A new experience

Some years ago, I read the wonderful autobiography Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman!  Richard Feynman was a Nobel Laureate in Physics who led an interesting life.  If you are looking for an easy to read enjoyable book, I fully endorse it.

One episode that Feynman discussed was a time where he tried out a sensory-deprivation tank as some attempt to reach an altered state.  Feynman was, naturally, skeptical, but did try it out, and did not have any out of body experiences.  Nonetheless, his description stuck with me a bit.  It sounded pretty relaxing and as a nice way to disconnect from the rest of the world.

About two months ago, I saw a pamphlet at a local restaurant advertising a new business moving in to the area;  a business which allowed people to float!  I was intrigued, and this week,the “Open” sign went up.  I decided to give it a try.

When I was younger I spent a lot of time in water, and I am very comfortable in the water, but this turned out to be a new experience.  The chamber has about 10 inches of hypersaline water which is passively filtered while someone is in there (between uses, it is actively  filtered and treated with UV and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide.  The air temperature is held at about 95° F, while water temperature is a slightly cooler 93° F.  I thought this would be uncomfortably hot, but it was enormously comfortable.  Once you step down into the chamber and close the glass door, the lights outside the chamber remain on for about a minute before shutting off.  A switch above the water line allow you to turn on some underwater lights.  Even with my weight, floating was absolutely no problem, and some provided earplugs not only saved my ears from water entering them, but also minimized any sound except for my heartbeat and breathing.  Once the lights turned off and I turned the underwater lights off, the room was the darkest dark… closing my eyes or opening them made zero difference.  After a few minutes, I could not even the water against my body because of the lack of temperature gradient.

There were no phones or computers, just laying back and floating  in the water.  When my hour was up, it didn’t seem like an hour had passed (it seemed more 30-45 minutes), and while I know I hadn’t fallen asleep, I felt well rested.  I look forward to going back again.

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4 Responses to A new experience

  1. Alan P says:

    That sounds pretty interesting! I’m curious about safety protocols – do they somehow monitor you while you’re in there? What if you DO fall asleep – I imagine you would wake up pretty fast if your face was submerged, but it seems like one could panic and really be in a dangerous situation. And if you really got uncomfortable in there, is there some sort of panic button? Or just the switch for the underwater lights? Can you get out early?

  2. teganx7 says:

    They don’t monitor you (generally you are wearing your birthday suit, so they reassure you of this). Because of the combination of depth and salinity, it would be virtually impossible to flip over, though they do note that should your head tilt at all, the saline getting into your eyes or throat would definitely wake you up. There is a small spray bottle of fresh water and a towel in the chamber should you need to spray your eyes. This was not a problem for me.

    There is an intercom right next to the light switch which you can easily reach, so if something happened, you could contact the front desk, and they would come running in.

  3. Tom N says:

    That sounds cool. I’ve been interested in trying those out for years, but haven’t actively sought one out yet. What does it cost?

    • teganx7 says:

      I think their normal price is like $70 for an hour, but I got the introductory price of $35. It seems that you can visit and if you buy a package, you can get it for $33.33/hour. They have centers in Seattle and Bellevue. I was speaking about this to colleagues today and was saying that it is likely a very good idea for people having a hard time walking away from computers and cellphones (insert awkward pause).

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