were on and I felt some water movement a few times.  I also ended up touching one of the parts of the filter so I had that tactile input.  I couldn't move away to the center of the tank because I kept getting bounced to one side or another.

Experience:
This one hour float was not life changing for me.  It was very relaxing and I felt a bit slowed down when I came out.  I did not have a sense of clarity or find some sort of meaning on a deeper level.  I did have a few sensations that would not have been possible with full sensory input.  First of all, I felt like I was rotating in the tank.  The tank is about 7' x 3.5' and there is no way that I would have been able to actually rotate my body around in the tank, but it felt sometimes like I was spinning to my right and other times like I was spinning to my left.  At some point, I felt like I was falling slowly, going down down down.  I felt like I would have gone through the bottom of the tank, through the floor, probably half way into the basement.

I liked it better with my eyes open.  There is not really a difference in what you see, but I think your brain might process differently if it knows that your eyes are closed.

Upshot:
I would try floating again, but at a better location in a different tank.  I would also want to go for more than an hour.
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