Many years back, Mai and I did a couple spelunking trips in a series of caves in California's Gold Country. There's a little trick that the guide plays on you. Somewhere during the first quarter of the trip, he has everyone turn off the light on their helmets, leaving everyone in complete darkness. He then tells the group to wave a hand in front of their faces. I did. You know what I saw? My hand waving in front of his face.
"Everyone see their hand?" he asks?
"Yes," we answer.
"Actually, you didn't. There is no light in this cave. You didn't see anything. That's your mind tricks you into seeing your hand so that you don't go nuts."
The mind is amazing. One thing that blows me away are dreams. The mind will construct an elaborate cathedral for the dreamer to see and then it all goes away. It happens to each and every one of us every single night.
Today, I spent an hour and half in a sensory deprivation tank just to see if I could get in touch with my mind and bring something back.
Sensory deprivation tanks gained some traction in the sixties and seventies and then faded. Thanks to Joe Rogan, there has been a resurgence in them. That's how I got interested. I've wanted to try one out for years and finally got my chance.
People use them for a number of reasons. Based on some of the websites I've looked at, it seems like the primary selling point is relaxation.
So what was the experience like? For me, it wheeled off in three different stages. The first stage was adjustment. I laid back in the water and just tried to get used to the sensation. My eyes were wide open and I could see a corona of light around complete darkness. I would say that it was like someone shining a flashlight from behind me. But, from my caving experience I knew that it was just my brain trying to give me something to look at. I also had a spinning sensation and felt like I was lifting out of the tank every time I took a breath. I can't tell you how long this first part of the experience took, because I lost all track of time.
From there, I would call the next part the audit. My mind went quickly through my life, just to make sure that I'm staying on top of everything. I was a pretty quick audit, because I am glad to say that most things in my life are going in the right direction. I'm sure that if I had something that needed attention, my mind would hang me up there.
From there, I dropped even deeper. I think that I lost myself a few times, but I kept getting pulled back. There was one point where I was in the part of my book I am working on right now. I could see the shadows and could feel the heat. There are a few things that I was able to bring back that I know I need to incorporate into my story.
I didn't see anything in the tank. However, I did hear things and feel things. Early on, I could hear the drone of traffic passing by. Every few seconds, I could hear the sound of a diesel in the mix. Then, I realize that I wasn't hearing anything. It was my brain playing a background track from my every day life. Later on, my brain tried tricking me by playing the sounds of birds chirping. It was nice, but it was a total fugazi.
During the last part of my float, I could feel my toiletry bag resting on my chest. Why was it there? I have no idea. Maybe my brain was telling me I needed to clean up and move on.
It was a tremendous experience. I plan on going back at some point. Even if you're not looking to get a creative edge, it has to be one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had.