Forgotten in the Float Tank

This is actually a throwback to my old blog that I shut down in 2015. It was written in July of 2014, shortly after the birth of my second child. I recently had a Watsu appointment which I will write a proper blog post on soon as it was wonderful, but it reminded me a little of this humorous experience. If you've ever feared being forgotten in the float tank, read on. I can confirm that it DOES happen because it happened to me!

Have you heard of floating? It's a trend that is currently gaining a lot of traction in ancestral circles right now, thanks in part to podcasts such as The Joe Rogan Experience, The Fatburning Man and Tangentially Speaking. All of which promote floating as a way to relax, meditate and rejuvenate.

I kept hearing many amazing stories, so for my birthday this year, I only wanted one thing; to try an hour of floating and see what all of the fuss is about. Floating was invented in the 1950's by neuroscientist, Dr. John Lilly who wanted to know what it was like to basically be disembodied. What has since been discovered is that by removing sensory input (sight, sound, touch), your brain goes into Theta, a brain state that provides a deeper relaxation than even sleep and allows your body to heal and regenerate. Ideally, the tank is pitch black (though this was not entirely the case in my tank, there was a thin line of light), the water is skin temperature (almost - my internal temperature runs a little higher than average now that I take desiccated thyroid) and there should be no noise (when my ears were submerged, all I could hear was my heart beating). Of course, another benefit is the fact that there is somewhere around 1200 lbs of Epsom Salts dissolved in the water which gives your body buoyancy and is a great detoxifier.

I'm having mixed feelings about my experience as you will read on and soon understand why. Upon first entering the tank, apart from the concern of being in water in the dark, I had some different anxieties running through my mind:

  • The lid is a bit heavy. Am I going to have trouble getting out of here? (Honestly, not really)

  • What if I get salt water in my eyes? (Didn't happen, but they did have a spray bottle and towel close at hand if it did)

  • What's all this salt doing to my hair? (Remains to be seen, but I showered after and both my hair and skin feel very soft)

  • Could there be mold in here? (I gave this much thought - and believe me, I had time to think - and decided that, no, mold would not favor such a salty environment)

  • Could other people have peed in here? (Probably. I suppose it's no different from a public pool. They do run the water through a cleaning and filtering process after each use though)

  • What if they forget about me in here? (They wouldn't do that, would they? OMG would they?!)

Well, it all started out really good when I climbed into the tank at 3:00 pm and I was feeling a bit smug and self-congratulatory on wanting to spend a little time with yours truly, considering that it was recently reported that as many as 67% of men and 25% of women would rather be electrically shocked than spend time alone with their thoughts. So, I thought, no problem, I've got this, one hour alone floating in a tank, piece of cake, I love the water, etc... At first, I didn't want to remove my foot from the bottom of the tank, afraid that if I did, I might sink. Eventually I brought my foot up and was perfectly suspended in what can only be described as close to zero gravity. I marveled at how time and space seemed to cease to exist when all my senses were removed. I'm normally very good at guestimating how much time has passed, but I was familiar with people saying that time seems to stand still in a tank, so I brushed off my concerns that I might have been forgotten. I floated this way, then I floated that way. I pushed off with my feet and slowly made my way from one end to the other. I played a game of "locate the earplug" since mine had dislodged themselves from my ears shortly after entering the tank. I tried this float position, then that one. I'm not saying I was entirely bored, but, man, that hour was really taking a long, long time! The lady had told me not to worry about the time, that she would knock when my hour was up and I was simply to knock back acknowledging that I had heard her and that it was time to come out. I waited and waited and waited some more, every once in a while surfacing and listening for other signs of human life, a snippet of conversation here, footsteps on the floor above or someone's cellphone ringer, all of which I found reassuring. I thought about my family and the people I love. Absence sure does make the heart grow fonder and I was missing my little family. Finally, I really, really needed to pee and I could hold it no longer, so I decided I needed to get out and find a bathroom whether my hour was up or not (no, I did not pee in the water, thank you!) There was no clock in the room so I threw on a robe turned on my cellphone and was astonished to discover that it was 5:21 pm! That's right, my one hour float turned into a 2 1/2 hour float - I had been forgotten!! Just at that moment, the door busted open and a wild-eyed, frantic looking massage therapist or whatever she was appeared to apparently let me know my time was up. I asked if I had been forgotten and she confirmed that I had been (what other excuse could you possibly give) and I later found out that my husband had called minutes earlier because he, too, was concerned that after three hours previous to him dropping me off, I still had not emerged. So, in a very real sense, what was supposed to be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience shifted into one of stress and doubt. On the one hand, I really enjoyed my time in the tank. My skin is soft, I feel energized, peaceful and relaxed and, oh so happy to see my family. On the other hand, one hour would have been sufficient to gain all these benefits. I'm grateful that our three month old baby didn't give her daddy a hard time while I disappeared indefinitely into the sensory deprivation tank! I guess this is the risk you take when you try something new. Certainly, I am the queen of novelty and sometimes I am disappointed, but very often I am rewarded with a unique experience, so I think it's worthwhile to never stop learning and trying. Will I be back? Not without setting a timer, I won't. I don't see how I will ever be able to step into a tank again without worrying about being forgotten though... and doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose?