Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Floatation Tank

The purpose of a floatation tank (or sensory deprivation tank) is to get in some super relaxation time. It's a coffin looking thing filled with about 10 inches of saltwater which allows you to float very easily. It effectively shuts off all of your senses. The tank is completely dark, there's no sound (other than sloshing water), and you can't really feel anything since you're floating in water.

I had wanted to do this because it is such a unique sounding experience, where else are you completely shut off from almost all of your senses? With how bombarded we are in our day-to-day lives, some shutoff time sounded appealing. I had heard of people hallucinating, falling asleep, getting horribly bored, among other things. That's quite a variety of reactions to something that seems so simple.

One of the things I've discovered in trying to complete my list is that some of them are impossible to check off in Omaha. This was one of those items because there simply aren't any in Omaha. Once again, I had to do this while visiting family in Colorado.

This is one item that my wife also decided to try out as well. We went to A New Spirit Spa in Denver for a 60 min floatation and a 60 min massage afterwards. I was surprisingly apprehensive about it. I had no idea how I was going to react and mostly thought I was going to get horribly bored or itchy (don't ask). Being bored is almost a cardinal sin for me, there's so much to do, being bored simply isn't an option.

It was a pretty nice spa. I've never really been to a full spa before, I've really just been to places that pretty much only does massages. We were instructed to shower, put on robes, and then head back to the floatation room. One annoying thing was that they didn't really clearly state the rules/guidelines for nudity and what to do with my clothes. I'm sure it's all very simple to someone that has done it before, but it caused a little apprehension on my part.

The floatation room place has two different tanks.
Angie's is on the left, mine is on the right
Angie chose the one on the left because you could hear music inside it and you could also have a light inside (she turned it off after a few minutes). Additionally, the one on the right was larger so it's better for dudes.

The first 45 minutes were not very pleasant. One of the first sensations is a reminder of all of the little tiny cuts that one gets from day-to-day living. I had minor cuts from dry skin, rope burns from crossfit that morning, and other random scrapes that started to burn once the saltwater touched them. It took about 5 minutes or so for those to settle into the background. My next mistake was raising my hand in front of my eyes to see if I could see my hand. Well, my hand was wet with very salty water which dripped. So, I got saltwater in my eye. That was my first time reopening the hatch to try to wipe off the water.

Overall, I had a horrible time getting comfortable. The main reason was that it was too hot, so I was sweating and worrying about getting more salt water in my eyes. I kept opening the hatch throughout the session just to cool off. We found out later that Angie was too cool in her tank, so it would've been better had we switched.

To pass the time, I started to play with physics to just see what raising one arm out of the water would do in order to maintain a center of mass. I started to think that this was the closest I would get to feeling what floating in space is like. This feeling was further enhanced because of a small sliver of light that came in through the bottom of the hatch. At times, that light felt impossibly far away. In fact, at one point I went to open the hatch and was surprised that I got to it so quickly.

Eventually, I resigned myself to trying to relax again. I had tried some of the breathing techniques that I had learned in my Zen Buddhism class, but those didn't seem to work. I decided to try to count my heartbeats since this was exceedingly loud with my ears below the water line. I would count to 100 and then start over again. This finally got me in to some good solid relaxing. Unfortunately, it was too late in the game to get super relaxed since I figured it out too late.

All-in-all, I'm glad I did it, but I'm not going to be rushing off to go do it again.

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