Perfecting the Art of Disassociation

35533_156570114367294_156567371034235_382867_727436_nEvery time you look at someone, every time you walk past the bakery and take in the smell of fresh baked bread, every time you hear a car alarm go off, every time you shake a hand your brain is firing signals back and forth billions of times a day from our various senses. And from the time we wake up, to the time we go to sleep…and even when we sleep, our brain sends signals to the body to contract/retract muscles, whether it be walking, running, jogging, working, or even sleeping, all of these billions and billions of signals have been happening on a consistent basis since the day you were born. At its lowest point of activity; REM Sleep, is normally the closest we get to being without our physical senses in our daily lives from all this sensory work our brain does, and to me it seems due to the fact that since it’s not utilizing energy for those sensory elements, it allows for other brain activity to occur while our smarter and more adept sub-conscience brain wakes up and goes to work. What if we could trigger this on our own without the cloudiness of REM sleep? What if we could harness the voice of our sub-consciousness?

Through isolation tanks, people are saying they can. Isolation Tanks however are more descriptively referred to as Sensory Deprivation Tanks, as this is essentially what they are, and is a bit more explanatory as to how the “isolation tank” really works.

The way it works for those of you that have never been is you’re taken to a private relaxing/cozy candle lit room (at least where I was) that consists of a cushioned chair, a shower, a place to hang your clothes and the tank itself. You’re supplied with a nice towel, and some earplugs (which I suggest using, or you’ll have salt in your ear for days), q-tips, box of tissue and big bottles of Aveda shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. You’re told to shower off first, then hop into the tank in your birthday suit. Once you’re inside the tank you lay down however you feel is comfortable. Filled with water that is heated to the temperature of your skin; roughly 93 – 94 degrees, the water is pre-mixed with 800 lbs of Epson salt. This creates the buoyancy that allows you to float effortlessly. All this is done so that when you float and eventually become still, you no longer feel the water line on your skin because what you are floating on and your skins temperature are almost identical, making your body feel as if it’s being held up by nothing at all.

At first you struggle to gain bearing on your surroundings. Being that the water is 90ish degrees, it’s a tiny-tad stuffy, but even being someone who smoked for 14yrs (I quit 3yrs ago) and being asthmatic, I had no breathing problems. You’ll play with the weightlessness for a bit and then you’ll take a few to find your comfortable spot, then you just lay there, eyes open or closed and you can just feel your muscles being released, at one point I didn’t even realize that I was holding my arms on the water till they just gave in to the floating aspect of it and just let go on their own. One of the things you may first notice is the complete silence. The next will be the blackness. I personally was not able to get the feeling of disconnection due to my tinnitus (constant ringing in the ears, heard most when its quiet) but the next time I go, Ill be equipped with a set of long waterproof headphones and some mp3s of either binaural beats or white static, or a mix of both.

But my float session was no where near a failed attempt to explore. To start off, you literally become a think tank. What’s seems to be different personally between thinking in the tank, and say the rush of thought that breaks through right when you lay down to go to sleep is the uncanny ability to control the waves of thoughts. To be able to “reach out” pick it up, contemplate, solve and move on, its like problem solving in fast forward, it was an intellectual rush that I’ve never felt before. And that just skims the mental aspect of the experience. The relaxation of nothingness is something to be “seen” and not read, it just doesn’t do it justice. As for the physical aspect, this is nearly what was the most rewarding. I know the tank helps with relaxation of the muscles, and the Epson salt helps with blood circulation, and lowers blood pressure and most likely a lot more than I haven’t discovered (due to their only being so many hours in the day to read) as to how this happened. Just yesterday I was walking around Chicago and was almost teary eyed that I was walking with no limp whatsoever and virtually pain free in my foot, I was in awe, because for quite literally over 1,000 days that’s how it had been.

It does seem like the muscles are getting tense again, but no where near what it was, and nothings stopping me from making this a bi-monthly ordeal, if I had the money, Id pay hundreds of dollars for a few days free of pain with out needing some sort of pain relief medication, yet, all I had to pay was $40. And now I’m seeing that they have 5 sessions for $125. Priceless. In retrospect, I don’t know if floating is for everyone. It’s a different experience and requires a bit of an open mind. It’s a confined space where you’re left to your own devices, and if you’ve never been alone with your own devices, it will defiantly be a new experience for you. I recommend that everyone try it once, I’m certainly glad I did.

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Steven Caputo is a 37 year old 16yr Technology Professional presently working out of Chicago, IL. In his free time; an artist, a musician, a geek, a gamer, a philosophy/neuroscience junkie, and nano coral-reef aquarist. His opinions are his own, especially the weird stuff!

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