The idea of taking time to just be present is a nice one, if not rather impossible for me to put into practice. When you have a million notifications hitting your home screen and not one of them a welcome distraction, you know you’ve got an issue.
The hundred-metre sprint I have been running has had an adjusted finish line for as long as I can remember, and after a compounding month-long-migraine, I decided to take myself to the doctor to see if there’s actually anything wrong with me. The prognosis of course was “inconclusive”, and I was marked “FIT” (for those who know me, this is quite a hysterical description). The doctor suggested time off, and because I have no time for such luxury, I opted for the fast-track version: R.E.S.T (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy), or as it’s more commonly known: isolation tanks or floatation pools.
Flotation pools sprung into existence in the 1950s when researcher John Lilly tried to see what would happen if a person was submerged underwater for long periods of time, without the distractions of light and sound. Lilly published no scientific research, and instead wrote about his experiences taking hallucinogens while underwater. Lilly was subsequently ostracised by the scientific community, and the practice didn’t catch on until the 70s when meditation and Eastern philosophy became fashionable and a more tasteful tank without the trip emerged. For an hour at a time, at a spa or at someone’s home, a person could float face up in a warm tub or pool of extremely dense salt water. The temperature was set to match that of the human body, and the salt content was high enough that you could float effortlessly. With sound and light-proofing, the desired effect was a feeling of weightlessness and a sensation that your body and the water were one, free of gravity and sensory input.
Conducting an intervention to prevent stress leave and further undiagnosable disorders, I dropped two hundred bucks and made an appointment. Hermetically sealed from the glare of publicity or the inhibitions of social responsibility, I submerged myself and allowed my demented brain to roam free.
Who cut the brakes on Jeffree Star’s car?
Why do dogs have blogs?
When we all fall asleep where do we go?
Khloe must have ordered her new face from the Wish app.
Who thought they could make brutality stop by handing a Pepsi can to a cop?
Despite the fact that I am lying naked in a plastic tub in some shop, I felt calm as soon as the three-minute prelude ended and the lights went out. Sensory deprivation really is a misnomer, though. Whilst the stimulation from the outside is certainly muted, the internal sensations of my inner world started to become dramatically enhanced. The notion of force became exaggerated as I understood the sensory concept of proprioception; the position and slight movement of my limbs was distinct. My heart was beating with audible attention and I could hear myself breathing as I literally floated into a liminal state between sleep and wake. But it was at this very point that the struggle to exist between nothingness and an hour of crazy took over.
I’m contorted into a weird position like Han Solo when he was frozen in carbonite. What if this water turned into carbonite? What if I got frozen like this, my hand perpetually stuck in the air?
Did the attendant lock the door behind her? Because a murderer could sneak in and kill me. How would I even know he was in here? He could be standing over me right now. I open my eyes. Or maybe they’re still closed; I can’t tell the difference. I try breathing deep, cleansing breaths.
I feel like I’m on fire with all this salt and need a bucket of aloe vera to rub all over my body. I wonder if the attendant has any. This will go away, right?
What if I’m not really here? Have I disappeared? I haven’t bumped the sides of the tank for a few minutes now. I won’t even know until the lights come back on. When are the lights coming back on, anyway? Hasn’t it been an hour yet?
The blue lights eventually come back on and Buddha’s Flute is my cue to awaken from my re-awakening. The duality of sensory overload and sensory deprivation is a perplexing concurrence. The result of the merger of these two worlds? My third eye is salty, but my migraine is forgotten.