I had wanted to try getting in a sensory deprivation tank ever since I saw that episode of the Simpsons. It didn’t take much to convince me. After hearing more about it on the Joe Rogan Podcast, I was set.
I’ve found a lot of cool stuff thanks to Mr Rogan. The Iceman Wim Hof and Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History being just two examples. But I can’t add flotation sensory deprivation tanks to the list of great recommendations.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on the flotation tank. And I can totally see how it can be MAGICAL for a lot of people. Hell, I can see how it would be magical for me if I kept going. But I feel I have found better methods of elevating my consciousness.
Watch that video.
Joe explains the flotation tank perfectly and in an extremely compelling and persuasive manner.
If that video convinces you to give the flotation tank a try – and it probably will – that’s a good thing.
It might totally be a game-changer for you.
It might still be a game-changer for me but here’s why I’m not in a hurry to try it out again. Here’s what I liked and what I didn’t like about the flotation tank.
Good: My back clicked into place
I have a ton of niggling little pains in my back and shoulders.
Some of them I can get rid of if I just crick my back in a certain way or do some fancy yoga contortion.
But many of these pains simply won’t budge and they bug the shit out of me.
It was a very nice and unexpected surprise to discover that just 10 minutes of feeling weightless in a tank full of body temperature water and 800 lbs of salt that….
My back clicked into perfect alignment.
It felt like I had just visited a chiropractor – without the pain.
Good: I felt a burst of clean energy
A lot of people feel super sleepy (in a good way) after their flotation tank session.
You’re floating on a ton of magnesium in the silence and darkness
But I felt invigorated.
Not in an over-caffeinated bouncing off the walls way. But in a calm, I’ve-just-hit-the-reset-button way.
That was a very nice effect of the flotation tank for me.
Good: I was able to think through my problems and make plans
The first 10 minutes of the tank (total experience time = 1 hour) were just about getting used to being in there.
At first it was kind of boring and I didn’t know how I was going to spend a whole hour in there.
But I settled in pretty quick.
I’ve heard a lot of people complain that they felt bored for the whole duration of the tank. But I’ve been practising meditation for several years now so luckily I didn’t find the process too boring.
Once I got used to being in the tank, my mind needed stuff to play with.
I found myself going over my plans for the year, giving myself pep-talks, and basically writing a whole journal with goals in clear bullet-list format and timelines…. All in my head.
And once I got out, I promptly forgot all my plans.
And within a couple of months, the goals I had going into the tank had shifted dramatically.
Suddenly making those plans hadn’t been such a good use of my time.
But thinking my plans through at the time certainly helped to destress me.
Bad: The tank is a claustrophobe’s nightmare
I was fine in the tank.
Although getting in and shutting the door did seem daunting. And I felt I had to keep checking to ensure that the door hadn’t jammed and locked me in forever (a silly but scary thought).
But my wife, who went for a float at the same time, was psychologically scarred by the experience.
She has always had a bit of low-level anxiety but, ever since the tank, she now has panic attacks and extremely severe bouts of anxiety.
She credits this solely to the tank.
She actually had to get out after like 10 minutes but the damage was done.
She had read on a blog (run by some motherfucker who owns a flotation tank center) that flotation therapy is perfect for people suffering from claustrophobia and anxiety. And it could even cure it!
That was literally the only reason my wife got up the courage to go in.
Fuck that guy.
Seriously irresponsible writing that has had very negative consequences.
If you suffer from claustrophobia or anxiety, don’t bother with flotation therapy. It’s just not worth it.
Bad: The hippy vibe killed it for me
I’m about as hippy as you could get without going completely off the grid and living out of camper van like Christopher McCandless.
I’m big into alternative medicines and therapy, massively pro-drugs, and pacifist in my politics.
But you wouldn’t know about my hippiness if you met me because I don’t flaunt it like some faker.
The thing that really bugged me about the flotation tank experience were the other clientele.
It might just be due to location – I was in Queen Street West, Toronto, which might have more to do with my experience than the actual tank itself but…
Man, it seemed like all the clientele wandering in and out of the tanks wanted the whole world to know just how fucking free-spirited they were.
I made my peace with the fact that I waited almost forty minutes extra for my turn because some “hippy” girls were selfishly hogging the tanks way past their time (this was a birthday gift or else I would have walked). Hippy liberals can be shockingly self-centered for people who make a lot of noise about the plight of others.
I made my peace with the woo-woo literature all over the place. I follow Wim Hof pretty religiously and I’m trying my best to achieve astral projection but the stuff littered around the waiting room made me look conservative as fuck.
But the last straw was the guy who came out of his tank and wandered barefoot into the waiting room and loudly proclaimed, so that everyone could hear how wise and spiritual he was:
Fuck, man. Like… I always feel world-sickness when I get out. You know what I mean? World-sickness.
He loved that phrase. World-sickness.
Jesus, man. Why don’t you go smoke your first blunt and try to pretend you’re not a virgin someplace else?
Bad: The price
At $40 a float, it just isn’t worth it for me.
I can get the same – even better – mentally cleansing effects and the feeling of hitting the reset button by doing this:
- Weightlifting followed by cardio
- Long-walks in nature
- Wim Hof breathing
- Ice baths + saunas
If I want to decompress three times a week, that’s $480 a month and $5760 a year.
So I can listen to some dirty-footed faux-hippies talk about world-sickness while I wait close to an hour to even get in the claustrophobia-station?
But don’t take my word on this as the final one. You might get a huge kick out of flotation tank sensory deprivation therapy and I encourage you to make up your own mind about it.
If you’ve already tried the flotation tank, let me know how you found the experience. Was it worth it for you?