It gets dark. Very dark and very tight as I close the door to a chamber just large enough to float around in. There is a nothing but a foot of body temperate salty water, darkness and complete silence.
Why am I doing this again? To achieve bliss, according to the devotees of the wellness trend that is more popular than ever in New York. The stage is set for complete, utter relaxation. (Or claustrophobia / slight panic – depending on your personality type…)
I am here to float effortlessly. To shut the world out. But it turns out that ultimate relaxation is hard work. My senses are on high alert. My mind racing…
“What am I going to do in here for 60 minutes? Why on earth is anyone paying to do this? Are New Yorkers crazy? How is this even a trend? Claustrophobia, anyone? Hello? Hello?”
For a while I am forcing myself to stay. I even double check that the door opens. But then somehow, some way my body starts ‘dissolving into the water’ just like they said it would. It is like I can’t sense it anymore. The water and I are one. And with that my mind dozes off too. Not sleeping, more like entering a state of absolutely nothing.
No space, no time, no thoughts, no feelings. Just being.
Meanwhile, here is what is actually going on:
The chamber is about 5 by 10 feet and filled with a foot of water saltier than the Dead Sea. The water contains 1.000 pounds of mineral-rich epsom salt which basically nulls out gravity and makes the body weightless. There are so sights. No sounds. No input.
The sensory deprivation tank was developed in the 50’s by a psychiatrist experimenting with non-disturbed consciousness. The wellness trend caught on in New York back in the 80’s. Now it is having a renaissance as more and more NYers are looking to take mindfulness to the next level. After all, the regular yoga routine is almost a cliche by now and meditation totally mainstream in the New York wellness world.
So what is the trend about? What was it like in the end?
All of a sudden the hour was over. It had just disappeared. I got out of the tank slightly confused, but feeling completely different. Rebooted. Rested. Relaxed. Like the best savasana after the best yoga class I ever had – intensified big time.
Will I do it again? Probably not. I prefer working my way to bliss through a hard class rather than paying for it.
But did it work? Was it special? Most definitely.