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How to Disappear Completely

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When I returned from my first trip to New York City, the moment I dropped my bags and stopped moving, my suburban apartment struck me as unnervingly quiet. It made me realize that in every moment for almost four weeks, my ears had been filled with some kind of background noise.

There’s no true quiet to be found in New York. Even when you’re alone and you become perfectly still, there are always traffic noises and muffled voices in the room with you.

Sleep is no respite from this, because the sounds penetrate that too. My dreams always contained whatever sound I would eventually wake up to — construction noises, honking, shouting, appliances running.

We spend our whole lives at the end of a firehose of sensory experience. It seems like it would be healthy to step out of that stream once in a while, if it were possible.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I made my first attempt to do exactly that. It involved sealing myself, naked, in a darkened sensory deprivation tank. There’s a business a few blocks from me that offers 90-minute sessions.

Inside the car-sized tank, there’s about a foot of water thickened by a thousand pounds of dissolved Epsom salts, allowing you to float on your back safely while relaxing all of your muscles. The tank is soundproof and lightproof and warmed to skin temperature. Once you settle into position, you no longer feel the water, because it’s the same temperature as both the air and your skin. Without this temperature contrast, or light or sound, there’s virtually no sensory input happening at all.

Even though it was totally different than I expected, it turned out to be a fascinating and wonderful experience, and I will be doing it again. 

90 minutes in space

The day of my appointment, I signed the waiver and entered my private room, where an employee briefed me on what to do: undress, shower thoroughly, put in earplugs (to prevent water from getting in), get in the tank and get comfortable. When you hear music playing through the water, your session is over. Get out and shower again. Then she left me to it.

Here’s the tank:

sensory_deprivation_tank The tank, at a local place cleverly named “float.calm”

 

You get in the hatch (which, mercifully, has no lock), lie down, then pull it shut.

Then there you are. A strong feeling of “Now what do I do with myself?” arises very quickly, which reminds you that you’re here precisely because it’s the only place where there’s nothing to see and where nothing comes next. It takes a while to come to terms with this very foreign situation.

You do have one important task though: making a final decision on where to put your arms. Floating in liquid gives you a rare opportunity to let every muscle go, and at first no configuration feels quite natural. I began with my arms at my sides, but my biceps floated, which felt like I was stuck in a “bird dance” position. After trying to relax into it for a while, I decided to try the other possibility, which is to rest them above my head, like I’m signaling an NFL field goal.

Moving my arms above my head triggered the uncanny sensation of tumbling end-over-end through space. When I moved my arms back to my sides, the tumbling stopped. But I wanted my arms above my head, because it was much more comfortable. So I switched again, and just observed the tumbling feeling until it went away a minute later.

This whole time, there’s nothing to see, but your breath is incredibly loud. For meditators this is a boon — it has never been so easy to observe the breath’s details and texture without distraction.

In any case, the breath remains prominent in your experience, and may be the only thing reminding you that you’re there at all. Once you’re still, your sense of distance and spatial relationships quickly disappear. You might think you’d retain a pretty good idea of the shape and position of your body, because you’re so familiar with it, but it goes away pretty quickly when you have no feedback. Even gravity is no help, because you’re so buoyant that no body part is pressing against any recognizable surfaces.

So not only do you get the sensation of floating in space, but you aren’t sure exactly what is floating in space, because you don’t seem to have a body. Occasionally a physical sensation appears in the ether, and the moment you deduce that it’s a toe bumping the inside of the tank, it’s gone.

I spent some of the time actively meditating on the breath, but for the most part I just let myself explore the experience. At one point, I decided to open my eyes, and was surprised to find I couldn’t, because they were already open. This happened several times. Evidently there’s no way to know if your eyes are open except to physically check, unless you could somehow remember the last position you left them in.

Life is sublime, until you forget

With no stimulus, time really seems to stretch out. After I’d lost track of my body, I realized I had absolutely no idea how long I’d been in there, only that it could only have been a fraction of the full 90 minutes. By that time I was extremely comfortable, much more comfortable than I ever get in bed or in an armchair.

One completely unexpected effect was that my ability to imagine became supercharged. I pictured being in a hammock on the beach, and some very specific details came flooding in — the smell of hot sand, the feel of my bare feet on a sunlit nylon rope, the sense of being away from Canada, even.

This wasn’t a hallucination, it was just incredibly easy to imagine. I noticed I could imagine almost anything in incredible detail, with almost no effort. I imagined myself putting on a beautiful suit, and it was all there in extreme vividity: the fine material of the shirt against my arms, the soft non-sound of pushing a button through its hole, the feelings of importance and dignity you get when you know you look good, even a vague feeling of sadness that this shirt will only stay this clean and new for a few wears.

I found I could even imagine being in particular rooms with particular people, complete with all the obscure details of such a meeting, particularly the feeling of immediacy and vulnerability of really having that person there, live.

All of these visualizations contained details that were so subtle, they had never even occured to me outside of the moments in which I actually experienced them.

This was the most fascinating part of a thoroughly fascinating experience. There is a place in our minds, evidently, that holds on to these super-subtle details and can replicate them later, under certain conditions.

One of my visions came accompanied by harps and soft piano notes. I had all but forgotten the larger context of the blackness I was in — the tank, the room, the building, my booking — when the session ended. It took me a minute to convince myself that I was indeed hearing music that wasn’t in my head. I took a few minutes to float there in space and enjoy the music (Enya?) before opening the hatch.

In the hours following the float, everything I did seemed imbued with significance. It seemed curious that every little action in life (like squirting shampoo into my hand) came with its own unique wardrobe of sounds, looks and smells. It occurred to me that life could be totally bland, sense-wise, and still allow us to function, but for some mysterious reason it happens not to be. It’s extremely colorful and flamboyant; we just stop noticing this because we’re blessed with it all the time, for no clear reason.

Walking home was sublime but I knew the feeling would fade. I imagined how magical life would be if it were lived the other way around — if we spent most of our existence with no colors, shapes or sounds, and let ourselves out into the world for a couple hours at a time, to conduct our business and our relationships with full engagement. It would be hard to lose sight of how strangely beautiful it all is.

***

Photos by David Cain
Marina January 5, 2015 at 9:00 am

Great post, David, thank you for sharing. I had my first float a while ago. Except for an annoying strain in my neck that reminded me of the fact that I had a body, the experience was amazing. My float was initially similar to yours with very vivid imaginary sequences. Then I feel into a comfortable, meditative state of no-mind, which lasted for most of the session. When the music started playing I really didn’t want to get out of the tank. Before I left, an employee at the float centre told me to “pay special attention to everything you do for the rest of the day.” Outside on the busy London street the world had changed. Everything was crystal clear. I found myself gazing in awe at the brilliant colours and materials of people’s clothing, and at intricate geometric patters on the pavement. It’s truly a blessing to be able to see the world in this way, if only for short periods of time.

The floating experience has definitely helped me to stay mindful. Can’t wait to do it again.

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:24 pm

I really didn’t want to get out of the tank either. I would have booked a second 90 minutes from inside there if there was a way to do it.

It sure is something to go out into the street after that. The world is just so loaded with textures and peculiarities that it would be overwhelming if not for the fact that we’re immersed in it.

Kirk January 5, 2015 at 10:58 am

Very cool & nice to read a well-written first-person account of the experience. I’m gonna sign up for a 3-pack of sessions at the local Denver flotation place.

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:25 pm

After writing this piece I’m really excited to do it again. I think I’ll also get three floats, because it’s only a little bit more than two separate one-time bookings.

Art January 5, 2015 at 11:30 am

Very nice, I’ve never even heard of this. I need to check to see if I have a place that offers this locally :)

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

I was surprised that there was a place so close. The only person I knew who had done it lives in a really big city and I assumed they wouldn’t have it here. But the place happened to be only a few blocks away from me, and there are competitors.

Cait Flanders January 5, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Yes yes yes to all of this. As you know, I just went for my first float on Friday night, but will share a snippet of my email to you with your readers and potential first-timers who may want to hear about more people’s experiences.

I think it’s fair to say we went in for different reasons. I was in a car accident 18 months ago, and have been suffering with chronic pain ever since. My RMT suggested I try floating as another way to manage it between our appointments, so I decided to give it a shot. Even though our reasons for going were different, we ended up having many similar experiences. I also felt as though I were floating in circles, which took some getting used to (and did eventually stop). I also had my arms up over my head, and experienced some conflict with that position (even though all the others I tried felt strange). And the visualizations were so realistic, I too felt as though I could reach out to touch things (not my intended purpose, but interesting nonetheless). I had no choice but to focus on my breath, which was incredibly loud, as you said. I noticed it felt as though I’d lost the ability to pick up my limbs, or wiggle my fingers and toes. And it wasn’t long before I was in a state of total relaxation… then the music came on. Had 90 minutes already passed by!? It seemed like only 20.

The best part for me was what came after: When I stepped out of the pod, I felt as though I were standing a little taller; like my neck had lengthened out a bit and wasn’t quite so stressed. For that alone, I’ll be going back. And knowing that people go for a variety of reasons now, I’d encourage everyone to try floating at least once.

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

I think you’ve encouraged me to go again soon. I want to book one just before our overlapping NYC trips.

LennStar January 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Very interesting. How much does such a 90 minute costs?

Can you imagine how such a sensory deprivation works as torture? Or was it too short to be able to imagine that. (Sorry for getting out the bad topics here ;))

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:28 pm

It varies, but it’s 45-60 dollars where I live.

I can imagine it would be torture if it was against your will and you couldn’t leave, although total sensory deprivation requires you to remain still. Thrashing around in the water creates sensation. However, it would absolutely be cruel to keep someone in the dark in a soundproof box for any length of time.

Belladonna Took January 5, 2015 at 4:12 pm

I have so often longed to do this! The first time I heard about it, it was described as some form of torture – but to me it’s always sounded like a small piece of heaven. Anyway, after reading your description I went online and did a quick google search, and there’s a site that helps you locate a place to “float” pretty much anywhere in the US. Sharing in case your other readers feel as I do! http://floatationlocations.com/

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Ah, great, thanks for the link. I hope it connects some would-be floaters with some nearby tanks.

I think some people would really dislike it, particularly people who are accustomed to constant stimulation. I think it would be good for anybody to learn how to just exist for a bit, without doing anything, but that can only happen willingly.

David Cain January 5, 2015 at 5:37 pm

For those who don’t know the song referenced by the title of this post, it’s really beautiful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAF8D0ugyVk

SusieR January 5, 2015 at 5:57 pm

Fascinating!! I am curious: did any part of your experience in the tank frighten you? Cause any panic or fear? Did you experience any feelings that were sudden, not expected or anticipated?

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:28 am

Before I went there I was nervous. I figured it would be something like strapping myself into a roller coaster. But by the time the staff was showing me around I had no fear. You can get out any time you want. However, in the first fifteen minutes there was some mild anxiety simply because it is a weird place to be.

Greg Blome January 5, 2015 at 9:20 pm

I figured you would enjoy it! Once you get comfortable, it becomes a whole new world. You did a great job explaining your experience.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:28 am

Yeah, by the end of it I definitely wanted to stay quite a bit longer.

JC January 6, 2015 at 12:24 am

Have you worn earplugs before the float? I believe the loud breathing experienced is the earplugs, not the chamber. Try sticking your fingers in your ears to re-create.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:30 am

I have used earplugs a lot. Yes, they do make your breath seem louder. But this effect is much more pronounced when there are no competing sounds, like airplane engine noise, traffic noise etc. Normally when we use earplugs it is because there are sounds present that we want to minimize.

ilknur January 6, 2015 at 2:09 am

This is one thing that I really want to experience but I have really serious claustrophobia. I am so curious about this kind of experiences but do not have the courage to do it yet. But it was nice to read about it. Thank you.
Now I am working on my claustrophobia, as soon as I solve it, this is the first thing I will try!

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:32 am

I wonder how it would affect people with claustrophobia. You can open the door in an instant any time you like, so there is absolutely no sense of being trapped. Also, there is a fair bit of space in there, and it seems like there’s more than there really is, because you can’t see the walls/ceiling.

Andy Sum January 6, 2015 at 2:12 am

Wow that’s incredible! I’ve always wanted to try a sensory deprivation tank for myself but this makes me want to try it even more :)

I didn’t realize that you’d experience some kind of weightlessness due to the floating. I could appreciate the idea of no sound or light, but not knowing what your limbs are doing sounds like a whole other experience.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:34 am

The weightlessness had more of an effect than I thought. I didn’t realize that we are always using gravity to get a sense of direction. We can tell what direction up is because it’s the direction our butts get sore in when we sit for too long, if that makes sense. With the water you can’t tell where it’s touching you or what direction it’s pushing you.

Tiago January 6, 2015 at 2:46 am

“I imagined how magical life would be if it were lived the other way around — if we spent most of our existence with no colors, shapes or sounds, and let ourselves out into the world for a couple hours at a time, to conduct our business and our relationships with full engagement.”

Have you ever tried LSD? This is how it feels. The acid expand your perceptions in a way that the normal life seems “with no colors, shapes or sounds”.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:40 am

I would not compare it to psychedelic experiences but there is a similar sense of “Why do I not normally find this as fascinating as I do right now?” I think much of why life doesn’t fascinate us is that once we get used to surroundings we stop looking so closely and start to see them in terms of symbols and patterns instead of discrete details. Both sensory deprivation and certain substances can undo this effect and make you look at things as if for the first time. Either way I think it’s generally good for us.

Juanita Grande January 6, 2015 at 2:51 am

Thanks again, David, great post and on a subject that has had me curious for years.

Gonna make a habit it now?

Bon new year vibes to you,

: J

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:40 am

I would love to do it on a regular basis but I don’t think I can justify the cost. I will do it a few times a year.

Tracy January 6, 2015 at 3:20 am

This does sound quite fascinating, especially as vividly as you have described it. The one thing I’ve experienced that could be at all like what you found after getting out of the tank would be after I’ve had a fever, when I’ve felt better and gone outside. Everything was fresh and new for a while; colors seemed to be brighter, and my sensory awareness was heightened. Maybe it’s a kind of detox effect.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:42 am

I think just being away from something can make it fresher and more interesting than it usually is. That’s one of the reasons people travel — the more unfamiliar an environment is, the closer we need to look at it and the more it impresses us. When you shut of sense perception completely, all sense perceptions become impressive.

Sebastian Miele January 6, 2015 at 4:01 am

Last year I tried to learn Lucid Dreaming. I made some progresses in preliminaries. After a while I could estimate the magnitude of effort it would take me to learn it to a certain degree. I still have more interesting other things to do and that will not change soon. But having parts of my dreams replaced by lucid dreams would be nice.

The tank experience seems very efficient. Thank you for the great description.

(Ludid) dreaming is (conscious awareness) without sensory input.

Did you have an experience of lucid dreaming? Are you now not able to dream lucidly? Maybe now you can learn lucid dreaming more rapidly.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:45 am

I have had quite a few lucid dreams, but I cannot produce them on purpose. There is a similarity to the visualization in the tank, although there seemed to be even fewer constraints on what I could imagine. Even in a lucid dream, the subject matter of what you imagine or create is constrained by the dream’s current setting — even though there is no sensory input, you effectively do have surroundings that strongly suggest what ought to happen next. In the tank that just isn’t there, and so the visualizations are much more fluid and you have more freedom.

Tom A. January 6, 2015 at 4:09 am

Always wanted to try a floatation tank after hearing Joe Rogan talk about them on his podcast a few times – this post has finally pushed the boat out for me, I’ll start looking for one near me right now. Also excellent song choice for the post title!

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:46 am

I think Joe Rogan is a big reason why they are so popular. I think he even has one in his house.

Leigh Shulman January 6, 2015 at 6:03 am

This is just beautiful.

“I imagined how magical life would be if it were lived the other way around — if we spent most of our existence with no colors, shapes or sounds, and let ourselves out into the world for a couple hours at a time, to conduct our business and our relationships with full engagement. It would be hard to lose sight of how strangely beautiful it all is.”

Now a more practical question. Did you feel at all claustrophobic? It doesn’t sound that you did, but when I hear you or others describe these tanks, it sounds so unbelievably confining. How does one get around that?

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:48 am

I thought it might be, but the door is within arms reach at all times and you can open it easily, so there is really no sense of being confined. I guess it depends on the reason for your clastrophobia. Some people are probably afraid of the dark too. I feel quite safe in the dark.

George January 6, 2015 at 7:00 am

Sounds like you had a fantastic first experience! It took me quite a few session before I was relaxed enough for the imagination to become so vivid.

On positioning, going for the “Buck Rogers floating in space” pose – see here – was definitely the best approach I found, as befits such a futuristic-looking contraption.

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:49 am

Haha… yes, I settled on the Buck Rogers pose too, I guess. There were moments when I felt like I was in a William Gibson novel or something.

George January 6, 2015 at 7:23 am

This sounds like an intriguing experience! I may have to try it sometime.

The idea of just being in a void of nothingness save for your own consciousness sounds almost like how I might envision an afterlife, if I were to believe in such a thing. If our consciousness does somehow transcend death, I could see us as just floating in an eternal void of emptiness, and only our own memories, strength of mind, and interpretations of this experience would determine whether it was like heaven, hell, or something else altogether.

George January 6, 2015 at 7:24 am

And just to note, I’m not the same George as whoever replied just above me at 7:00 a.m. :-P

George January 6, 2015 at 7:38 am

Similarly, I’m not the same George as whoever replied below me at 7.23am. :-)

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:50 am

Georges everywhere!

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 8:54 am

As much as I liked the float I wouldn’t want to spend an eternity in there. But as I discussed in this post I don’t think it is possible to experience an afterlife like that. Even with no sense perceptions, we know that a living brain is required for thoughts that involve language, face recognition, and other qualities that made the visualization experience in the tank so great.

George January 6, 2015 at 10:05 am

Eternity could be somewhat tedious, and I have no notion of what an afterlife would be, but it certainly wouldn’t be more of “this” I’m sure. Perhaps it would be entirely populated by people called George. :-)

However, the current state of materialist thinking and neuroscience / consciousness research is remarkably unpersuasive as to its view of the “nature” of things, I find. It seems to involve as much faith (hope of a future triumph emergence) as the other way around. The storage of memory, for instance, is *the* most important thing and we’re nowhere on that.

Direct personal, investigation would indicate phenomena as occurring within mind, not the other way, and logically/metaphysically a materialist approach just doesn’t hold up well. Which leaves us in “limbo” when it comes to these issues…

However, we can be certain that before the after-life comes… life. That’s quite enough to be getting on with for now. :-)

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 3:30 pm

I wouldn’t reduce what I’m saying to materialism. You don’t have to presume materialism to acknowledge that the brain is necessary for certain aspects of consciousness to function as we’re used to. There is no question that brain damage reliably causes mind damage — we don’t need to solve the “hard problem” to know that total destruction of the brain cannot conceivably leave the mind intact as we know it.

George January 7, 2015 at 5:55 am

“You don’t have to presume materialism to acknowledge that the brain is necessary for certain aspects of consciousness to function as we’re used to.”

For sure – we could always take the route that “the brain” is an image of the mind, how it is seen from a 3rd person perspective. (Although I’d broaden that out to the whole body, not just the brain.)

That there is correspondence between someone’s brain-as-imaged and their reported experience is undeniable. Whether there is some sort of “directionality” to this, is something that can be debated and explored I think.

Sarah January 6, 2015 at 11:23 am

Wow. I really want to find one of those where I live as well! I know many people asked you about claustrophobia, but my first thought was, how do you know where the door is??
I’m reading a book now called Blue Mind by Wallace Nichols- you might find it interesting as it relates to your experience.
Thanks for this!

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Different tanks have different designs, but in my case you know the door is always right above your head. They are all made to be comfortable and easy to exit.

Paul Anthony January 6, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Great post! Thanks for sharing.

Kyrstin January 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

This sounds like something I would love to experience but…do they drain and fill the tub between participants? Something about laying in someone else’s bathwater…

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Typically they filter the water (but do not change it) between every participant. Everyone must shower before and after being in the tank, and the salt concentration is so high that nothing can possibly survive in it.

Donna January 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

It was no surprise to read this amazing post on Raptitude.com . . . since my very first email from David, I have enjoyed every experience he has shared. Floatation has been around since the 1960’s, originally created as a research tool for zero gravity and sensory deprivation. It has morphed into a very real alternative therapy utilized for chronic pain, insomnia, addictions, stress, inflammation, emotional healing and everything in between. A real and popular means to meditate, pray, soul search or just completely disconnect from the outside world. It is particularly eye opening for the younger generation that does not realize the “firehose of sensory experience,” because they have never known this world to be anything different . . . until they float! It has steadily evolved and grown in other European countries and has finally reached almost every state in the U.S.! I just wanted to share that you can go to several different sites to learn about and find a location in your area. FloatationLocations.com

Thank you, David, for a great account of your first float experience. It is more profound than any accounts we’ve received or read to date. We would love to put it on (or link to) our website, with your permission of course.

Donna and Pete OBrien
At Peace Floatation Spa, Colleyville, Texas

David Cain January 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

It’s great to know there’s a whole community around floating already, and that this post has exposed more people to it. People are emailing me to say they’re booking floats already.

Annie January 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm

I’ve been contemplating on doing a float for well over a year now, but the price always put me off! I never knew anyone else who did it and told me about the experience until you wrote about it. It gives me more confidence in spending my money. I read somewhere in the comments that you spent only $45-60 for a 90 minute session. I live in NYC and the prices here are outrageous at $110-130 for 90 minutes. It’s expensive, but I’ll try it once because it’s good to try new things and this might be life changing.

David Cain January 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

That is outrageous. I did a bit of poking around and I couldn’t find anything in NYC for much less than that. I can’t say I’m surprised though, in a place where it costs $40 to park a car for a day. Anyway, I hope you do get a chance to float soon, and I’m sure the price will go down as more tanks come onto the market.

Kim January 7, 2015 at 4:25 pm

David, thank you so much for writing about this. I’m always seeking places to get away from the noise of modern society, but had never thought about flotation chambers. I’ve just found one near me and will go try it out. It would be great, budgetwise, if it could end up replacing the bimonthly massages I have to get for back pain.

David Cain January 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm

I would love to hear about your experieince.

Done by Forty January 8, 2015 at 10:23 pm

Beautiful post. I now also have the rationale I’ve been looking for to sleep for 14 hours a day.

G January 11, 2015 at 8:33 pm

Excellent article, David. As ever, your descriptions are both lucid & insightful. Many of the observations you made parallel those experienced in meditation practice (as I’m sure you know). The sensation of not having a body is one those experiences that meditation can lead to as well, and your account of your body seeming to not exist in the tank is fascinating.

The tank didn’t appear to lead to a loss of a sense of self in the psychological sense, however, and thus the title ‘How to disappear completely’ is a little misleading as your thoughts, imaginings & other mental phenomena that go up to make up David’s mind remained. ‘How to physically disappear’ might be a more accurate title, but then it’s not quite so catchy, is it?

In meditation, even mental sensations can drop away, as when focusing on the breath (or some other subject) until only awareness of only that one thing is present. Sometimes, only a certain feeling remains, such as happiness or calmness, but no sense of an individual experiencing it. Whether there can be a complete disappearing or not is up for debate – or better still, up to experimentation – and some would question its desirability, but such experiences in the tank or in meditation do lead to some interesting possibilities. Thanks again for a wonderfully stimulating piece.

David Cain January 12, 2015 at 11:24 am

The title is a reference to a Radiohead song. It’s not meant to refer to self-transcendence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAF8D0ugyVk

G January 13, 2015 at 8:58 am

Ah, I see. The reference is lost on me; the Beatles’ ‘Nowhere Man’ is the most contemporary music title I could come up with! :D

Free to Pursue January 12, 2015 at 10:09 am

Hmmm. Intriguing. Sounds like a candidate for my ever-evolving bucket list. Thank you for sharing this important experience.

I couldn’t help but wonder if some of what you described was a temporary ability to somehow link the conscious to the unconscious mind. If that is the case, it makes the experience all the more powerful.

David Cain January 17, 2015 at 2:06 pm

I would love to read some research on it. Whatever it was, it was weird from the subjective side of things.

Mark January 14, 2015 at 3:03 pm

A great piece of writing and I loved how you explained your experience. It’s great to have more floaters in this world!

Rana January 15, 2015 at 2:36 pm

I really appreciated your wording for this post! Next time you’re in NYC come float with us!

uncephalized January 16, 2015 at 12:42 am

Fascinating. I wonder how loud my tinnitus would sound in such a place.

I cannot recall ever hearing the sound of silence in my life. For me, the air is always ringing. It sounds much louder when I’m in a very quiet place. At this point it’s like an old friend, always there when I tune into it. But my experience in the tank would probably be a lot noisier than yours…

David Cain January 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm

I have tinnitus too and I remembered this as soon as I got into the tank. I figured I’d just have to get used to the ringing but somehow I forgot about it rather quickly. Maybe it tuned itself out somehow, or maybe my breath was too prominent.

uncephalized January 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm

That’s good to know. I do usually find that it fades into the background as soon as I stop thinking about it, anyway.

Jennifer January 17, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I want to try this!! where is it? how much is??

David Cain January 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

I went to a place called float.calm, and I think it was $65, less expensive if you buy multiple floats at once.

You can find a place near you here:
http://floatationlocations.com/

vince January 23, 2015 at 5:48 pm

To think this all came about after talking about it at lunch due to a Joe Rogan podcast. I’m glad you were the guinea pig. One way or another I’ll give this a shot next month.

Great article, glad I broke my rule of not reading you blog.

Don January 27, 2015 at 8:46 am

You and some of the commentators wished they could have stayed in the tank longer than the allotted 90 minute session. I’m wondering if you are considering trying to book a longer session or if any of your readers have done so and did it produce a different or deeper experience.

Leonor February 2, 2015 at 3:46 am

Hi David, thanks for sharing your experience – your post finally tipped me to try this. I live in Melbourne and I went to a place where you could get 2 * 1 hours in your first session (or go with a friend simultaneously). It was AUD 66. http://www.floatationtankmelbourne.com/
The tank was a bit different than the one in your photo, it had a sliding door and it took me a couple of goes to close it so that it was pitch black inside. I don’t like wearing ear plugs and I don’t mind water in my ears, so I skipped them. I could hear the traffic in the background though, at a distance. Once I settled my body started bouncing around and I softly hit the edges 3 times, until I settled. I have done a couple of Vipassana meditation retreats, so I concentrated on my breathing for a bit. I also couldn’t figure out what to do with my arms, they ended up at my sides. I started feeling a bit dizzy after a while, the tank felt stuffy. Because I was going for 2 hours in a row, they warned me of the possibility of condensation. That was what drove me out! I got a huge salt water drop in my eye and I called it quits after ~ an hour. That dizziness feeling left after I took a shower, and I was OK to drive. I’m glad I tried it, but I don’t think I’ll be heading back anytime soon. What I have to say though is that I normally carry tension on my shoulders, and it was gone after floating.

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