Sensory Deprivation Tanks

Having read John C. Lilly’s “The Deep Self, Consciousness Exploration in the Isolation Tank” along with countless other firsthand experiences with floating, I decided to book a session for myself to feed my curiosity further.

Initially, it was pretty underwhelming to be in a dark tank with warm salt water. I lied on my back trying to find a good position to float in. After about 5 minutes, I put my hands behind my head to support my neck as it began to ache. However, I would later put them back to my sides realizing that if I let my neck & body free float then my muscles would loosen up.

The initial 20 minutes of the session was spent focusing on the breath with occasional thoughts of my plans for the day while reflecting on the week. As my mind wondered, I refocused on the breath and repeated. After about 30 minutes of floating I began to get comfortable and my mind slowly began to move into a space of its own.

My body felt little to no sensation until I voluntarily moved a finger which prompted me to touch each finger to my thumb and wiggle my feet to be able to feel something that at the time felt so alien to me. I’ve never truly felt so amazed at the normality that is our bodily limbs being connected as one and how we physically sense pleasure, pain, and everything in between.

The final 20 minutes or so were interesting as my thoughts were becoming more like an episodic daydream state in which I could turn the channel at will. It seems as if my thoughts were becoming less of a distraction and more of something that I had a visual representation of.

I feel as though I had a better image of my mind and was better equipped to understand each thought that arose as opposed to having a cluster of randomly generated ideas or emotions that I had no influence over but rather became a slave to. My 50 minute float session felt like it lasted for about half an hour.

I left wanting more. More of my mind to explore, more of my thoughts to understand, and more of that quiet space to give my body a chance to completely relax and unwind. Sensory deprivation tanks are, if not placebo, definitely therapeutic.

Words by Raymond Pichardo.


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