What Is A Sensory Deprivation Tank?
If you landed on this page, chances are you already know what a sensory deprivation tank is! For those who don’t know, it’s basically a tank which attempts to completely wipe out all of your senses when you lay in it.
How does a sensory deprivation tank achieve this?
The tank is designed to be soundproof (sense of sound from the outside is null), lightproof (visual senses are null as it’s pitch black inside), and the water inside the tank is heated to the same temperature as your skin (sense of touch is drastically minimised). The other 2 senses (sense of taste and sense of smell) are not as stimulated, so no design conditions need to be considered here.
What is the primary function of a sensory deprivation tank?
Well it’s 100% exactly as the name suggests! The primary function of a sensory deprivation tank is to as much as possible deprive the senses of the user! Why in the world would anyone want to deprive their senses!? Keep reading!
Why Would Anyone In Their Right Mind Consider Using A Sensory Deprivation Tank?
Think of it like this: there’s 2 scenarios.
Scenario 1 is a busy street in downtown Tokyo – coloured neon lights flashing on/off, all sorts of sounds from car and train engines to a young mother comforting her baby as they cross the busy intersection. If you thought that was sensory overload, consider the 20 odd people who brush up against you as you try to make your way across the street.
I want you to actually picture scenario 1 in your mind!
Scenario #2 is the polar opposite of scenario #1. You’re in a pitch black room (room blinds have been shut, there’s no sound as no one is at home) and you’re sitting cross legged in a deep meditative state. In this state you have become one with your breath; your body and mind sit there utterly still.
Now consider scenario 2 and visualise it in your mind!
The distinction between both scenario #1 and #2 should answer your question as to why anyone would want to use a sensory deprivation tank. If it doesn’t, I will say this much to drill the idea home!
In a world of excessive sensory stimulation, deprivation of senses allows for the human being to perceive things he/she would otherwise not perceive.
This may sound a little “loosey goosey” for all you logical minds out there. It’s okay I don’t expect you to believe a single thing I’m saying. All i’m saying is to look at it from an open mind perspective.
There’s a certain beauty of being able to sit/lay still with absolute nothingness everywhere around you!
This is exactly why people use sensory deprivation tanks. Whether they know this consciously or unconsciously, they enjoy the experience of getting into deep meditative states without the constant distraction of the outside world.
My Expectations Before Going Into It!
The first time I used a sensory deprivation tank was in the summer of 2019. Earlier that year I took up meditation and yoga and enjoyed sitting for 2 hours everyday in deep meditative states. It brought me a joy that no other thing in life ever could. Sensory deprivation tanks were a means for me to try something different from the yoga and meditation.
What were my expectations before entering a sensory deprivation tank?
Some people are absolutely terrified at the thought of laying still for an hour in a pitch black tank with no light, sound or outside stimulus. I was nothing of the sort. If anything, I was super excited because I already had an idea of what the experience might be like.
I knew that sensory deprivation would only compliment all of my yoga practices, so I was totally game going into it!
Visiting The Establishment & First Impressions!
It was a sunny afternoon when I drove over to the establishment, and as I reached within a couple 100 meters I was a little surprised to discover that the establishment was essentially someone’s house basically turned into a sensory deprivation tank and massage business!
I was kinda expecting a professional business type establishment, but I guess it didn’t really bother me all that much to know I was going to be lying in a salt water tank in someone’s home!
When I walked into the place I was really amazed by how good a job the owner had done with the entire setup. The lighting was perfect (not too bright, not too dim), the sounds mellow, and the couches super comfortable!
It really was the perfect mood setter for what was about to follow!
After clearing up a few formalities, I was given a quick orientation about the 2 types of tanks available for use. One was the Samadhi tank: a closed tank where you remain completely enclosed for the entire 60 minute duration. If you’re looking for complete deprivation, the Samadhi is your go to tank!
The other one was essentially a massive custom built tank that was open. The idea is you’d enter the room, close the curtains, dim the lights and enjoy some level of sensory deprivation (not complete deprivation of senses though). This option was recommended for those who suffer from claustrophobia, and anyone who doesn’t want to be fully enclosed.
Because I wanted full sensory deprivation, I picked the Samadhi tank!
Preparation Before Going Into The Tank!
One of the most challenging aspects with operating sensory deprivation tanks is ensuring the water in the tank remains clean. This is especially important if multiple people use the tanks, so for a business this is absolutely critical!
Because of this, a lot of emphasis is placed on properly preparing one’s self before entering the tank!
First and foremost, you will have to shower before entering the tank. You’ll have to use a special unscented soap that gets rid of body oils and dirt, and you’ll have to also wash your hair with a special shampoo.
Following these preparatory steps were no concern for me. In fact, I appreciate that such stringent requirements exist as they ensure the facility is clean for everyone who uses it.
After I was done the showering process, I proceeded to enter the tank. Before doing so, I put on a pair of ear plugs. Ear plugs are great for 2 reasons:
Entering The Tank: Moment Of Truth!
A deep breath and an exhalation, another deep breath and an exhalation. Now I was ready to step into Samadhi! As I shut the lid and proceeded to lay down, I quickly realised what pitch black really feels like. It’s the darkest of dark, the emptiest of empty, and it’s incredibly beautiful!
There’s a certain beauty of laying in a place not knowing where it starts or ends!
I spent the first couple minutes trying to adjust my body on the incredibly salty water. Often time I’d find myself colliding with the tank walls and then re-positioning my body to try and avoid this. Those first couple minutes were when I was the most uncomfortable.
However, after the first couple minutes something incredible started to happen!
I lay there totally relaxed and still. At this point I could clearly hear my heart beating. It’s so weird because I’ve never been so in touch with my body. The simplest thing such as listening to your heart beat is simply incredible, hard to describe with words.
As the experience deepened, I’d enter into these beautiful meditative states. I can’t really characterise the experience other than saying it felt like I was no longer my body.
I felt like I was nothing and everything, both at the same time!
I don’t expect you to understand what i’m saying, but I hope you can at least appreciate the profoundness. There were times when I felt like I was the water, I was the air, I was the darkness, and I was the tank itself! These deep meditative states would only last for a short time (or what I thought was a short time!), and then I would return back to myself for a few moments.
I’ve heard people say that they get so relaxed while laying there, that they fall asleep. I never fell asleep during the 60 minutes I was in the tank.
By far one of the most profound experiences of being in the Samadhi tank was that 60 minutes quite literally felt like 6 minutes! Time went by so unfathomably fast, it blows my mind! Before I knew it, my time was up and a soothing sound played inside the room to let me know that it’s time to get out of the tank.
Coming Out Of The Tank: Where Am I!? Who Am I!?
As I made my way out of the tank, I felt slightly disoriented but not in a bad way. For those of you who practice deep forms of meditation and yoga, this was essentially the same feeling after an intense meditation session.
It’s that characteristic “high euphoric” feeling that leaves you a little dazed for a few moments!
I stepped into the shower again, and enjoyed the warmness of the water touching my skin. A shower never felt so good before! Once again I used the special soap to clean my body from the highly concentrated salt water. I dried myself with a towel, got redressed and then walked out of the room to relax in the living room area for a few minutes.
Pro Tip: If and when you decide to use a sensory deprivation tank, be sure to take some time after the session to relax for at least 20/30 minutes. Don’t be in a rush to head out!
I helped myself to a cup of tea and proceeded to relax on the comfortable couches. As I sat there I attempted to recollect everything i’d just experienced.
Logic can only explain some things, and this wasn’t one of them!
As the wise mystic Sadhguru has said “Confusion is better than stupid conclusions. In confusion, there is still a possibility. In stupid conclusion, there is no possibility.”
And so I sat there blissfully confused. Honestly I would have it no other way! I picked up a book, a diary of sorts that people had filled out detailing their experiences in the establishment. Some people used the closed tank, while others used the open tank. The beautiful experiences that people had shared put a big smile to my face.
As I skimmed through the pages I quickly realised that “floating” is far far more profound than the human brain can understand.
I graciously thanked the owner on my way out, and made my way onto the now rainy streets. As I walked toward my car, I noticed a rainbow on the horizon.
A simple reminder that the most beautiful things in life are the one’s that money can’t buy!
I stood there a few moments more taking in the all the colours of this majestic feat. “How can I be so blind?” I thought. Everyday the world throws out miracles and I’m so caught up in my own nonsense that I don’t even realise it!
This feeling of euphoria and bliss lasted over several days. A certain lightness had taken over me….and boy was it amazing!
Would I Use A Sensory Deprivation Tank Again? What Would I Do Differently?
100% without a shadow of a doubt I would use a sensory deprivation tank again! For me it’s a no-brainer.
Combined with my routine yoga and meditation practices, floating will take things to a whole new level!
If I had to do any thing differently for next time, it would be making sure that the ear plugs are properly plugged into my ears! The only negative from the entire experience is that the salty water plugged my ears a little and for days it wouldn’t clear. Other than this, the entire experience was absolutely incredible!
If You Enjoyed Reading This, Please Share!
I hope you enjoyed reading about my first time experience using a sensory deprivation tank. Please consider sharing on the socials as that goes a long way in supporting my site. Thanks so much and i’ll see you next time!