After the door closes, it’s not the darkness, but the quiet that strikes me—that and the fact that I’m totally naked, floating on a bed of Epsom salt in a contraption that looks like what would emerge if my bathtub impregnated my washing machine.
I’d rather be in a slope-side hot tub—that’s my idea of relaxation. Instead, I’m in a windowless, seven-and-a-half by four-foot, fiberglass sensory deprivation tank. As such, I’m part of one of the newest trends in wellness and relaxation, dubbed “floating” by its proponents.
It takes a minute to get accustomed to the darkness and the absence of sound. But I’m assured that if I stick with it, I’ll experience a state of meditative relaxation that’s virtually unattainable in everyday life—what floaters refer to as the “theta” state when the creative “left” brain takes over.
After a few moments of gently bouncing off the walls of the fiberglass tank, I’m still mentally balancing my checkbook and wondering what I had for lunch yesterday. I guess this relaxation thing takes practice.
Like most folks, I learned about sensory deprivation tanks from the old school psychedelic thriller Altered States. While that story about a Harvard professor’s chilling drug-enhanced extrasensory exploration was pure fantasy, the growing popularity of sensory deprivation tanks is a firm reality.