I went to the Pause Float Studio yesterday for my first ever sensory deprivation tank experience. The place was fantastic... Even though it was on a busy street, it was quiet inside with relaxing meditation pillows and benches. The woman who was working there asked me about my experience with tanks (none) and gave me a great overview of what to expect and how to operate the tank. The tank was huge, there was a shower and the lighting was relaxing. I took a shower to rinse off and jumped right in the tank and closed the door. There is a short introduction followed by music (think new age meditation music). I put ear plugs in, I closed the door, turned off the light, and closed my eyes. Right away I felt like I was floating upwards like I was going to bounce off the ceiling. The support of the salt water felt like it was lifting me up. I focused on my breathing which helped me center. I had several subtle distractions including thinking about work, being annoyed by the music, and hearing my breathing really loudly due to the ear plugs and water causing it to amplify in my skull. Then, I turned the music off after maybe fifteen minutes. That's when things became amazing...
The lack of music exposed all the other stuff that we don't notice as we walk the world every day. The volume of my breathing was incredibly loud. My heart beating in my ears was the next thing I noticed. I also noticed that my breathing would "skip" with each heart beat which probably happens all the time but I just don't notice it. After a few minutes, I could hear a buzz which sounded like machinery or a truck at a distance. I eventually realized it was coming from my ears and was probably the residual noise pollution I had consumed over the last days and weeks. I was so amazed by all this noise going on that I kept losing my object of meditation and coming back to it. Being able to fully engage in a breath was amplified by the water. At one point when I had my hands behind my neck, I swear I could hear the blood rushing through my carotid artery.
The remaining, maybe, forty minutes were a bit of a blur as a floated in blackness, focused on my breathing. A couple times I felt the wall against my hand or leg and pushed away to realize there was no wall there. I decided to move around a little bit and released tension in my hips, my neck, and my chest. A large breath caused my vertebra to crack and I could hear it clearly in the water. I could feel joints opening up, muscles relaxing, and my body unfolding to a more natural posture and spaciousness. Before I knew it, the light slowly came on and the hour was over! There was a gap of what felt like twenty minutes that I don't really remember. I slowly came back to reality, opened the door, showered, and walked out. There was a nice pot of lavender tea and a quiet, dark room to sit in while processing the real world again. I ended up walking three miles home and my legs felt amazing. I still feel the after-effects today. My heart rate is low, my breathing calm, and I am just more relaxed than normal. My joints also still feel really good. Definitely going to try this again and maybe make it part of my regular routine.
Eric is a traveller, hacker, and experimenter who is currently researching how to become a happier, calmer, and more compassionate human being.