My Experience In A Sensory Deprivation Tank (June 21, 2015)

Yesterday was my first experience in a sensory deprivation tank. For those who don’t know what they are, it’s a tank filled with water, containing 1,200 or 1,300 lbs of epsom salt, and is then blocked off from all senses. I wore earplugs so that I couldn’t hear anything and literally had to take a lot of precautions so that I couldn’t feel much to any sensation at all. Because of the epsom salt, by the way, the effects of gravity on the body are reduced by 80%; and so, essentially, the body sinks and forms a mold with the water, which is matched accordingly to the temperature of your body.

Now, overall, I would do it again. While I managed to get magnesium sulfate in my eyes towards the end and became restless by the end of the session, I must say I feel extremely rejuvenated by the experience.

However, there are observations of the experience I want to note.

Stepping into the tank feels like stepping into space. Into nothingness. Nothing is present in the room, and at times I felt I wasn’t floating. But yet I moved. But my body didn’t move; it stayed center for, maybe, 70 minutes of the 75 minute session. However, I felt motion. I felt as though I were an Aristotlean point going forward in a line, and perhaps it was in that I remembered I was actually on Earth and inside of a tank. But I also moved towards many lights; there were times where I saw many colors, although faint to the eyes, but they were nevertheless there; many explosions took place and at times I saw particles flying around me. It was a beautiful experience, and in some ways more now I understand what it means to be a point. To be a point of existence, to be in constant harmony, to be both is potent yet an already existing condition for all life. While we see varying degrees of separation from us and nature, from society and nature, from natural things and inorganic matter, we exist, all as center-piece to this already existing condition for anything to emerge. That condition, that name, for me in the tank, was space and time. To be a point is to possess both space and time, which ordains together in their unity existence of some sort, however molded by both. But: To be that point, a point that has no part, is an absurd definition for how the human senses consider life to be seemless and one or many streams of colliding events. While “a point that has no part” can be said, realistically, to be a variable when considered by itself, like in an algebraic equation, all points are part of something else. The connections of those points are so great that we cannot grasp it, making the amount add up to infinity, and when we consider the idea that there are greater and smaller infinities that can be compared, it shows that there are ideas more complex than others — and also that the scope of the unknown effects of the connections of points is larger with some ideas than others. At least, this is a hunch. The potentiality of the point is unknown, and yet it can become known through the molding of space and time for its own sake. So to that there cannot be a pointless existence, there is meaning in the diversions and distractions, even if that meaning is only individual or that of emotions; and thus there are no diversions and distractions, but one line, a vector that goes forward in time.

Yet: The vector itself is not straight. The vector yields curves and straightness, the vector is capable of colliding, combining, and destroying other vectors that perpetuate in existence. The Newtonian vector makes no sense when we consider that we do not understand the manipulations of time. Forces are still misunderstood. They are misunderstood because it is not understood by human culture. Physics influences our culture but many do not understand the forces governing their own lives, and to this no name is given, and to this name the human mind seeks answers but fails because of the absurd conditions it comes to and because it forsakes its own survival for that of an idea that cannot come to live till we learn to live as an ecosystem.

In the tank I heard raindrops. It was impossible to hear sound. But why hear a raindrop? Why hear and see a storm brewing above when no such storm is present? There was a storm present. It was that of the mind. It yearned to be in existence, to be a part of other things besides itself and the cold darkness that isolates our worst criminals from the world. And this is what it means to live in an ecosystem. “We the environment,” “learning to live as an ecosystem,” they say that we must learn to be in the world, they say we must take our faculty of placing, meeting, and addressing things into higher consideration as a form of existence in the world that can be done unconsciously and consciously; in these words we have to come to find how we bridge the gap between the urban society and the remnants of the so-called “natural world.” There is one solution in front of us we have not considered on a philosophical level, namely that society is nature. Society is nature, one more manifestation of it insofar as whole ecosystems are formed and can be discerned like what can be discerned in the physical sciences. Ideas like “industrial ecology” have emerged, and the innovations of scientists for renewable energy sources have proven themselves useful in allowing us to live as an environment. These innovations allow for it because it does not rely on sources that will not run out and that won’t crush life on Earth. However, we need to consider more the limitations of our ideas and innovations in regard to the principle “we the environment” above. There is only so much energy that can be harnessed via solar power before it becomes a problem for plants, which also compete for us for sunlight for photosynthesis. Is artificial grass truly a good idea? It saves water but puts plastic in place of the casual morning sprinklers giving life to grass and to the being of one’s own front yard.

It may be odd to see and think over these things in empty space. But it was my mind in that tank that reminded me, over and over again, that I am and that my time in the tank should be to place, meet, and address the experience in front of me. And, truly, spending time in space, seeing time drift on without definitive measurements to rely on, it’s an experience that more of us need. The tank removed me from the world. Maybe that’s what death looks like: Floating in space with lights, but without the awareness I possessed in the experience. And without recognition of movement; I could move in the tank, but it took great strength when realistically my body surrendered to life itself.

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