Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. — Albert Einstein
Have you ever just wanted to shut everything out? The loud noises, the bright lights, the noxious smell of your morning breath (yes please). Have you ever just wanted to say to your senses, “Could you shut the hell up for a minute?”
Well, when I went to a float tank—what? You’ve never heard of a float tank? And that’s why you read this blog. To learn. Or because you still haven’t figured out where the unsubscribe button is on the email you get every Wednesday.
A float tank is a sarcophagus-length tub of water with walls up to the ceiling. Inside there is ten inches of 96 degree water with 900 pounds of Epsom salts dissolved into it. Essentially, it’s a lukewarm broth for a giant with seriously high blood pressure.
Because the walls of the float tank are sound proofed, because inside the tank is pitch black, because the water doesn’t give off any odor, because your skin quickly adapts to the temperature of the water, and because they’re not feeding you anything while you’re in there, all of your senses are turned off.
And it’s supposed to produce some pretty trippy effects.
Recently, my father and I went to one of these float tank spas. After one of the extreme Portlanders gave us the tour (you know the kind of guy: bearded, slender, wears glasses, bobs his head like he can feel the waves of energy emitting from you as you speak), we stepped into our individual rooms.
Rinsing off in the shower, I turned off the single light, stepped through the door to the float tank, closed it, and lay down.
Because of all the salt in there, I floated almost instantly to the top, never once sinking beneath ear level as I lay on my back. Then, in the complete darkness, in the utter soundlessness, and entirely in the nude, I began to panic.
Claustrophobia began to seize me. The aloneness. The nothingness. Good thing I only had 90 minutes of this descent into madness.
Actually, after the initial jitters and mind racing slipped away, I began to enjoy it. The peacefulness, the seeming infinity of my walls, flipping the bird to gravity.
Now, supposedly, these floats could cause a sort of mind-body disconnect, and afterward, your cognitive processes would be strengthened, your senses would be heightened.
I didn’t get any of that. Though I suppose for a couple hours immediately after it did seem like my sense of smell was increased. However, with a family that consumes garlic like it’s protection against the plague, a stronger sniffer wasn’t the most desirable aftereffect.
So in the end, I didn’t quite have the psychedelic experience I expected, but it did do wonders for softening my already silky skin.