After doing a lot of research on floatation tanks and the different experiences people have had in it, I decided to try a session myself. I was intrigued by this sensory deprivation idea back in India too. But I just could not find any floatation tanks in Mumbai. Luckily I found one here in Seattle. Its was a bit expensive - 65$ for 1.5hours but I guess it would have been the same rate in India as well.
I fixed up an appointment in the afternoon. That day, before leaving, I planned the entire bus routes for going and coming and took pictures. After changing 2 buses and walking a real long distance (around 4kms by foot in total) I finally reached the place. I had to constantly check the GPS to make sure I was on track. It was mostly a rainy-cloudy day with intermittent sunshine.
The tank was privately owned in an independent house. On entering the house, I was impressed by its interiors. It was my typical image of what a rich guy's house would look like. I was first told to go to the bathroom and shower with a very different brownish "earth like" smelling soap. It had a very unique smell. Then I went to the tank room where I saw this spacecraft like tank. This kind o got me further excited about the experience. I positioned myself into the tank after rolling up a bubble cover which was supposed to maintain the heat. He showed me the cool control display that controlled the temperature and lights. I was provided with a water bottle and a towel to wipe my face since the water was incredibly salty. After the explanation, he closed the tank door and told me he would check on me after an hour.
It was completely dark whether I opened or closed my eyes. My ears were submerged in the water too, so I could hear my breathing and heartbeat. After a while I could even hear the winking of my eyes. It was a bit of effort to let go of controlling the breath. Throughout I felt that my breath was somewhat shallow and I would now and then take deep breaths which would slightly move me up and down in the water. My mind was a little figity throughout. It would keep jumping from one topic to another, mostly mundane or regular stuff. I was trying to concentrate on my heartbeat and slow it down. I had a small jerking response from my legs around 2 times indicating I was moving beyond the hypnogogic jerk.
I found visualization also a little difficult. When I tried to imagine people, I would have to refresh the image almost every second. It was quite difficult to maintain a continuous image which is surprising because I could do that easily even while lying down on a normal bed. Maybe the experience was really novel and new and I had not reached the same level of familiarity and comfort with it. I tried to imagine VIBGYOR from red to violet trying to feel each color completely. I would try to imagine that the color is all around me and within me too (I am made up of that color). The color which I found the most moving was shades of lighter blue. It brought back a feeling of wonder which I had felt in childhood.
Basically I was in a somewhat strange state of mind. The thoughts were not very different or I did not have any exotic sensations but I felt I was fairly deep into my mind. After the 1hr was up, a light music (kina like African drums instrumental) was played and I was asked if I wanted to continue. I decided to stay for another 1/2 hour. It was difficult to completely let go of the body in that floating environment. I probably found it easier doing it in a normal bed, but maybe it takes a few times to get used to. I still feel that environment has a lot of potential.
I understood the what had happened during the experience better after observing the effects it had in the later part of the day. I felt an unusual freshness which I'm not sure if I have ever felt before. Something new and sparkling inside me is the best way I can describe. Some kind of glorified freshness feeling. I also had great memory of every single thing I imagined in that tank. I wonder if its because I reached theta state, I'm not sure. Overall I felt lighter throughout the day, like Ive lost some 10+ kgs.
Improvements for next time:
1. I need to let go more - let go of fear, let of of controlling breathing, let go of the uneasiness due to the unfamiliar environment.
2. I need to eat enough food
3. I could maybe go when I'm more exhausted to reach theta faster
4. Keep some mantras or concentration tasks
5. Try defined visualization tasks
- sunrise and sun
- feel its intensity brightness, light, heat
6. Positive visualizations