My experience in a flotation tank
I wasn’t nervous, til I saw the tank and the owner told me that it was natural or even good to feel nervous before entering. One thing’s for sure, these things aren’t designed by Apple.
The first surreal sensations I had were that I was moving around in the tank, floating right to left, left to right, until I realised I was completely stationary (the tank wasn’t big enough for me to move as much as I felt I was).
It was definitely weird there being no difference between having your eyes open and closed. In fact it was very disconcerting at first that you could see NOTHING, no matter how hard you tried, or in my case, in the expectation that my eyes would eventually adapt to the dark and I’d be able to see the inside of the tank.
If you ever have any doubts that the world we see, hear, feel and experience is a construct of the mind, then you should spend some time in a sensory deprivation tank (which is what flotation tanks are sometimes called, along with isolation tanks). There were periods when I would open my eyes and I felt like I was floating in a big room (my eyes constructed a ceiling about 8 feet above me, when I knew that I only had maybe 1.5 feet of space above my head). I think my brain found it very weird to be deprived of any sensory stimulation and was trying to make sense of what was happening (when was the last time you felt like you were nowhere?).
I was letting my mind wander freely, following my thoughts where they would take me. I had the feeling of having all the time in the world to think, which I don’t think many of us feel in day to day life (we’re always working to deadlines, and have places to be). It was refreshing. At the same time, at the end of the float, I didn’t feel like it dragged or that I had been in there for ages. It actually felt like it passed fairly quickly (it was an hour long).
There were periods where I could feel myself seeking stimulation of some sort. So I moved my arms and ‘accidentally’ touched the side of the tank just to have some sort of feeling. I think it’s very weird for our brains not to be continually stimulated.
I did feel myself relax during the float and eventually my breathing slowed and I felt content. I noticed that I became hyper-aware about my body. Any sensations I felt through my legs, arms, neck became much more heightened. I felt a slight ache in my lower spine for a few moments and it felt like that was my body telling me to fix my posture or to stop spending so much time sitting.
When I walked outside the center, I did notice that I looked at the world passing by in a slightly different way. Cars were streaming down Hyde Street and I could sense the rush everyone was in. After a while I think we forget that we are also a part of this continuous rush. It’d be beneficial to slow down once in a while, and just introspect, and notice the speed with which we otherwise operate.
We’re surrounded by things these days (especially smartphones) that are like attention leeches on our brain, continually sucking away our attention. I’ve felt like this for a long time and just spent 6 months without a smartphone. Continual stimulus is bad, and smartphones and social services in general are optimised to continually take your attention and make you addicted. A little bit of meditation (which is basically what a flotation tank helps you do) is a good way to fight back.
For more information there’s always wikipedia.
This is kinda what the tank looked like:
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