Every gamer has had the experience of being immersed hours into a compelling game, only to find themselves realizing their eyes are glazed, their shoulders hunched, and they are in a word exhausted. Even if we are doing what we love, we can be overstimulated, and need a break.
Occasionally I find myself exhausted from media and culture. There is always a new show to watch, someone is always saying something inflammatory on twitter, I have podcasts to catch up on, movies to watch, games to play, websites to visit, stupid cat videos, facebook updates…
That’s what I did for 90 minutes.
And it felt great.
I visited Float On tonight, and gave my body a hard reboot. No light, no sound, no sensation. Just me, alone with my thoughts, gently supported in buoyant, warm water.
The private room I was given was furnished with a shower, bench, robe, towel and other amenities, but the dominant feature was the sensory deprivation chamber. Similar in appearance to a sauna, a small hatch opened to reveal an 11 inch deep pool filled with blue-lit water.
Once inside the chamber, I pulled the hatch shut, turned off the blue light, and floated. The water is saturated with 950 pounds of Epson salt, and heated to about 94 degrees so it feels body temperature neutral. The sensation of floating is unlike lying in a bed, or even a bath tub. In both cases, you feel your body weight pressing against the surface below you. In the chamber, I was weightless, free.
Floating in space.
My thoughts swirled around like leaves blowing in the wind, then settled for a while. Like the unbroken surface of a pond, my mind would be calm and still for a moment, and then an unseen pebble would send ripples of ideas out from my center.
As I first lay still and unmoving, I felt like my body was spinning clockwise, then counterclockwise, with no transition. Then I didn’t really feel my body at all. It began to be hard to tell where my hand ended and the water began. I had fun imagining myself melting into a glowing blue ooze, and I just drifted for a while. I don’t feel I ever fell asleep, but there was a period of time where I could not identify any conscious thought.
And that felt great.
Eventually the attendant turned on music in the speakers below me, and I turned on the blue light and opened my eyes. As soon as I could collect myself, I got out, showered, dressed, and slowly readjusted to the ever increasing stimuli as I left the lobby to the street, then to my car. I had to consciously speed UP to the the speed limit, but while my limbs felt pleasantly heavy, I was not tired or sleepy, in fact quite alert.
It was a great experience, and as I type this into the glare of a computer monitor, I find myself wanting to schedule another float in space.