Do You Want to Get High Without Using Drugs? Try Floating.

This wasn't the tank I was in, but it's an example of what a tank looks like. Photo courtesy of John Ruig via Flickr

This wasn’t the tank I was in, but it’s an example of what a tank looks like. Photo courtesy of John Ruig via Flickr

It’s pitch black inside the tank. You’re completely naked and you don’t see anything. You can’t feel your body because it is surrounded by concentrated salt water and you’re floating. All you hear is the very quiet humming of the air pumping machines that supply you with oxygen (but you can even blend that out). You’re all alone with your thoughts. Does this creep you out or excite you?

If this makes you curious or you’ve never heard of “floating” before, you HAVE to try it!

In the 1950’s, the first isolation tanks had been created to assist neuropsychiatrist John C. Lilly in learning about our brain’s reaction to sensory deprivation while later on they were discovered for therapy and meditation.   

I had first read about these sensory deprivation tanks a few months ago and wanted to try one out but I thought it would probably be too expensive, and so I forgot. A recent Tinder date (bless this man!) refreshed my memory about it and told me how amazing floating can be. If you’re highly focused, you can reach a state where your mind transcends. Without these sensory distractions, your body produces more DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), which lets you have a psychedelic – or near death – experience.

There are a few locations in and around Los Angeles (Burbank, Pasadena, Torrance, Venice, Westwood). I went to the Float Lab in Westwood and the my visit went as follows:

I picked a date and time, signed up for two hours, and paid $40 online. I received a confirmation email and was good to go. I drove to the lab, which is located in Westwood Village in the basement of a building that’s empty on the first floor, but they have directions posted outside next to the door bell.

The elevator took me downstairs where humid, hot air greeted me as I walked into the lab’s lobby. I was advised to use the restroom first. Before the receptionist took me into my chamber, he explained the rules as follows:

  • take off your clothes
  • shower with the earplugs they provided
  • completely dry your ears and face
  • lay down in the tank
  • never touch your face once you’ve touched the tank’s solution
  • after your scheduled two hours, they will knock three times to let you know you’re time is up. If you don’t hear them, they’ll knock again until you do.
  • once you leave the tank, don’t enter it again because they will start cleaning it.

Once inside the bright, clean, private floating tank room, I spotted a rain shower, a towel, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, Q-Tips, Kleenex tissues, earplugs, a small table, a chair, and the tank door.

Meticulously abiding the rules, I showered with the earplugs, and dried off my face really well, so the solution wouldn’t stick to it and the salt wouldn’t dry out my skin. Then, I stared at the big green door with the massive handle. What the fuck did I get myself into? It was too late to turn back fortunately, and so I just opened it and stepped into a bathtub-like basin filled with skin-temperature Epsom salt water solution. The door closed and I was surrounded by darkness. As soon as I laid down, I tested out what position was comfortable and found myself supporting my neck first with both hands, but then releasing it.  

What followed for the next two hours was pure bliss: I completely relaxed, probably fell asleep here and then, sometimes reached the transcending mind state – but only for a few seconds (I’m hoping for a longer amount when I go next time) – , and just enjoyed the time completely for myself without any interruptions whatsoever. I let my thoughts travel, became clear about a few decisions I hadn’t been able to make, and just felt much better about myself and about life in general. Most of all, I was grateful for the Tinder date who had “re-sparked” my curiosity about this experience.

When it was over, I didn’t even want to step out. I was on a high now that lasted for a few more hours and I radiated positive energy. I told my friends about it and recommended them to try this as well. I cannot wait for my next floating experience which is hopefully going to be even more intense because the awkwardness of the first time will have vanished.

Are you curious now? Do it!

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