Enjoy these excerpts from the experience of Luke O'Neil of Esquire.
Think about it: How many times a day do you find yourself assaulted by noise pollution and the oppressive glare of your screens? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to close a door and shut it out, if only for an hour?
I wondered what type of person makes floating in the darkness part of their regular routine. There are the yoga and meditation types, athletes using it for training or recovery, and people with back pain or insomnia, or just general stress. "We hear from a decent number of young parents who say, 'This is the only time I've had to myself in three years,' or elderly folks who just like to take a load off the joints and relax," said Colin Roald, owner of FLOAT Boston.
"It seems that floating triggers the relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight adrenaline response. It's what tells your body that it's okay to slow down, to let the tension go, to let the digestion work. That tends to kick in first, and when your body is totally relaxed, your brain frequently goes with it."
Falling asleep is less common than you might think. Instead, the brain gradually approaches the theta state. "You're sort of half asleep, day dreaming, in kind of a trance state," Roald said. "You can float gently enough in and out of that that it's hard to say if you're asleep or not."
There's a saying in computer science: Garbage in, garbage out. Which is to say, if you input nonsensical data, you're going to get a nonsensical output, and believe me, I brought some pretty serious mental garbage into the tank with me. When you have nothing to distract yourself from yourself, it's easy to let your mind race. But with a little effort - they say it takes some people a second time to fully accustom to floating - and focusing on my breathing, I was able to submerge myself - mentally speaking that is.
I remember some thoughts. I thought briefly about my father's final moments in the hospital earlier this spring, and wondered if death is just another sensory depravation tank we all eventually climb into. I thought about the sound of my wife's laughter. I thought about Tom Brady, and how his laughter would sound if he were my wife. Kidding on that one. Sort of.
I thought other things, I'm sure. What, I don't know. I don't have the data anymore. It wasn't saved. Outside in the lounge seating, I felt like something had happened. I needed to sit for a while. I was tired and shaky. I wasn't sure what the emotion was I felt, or even if there was one, but I needed to process it all the same. Maybe something happened to me I wasn't conscious of. That's probably the entire point.