If you have read the book or seen the movie Altered States, you know about sensory deprivation tanks.
I just had my first experience in one and it won’t be my last. My lovely bride, Terry Hoover, discovered and wrote a story for Lake Norman Magazine about a local firm – Buoyance – which provides what they call “floatation therapy.” This is supposedly the only tank of its kind in the Charlotte area. What are the benefits, you ask? I’ll let Terry explain,
Floating in zero gravity allows joints and muscles to completely relax. With no light, sound, or other sensory input to process, the brain gradually ceases producing cortisol, the stress hormone, and is flooded with endorphins, powerful natural pain relievers, and mood enhancers. Studies have shown that floatation therapy can be used to successfully treat autonomic nervous system problems such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, high blood pressure, motion disorders, and sleep apnea. It has also been shown to improve perceptual and motor skills in athletes and creativity in artists.
It was the creativity part that got my attention. So, Terry bought me a gift certificate for Christmas and I was excited to experience it. No jokes here about Hoover being in the tank, please.
You put in earplugs, hit the shower to wash off all oils, lotions and sweat, using a special soap the keeps the salts from clinging to you. Then, you climb into a roughly 11×4-foot fiberglass tank full of 450 gallons of body temperature water and 1,100 pounds of high-grade Epsom salts – this is what provides the buoyancy.
Once you close the lid, you float in warmth, darkness and silence. By silence, I mean you don’t hear anything but your own breathing and your heart beating, which seem pretty loud. Your heart rate and blood pressure typically drop during your float. My heart rate really seemed to slow markedly. Next, your muscles are supposed to let go, since they really have no work to do in zero gravity.
It took me about 30 minutes – a seemingly looooooong 30 minutes – to hit the relaxation state. Once I did, I slipped into what they call “theta state” or lucid dreaming state. And then, a tone sounded telling me my hour was up. WTF? That didn’t last an hour, did it?
I got out of the tank refreshed, clear-headed and energized. This goes on my list of things to do more often. You should give it a try.