Isolation tanks are not exactly a new phenomenon in alternative medical treatments, having been well known in certain circles for the last 15 years. I personally have known about the tanks for around 10 years, yet never took the chance until recently to book a session.
Over the last 10 years, I heard all sorts of stories about the tanks, somewhere people talk about the ability to reflect on your life a lot easier, to calm your mind of all external thoughts and just be at one with yourself, using the tank as a tool of self reflection in order to see or become aware of areas of your life that are not productive or not for your best interests, or finally, some individuals reported seeing strange visuals while in the tank, with certain individuals reporting things as vivid as taking a psychoactive drug.
All these reports that I had previously heard were from the media, not from individuals I personally knew, so upon taking up my first 1-hour session, I decided that I will not focus on gaining any benefits from the session, nor did I have any expectations. I decided I would simply partake and see what occurs.
The session itself began by visiting an isolation tank centre in Melbourne, Australia called Rest House Float Centre. I signed up all the relevant paperwork which is basically a medical clearance form, and then was taken into the room where the session would be held.
The room itself was a private room, completely closed off from any external rooms which provided complete privacy. The room itself is like a large bathroom, the walls were tiled, a shower with body wash, shampoo and conditioner is provided, along with a small shelf that holds earplugs, a towel, and petroleum jelly.
Beyond this is the floatation tank itself, a Dream Pod V2 produced by Dream Water Float Co. This style of tank is one of the best on the market and is valued at around a $20,000USD starting price.
The instructions for the session were simple, place your earplugs in first as they can be difficult to fit tightly once moisture gets into your ears, the earplugs serve to protect your ear from the extreme levels of Epsom salt in the water, if you were not to wear them, the ear would become caked with salt and it could cause some issues. An alternative to earplugs is ear putty, used by professional swimmers and available online.
Petroleum jelly can be applied to any cuts or rashes you may have prior to the session, this can be skipped however if you are willing to endure the first 10 minutes with a stinging feeling, as the Epsom salt is great at repairing and promoting healthy skin.
Shower first so that you enter the float pod clean, once inside the float pod close the top hatch so you are completely isolated, then find a comfortable float position, once this is done, press the button on the side of the tank to close the light, you can then float in total isolation from external sounds and light.
After the session music will begin to play inside the tank itself, you then know it is time to exit the tank and can then proceed to shower again, it is important to shower completely before leaving, to remove all the salt which is on the surface of the skin.
After this introduction I was left with just myself and the isolation tank, I went through the preparation procedures then entered the tank, it is best to float without clothes as clothing tends to weigh down heavily due to the salt concentrations. After closing the top of the hatch and turning off the light, I began to focus on the experience itself.
For the first 15 minutes or so, I found awareness of my constant thought process, things about work, worry about friends and family, worries about my own productivity and the way I conduct myself in everyday life, this first 15 minutes was a process of coming to terms with the fact I have these ongoing thoughts, and then accepting where I am here and now, inside an isolation tank, with an incredible experience awaiting me, and that these thought processes have no place in this experience, instead I should stop thinking, and just enjoy this current moment and the novelty of being in such a strange and unique environment.
At around the 15 minute mark, I was able to completely stop thinking, and just lay in the tank, floating and feeling as though I was an astronaut, floating through space, without any need to think about time passing, without any external influence on my body and mind, and able to completely relax, obtaining the most relaxed state I have ever experienced in my lifetime.
At the 50 minute mark, the music in the tank began to play, I felt as though I was awakening from a dream, although I had not closed my eyes nor had I slept. I slowly proceeded to bring myself to the stage of exiting the tank, turning the light on and opening the hatch, having a shower, dressing and then exiting the room.
The feeling after exiting the floatation tank was one of total relaxation, at times in my life I have been through extreme stress, and have needed anxiety medication at some points, the feeling of exiting the tank following the session was basically identical to times when I have needed high levels of anxiety medication and was akin to taking a very high dose of sedative medication, although I had not taken anything at all.
The relaxation and ability to clear my mind completely was amazing, I spent the next hour in the lounge room of the floatation tank centre, the staff made me a cup of herbal tea, and I spoke with the owners for an hour about the tank and the experience, along with being given further ideas for my next session.
I found the relaxation feeling, the absolutely no stress mental state, and the ability to simply disregard worrying and stressful thoughts, was maintained for the next month, at which time I had another session and the effects again lasted about the same time span.
All in all, this is definitely something everyone should try at least once, but the full benefits are often not felt until the third session, so if this type of therapy interests you, definitely try it out, it is amazing especially if you go into the session expecting nothing, only then will you be able to tell the full benefits you have obtained. If you literally expect nothing, you will gain so much more.
There is no need to have pre-meditated thoughts on the benefits you may get, just go in there with an open mind and no expectations, and the full benefits will reveal themselves after each session.