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.

Float tanks are nothing new, but the cottage industry has enjoyed a quiet resurgence as... Read more

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Comment by Kirsten Merrild on June 24, 2012 at 12:44am

Hi Christi

Do you know why this happened? When I pushed the "Read more" button, this appeared:

You don't have permission to access /news/local-news/touching-the-void-sensory-deprivation-tank-entrepreneurs-find-theres-plenty-of-interest-in-nothing.html on this server.

Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Comment by Christie Gardner on March 19, 2012 at 2:25pm

Yes John did start the craze, and there seems to be a slow, but steady resurgence for floatation in the US.  It is an exceptional holistic tool with a wide range of healing benefits.  It's a shame it did not take off back in the 60's and 70's.  I hope to help reintroduce sensory deprivation on the clinical level and provide patients with a complimentary approach to their therapy program.  :)

Comment by Judith Harte,Ph.D. on March 19, 2012 at 8:28am

Oh my goodness..What images. This is reminiscent of the 60's! I once had a patient who had one of these in his living room. What stories he told....John Lily did many experiments with these tanks. You're so brave!

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