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★Isolation / Sensory Deprivation Tank

Has anyone been in an isolation / flotation / sensory deprivation tank?

Sensory deprivation tanks are basically a tank with a lid that contains a mixture of one third epsom salt to two thirds water. This is to help make the water slightly above the density of the human body so you can easily float. The water is about 35c (roughly that of a healthy human body) and after a few minutes the ambient air temperature adjusts to that as well.

You float on your back with your ears submerged, so you can’t hear anything. You can’t feel anything because your naked, and the water and air are the same temperature as your body (so you can’t feel what’s in the water or out) and you can’t see anything because it’s pitch black!

I’d been fascinated by the idea for a while now, but last week I finally got the time to go and try one out!

It was at a clinic in Bondi, from what I could find it’s the only one in Sydney! I booked for a ‘float’ and Mel booked for a massage. A little end of holiday treat for us both.

After a short run down of how it all works, I was left alone in a locked room that contained a shower, a towl and the sensory deprivation tank.

Although they flush the tanks every day, you have to shower to clean yourself so the tank remains clean for the next person. After showering you put in some ear plugs and step into the tank.

There is some music on to help you relax, but this gradually fades away. I decided on 15 minutes for my first time. This gave me time to shower and get in to the tank. I floated for an hour so I had 45 minutes in silence.

They alert you that your time is up by fading in more music as your time expires.

After getting into the tank, I actually found the music irritating! It wasn’t that the music was bad, it’s just that I wanted myself to myself and the music kind of prevented that.

After a couple of minutes though, I realized that I wasn’t in pitch black, so I unrolled the shutter and turned off the lights in the room. I got back in and after a few minutes, I could still see the outline of the tank due to the lamps in the room. This wasn’t as (comparatively) blinding as the main light but it still wasn’t ideal. I got out again and turned out the lamps.

After settling in once more, I was finally in complete darkness and was floating comfortably. Within a few minutes the music faded out and I was left to myself.

It was bliss!

For the first time in a long time, my thoughts ran out. I could spark them up by thinking of something I needed to do, or a problem I need to solve or an issue I’m currently working on, but to me that seemed to defeat the purpose of the exercise. Instead, I floated there for the best part of 45 minutes with absolutely nothing on my mind.

This wasn’t a conscious meditation I wasn’t doing or thinking anything.

They say that if done well, an hours float is the equivalent to six hours of sleep. I can absolutely believe this, especially for someone like me who doesn’t usually sleep so well.

Anyway, the music eventually came back on and I got out and showered again. You need to shower again because the salt gets EVERYWHERE. This is good for my new dreads (salt helps tighten them up!) but they’re actually rather large crystals as oppose to the fine salt dust you get from the beach.

After the shower I got changed and met Mel back in the lobby. We drank some water and then walked back to the station to head home.

It was an amazing experience, but there’s a couples of things worth mentioning.

At the time, I had just holidayed for three weeks so the ‘chatter’ in my head was easy to drop – I hadn’t thought about much else but enjoying myself for the entire time.

If I was to go back now, after only a week of being back in ‘reality’ (work, every day life etc) it might take me a little longer to ‘let go’ but I think that I would actually get MORE out of it.

Another thing is that some people say that they couldn’t stand it, they would go crazy, they would be claustrophobic or something. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was fairly certain it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge for me. It was actually very, very easy to spend an hour with myself like this because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I am fairly introverted most of the time though, so your mileage may vary.

As far as claustrophobia is concerned, I wouldn’t consider myself claustrophobic but I don’t find tight spaces comfortable either :) The thing about the isolation tank is that it isn’t TINY it’s actually quite roomy, you can even stretch yourself if you position yourself properly. The biggest thing about that though is that if you turn all the lights off in the room it’s PITCH BLACK! and if you’re just floating freely, then you really could be in outer space. Just lying there, the darkness (or silence or space or peace or tranquility) could go on forever.

As far as the cleanliness of the tank is concerned, I’m told that there’s so much salt in there that nothing can live for long. This mean no harmful bacteria and other nasties.

People are encouraged to go to the bathroom before ‘floating’ and have to shower before entering the tank so there’s no reason for there to be any other undesirables in there with you. The water is also filtered every day as well.

Being a clean freak, I did have to remind myself of this before I stepped into the tank :)

One more concern was pruning up! Spend an hour in a bath and your whole body goes all wrinkly. The beauty of an isolation tank is that you don’t prune up at all! I’m told this is due to the density of the water.

So there you have it! That’s my experience in a flotation tank. I’ll definitely be going back again, and am considering buying a multipass when I get some money in. It’s an experience that I would recommend to anyone!

I’d also love to hear from anybody else who has had any experiences with isolation tanks or sensory deprivation.

“How easy it is in our life, to miss what’s being offered.” — Paul Haller

I’m one of those claustrophobic types. I think I would have to leave the hatch open just a tad, so if I did completely relax I wouldn’t wake up and not be able to find the door to get out!

Sounds awesome! Everything about it. I do agree that your mind would be in a different place going there from holiday, and going there from the normal daily grind.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit seaweed baths in Ireland when I lived there. While it’s not sensory deprivation, it is isolation, it is a bath, it is great for your body (the oils from the seaweed are great for the skin) I did find myself thinking about what ever I was going to do next, lunch, a drive, waiting friends, what-ever. So the ability to carve out an hour and be totally with yourself must be wonderful.

Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths is an atmospheric bath house, is a family run business, with history spanning nearly 100 years, across five generations. It was 1912, the year of the ‘Titanic’, when the doors of Kilcullen’s Bath House were first opened. The Bath House has a certain quaint Edwardian charm, reminding the bather of the simple elegance of a bygone age. More…:

Each Day Is A New Gift From God!

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