I'm no stranger to feeling one with the universe. but this was a little more intense than I thought it would be.
Recently, it my boyfriend's birthday and one of the things we've always wanted to try together was sensory deprivation tanks. We usually make unorthodox date plans, so this was no exception. I decided to scout Groupon for a good deal and schedule us some much needed zen time.
I found a place called Phloat and called them to schedule reservations. The staff was pleasant and gave me a quick run-down of pre-requisites for being tank eligible. For the record, if you have kidney issues or claustrophobia, this is probably not your best bet.
The morning of our float date, we ate light and headed down a few minutes early to get another briefing of what we were in store for.
I promise it's getting good from here.
We were directed to wash off in the showers that were attached to the tanks, patch our ears with the disposable ear buds that felt like Play-Doh and coat any open wounds with petroleum jelly. They provided all the supplies for us.
The tanks looked like time chamber pods that humans freeze-store themselves in to wake up 100 years later. They are filled with about 200lbs. of warm water that matches the temperature of your body and a few hundred pounds of epsom salt (sometimes up to 1,000) which keeps you atop of the water.
After the attendant showed us the rooms and gave us the final instruction and well wishes, I was quickly in the shower and started my deep breathing. Now, I've been practicing meditation for about five years and I've tried plugging my ears and blindfolding myself but after witnessing Eleven's inter-dimensional experiences on Stranger Things, I knew I wanted to step it up a bit.
After I plugged my ears, I could hear every single breath taken and beat of my heart at intensely amplified levels. The staff had told us if we didn't feel comfortable with closing the doors completely then we could use the spray bottle to prop it open. There was also a blue light on the inside of the tank that I could turn off at any moment to be in complete darkness.
I wanted to go all the way...ya know, since I was already here and all.
To reiterate, I'm familiar with various spiritual and psychological practices and I knew the fundamentals of breathing through it and staying present with your thoughts. But, all the guidelines I had stored in my brain went down the drain while my body floated around a dark, isolated tank. Slightly shaking. Mostly anxious. Definitely curious.
I convinced myself to not try to make the experience but rather to let the experience happen. So I opted for a nap and worked on relaxing my neck (which the poster outside told us was the most difficult part for most people).
I don't really know how much longer later it was after I finally inched my way close enough toward complete relaxation before the "journey" started. All I knew was my body wasn't attached to me anymore and I was floating in the middle of a timeless space of existence. There was nothing but silence and black.
Then, the voice came. There was internal dialogue inside my head — or was it in my head? I'm not exactly sure where it was coming from, but the feelings of this voice was incredibly loving and non-judgmental.
This voice was giving me the best advice ever. And I knew it was the best advice because it was something that had been on my mind for awhile, but I kept avoiding it.
And here it was...in the middle of pure nothingness, telling me again.
And I couldn't run away this time. Literally.
And the lesson came back around to me yet again...just like that. Just like things do when we know what's best but go all around the world to find the answer to exactly what's right there.
I found the magic in the details. That's what the whole experience was about for me. All the fidgeting and squirming; the indecisiveness and going back and forth about the light and the door; details about my life, career, and everything in between — I found pure, unadulterated magic in these details.
I heard the filter engines come on and started to slowly come to. One hour had felt like 5 minutes.
The attendant asked about our experience and I told him I couldn't tell if I was asleep or not (which was weird because I'm a lucid dreaming practitioner). His eyes got wider and he was excited that a first-timer had witnessed what he believed in so deeply. "You were there! In THAT place!" he exclaimed. I knew exactly what he was talking about. And I was there.
Oh, and to not keep you hanging on the dramatic details, but there were flashes of colors and an addictive feeling of being completely whole and enough in that moment that every human should experience.
If you have the opportunity to try a sensory deprivation tank, do it. It would be senseless not to.