Floatation Tank Experience Report – My First Time in an Isolation Tank / Sensory Deprivation Tank

26 Aug

Shortly after reading Lilly’s book, I discovered that someone in my own town has a floatation tank in their home which they rent out to curious folks like myself, in 90 minute sessions. I’ve just gotten out about 90 minutes ago. Here is my report of that session.

I get inside the tank and shut the door. I’m in pitch blackness and I’m wearing earplugs – this is strange already! I move to lie down and get comfortable. The water truly does keep me afloat. However, my neck doesn’t feel very secure so I get out of the tank to grab this bubble wrap material that they told me I could use to give my neck some padding.

I get back inside and all this movement causes some water to drip into my eye. The water is highly concentrated with salt, and it burns like hell.

I’m trying to get comfortable now with my neck being padded, but I’m having trouble catching my breath. Then I get salt in my left nostril, and it burns, and then – dammit! – now somehow water has dripped into my other eye, and it’s burning, too. This would be comical if it wasn’t for the pain!

The burning fades quickly, but I lie there for the next 30 minutes in a constant struggle to breathe and relax. It never happens, and I am never able to embrace the floatation tank experience.

It’s too warm in here and there is no air flow. The “fan” is so faint I could not even tell it was on until I rotated myself to be directly underneath it.

With my ears underwater and having earplugs in, it’s like it’s just me and my breath in here. This is bad news because it puts way too much focus on trying to breathe, and all this just exasperates the problem.

I decide to open the door to let in some fresh air.

This helps but I still can’t breathe easily.

With the door open, light is now coming in. This is distracting so I get out of the tank to turn off the light.

At this point, having not been able to relax or easily breathe the whole time, and then having to get out of the tank real quick to turn off the light – yes, I’m very frustrated! I’ve not enjoyed any of this so far at all.

The remaining time was much the same, and I never was able to experience the tank in the way it should be.

A hugely disapppointing experience.

I was supposed to do 90 minutes, but I left the tank early because I was so uncomfortable.

I felt bad having to tell the owner, a very kind woman with lots of energy – and the beauty of someone half her age – that my experience was unpleasant. She suggested that my breathing problem it’s due to some alignment with my spine, since it manifests only when I lie straight down on my back. Funny I had never really thought of this, I wonder if it’s true?

Amazingly, instead of charging me, she instead offered me a second session, free of charge. I’d very much like to take up her offer but I fear it will be much of the same – I simply won’t be able to breathe the whole time.

I’ve had problems breathing on and off for the last 4 years. When I lie down, I often can’t breathe through my nose, and this results in a cycle of trying to catch my breath, being to breathe good temporarily, and then trying to catch my breath again, and so on. When this was keeping me up for hours at night, I started using that nostril spray that clears your sinuses up.

I’ve just realized now as I type this that I should be able to do the same thing right before going in the tank and maybe then I can have a real tank experience.

On the plus side, there were a few brief seconds where I could understand the potential for how neat this could be, because your body really does float and it takes absolutely no effort. After doing this for some time, the weight of the body is so displaced and different than normal, it’s a really odd sensation. If I could have breathed and relaxed in total darkness in this state, it would have been very cool.But today was really not what I was hoping for at all and I’m honestly still kinda pissed off about it.


3 Responses to “Floatation Tank Experience Report – My First Time in an Isolation Tank / Sensory Deprivation Tank”

  1. Isolation Tank December 16, 2008 at 4:05 am #

    Don’t give up! I’ve had troubling breathing for years too. The Neti pot has done wonders for resolving this problem. It works better than the nostril spray. Find out which one works and use it before you go float. For extra airflow, prop your door open a little with your towel. I’ve been floating for years. It’s a rewarding experience on many levels.

    p.s. I don’t know about the bubble wrap material they offered for your neck, but I swear by inflatable travel pillows when I float. Otherwise, I also get neck discomfort that distracts me from enjoying the float session.

  2. Richard August 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    As you find the tank experience uncomfortable try a different level of sensory isolation, use a ganzfeld – uniform opaque field of light – with white noise in headphones plus foam gloves to reduce touch sensation, not the same but often yields similar results.

  3. Ben August 16, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

    Hi Richard! Would love to try that. I know that at the rhine institute where I was recently part of an ESP study they have done research with the ganzfeld thingamajigg (technical term) in the past, and are hoping to do some more work with it in the future.

    I don’t know too much about it though. Is it possible to make this device yourself or buy it?

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