#7 Experience a Sensory Deprivation Tank

So this was one of the weirder ones on the list, but I’m glad I’ve done it.

I’ve always been curious about them, mostly due to them popping up in Sci-Fi shows such as Fringe, and the idea that they help you reach a different state of mind and can be great for reducing stress and feelings of anxiety.

As a brief introduction, an Isolation tank is an enclosed(sealed off) tank filled with salt water so that you can float without effort, like the Dead Sea. The water itself is warmed up to body temperature, so that its difficult to sense/feel that you are submerged in water. The lights are then turned off and you are left to float in complete darkness, leaving only your mind to wander, and it certainly does.

So I’ll run through my experience (TL:DR at the bottom).

My experience

I was initially worried that, the experience wouldn’t be much as I tend to approach new ideas scientifically and assume what will happen or that my brain would go full crazy and I’d just panic and bail.

So on impulse I booked a 1 hour spot at Driftwood Float Spa, in Heaton (Newcastle).

So when I arrived, Andy welcomed me in offering tea and showed me around the store and showed me to “Bertha”, showed me what to do and what I could expect to happen and left me to it. (Which helped to settle any nervousness)

Tank_01

Bertha

So I showered, put in the ear plugs (to remove my sense of hearing) and got into the tank.

The tank itself was actually quite spacious inside, I didn’t feel claustrophobic even when I was fully stretched out I could barely reach the sides. Though for those who are worried about tight spaces, there was a blue light you could turn on and you can leave the door open.

Tank_02

Inside of “Bertha”

After a few minutes the lights went out and some therapeutic music was slowly introduced into the background which helped to get me calm.

The sensation of floating in an endless space is amazing, like living in Zero G I had the sensation that I was slowly moving along the waters surface and rotating ever so slightly. Though I’m not sure if this is simply down to not having any sensory information to determine my position within the tank or my brain was over-reading any movement that was occurring.

About 10 minutes in or so, I started to see a small sparks of light like a distant star, nothing massive but bright enough to see and comprehend.

Further in I started to see circles of grey/white, brighter on the shapes edges than within  forming at the corner of my eye  which flickered a few times and burst/dispersed like… ink into water. 

Ink in Water

An example of the colours.

After watching these few a while, I started to notice they were now purple and blue in colour and appearing more frequently, and occasionally I could see flash of lightning blue light, not in circular shapes… more like strips of light.

After 30 minutes (though it felt much much longer) the music gradually faded out and I was left in silence, and the colour visions increased in frequency and size as they slowly enveloped my vision (for lack of a better was of describing it).

Eventually the bursts of colour became one large circle of dim white/grey light focused within the center of my vision, as if I turned my head of closed my eyes the shapes and bursts remained.

The tank also plays with your concept of time, with no information to base the passage of time on what I know had to of been 1 Hour in the tank, felt like much longer, maybe 90 minutes or so. Which is weird as knowing you’ll be in the tank for 60 minutes is the one thing you know for sure before getting in.

Either way it was very relaxing and enjoyable.

After the hour was up, Moby – Everloving starting playing to announce my experience was over, I slowly adjusted to the lights coming back on and hesitantly left the tank with a cheesy grin on my face and massive pupils. (the eyes went back to normal, the grin hasn’t yet).

(TL:DR/Summary)

It was  surreal, I didn’t expect to see or experience anything like this, I had simply hoped to be able to mentally switch off and just enjoy relaxing, but I got more and I’m very happy I did it.

Just the idea of seeing colours and shapes in an absence of sensory information is amazing, it was blissful, for lack of a better way of describing it. Once I managed to shut off my brain I was extremely relaxed and feel much better for the experience.

If you’ve ever been curious about trying this out, I fully recommend it. Just make sure you go in with an open mind and willing to except a strange but wonderful experience.

  • Liam the Relaxed.
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