3.2.14 Sensory Deprivation

Sensory Deprivation #

After my remarkable experience with shirodhara, my mind was well and truly open to the possibility of another hallucinogenic episode without using drugs, although I didn’t actually expect to encounter anything. Indeed I didn’t, until some years later, when I heard Robert Anton Wilson refer to floatation tanks in a YouTube lecture. These are also known as isolation tanks and sensory deprivation tanks and enable a silent darkness float in skin-temperature salted water.

Researching this further I found all sorts of people claiming psychedelic-like experiences and deep meditative states. Even Wikipedia chimed in:

Short-term sessions of sensory deprivation are described as relaxing and conducive to meditation; however, extended or forced sensory deprivation can result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, temporary senselessness and depression.”

Subsequently, an opportunity to engage arose courtesy of Koan Float in Amsterdam. On arrival I was shown to my float-room, where I stepped into the tank. I chose silence as the audio option (as opposed to supportive music), closed my eyes, and floated. I waited, expectantly, for something to happen.

This was certainly relaxing, if somewhat fidgety and unexciting; which was probably caused by an active state of mind and my inability to meditate properly. I did find some interesting thought patterns but little else. I also lost track of time and somehow missed the end-buzzer, such that when the tank started to drain I thought that this was some sort of water massage. Eventually a voice came over the speaker to ask if I was okay. I suspect that I made a bit of an idiot of myself.

I should add here that others who were there at the same time claimed awake-dream-states and a variety of other manifestations, which added to my frustration.

Overall it was a glorious failure. Certainly, on reflection I should have selected music to carry me along, I should have approached the exercise relaxed and not hyped, and I should have done more research. However, I am told that success rates are higher the second time, so should another opportunity arise, I will give it another go.