I was offered to try out an isolation/deprivation/float tank recently. I’m not going to lie, my inner claustrophobic panicky self instantly created a horrific situation where I felt trapped and out of breath and completely closed in.
My friend gave me a tour of what I’d be experiencing. My heart pounded when I saw the
coffin tank, but in keeping with my current mantra of trying new things undaunted, I agreed to his generous offer and booked a time for my float.
I readied myself, I showered and then opened the tank door and stepped inside. The water itself felt silky and soft (likely from the large amounts of salts they put in) as I stepped in. I gently eased my body down and laid back, delighted to feel myself float instantly. I closed my eyes and started to breathe. I had given myself a 45 minute session and was wondering if I would have to leave the tank before my time was up, considering my impatience and difficulty in learning to just BE. After a couple minutes, the dim coloured lights went off and my float began.
I concentrated on some deep breathing at first, and tried a bit too hard to get into it. I recognized that I was waiting for some amazing experience to hit me, that I would soon be trippin’ balls and discovering some sort of transcendental enlightenment or figuring out the meaning of life, perhaps.
So instead, I just let myself go. I listened to a few thoughts rushing around in my head, not giving them too much energy. I ignored an itchy spot on my nose, I reminded myself that I needn’t write my grocery list right then and there. Instead, I breathed. I moved my arms so that they lay up around my head instead of alongside my body. And I breathed some more.
And I found myself so thoroughly and utterly relaxed. Completely supported but in a way that nothing is touching you. The temperature was perfect, there was no sound, and it was fully dark. I had some persnickety pains come up here and there, my throat felt constricted and my neck spasmed and my left temple had a few sharp jabs of pain. These are all areas of my body that I have issues with: physically, emotionally and mentally. Instead of getting involved in the pain, I found myself watching this from outside myself and slowly the different pains ebbed until there was nothing but my breath.
Amidst all this I vaguely wondered how much longer I had left, because it honestly felt like I had been in the tank for only a few minutes. But rather then fretting about the time left, I just kept on breathing (Ujjayi for my yogi friends).
I morphed into that state of somewhere between awareness and sleep, conscious and not. I could feel my heart beat and nothing else. I just was. That’s it. When the soft lights came on to bring me from my reverie, I was pleasantly surprised and maybe a little disappointed that it was already over.
Now, a few hours after my float, I feel deeply relaxed and sleepy. But also kind of extra aware of how I am feeling. I also feel like I’ve done yoga or had a nice relaxing massage. I was incredibly impressed and feeling slightly sheepish at my reticence and fear of this experience. It afforded me a much-needed insight to some inner dialogue I have been struggling with.
And I will definitely do it again.