Each time I feel I am on the cusp of nirvana, I hit a wall
January 27, 2015 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Ashwin Rodriguez visits a strip mall sensory deprivation clinic
"This place has not done proper soundproofing, and it is unnerving to head the occasional footstep or shutting door. I know it’s not going to happen, but part of me thinks maybe someone will open the door to this tank and steal my kidney. I begin to think, does anyone know I came here? Why didn’t they take down any of my information?"
posted by frimble (35 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
I did this a few times when I lived in San Francisco. It's fun, though as with a lot of fun things people ascribe all sorts of outsize significance to it. It's 60-90 totally peaceful minutes (assuming no relevant phobias) with nothing to do and no one to be with but yourself. When I was working a demanding, high-pressure, tethered-to-the-blackberry job I found the hour of drifting in blackness and quiet very relaxing, and therapeutic in the most ordinary and non-mystical sense of the word. I recommend it.
posted by eugenen at 4:05 AM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


I wonder what they do at these places when college students show up, pupils a-dilate, groupon on hand?
posted by oceanjesse at 4:07 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a shame the spaces are so tight. I think I would enjoy this otherwise.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:24 AM on January 27, 2015


The place I went to (also in SF) had tanks that were very wide. You could fit two people in side by side comfortably with room to spare.

Also seconding Eugenen. It was like an instant super glorious nap and the rest of the day was spent feeling clear and relaxed.
posted by Karaage at 4:33 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Oh No Ross & Carrie podcast just did an episode about this. They didn't reach nirvana either.
posted by sixohsix at 4:45 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The tanks I used to frequent were large enough that if I extremely gently pushed off with my toes, I would then be pleasantly surprised when my head brushed the other end a few seconds later. I found them to be a very positive experience and was sad to see the end of commercial tanks in my area.

(BTW, while it's difficult to escape from the swells of woo surrounding this subject, The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea provides a good overview of the practice.)
posted by fairmettle at 4:48 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's fun, though as with a lot of fun things people ascribe all sorts of outsize significance to it. It's 60-90 totally peaceful minutes (assuming no relevant phobias) with nothing to do and no one to be with but yourself.

Now try it for 16 hours.

I have tinnitus so bad that I think the silence would drive me mad. I basically have two different forms of tinnitus: a constant ringing like test tones used to TH (but higher pitched) and a beeping sound like mores code. The morse code comes and goes, but the test tones are near constant. Dropping me in one of these tanks might not be the best idea. I've still been tempted every since I watched "Altered States."

We have one of these places in Des Moines, so it wouldn't be too hard for me to give it a go.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:47 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would try this, but do they not change the water between clients? yuck
posted by bahama mama at 6:14 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know if they change the water or not, but the water is apparently saturated with Epsom salts. Even if they don't change, it's about as gross as a hotel Jacuzzi-- no danger, ick-factor in the eye of the beholder.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:33 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Like many places of spiritual healing, this place was next to a Papa John’s Pizza restaurant/factory.

I have not used a dep tank, but I can say with certainty, if you eat a Papa John's pizza, you will nap in front of a tv in a nirvana like state. Add in a few beers, and you will be sensory deprived. All this for $5.99 and you get two toppings.
posted by 724A at 6:38 AM on January 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


"You could fit two people in side by side comfortably with room to spare."

That sounds like the exact opposite of sensory deprivation.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:00 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Even if they don't change, it's about as gross as a hotel Jacuzzi-- no danger, ick-factor in the eye of the beholder.

Except that if you're in there for 60 minutes totally relaxed, I think the chances are even higher that someone's going to pee in it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:08 AM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I tried this here in Tempe, AZ. Interesting experience... didn't reach nirvana or become a werewolf, but it was a pleasant enough experience.
posted by ph00dz at 7:13 AM on January 27, 2015


And jacuzzis/pools use chlorine. I feel it's unlikely that the tanks do the same.
posted by bahama mama at 7:14 AM on January 27, 2015


I'd be worried that an inadvertent mouthful of a strong solution of Epsom Salts would provide me with a dose of the runs rather than tranquility.
posted by Segundus at 7:16 AM on January 27, 2015


I'd rather spend the money and the hour on a massage. However, this is the first time I have heard of acid-dosed dolphinspeak, and I'd totally buy the groupon for that.
posted by headnsouth at 7:26 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


At the local float tank place, they say that that "the highly sterile salt walter is fully filtered three times between each float and is sanitized with UV light."
posted by redsparkler at 7:27 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I did this a couple of times when it was popular and thought it was great. Your mind goes into interesting places when it has little sensory input for an hour. The guy in the post just fell asleep three times. Maybe he should have ignored their advice and had a cup of coffee first. I just wished they provided a little floatie pillow, cuz my head doesn't float as well as the rest of my body. Also: make sure you don't opt for the New Agey music, because that negates the whole sensory deprivation idea (plus that stuff drives me nuts).
posted by kozad at 7:30 AM on January 27, 2015


Now I want to know what a number 3 is. Sounds...intense.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:41 AM on January 27, 2015 [12 favorites]


Johnny Wallflower: Now I want to know what a number 3 is. Sounds...intense.
$50, same as in town.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have tinnitus so bad that I think the silence would drive me mad.

Yeah, I can't actually think of anything more terrible than being left to the mercy of my shitty fucking ears.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:48 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well. Maybe floating in a tank of other people's pee while being left to the mercy of my shitty fucking ears.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:49 AM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's salty pee though
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:06 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


eugenen: "It's fun, though as with a lot of fun things people ascribe all sorts of outsize significance to it."

Well, you know... It helps when you're balls off on Ketamine and Acid.
posted by symbioid at 9:14 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


And if one were, say, curious enough, one could google for a pdf of a certain book called "Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer"... Not gonna link, but just saying, tap into the Satori level 49 (SLYT of interview w/Lilly).

There's a lesbian couple out here who have a float tank, but very basic, not fancy "whale egg". I'm fat, and I think I needed more water/salt to really get the full experience (I kept hitting the bottom of the tank). And while it was relaxing, I think in the end, drugs are the key.
posted by symbioid at 9:23 AM on January 27, 2015


iirc the place I went to didn't change water inbetween clients unless something specifically necessitated it, although they did change the water on a daily basis.

That being said, there were showers with lots of scrubs and it was expected that clients first shower and exfoliate thoroughly before entering the tank to keep it as clean as possible, then showering after to rinse off the salt.
posted by Karaage at 9:46 AM on January 27, 2015


nothing to do and no one to be with but yourself

De gustibus non est disputandum and all that, but I would rather pour lemon juice in my eyes.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:50 AM on January 27, 2015


I've always wanted to do a sensory deprivation tank, but I'd need like two people standing guard outside to make sure nobody can block it shut. And they couldn't talk to each other, in case they conspired to lock it. Which means there'd need to be a third person to keep an eye on them.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:06 AM on January 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


I really enjoyed the one float that I did, though for the rest of the day after my float I was so calm and gentle and receptive to the world that I would have been absolutely useless had I tried to do anything other than hold loving conversations with loved ones. Definitely not something I could do on a lunch break or whatever. When I think of other times that I've had the same sort of calm-gentle-receptive feeling that I experienced post-float, the ones that come to mind are:
  1. The day after my partner and I got engaged, which we entirely spent cuddling and talking about the future and crying happy tears and staring deeply into each others' eyes and loudly singing along to Good Day Sunshine and all that, and
  2. The start of the comedown from A Certain Substance — you know, that moment when you realize that it's time to switch from dancing to the upbeat playlist to cuddling on the couch while listening to Sigur Ros.
If floating weren't so freaking expensive, I'd do it all the time. I wish health insurance covered it.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:11 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not quite sensory deprivation, but did anyone else try James Turrell's Perceptual Cell (it was at LACMA a couple years ago, and maybe in NYC too)?

It was a sort of sensory singlemindedness, or at least the "soft" program I tried was--fields of color with no variation to give you any bearings at all, or moving color patterns that were such perfect simulations of phosphenes that I actually couldn't tell whether I had my eyes open or closed. It reminded me of being a kid in Wisconsin in the winter and becoming disoriented by focusing on a perfect, undisturbed expanse of snow, except with more risk of triggering LSD flashbacks.
posted by jjwiseman at 12:24 PM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which means there'd need to be a third person to keep an eye on them.

But like, secretly from a concealed location, for maximum security. Also you need to do at least one dry run where all 3 think you are in the tank but you are really watching them all from a further undisclosed location.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:30 PM on January 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


And none of them know there is a fourth. Yes. You are my people.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:47 PM on January 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yes, of course we are your people - we look and sound just like them, don't we?

Witness #2, time to release the brain worm from the salt seas of Ceti-Alpha-VII.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:40 AM on January 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really liked the couple of floats I did. When I got out of the tank after the first time my senses felt sharper, colors were slightly more vivid and sounds were crisper. Sort of like a very mild dose of mescaline.

I'd rather spend the money and the hour on a massage.

Someday I'd like to get a massage and then do the float.
posted by homunculus at 6:03 PM on January 28, 2015


> it's about as gross as a hotel Jacuzzi

Well, yes, exactly.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:41 AM on February 1, 2015


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