A Trip into the Mind
Today I embarked on a different sort of training but one that would leave me as worn out as any run or lift would. An Amazon Local (Living Social) deal popped up on my radar last week for the new Salt City Floatation Spa here in Salt Lake City. It was too good a deal to pass up and I quickly purchased sessions for both my boyfriend and I, called the spa and had sessions booked.
I first heard about Floatation Tank aka sensory deprivation tanks aka isolation tanks from a friend while still living on the east coast. I remember him talking about his experiences and talking about how once you are in the dark floating you lose all sense of yourself and your mind takes over. John C. Lilly, a medical practitioner and neuro-psychiatrist, developed the flotation tank in 1954 as a tool to prove that the mind does not shut down when the body is at rest. Basically, you enter into a large pod like structure filled with 1200 lbs of medical grade Epsom salts diluted in 300 gallons of water, creating a 12” deep solution, which is heated to 95.9 ºF (surface skin temperature). The air is the same temperature as well so while you are in the tank you basically feel weightless, and lose all senses except for that of the mind. Joe Rogan is an advocate of Floatation Tanks and discusses what they do for him below (beware there is some swear words)
Why would you float? First are the physical benefits from floating, the epson salt helps draw out toxins in your body. The sense of weightlessness helps athletes with aches and pains and lets muscles enter into an advanced state of relaxation. Overall it puts you into a deep sense of relaxation and is even more a session for the mind. From Wikipedia, “A therapeutic session in a flotation tank typically lasts an hour. For the first forty minutes, it is reportedly possible to experience itching in various parts of the body (a phenomenon also reported to be common during the early stages of meditation). The last twenty minutes often end with a transition from beta or alpha brainwaves to theta, which typically occurs briefly before sleep and again at waking. In a float tank, the theta state can last indefinitely without the subject losing consciousness. Many use the extended theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving or for super learning. The more often the tank is used the longer the theta period becomes.” Floatation sessions have been known to reduce stress and help those who suffer from an over stimulus in there daily life.
I personally might have one of the most overactive minds of anyone I know. I am constantly known for being a multi-tasker. It’s not uncommon to see me on the phone, one Facebook, eating, and petting a dog at the same time. I am one who likes to be doing a lot at once. In my daily life work on about ten different projects each day. There is sensory all around me all the time. A friend once tried to get me to meditate with him, not guided just zen quiet meditation sitting in front of a fire, I lasted less than five minutes before my body ached, my brain was screaming and I needed to get up and move around. The pattern repeated itself this winter when my boyfriend wanted to sit and look at the mountains while we were in Park City escaping the pollution of the city one day. I sat for about 2 minutes, freaked out and jumped out of the car and needed to move around. FACT, I cannot sit still well. I am not one to ponder, my revelations in life happen on the move, mostly these days on a run. I love silence and being in silence but can’t sit and enjoy it well. I took on floating as a challenge, a real trip for my mind to take on, some mental training.
We arrived at Salt City Float Spa located the suite in the building, were given a tour, watched a quick video then I was up first. I took the initial shower before entering the pod and then shut the door and was alone in time and space. For the first 15 minutes music plays under the water and a blue light is on illuminating the tank. I wanted the light off but unfortunately kept hitting the help button only to have Forest come in and tell me nicely I was pushing the wrong button. Moment of zen, I think not! He left, I pushed the correct button and was now alone in the dark floating in the water nude. (You don’t want to wear a bathing suit while floating). At first I felt myself floating all over the tank banging into walls.
My brain was everywhere. Literally fragments of memories, images, and thoughts were streaming through my consciousness. I could not stop it, I tried counting breathes and soon realized I could feel my heart beat throughout my body and seemed to echo in the chamber. Brain still whizzing around more images, more thoughts, then nothing. Right before I left I had visions of faces, a snake, upside-down buddha smiling, a box or hallway that kept getting closer than fading away. Then it was all quiet. I left, I have no idea where I went or what happened, maybe this is the state of theta most try to achieve. All I know is in the darkness I came to abruptly and saw a face of a woman in the top of the tank. Then a very vivid image of two blue scooters side by side next to a red brick wall. Shortly thereafter the light in the tank came on music started again and it was the end of my session. I stepped out of the tank feeling disconnected from my body, senses needed time to adjust again, I got in the shower washed off the salt and cleared the room for Forest to get in and try.
I felt still a slow reconnection with myself. I took a while before I wanted to talk to anyone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sleep, sit, read, or write about the experience or maybe all at once. I did have an overwhelming urge to sit in our garden but was in the waiting room while Forest had his session. Overall, I was super relaxed and had spent a full hour alone with my brain and hadn’t gone crazy! I have two more sessions left on my deal and will definitely be back to use them.
For me it wasn’t about the random visions in my head it was the fact I made it through an hour with myself in my own head. I let me brain roam and do it’s thing. Is it a real form of training, that is yet to be seen. However for me it was definitely a practice, and the bonus is my body feels great. Still letting my brain unravel from all the exercise but my body feels great. This might not be for everyone but for me it just might be what my overactive brain needs to find balance with itself.
Look for an upcoming documentary on it by the guys at VICE TV.
Look even the Simpsons have done it 🙂