What I Learned Inside A Dark, Wet Box


I’m terribly claustrophobic and the thought of closing myself in that box made me nauseous.  I’ve wanted to try a sensory deprivation float for months. Today I decided to make it happen.

For the last two weeks I’ve been struggling with back and shoulder pain as well as lack of focus and energy.  From what I’ve read, floating could help alleviate some of my issues.  Studies have shown the benefits to be:

  • mood enhancement
  • mental concentration
  • higher energy levels
  • better sleep
  • stress reduction
  • pain relief
  • increased muscle recovery

I took some magnesium an hour before my appointment to calm my mind and help with anxiety.  But when I saw the tank I was sure I was going to have a panic attack if I closed the hatch while I was inside.    I figured turning the lights off would make it dark enough for me.

I took off my clothes, showered and I eased myself into the tank.  I laid down and began floating in the 10 inches of high density salt water.  The motion sensor light was still illuminated and the hatch door was open.

At first, certain body parts, like my large head, felt too cumbersome for my neck.  I stretched my body and moved around until I found a comfortable position to float.  I closed my eyes due to the irritation the high salt concentration caused.

To settle my mind I focused on my breathing.  I took deep, slow, steady breaths that originated from my diaphragm.  As I inhaled my chest felt tight and heavy.  When I exhaled I relaxed and my body felt as if it was rising in the water.

Thirty minutes passed before I worked up the courage to close the hatch door and float in pitch-black.  All I could see was nothingness.

I continued to focus on my breathing to keep my anxiety in check.  I welcomed all thoughts that entered my mind without fighting or redirecting them.

I experienced very vivid and surreal daydreams.  I was unsure If I was falling asleep or if my mind was in a trance.  As the dream progressed I would suddenly come to, realizing I was floating in the tank.

Completing the full 90 minute float became mentally painful during the last minutes.  I became quite restless.  I find it difficult to quiet my mind, relax and be patient.  I forced myself to stay the full duration to strengthen my ability to sit in uncomfortable situations.  I felt this was incredibly important part of the process.

Soft music played as the motion light came on, signaling that my time was up.  I emerged feeling light and relaxed.  My back pain was virtually eliminated and my mood was improved.  My sense of frustration and disappointment I had prior to the float diminished as well.  I took my time showering, putting my clothes on and leaving.

Five hours later and I continue to feel relaxed, almost to the point of wanting to sleep.  My mind is moving rather slowly, yet feels less cluttered and my thinking is more pragmatic.  I have an insatiable thirst and appetite for some inexplicable reason.  I have eaten three meals and drank 1.5 liters of waters in that time.

It was an awesome experience that I would recommend to any with an open mind.  I was forced to face my clautrophobia, which is one of my biggest fears (I have to xanax myself into a coma before I can get and MRI machine).  It also proved as a great exercise to strengthen my patience and quiet my mind.  I look forward to my next visit to Flotation Philly

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