The first time I read about sensory deprivation tanks I was fascinated.
I have never experienced total sensory deprivation. My curiosity over what it must be like has never waned.
However, actually spending the money to take a bath has always fallen on the wrong side of “ridiculously extravagant”.
You guys, I love Groupon. I mean, other than the time I bought the Groupon for the laser hair removal. The laser hair place burned the fuck out of my face and I had to walk around with mustache shaped blisters. I was not fond of that Groupon.
There is a new place, just a few miles from our house, that is a “float loft”.
My current experience in life is that regularly visiting places called a “float loft” isn’t in my realm. I also don’t have a theater room. Or a working central air unit. But that’s okay. We won’t need that again for months.
Groupon, however, has made it possible for me to finally see what it’s like to be deprived of my senses at a price that only makes me cringe a little bit.
I reminded Randy last night that I had my appointment this morning for my fifty dollar bath.
Randy: What is this again?
Me: It’s a sensory deprivation tank. They put a fuck ton of Epsom salts in a tub and you float in there without any sound or light.
Me: You have the option of having soothing music or some light if you want. But I don’t see the point of that. I want to go full sensory deprivation.
Randy: You. You want to be completely and totally alone with your thoughts?
Randy: And you think this is a good idea? Because I know some of your thoughts.
Me: Yeah, I think it might be interesting or enlightening.
Randy: Have you read your blog?
Randy: You’re going to come back from this and be fucked up for months.
Me: I dunno. I think it will okay. If I start getting distressed, I’ll turn on the music or something.
Randy: How long does it last?
Me: Ninety minutes.
Randy: Ninety minutes? Alone in your own head? That’s going to be a minimum of 4,398 disturbing thoughts.
Me: Honestly, I am mostly concerned that I’ll get bored and start splashing around or something. I’ll get out and it will look like 27 toddlers just took a bath in there.
Anyway, in about an hour, I’ll be floating in a dark tank with nothing but my thoughts. I’ll let you know how it goes.
It’s nearly 7:00 AM on Sunday morning.
The fifty dollar bath wasn’t what I expected.
I arrived about 20 minutes early. The windows of the storefront were cloudy and drippy. I am extremely sensitive to heat. I had a moment of trepidation. Oh fucking hell. Is this going to be like the “hot yoga” incident?
A young man, who looked like Shane from The Walking Dead, checked me in. I had to sign a waiver and briefly read over the “ways you could die and it’s not our goddamn fault” page. Mostly, it had to do with slipping and falling, which for me, is a totally valid concern.
Shane led me back to a dimly lit room. A huge pod of water sat in the middle and there was a shower head at the back of the room. Shane instructed me to take a shower before entering the pod. There was a spray bottle of water hanging in the pod just in case I got salt water in my eyes. He showed me the emergency button and the light button. Those two buttons are exactly the same on opposite sides of the tank. Which to me, looks like a recipe for disaster or at least acute embarrassment. No…no no no. WAIT! I just wanted to turn the lights back on.
Shane left me alone and my 90 minute bath started ticking down.
Let me just say, it feels weird to shower in a big exposed room. Like the whole room was my shower stall.
Anyway, I got in the water and the first thing I did was start laughing. You guys, it is such an odd sensation to be so buoyant. You know when you are in a pool and you jump up on a float and you are sure you are going to fall right back off? That’s what it felt like to me, but there was no where to fall. It felt both like my body was at odds with the water and that I was floating way too close to the surface.
In just a few moments, I processed my floating self and it felt good. Remember when you were a kid and would imagine floating on clouds? Just me then? Well, that is what this felt like. Total weightlessness. No pressure anywhere, yet completely supported.
I started down at my toes in the strange blue light, floated over to the light switch, and put myself into total darkness.
Shane told me that people often feel like they are overthinking as they try to slip into a meditative state. I did not have that problem. I was having too much fun propelling myself all around the tank. Total darkness and the delicious feel of the warm water sliding under my skin as I bounced around the tank like a middle aged mermaid.
I felt no aches and pains. I could stretch and bend without anything aching. I contorted myself into letters in the water. Mostly C’s and I’s.
I’m Gumby, dammit!
Time ceased to have any meaning. I was afraid I’d get bored after a while, but I never did. My 90 minutes however, did not pass without incident.
When you are writhing around in salt water, sooner or later, the water is going to end up on your face. I got some water in my eye and fucking hell did that sting.
I tried to sit up and had to flail about for a moment, the water really wanted me to float, not sit. It took a few seconds, but I won that battle. I had been bouncing around like a pinball, in total darkness, so I had no idea where I was in the tank. I started feeling around the perimeter and felt the rubber from the light button. Or maybe the emergency button. I had no idea what side of the tank I was one. I quickly pulled my hand back so that Shane didn’t burst in and rescue me from my lack of direction.
I found the spray bottle and rinsed off my eye.
Then after hanging the bottle back up, I leaned back into the tank. Only I didn’t know exactly where I was in the tank and I cracked my head against the wall. That made me throw my arm up to grab my aching head. I was saying “Ouch” just as I was throwing my arm back and water dripped into my mouth.
For all that is holy. Oh my god, that is horrible. Fucking hell, that tastes like it came out of satan’s butthole.
Then, I got water in my other eye.
I went through the process of finding the water bottle again and got squared away. The inside of my mouth still tasted like ripe death but at least my eyes weren’t stinging.
I started to bounce around the pod again and slowly stopped moving.
No sound or light. Complete weightlessness. I waited for the turtle who balances the earth on his back to croak some words of wisdom to me, but he wasn’t talking.
I wasn’t inundated with disturbing thoughts. I didn’t see things. I mostly just laid there and marveled at how very peaceful I felt.
I think it was toward the end of the 90 minutes when I fell asleep. A snore woke me up just as the music started playing signaling the end of the session. Maybe. I might have been asleep for 30 minutes. Who knows? I really had no sense of time or place.
I didn’t get bored, but I was ready to get out of the pod as well. I showered and dressed and then talked to Shane for a few minutes before going out to my car.
It wasn’t until I was home for about an hour before I finally identified the odd sensation I was feeling.
I wasn’t tired.
You know that feeling you get up when you have had a good night’s sleep? You feel rejuvenated and ready for the world? Yeah. Me either.
I felt rested. My fifty dollar bath was worth every penny to have an afternoon where I felt rested. My anxiety was almost non-existent.
I even feel mostly rested today.
I would totally recommend trying this if you can. Just don’t wave your arms around and do not drink the water.