My First Time in a Deprivation Tank
A float tank, which is also called a sensory deprivation tank or an isolation tank, is a tank that completely closes you off from the outside world. Once the door, or lid closes over a person, it is completely dark and soundproof.
The tank is filled with skin temperature water that has such a large amount of salt in it that it cause your to instantly float. The flotation tanks first came into use in 1954 and have evolved from a way to test the effects of sensory deprivation to various uses in alternative therapy and medicine.
Now for the fun stuff! Had to get those definitions out of the way! Preparing to float and my first moments! And, yes, I took notes so I wouldn’t forget!
Now For the Fun Stuff
I went into this experience with apprehensions. I had a strong belief that I was claustrophobic after opening my eyes during an MRI and almost losing. But if I am nothing, I am determined to do things as intense as possible.
The place I went to is called Float OM, located in Eugene, Oregon. I walked in the door, the day of my appointment and was greeted by a real mellow guy. I grabbed my wallet to pay, but he was like, “No, not right now.” Okay… cool…
At Float Om they have two float areas. One is the tank and the other is a larger room and float area where you are not enclosed in a small space. I had my choice, and in perfect Mi style, despite my fear, I chose the tank.
Before getting into the tank you shower, which is in the room, and they had Dr. Bronner’s Lavendar Castille soap… One of my favs for years. Totally natural, and the lights in the room can be turned off, leaving a more ambient blue/purple light.
I decided to start setting the mood before I got in the shower, so ambient lights it was. Now, floating is a nude, yes, nude experience. Just thought you should know that! So now the shower is over and I walk over to the tank and look in. I grabbed a towel just in case I needed to crack the door open.
My first foot goes into the tank and the water feels soft and warm but not the kind of warm you would normally feel, just skin perfect warm, like it matched. At this point I am calm, so I climb all the way in and sit on my knees near the door. That salt water almost threw me forward! It was great, in a funny sci-fi type of way!
No fear at all, not one bit, so I reached forward and closed the tank door. Darkness and silence. I laid down, with my head at the opposite end of the tank, and began to float instantly.
Before I get any further, the darkness. The tank is so dark once the door closes that it’s hard to tell whether or not your eyes are open. There came a point when I could, but that’s later.
I have digestive issues and in the morning I had eaten a piece of quiche that my body had spent the whole day trying to reject. This was causing extreme sub-sternal pain and nausea that I was fighting for dear life to control. This was the one thing that disturbed most of my float experience because I couldn’t get away from it, but…
Thoughts that Come to My Mind
Even though I couldn’t get into even my normal meditative state, because of the pain, my mind did something amazing, it compartmentalized the discomfort so that I could be in both states of awareness at the same time. It wasn’t optimum but it happened! And things began to come.
The first thing I realized is that you are not in total silence, you can hear something, actually two things: your breathing and your heartbeat, in the beginning anyway. Those two sounds spoke love to me. Since the day I was born, I have always breathed, and before I was born, my heart started beating. For over 50 years my heart has beat without any thought or help from me. I was in awe.
Not long after I took time to experience the sounds of my heart and my breathing, things went to a deeper level. I remembered what it was like to be in the womb. Not wondered if it was the same, but actually remembered like it was yesterday, and I went with it.
I started to move my legs around lightly, as well as my fingers and toes. I listened to my heart and melted into the warm, soft, darkness of the moment. I didn’t recognize the water on my skin even though I was not submerged and half of me was above water. I opened and closed my eyes, seeing the nothing I had seen 51 years ago.
Then it happened. The feeling of the womb was gone, I could barely feel the pain in my chest and I realized my back didn’t hurt and I didn’t have the pulsing shock waves running up and down my left leg. Even the nerve in my face didn’t seem to exist. And I floated on.
The eyes were the final thing I remember before just existing in space. I noticed that if my eyes were opened, it was just black, void of vision. But when they were closed I saw things, like pictures on my closed eyelids.
I saw all kinds of things but one thing was prominent. I saw a gold/orange tube with thick rings of light coming from above me, diagonally, straight to my belly button. I felt warm for a moment, then it was gone and so was I.
The rest of the experience was on whole different level. I felt connected to everything, with the pain sitting in a corner and there but not. And I floated.
Coming Back From Where I Was
Before I started to float, I was told that when the scheduled time had passed, I would hear soft, ambient music to bring me back and let me know the time was over. I want to say I heard it but it was more like I experienced the music before I heard it. Then things were real again and I was fighting the salt filled water to sit up and open the door to the tank to exit.
It took a few days for me to come out of the “floaty” state, mentally. I was functioning but not really in the reality that we are used to living in.
Well that is my story and I’m sticking with it. I did not walk out of Float Om without scheduling my next float in two weeks. This, like Yoga, is now a life thing for me and I look forward to each experience and where it will take me.