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Sensory Deprivation: Enter the Tank

My husband and I were walking around downtown Seattle, and saw a sign for a Sensory Deprivation Tank spa. We had both read about this in the past, yet neither of us had tried it. Additionally, I had rolled my ankle quite badly on Mount Erie two days prior, and soaking it in warm water infused with 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts sounded marvelous.

Photo: So much salt!

We made our appointments for 9:30PM and showed up early to get settled. They led us through a hallway and I made note of the stacks of salt. The salt in the water provides buoyancy, (you float at the very top; it is nearly impossible to make yourself sink) and the water is kept at an indistinguishable degree of average human body temperature.

Photo: Shower straight ahead, tank on the left

The first step was to get naked, shower and get into the tank! As first timers, we were brought to the “large” versions that you can actually stand up in if you need to. I guess experienced “floaters” (that’s what they call it; “floating”) get closed into little tanning bed-like capsules.

Funny Video to watch

I skipped the little head-support ring they offer, and climbed in. The water was pleasant and comfortable and there was fun purple lighting and soft music playing. I got right in and relaxed, closing the door behind me. After a few minutes, the purple lighting ceased. A few more minutes and the outside light framing the door shut off, plunging me into the deepest darkness I have ever experienced. The spiritual music tinkled on and I floated.

Photo: Into the tank

I felt comfortable, so I hit the button on the wall to turn the music off. Now I was completely cut off from sensation. I floated back and enjoyed it. My body seemed to be creating its own current, and I drifted and bumped into the wall with my foot. Then again with my arm. I seemed to be rotating clockwise, and it took several tries to still my body so it would not create a current of its own accord. How strange! I lay there in the blackness, hearing nothing, feeling nothing, seeing nothing and enjoying my own company. It was like meditation, without the struggle. I fell into what felt like a half-sleep (like when you’re dozing off), only my eyes were open. After some time, I lifted my arms out of the water. How heavy they felt! Then I moved them in front of my face, trying to see if I could see them. I felt like I imagined I saw them, so I tested this with my eyes both open and closed. My results were inconclusive. Arms down. More meditating. My ankle pain faded. I noticed I had to consciously relax my head back, and how much neck strain I carried just doing so in daily life. I had no pain anywhere in my body. It was a pain-free existence. The problems of gravity on problem areas ceased to exist. After a time I felt very good, very happy, and I began to writhe and twist and play in the water. I only wish those tanks were bigger; if there were no walls to bump into I would have had probably one of the most liberating water play experiences of my life. I ran my hands down my naked body, enjoying the slick feel of my skin. I pushed off from the wall with my feet and hands, volleying myself from end to end of the tank, twisting around and smiling, and really feeling and hearing the sound of water. All I could think of is how similar this must be to the womb, and how many people probably experience this as a rebirth ceremony of sorts. I relaxed again into the meditative state, nearly falling asleep. I thought maybe twenty minutes had passed. Suddenly, the soft purple light switched on and my hour was up! Though soft, the light felt glaring and intrusive and I felt like one does when you’re sound asleep at 2AM and someone flips the bedroom light on. I grumpily got out and showered off, feeling a little out of it. I sat in the lobby after, drinking hot tea and waiting for my husband, scanning over a book on the benefits of “Floating.” It’s good for people with addictions, for anxiety disorders and a whole other range of things. It increases your sensitivity to the outside world after, and I have to say, it is absolutely true. The sounds of the city were an assault on my senses; the hotel room lights were obnoxious. But the detail of my environment and energy of others were more obvious, the mental quiet was priceless, and the sex glorious. If I ever happen upon another tank, I’m definitely going to do it! Maybe two hours, next time.

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