My friend Nara and I went to Blue Light Floatation today to float for an hour in a sensory deprivation (float) tank. This is a large, bath tub like pool of water housed in a completely dark enclosure. The water is heated to skin temperature and has 1,000 pounds of epsom salt dissolved in it. The effect is that you float, free from touching anything other than the water, which, because of the temperature, is hard to distinguish from your skin. Your ears rest just below the water and the room is silent. It is pitch black, so there was literally no difference if my eyes were open or closed. There is nothing to smell other than a bit of ozone in the room and assuming my mouth is clean and closed, not much to taste either. They haven’t come up with a way to deprive the idea sensing organ (brain) quite yet.
Upon entering this quite nice facility (actually owner Sam Zeiger’s home) we were sat down and given a brief orientation to the facility and how to use it. Before entering the tank we showered and immediately upon exiting we showered again. Other than that, and how to turn off the light once in the tank, there wasn’t much to learn. The tank is nice in that it has very high ceilings. From what I can tell most tanks require you to climb through a door into a box about 4 feet high. This was very spacious.
Once in the room with the tank I got naked, entered the tank and laid down…….and floated, for one hour. It is an interesting feeling to be free from the senses, to feel the body relax, or not relax, as it attempts to maintain tension or posture when it is so obviously not needed. Much of my time was spent feeling and hearing my body. I could hear/feel my heart beating in my ears. I followed my breath as it moved in through my mouth, down my throat and filled up different areas of my lungs; stomach, chest, back etc.
——–Edited per Nigel’s comments to include what is below—–
The weird thing was about 10-15 minutes into the float I suddenly knew that Sam (owner/operator) knew Sylvia, the woman who ran the ayahuasca retreat in Brazil where Nara and I met. It wasn’t an idea, or a hunch, it was a knowing. When I came out of the the tank (which was virtually sound proof I remind you) Nara said “Sam knows Sylvia!”. I responded something along the lines of ‘I know, where you guys talking about it about ten minutes after I went in?’ They had been. It turns out that Sam’s shelves were full of books about consciousness expansion and psychedelics. Nara had quickly gravitated towards a book about Sekhmet, an egyptian warrior goddess whose presences she had felt while in Brazil.
What is it about drug users noticing more synchronicity in life? Terrence McKenna talks about psychedelics (and marijuana’s) ability to break down barriers that we have constructed in our mind. The idea being that we divide reality into neat little categories, subjects and objects, us and them, and assume that there is nothing arbitrary about these divisions. We assume that the dividing lines are ‘real’. That they are absolute and that there is a need to then find connections between things. The truth may be closer to the mystic idea that all is one and any attempt to create connections assumes boundaries that are simply constructs of the perspective we choose to take on a given situation.
Sure the boundaries serve us, make the world easier to navigate and understand. I wouldn’t be typing this to you without them. But should we allow room for the paradox that they also confine us? Confuse us?
Perhaps Rupert Sheldrake is on to something when he talks about morphic resonance and morphogentic fields and describes the brain as more of a radio than anything with it’s own content or shows to transmit. He postulates that information, memory, exists in a field that our body/minds can attune themselves to and we are thus informed. This fits nicely with the Buddhist notion of the brain as another sensory organ, one that senses ideas. I mentioned a meditation experience earlier where I was able to take my awareness and tune, or not tune, into the brain and it’s neurotic ramblings. Obviously (to me) awareness, consciousness, is something other than the thinking mind. It is something that is aware of the thinking mind. Is it so odd to think that there are other, more subtle means of transmitting information that consciousness is also aware of if/when we relax the artificial boundaries that we have created between what is a valid means of knowing and what is ‘metaphysical nonsense’?
Or have I just done too many drugs?
If that explanation is more comfortable to you then by all means stay closed to other possibilities, but if you are aware of information entering your awareness through means other than rational understanding of the five senses, then perhaps we should start developing other senses as well. Do you know why you are attracted to someone? Why you fall in love? Their ideas? Pheromones? Scent? (is there a difference?) Is there some other transmission of information that happens here? You can explore quantum entanglement if that’s your bent. I’d recommend mixing such things with some open minded explorations of your direct experience.