Float Tank: How trapping yourself in a dark puddle can make you relax

How I ended up going to a float tank.

Have you ever been in a float tank? I’ve always wanted to try it out.

Never had the guts to do so until the start of this year.

I was in London, visiting the girlfriend. She asked me was there anything that I wanted to try out. Off the top of my head, said I wanted to try out a float tank.

float tank

Before you go on be aware that I’ve become more open-minded/woo-woo with age.

You know I recommend meditation and self-talk. If you think that this is all a bunch of bullshit, that’s fine, stop reading.

You ever go to try something out, but you are reluctant to do so because you don’t want to look like a fool? That’s how I felt about going to a float tank.

If I had someone with me, then we could look silly together.

My girlfriend found a place, and the two of us booked in.

We arrived at some industrial estate in Canary Wharf. Tucked in their with along building suppliers and coats for dogs was the London Flotation Centre.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a helpful lady who talked us through what we were likely to experience.

We were asked what we were expecting. To be honest, I had no expectations; I was curious to see what would happen. We were then shown to our respective rooms/pods.

What did you see there?

The float tank was a large pod. It looks like a hot tub with a lid. There was a shower in the room that you used before you got in and after you got out. There was also a cloth image of an elephant made with psychedelic colours. It was a bit too vibrant for my taste.

The session in the float tank would last an hour. We showered in our rooms, got into our respective pods and closed the lids.

float tank

The sounds of the sea played and the water was warm. It was filled with Epsom salts, so you float. The combination of warm water, high salt content and darkness is meant to give the body a floating feeling. Like you’re in space, zero gravity.

What happens next?

When you get in, there’s an adjustment period. I bounced around the tank a bit but soon came to a stop. The sound of the sea played on.

“Are you worried that you might get too relaxed and might drown” was what a few people had asked me about float tank. I don’t know. There’s always a degree of risk whenever you do something. Even saying that there’s a degree of risk feels odd.

There was a bit of splashing as I fumbled around to turn the light off. I pushed down against the water to see if I could sink. The salt content of the tank made the water feel more like I was being set in jelly.

You do not sink, no matter how hard you try.

After a few minutes, the sounds of the sea faded, I had turned the light off by then and I relaxed into the darkness.

Time passed, my mind settled and then things started to happen. One of the experiences that I had in the tank was that I became aware.

What do I mean aware?

Aware that I was aware that I was small within the tank. The tank was small within the building. The building was small within London. London was small within the UK. The UK was small on Earth. Earth was small in the solar system. The solar system was small within the galaxy, and the galaxy was small within the universe.

You’re probably thinking “No duh”, and you would be right to do so. It’s hard to explain to you, but the only thing that I can say is that I became aware of my insignificance. Not in a bad way but in a “my problems aren’t problems” way.

The only other thing that happened in the tank is that I kept seeing the number 36 appear to me. Is there some significance to the number? Who knows but whether I am aware of it or not my brain will now read some deeper significance into the number 36 whenever I see it. Woohoo.

How can you explain what you see when you’re in a float tank?

Here’s my reasoning why that is, think about how long humans have been smart. I’m not talking genius levels smart.

Generally, we’re still all pretty stupid.

You know what I mean when I say smart?

As in technology and all the modern conveniences that we have created. Distractions built to cast us into a new existentialist hell. We’ve not been that smart for that long. We’ve been nomadic hunter-gatherers far longer than we’ve been the bow-tie wearing, pinkies out, ME sufferers.

Let’s do a little visualisation.

You’re a primitive person. Not now but way back when.

Begin scene

You’re out on the hunt for some tasty cougars and not talking about the kind with collagen lips, hourglass hips and humongous nips, from the facelifts.

I’m talking about cougar cougars.

You’re hunting them, in the depths of the forest. The leaves and branches are cool on beneath your feet.

As you stalk you mind not to step on any dry twigs. The snap of the dry wood underneath would alert other predators to your presence.

You’re invisible as you move — knuckles wrapped around your spear tightly. The wind blows through your robe of animal pelts. Pelts that help you blend in and become one with the forest around you.

You think you see something rustling in the undergrowth. It’s probably nothing.

A force takes you to the ground as razor sharp claws tear down the side of your face. You go to scream but can’t. Massive jaws have torn open your jugular. Your vocal cords are now by some thicket a few feet away. As hot red life bubbles out your neck, you become peaceful, quiet.

Maybe you did see something.

End scene

Now you’re probably wondering what the hell was the point in all that?

Early people who didn’t see anything had their genetic lineage snuffed out. We are descended from the ones who could see the shapes in the forest.

Our brains have developed in such a way that we are always on the lookout for threats. Even if there is no chance of harm, our minds are still on the lookout.

Sometimes that means our brains have to create these threats.

In the void of the float tank, your mind is truly free to create whatever it wants.

You won’t go to a float tank, here’s the reason.

float tank

Most people do not like being alone with their thoughts. It might mean that they have to reflect on their lives and take stock of how things are.

There is a deep fear of the thoughts that might arise from a moment spent in solitude. For that reason, you will never make use of a float tank.

If you prove me wrong, that’s cool, leave a comment. Tell me what you thought.

You might not like what’s lurking in your mind. I’m not a big fan of my own thoughts either. They’re weird and confusing. Sometimes they reveal to me that I am not a good person and yet to avoid these thoughts would be worse.

How was I after?

The sounds of the sea fade in and you are back in the room.

The session was over.

First of all, I felt weak. Epsom salts are a muscle relaxant. Your body is a bit sluggish, and it feels like you’re clothes are 5kg heavier. Stairs took some time to ascend.

My mind, after felt great. It’s like your brain is a phone and you killed all the apps that are eating the battery in the background. I felt much more aware of the passage of time. I noticed details in my surroundings. It was like going from standard definition to HD.

It feels like there are other more subtle effects that it had on me, but that could be a placebo effect.

Conclusion

I recommend that you try out a float tank at least once in your life. Think about how much of your life you wasted getting blackout drunk.

How could blackout sober be any worse?

The place I went to was the London Floatation centre. It was good and if you’re near Canary Wharf sometime, check it out.

If you’re reading in Northern Ireland, there is Hydro-Ease in Dundonald. I went on 29/03/19. It was great. The staff were helpful and told you what to expect. Another advantage was that they had a larger tank than London which eradicates any feelings of claustrophobia.

If you ever get a chance to try a float tank, take it.

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