The Sensory Deprivation Chamber: Everyone Should Try This!

I Just spent 90 minutes in a sensory deprivation chamber. “What is that?” you ask. It’s just a pitch black, saltwater coffin that you seal yourself into for an hour and a half. 

Sounds like fun to me.

As instructed by my Float Calm guide, I shower, put in ear plugs, crawl inside the pod that is filled with skin temperature water and pull the door shut.

Holy fuck! It’s pitch black in here. Darker than anything I’ve ever experienced. (Well, other than that bat cave in South Dakota.)

I am going to diein this thing is my immediate thought. I slap around at the sides of the coffin trying to find the door handle— which I can’t immediately locate. No point screaming, they said it was sound proof. Why do I suddenly feel like I'm in a Steven King novel?

I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m okay with small spaces. I can swim— not that you need to know how because there’s 800 pounds of Epsom salt in the tank so you have no choice but to float on your back.  I don’t suffer from any anxiety whatsoever.  What the hell is the problem then?

I fling open the door. There are my jeans; the world still exists. I am alive. I climb out, wipe off the stinging saltwater that I’ve managed to splash all over my eyes. I see the blue pool noodle on the shelf. Float Calm Guy mentioned that many people prop the chamber door open with a pool noodle during their first float so there is some light. I specifically remember thinking, what kind of loser needs to use a pool noodle?

The pool noodle scowls at me from the corner. Na Na Na NaNaNa.

Screw you, pool noodle. I’m no baby.

Okay. Here we go again. I give the finger to the pool noodle as I crawl back in. I pull the door shut.

Pitch black. Me vs. The Pod.

I lie there. Try to relax. For half an hour really stupid-ass thoughts have a dance party in my head.

  • It feels like I’m running out of air.

  • How much time has passed?

  • Should have had a few glasses of wine first.

  • Should have just brought the flask in here.

  • I think my earplugs are leaking.

  • Wonder how much time has passed?

  • Wow, my heart is super loud.

  • This would be crazy if you were high. Hmmm.

  • I wonder if people ever jerk off in these things?

  • Where am I again?

I read in the brochure that “floating” is supposed to be great for creativity. I think about my novel and decide to spend some quality time with my main character, Ken. I hope he doesn’t notice that I’m naked. God, I hope he’s not naked! He’s not really all that hot. I should make him more attractive.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to work out a problem with conflict in my book for weeks. As I’m floating here in the pitch black, there is nothing else distracting me, nothing else to think about, nothing else to do. I’m entirely focused. The weirdest thing happens – I start to visualize the book and hash out some possible solutions. I can usually get to this point at my computer in my office, but it takes hours.

Maybe I can use this tank as a tax write off?

I mentally work through another article that I’m writing. Whatever I tell my brain to do, it does it. That never happens!

Eventually, after a while, I just let my brain go and don’t think about anything. I arrive at that “between waking and sleeping,” state. It’s hard to describe, maybe like when you’re zoned out, but longer and more intense because no one is jabbing you in the side telling you to snap out of it because you almost rear ended the Toyota in front of you.

We’ve created this multi-tasking, frenzied world. It’s a total luxury for the mind to hang out in an uncluttered, space, abandoning a lot of the meaningless activities we're consumed with. We always seem to need to be posting, scrolling, or liking something or other. I'm liking this! 

The best part of the whole experience is when I get out.  I sit in the lobby sipping lemon ginger tea. I have mental clarity and feel emotionally calm. I often exist in an emotionally charged state, which works for me because it motivates me. But it feels kind of freeing to be neutral (by neutral we mean not screaming at my kids to stop beating the shit out of each other).

As I continue to sip my tea (I really didn’t want to face the -25 degree winter raging on outside) a girl emerges into the lobby. The receptionist asks her how it went and she says okay. He tells her the second and third floats are usually the best because it takes a few times to get used to the whole thing. She throws on her coat; she can’t get out of there fast enough.

This is going to be a different experience for everyone – depending on what’s going on in your life and your head, and how comfortable you are with unplugging and being alone with yourself. (And remember there’s no wine involved in this whole floating thing; something I hope to change).

Even though it initially freaked me out, I’m always going to be in favour of anything that can infuse a little clarity and calm into the chaos of life. My New Years resolution is to unplug, be more present and get back to the basics of life - no better way to do that than by climbing inside the saltwater coffin!

I’ll be coming back. Besides, someone needs to keep that cocky pool noodle in check.

Daria Salamon6 Comments