Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As Promised: Floatation tank experience

So, um, yeah. About seven weeks ago I posted a brief blurb saying I'd enjoyed my floatation tank experience and that I'd post more later. And then, radio silence.

I'm not going to go into the reasons for the silence, but I do owe you a post on the floatation tank session. So, without further ado, here's what happened.

Seran and I arrived at the shop in the heat of a Chicago summer afternoon. The location is within the building on the ground floor, so it took us a minute to find it. Inside, however, it was comfortable and very clean. We were given a tour of the tank facility. Essentially, each tank is lightproof and you are given earplugs to both dull sound and keep water out of your ears. Each tank is filled to around calf-height with water, and in that water they have dissolved huge amounts of epsom salts. (Don't drink the water, mmmkay?) The solution thus produced has the density of the human body, so everyone floats.

And I mean everyone. To say Seran is slender is pushing the word. I knew I would have no problems floating, but I wasn't at all sure about him. I know he'd probably have to work to keep afloat under most circumstances. No worries: he was as buoyant as a cork.

This solution is also warm. The rooms were, of course, as muggy as you'd expect them to be with huge tanks of warm fluid in them. I was actually even more eager than I thought I'd be to shed clothes and get the shower going.

(Of course you shower before and after. After, because you have an epsom salt crust on your skin at the waterline mark on your body. Before, for obvious sanitation reasons. They may flush and sanitize the tank between every use, but it's nice to make it a little less intense for the sanitizing process.)

The shower was nice and warm and the bathing products provided were high-quality. I put the plugs in my ears, showered, and got into the tank. That's where things went a bit offscript.

Because I'm a kinesthetic, I enjoyed the feel of the water. You go into the tanks naked, in order not to be restricted by clothing in any way. That felt wonderful. The floating was incredible. Despite the shallowness of the solution, it fully supported me. I never felt the bottom unless I deliberately moved that way.

But remember that mugginess? It was multiplied in the closed-door tank by a lot. I don't like breathing hot, damp air. After a few minutes, I realized that sensation was making me feel a bit uncomfortable. I was having a lot of trouble relaxing. I weighed my options.

Part of the point of the sensory deprivation is that it's supposed to replicate the womb experience by floating in total darkness with muffled sound. Whether you have your eyes open or closed is supposed to make no difference. But I knew that I couldn't breathe well enough to be comfortable, so I decided to simply open the door so a bit more cool was let in, and keep my eyes closed.

I found this actually replicated what I know of the womb better. You see, the womb is not actually totally dark. Babies in utero are able to sense light. (Playing with a flashlight on a pregnant belly is a good way to have fun with a baby not yet even born.) When I kept my eyes closed, there was the faintest through-the-eyelids glow that much more matches what I know of life in the womb.

Even better, I could breathe and relax! And in no time, without any formal intention on my part, I was in trance. Every so often I'd be aware that somehow, the water level seemed to have crept up on my face. When I got in, it was just over my ears. After a bit, I noticed water almost up to the outer corners of my eyes. It took me two times with this happening to realize that my neck muscles had relaxed to the point that my head had "fallen back." That was really nice, and deepened my trance by quite a bit.

I didn't ever lose track of the world or go to sleep, but I didn't expect to. It was very much the kind of trance experience where the Watcher is active. People who think they aren't going into deep trance because they can always think will recognize this place. I know it's because it was a totally new experience. A few more times in a tank like that and I will be getting very interesting results, as my conscious mind checks out more fully.

Instead, what I experienced was a lot like lucid dreaming. I was always aware of the experience, but was letting the dream unfold. My particular dreams involved people I love and care for, and if a dream started to go somewhere I didn't really want to be, I partly sat up. This "reset" my brain and I could go on to something else.

It was a very, very positive experience. I would love to do it again multiple times and see what else happens.

Eventually, the time was up and the attendant knocked on the door of the room (not the tank - if you don't answer they do come in and do that, but the door comes first) and I let her know I heard her. I got out and showered off. Some of the water got onto my lips and I licked it off... that was a mistake. Ew. Don't do that. I peeked outside to see Seran waiting in the hallway. He was so very fractionated. I could tell just by looking at him that he'd experienced a very deep trance. I let him know I was getting dressed and to wait for me out front.

We relaxed with water afterwards and discussed our experiences. He had no issues with the mugginess, so he'd kept the door closed the whole time. (I really think that might be a me-thing, and urge everyone to do it the normal way, at least at first.) His subjective experience was similar to mine, and we both agree that more experimentation is called for.

I'd be interested in hearing from others as to their experiences, and I think I'm going to treat myself to a local facility someone pointed out in the comments to my previous post for my birthday in a few weeks.

Ah, my birthday... but that's another post. ;)

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like a wonderful experience and one that I'd love to have some time. :)