Tuesday May 8th, 2018
Yesterday was the first time I tried an isolation tank. They've also been called sensory deprivation, or float tanks.
I had read up on them months before when I was first gifted a gift certificate to try it out, but at the time, life was overwhelming and I couldn't find the time. Little did I know that would have been the best time for me to try it.
My experience with the float tank is pretty similar to other first time experiences I've read about, and as a person who is trying to actively practice mindfulness, and change in consciousness, I would recommend the float tank as a way to heighten meditation, relieve stress, and improve overall mindset. Here's how it went.
I arrived at the day spa "A New Spirit Wellness Center" in Lakewood, Colorado. I had previously ingested some marijuana to ease my mind into a place of creativity and relaxation, but when I arrived at the spa I walked right up to the counter and announced I was ready to go. They asked me to fill out some on-boarding paperwork, and as I took the clipboard to find a seat, I noticed everyone else had removed their shoes at the door and replaced them with provided slipper/flip-flop hybrids. Boy did I feel dumb. I filled in the information and I was escorted to where everything was. She pointed out the tank, where the bathrooms were and the process required to float.
First, you are asked to shower before entering the tank, and I was already gladly obliging as I love showers. I go into the bathroom, and the air is slightly warmer. I removed my clothing and noticed the toilet with bidet attachment. As I sat down, I noticed the seat was warmed. I love this place.
For the record, bidet's are the unsung heroes that we all deserve. Do yourself a favor and try it out. This one had different modes, pressures and temps and I had to try all of them out, just to make sure I got my money's worth. I wanted to make sure I got everything out of my system and I wasn't bringing any unwanted bacteria in the tank anyway so might as well thoroughly wash where the sun don't shine, am I right?
After showering up and donning the white robe, I made my way to the tank. I was instructed to squeegee off the ceiling where my face would be so no condensation would fall on me and I was told that my time wouldn't start until the lid closed, so I prepped everything I needed. I was given earplugs and there were multiple floaties to hold up your head or feet so I grabbed the floaty neck pillow and hopped in.
The first few minutes were spent understanding how the tank worked, as I tried to center myself in the tank so I didn't bump the walls of the tank. The key here is to do everything slowly so that the water reacting to your movements doesn't carry you to one side or the other. I learned this repeatedly throughout the float. I would recommend clearing any floats you don't want to use as they will bump into you, pulling you out of your zen-state.
One I was finally comfortable and motionless, I fell into an almost trance-like state. I alternated whether I had my eyes open or closed and I found that when I had my eyes open, my mind started creating almost slide like memories almost like old photographs of family that would fade in and pan my field of vision. Looking back at the experience now, I'm not sure if my expectations were diluting the experience or if I was trying too hard to make something magical happen in my own head. I wanted to travel to a different dimension and it seemed like I was trying to force things. When I would become aware of this I would try to shift into a meditative state, just focusing on my breath, but for my first time I think it went pretty well.
I went through different cycles. I would be in the trance for what felt like 10-15 minutes then I'd bump the side and have to reposition and re-enter the "zen mode" again. After a few cycles I started to hear my heartbeat in my ears because of the earplugs so I took them out and I began to hear what I thought was my phones alarm sound, which is the chirping bird sounds, so I intentionally stopped the float and opened the door to silence my phone. I was incorrect. My mind had recreated those easy sounds, and I should have just stayed to see what happened next. I was bewildered at this experience but couldn't find the other earplug so I resumed the float.
Since I removed the plugs, I thought I could slightly hear people talking outside the door, which took me back to my childhood when I would have nightmares, I would fall asleep to the sound of the TV my dad watched and the slight glow and flicker that would spill through the cracked door as I didn't want to be alone. This brought me to thoughts about my Grandma Catherine, who played a major role in my development, and who I haven't thought about since her death, which really made me sad that I haven't kept her memory alive like I should and in that moment I told her I missed her and I began to cry. I thought about how the bus would drop me off in Rulo everyday after school and I would walk a few blocks to her house. She would make me an egg sandwich and record TV movies for me on old VHS tapes that I would watch religiously. She knew from a young age I loved movies and she was always my biggest fan, through everything. I thought about how I've been carrying myself lately and I had a moment of self-reflection in understanding that I haven't been the man my grandma would be proud to have as a grandson. In that moment I made a choice to make a change and treat the ones I love, and everyone, like my grandma would. She was the most beautiful soul you could have met, and I'll never forget her influence again.
It was a welcomed emotional release, and a moment of clarity I hadn't experienced or knew I was looking for. I went into the float hoping to change my outlook and with these thoughts welling up, I know what I need to do.
I know this has gotten pretty sappy and, I knew I was in the tank as well. I found it funny that I was crying all alone like a big baby in this "second womb" and right after I cried I started laughing at myself and the clarity and absurdity that brought this on.
I laughed so hard I farted.
Then I started laughing because the fart tickled my crotch as it floated up. Then it popped and I laughed even harder 'cause I knew I had just dutch-ovened myself in this isolation tank. I had turned this float tank into a gas chamber. I had hotboxed myself.
I could only imagine what somebody on the outside of the tank must have thought as they walked by.
"This guy's going insane in there. He's probably a madman."
After losing my cool for a few minutes, I eventually gotten relaxed enough to enter the trance again and I found that I didn't try to force any thoughts, I just let what was happening now, happen now. Slowly, I began to hear different piano keys in a relaxing tone, and I'm still not sure if it was the other room or my imagination. It started to feel like a long time in the tank and I finding it harder to stay comfortable, but then I heard the knock on the door and it was over.
When I got out of the tank, overall I felt really refreshed and relaxed. when the attendant asked how it was, all I could do was smile and say, "It was... good." I couldn't tell her everything, but as I spoke I realized I spoke gently and slower, unable to escape my calm state.
I showered up and was checking out when I spotted some Alpha Brain I wanted to buy, so I waited while a different lady was rescheduling. It took her a little bit and I was starting to get impatient when a different gal came back, apologized for my wait and began to ring me up. Eventually she said, "You know what, I'm sorry you had to wait, you can just have those."
I was blown away. It was so nice. She didn't have to do that, and I was okay with making the purchase, but there was something about her demeanor, tone or gentle eyes that reminded me again of my grandma. I walked out of the spa with nothing but love in my heart and I still feel a sense of that today, even after receiving bad news this morning.
If you've read this far, I appreciate it, and I would recommend you try it out for yourself. Don't have any expectations, just be present, open-minded and open-hearted and the lack of sensory stimulation will make your mind explore things you've forgotten, and create sensations that will truly surprise you. I think I will float again in the future and apply the lessons I've learned from the first to the second and so forth. Overall the experience was amazing. Saltwater did burn my eyes a few times and because you're in the heated 98 degree box, it does get kind of hard to breathe, but my key element of advice for floating- don't gas yourself.
Thanks for reading.
Cheers & Godspeed