The tank looks like a bizarre, smooth clam-shell – white plastic or composite material, filled with relatively clear water. There is a small L.E.D. light in the back of the tank which slowly shifts in color from clear white, to blue, to purple, orange and green; the water takes on these new colors.
I step into the water. It feels good. I can barely tell my foot is in the water – at 93.5 degree Fahrenheit, the water is basically the same temp as my skin. At first, the small L.E.D. light in the back is not terribly bright. It does illuminate the entire room with a small glow, and it was in that glow that I got undressed and showered off before getting into the tank. Later though, that little tiny light will be VERY bright indeed.
In the short briefing the owner of the place gave us (there were two of us who had never been before), he explained how we should do a short body scan meditation, which I have some experience with, and that we were free to turn off the light whenever we wanted. Therefore I lay back, feeling my body being supported by all the salt (he also said the system has 800 lbs of salt in it – don’t know if that is for all four tanks or just one, but that is a ton of salt!). I turned off the light within 3 minutes of laying down.
It takes a few seconds to notice how I am not as relaxed as I could be, and that was just the initial layers of tension. I have experience receiving process-oriented bodywork, so my ability to relax deeply and to rest back, allowing my body to relax in trust that I am safe and that I will be supported, is pretty advanced. In the dark, my toe bumps the side of the tank. I push off. Within about 20 seconds, my hair feels the other end of the tank nearby. I learn that I just need to relax my appendages rather than reacting or pushing against the edge.
Later I will bump the edge every 5 minutes or so, but my reaction to those bumps changes and shifts throughout the session.
In the meantime though, my inner ear is going hay wire. When I first lay back and felt the support of the salt water, I felt like I was falling backward down a bottomless pit. Thank god that sensation only lasted for a few seconds. Then, from time to time, it feels like I am drifting toward the left fairly swiftly. The first couple times I feel that sensation, I brace myself. But then I never bump. So I start a body scan meditation.
I probably take 20 minutes to scan my whole (outer) body. That includes each toe, ankles, calves, thighs, etc, all the way through arms, hands, fingers, neck, head, ears, nose. Occasionally I find a spot where there is a small amount of tension – this usually had to do with bumping the edge of the tank, or in my neck, where tension seemed to arise every few seconds. I would hum into that section of my body, or I would intend to relax it deeper.
In response to that, sometimes a hand might twitch, or a foot, or maybe a leg. Once or twice, I tried to hum into my neck and relax more deeply and my legs almost kicked out. This was an experience however because with my ears submerged, it sounded like splashes or drips were echoing from far far away. Pretty amazing really.
I felt like I was incrementally dropping deeper and deeper into relaxation. I might twitch a hand, causing ripples to cross the water for a few seconds, and these waves, no matter how small allowed the periphery nervous system to have some data to input. Otherwise I was slowly losing touch with my outer skin and any sense of touch it contained.
So I began to notice that there were no sense organs receiving info. I put a hand in front of my face. Nothing – just blackness. No sound (yet, although I would eventually hear my heart beating). The only smell is like being half a mile away from the ocean but subtly starting to smell it. I could smell humidity (feel it?) and the slightest scent of salinity. Of course there was no taste – I was not about to open my mouth in that level of salinity. And my sense of touch was starting to vanish.
Maybe 20 minutes or more have gone by. Thoughts are pretty much vanishing as well, unless I consciously summon them. I notice the bizarre and unique and quite radical sensation that my skin and the outer layers of my body are checked out. I did not feel extra long like he said I might, but I became aware of my bones much more clearly. I thought I felt some tension either in my connective tissues or in my bones (is that possible?).
I will continue in a future post (to be completed very soon) 🙂
Altogether I was very pleased by my gift of floating in a sensory deprivation chamber! Wow! I do have more to say however.