Sensory Desparation

Oct

23

Sensory Desparation

This week I checked out Float Seattle where you can spend an hour in a sensory deprivation tank filled with 10 inches of Epsom-salt water heated to 93.5 degrees. The idea is that you lie back, relax and float your cares away. If you’re into sci-fi you know it can do a whole lot more. I’ve been thinking about trying it ever since I watched Fringe Detective Olivia Dunham use one to mentally skip back and forth between that other universe and ours. Her float chamber accessed her highest self. Its solitude activated her purest intuition and power. She was also on hardcore nootropic drugs. Alas, you can’t get Cortexiphan (not even in Seattle) because it’s fictional.

Realistically, I just want to quiet my mind. It has been a congested jumble of revisions, character arcs, and publishing cautionary tales. Not to mention details related to being a decent mom, wife, daughter and friend. I thought maybe an hour of unadulterated piece and quiet would help.
I walk in and the place is set up like an upscale tanning salon. The furnishings are minimal. The anemic lighting feels energy efficient. While I’m filling out a waiver In the lobby, a woman done with her session raves about the “metaphysical awakening” she has just experienced. This chick is shaking as if she’s transcended the human experience or maybe even won the Miss America pageant.
The nice counter girl gets me settled into my room. She’s about 20 years old, and provides the ideal level of perky attention, just a dab, not too much. She opens the tank door. It looks to be a cross between an enclosed hot tub and a hotel ice machine. By this point, I’m starting to get excited. I take a quick shower, pull my hair into a ponytail and put in the provided orange earplugs. I open the door and slip myself in like a pizza into an intergalactic oven.
Black silence. It makes no difference whether my eyes are open or closed. It is lovely. Wait, I feel like I’m forgetting something — something important. Something is missing. That’s right, I realize, breathing would be good. I take slow, deep breaths, but the air feels so dense coming in. I let my arms stretch out, willy-nilly, just as they please. I can’t tell where water meets air or where either meet my body. I want to bask in physical detachment, but I can’t. The problem is that my hyperactive brain is still connected to its source. While there is no data to decipher, it still has plenty to ponder. My stream of consciousness goes something like this:
“Could this be a passageway into a parallel universe? Don’t think so. This is weird. I hope I don’t get saltwater into my eyes. That would burn like a son of a bitch. Like that time I bit it waterskiing. Okay. Focus. Think of nothing. But then, even nothing is something. It is so toasty warm. I wonder how many traditional publishers will be left by the end of the year. Okay then. What if life is but a dream? Did I sign up to volunteer for the first- grade Halloween party? What’s up with that Australian wildfire?
Damn, this is hard. Is this what it feels like to be dead and buried? Breathe. Relax. This is supposed to be mellow. I just paid $39 for this. Idiot. Breathe. This doesn’t feel very spiritual. I suck at this. I’ve got to clean the kitchen. I should bail. But, I’ll look like a massive wimp. But, at least now I have something for my blog. I’m so out of here.”
I didn’t even make it 25 minutes. I slip out while the super-sweet girl is on the phone. By the time I drive home, she has already e-mailed me to apologize. Though I have no idea why unless brain wrangling is part of her job description. Her concern makes me feel both better and worse. I think I’ll write about her someday. I’ll incorporate her vibe into a character. So, at least I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
I’m curious to know if anyone else has tried sensory deprivation tanks. And if so, am I missing something? If not, how do you relieve your over-active mind? I wonder what it says about me that I couldn’t unplug and mellow out even in the midst of nothingness. It’s a good thing the future of our universe is not dependent on my immediate enlightenment.

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