Uncle Eddie Gets in the Tank

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | 21,215

Best of Eddie, this was originally posted November 2013

I mentioned last week that I was going to try an isolation tank for the first time and a bunch of you asked me to write about the experience, so here goes. Rather than write a really verbose post about everything from start to finish (this post might run long anyway), I'm just going to go off the notes I took immediately following the experience. Still, if you don't have the time or inclination to read the post, here's the tl:dr version: it was absolutely incredible and you should do it as soon as you're able.

Why did you do it?

Before I get into the specifics of what it was like, it's probably helpful if I cover my reasons for wanting to do it in the first place. There were many, and first among them was curiosity. Ever since I saw Altered States in high school, I've always wondered what it was like and how much of it was just Hollywood bullshit. Was it a life-altering head trip or an hour-long bath? I wanted to find out.

Second, I needed access to the more creative facets of my mind, and if there was even a small chance I could access that it was worth trying. I've recently tripled my workload, and a part of that increase requires a great deal of mental bandwidth. I need to find solutions which don't now exist to problems that do, and that requires maximum creativity. I've read and heard numerous accounts about isolation giving you access to the most creative parts of your brain, parts that only come to the fore when the mind is untethered from the body. Again, it was worth checking out for myself.

Finally, it's so far outside the mainstream and is so shrouded in mystery and mystique that I figured I'd have to try it at some point. That point came after @AndyLouis and I went on a pretty epic bender. He's practically an isolation evangelist, and he made me promise that I'd try it out as soon as I could. So I tracked down the two locations available in Paris and I made an appointment for last Saturday.

What was it like?

Okay, first of all the place I went to was a really nice day spa. They offered all your typical spa stuff (massages, reflexology, facials, laser hair removal, all that stuff) and they only had the one tank, but it was one of the Rolls Royce-type tanks. The tank pictured above is the exact model I used. You climb in, get comfortable, and then hit a button and the lid closes and seals you in.

Inside the tank is about 12" of water and 800 lbs of epsom salt, (and a bunch of magnesium to protect your skin) so it's basically the Dead Sea in a closed environment. You float. It doesn't matter how much you weigh, you will float in water with that level of salination. The temperature of the water is computer-controlled to match your exact body temp, so after a few minutes you don't even feel the water. Your ears are submerged, so you wear ear plugs to keep the water out. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are out of the water so you don't have to worry about breathing or getting the salt water in your eyes (unless you rub them with your wet hands like a dumbass).

You can keep the lid open and just float, and many people do for relaxation. If you choose to close the lid, the pod has interior lighting (with several different colors), or you can go lights out. This particular model even has the ability to hook up to your mp3 player and play tunes for you, but that defeats the purpose of sensory deprivation (if that's what you're there for).

It was hard for me to get used to at first. It was hard to relax. For about a quarter of the time, it was actually painful. Zero gravity is a strange environment, and it takes some getting used to. I guess I'm normally so tense that I don't even realize it, but my neck and shoulders were in considerable pain in that environment. Like I said, it took what I perceived to be about 15 minutes for the muscles to unknot themselves and enable me to fully relax.

A lot of people worry about getting claustrophobic inside what amounts to a water coffin. I was concerned about it myself, as I'm mildly claustrophobic. I found it was much more claustrophobic with the lights on (because you can actually visually see that you're locked inside a casket) than with total darkness, which was actually really freeing.

The time flies by, and I now know why people who do this a lot do it in segments of two or three hours at a time. You lose all track of time in there, and it feels like it goes by in the blink of an eye. When I booked my next appointment I scheduled 90 minutes, and I'll probably change that to two hours before I show up.

Absent all other physical stimuli, the sound of your breathing can be really distracting. This is where it helps to have some proficiency in meditation, so you can block it out. I'm for shit at meditation, so I tried skip breathing (and old SCUBA diving trick) and that not only relaxed me further, it also made my breathing somewhat less noticeable.

Once I was completely immersed in the experience (no more pain, no more physical inputs, breathing under control) it was time to see what my mind wanted to show me. I'll admit that I was pretty nervous about this. I've seen some horrendous shit in my day, and to this day my nightmares have the power to wake me screaming, so I was naturally pretty apprehensive about what I might experience in there. I was way off. It was like my mind was completely bored with that shit and I was overcome with curiosity.

I'm not going to tell you I had some wild, transcendent experience (because I didn't), but with a little practice I was able to give myself the sensation of falling (you've probably experienced this in a dream). It wasn't unpleasant, and I found I was able to do it over and over again with a little concentration. This was the wildest thing to me. I was able to produce a physical sensation in my totally motionless body using only my mind. I'm talking the lurch in the stomach and everything. That's pretty trippy.

At this point I can go into how I've come to understand that there's a sort of door in your mind that we're not even aware of 99% of the time because so many externalities demand our attention every waking minute of every day. I could probably get pretty metaphysical and you'd probably think I'm full of shit. But there's definitely something there. If you want my (admittedly neophyte) take on it, you can ask me in the comments.

Gravity is a bitch. To signal that my session was nearing an end, they turned the light on inside the pod. A few minutes later the hatch opened (this was all done remotely from the front desk, as I was in a locked room). The first sensation you feel is the cool air. It's pretty warm in the tank, so the cool air feels really good. I couldn't move. I just laid there in the warm water feeling the cool air on my exposed skin. After a couple minutes I tried to get up. "Tried" being the operative word. I don't think I can adequately describe the effect of going from zero gravity to 100% gravity in a single motion.

It was a bit of a struggle to stand up at first, and my first few steps were really clumsy. My body was relaxed in a way I don't ever remember experiencing before, and the very act of moving hurt a little bit. It's just the sensation of going from total weightlessness to feeling your full weight on the pads of your feet again. Impossible to describe; it has to be experienced. But it's not pleasant. The lady who ran the joint told me that it's best to get a massage right after the tank, and she's probably right (and also definitely trying to sell me a massage). The shower I took immediately after getting out of the tank was nothing short of amazing.

I basically felt awesome for the next three days, and I'm still in a great mood. I'm typically a pretty dark guy, so that's a welcome change. I can't wait to get in the tank again a week from Saturday. I can definitely see why people take psychedelics before floating, because that makes the process of mind expansion so much more natural. I know you can definitely get there without it, but I'm sure it takes a hell of a lot longer. That said, eating a bunch of mushrooms and tripping balls in a tank is probably a lot of fun, but I'll bet it doesn't do much for self discovery.

Anyway, this went way longer than I anticipated and I'm sure you guys have some questions, so fire away.

Comments (51)

Nov 7, 2013

I would be terrified of getting a super saturated salt solution up my dick. That in of itself is far more terrifying to me than the extremely messed up shit my brain would come up with if left to its own accord to do what ever it wanted.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Nov 7, 2013

How much did it cost?

Nov 7, 2013

I'm going to have to try this sometime. I would be fascinated by the experience and what my mind was capable of doing in an environment such as that.

For the falling sensation... were you actively trying to achieve that initially? Or did it sort of happen of its own accord and then you tried to replicate it?

Nov 7, 2013

Awesome write up, now I want to do it even more. Also, that falling effect is similar to someone who begins to enter sleep paralysis which then yields to lucid dreaming. Maybe your next time you may experience something much more drastic since same as sleep paralysis it takes practice and time to jump to a lucid dream.

Nov 7, 2013

Wow this sounds cool, I'm going to try it. I'm naturally introverted and my head is often swimming by the time I leave the city. This sounds like the stillness when beyond the breakers while surfing, but way more focused. I'm guessing getting stoned/high beforehand would be a completely different experience, not sure how anyone relaxes on acid.

One question: I have tinnitus (ringing in ears) and wonder if you have any suggetion how to mitigate that?

Nov 7, 2013

Please indulge me and get into the metaphysical. Just curious what your thoughts are on that stuff.

Array

Nov 7, 2013

Eddie... I would be worried about transforming into a prehistoric rage monkey

Nov 7, 2013

@heister You definitely don't want to manscape before getting in the tank. That salt water will light you up.

@TwoThrones EU64 an hour, but I'll probably just drop the EU1,000 for six months unlimited use.

@BusinessSense It just happened the first time, and then I decided to try to manipulate it. I figured it out after a little while.

@yeahright I'm hoping I get better and better at it the more I do it. There's definitely a door inside your mind, but mine is sealed up tight. I'm hoping with enough time and practice I'll be able to kick it open.

@UFOinsider I'm not sure what would mitigate tinnitus. By now I'm sure you're used to it, so maybe you don't notice it as much? I know that's not real helpful. Might be good to put earplugs in and dunk your head under water to see if the problem persists in that environment.

For those of you interested in trying it out, here's a locator:

http://floatation.biz/floatfinder/

It's by no means exhaustive, so if you can't find a place in your town that doesn't mean there isn't one. You'll just have to do a little more digging.

Nov 7, 2013

Thanks for the locator. $80/hour for a place in NYC. Almost the same price.

Nov 7, 2013

What does your skin feel like after you get out?

Nov 7, 2013

@kingtut The place I went put a bunch of magnesium in the water to help your skin. You feel a little slimy when you get out (not sure if that's the salt or the magnesium), but you go straight into the shower because you can't leave that much salt on your skin.

Nov 7, 2013

Did they up-sell you on the magnesium thing? I hope not, because the tank already had roughly 400 pounds of magnesium in it, since epsom salts are by definition magnesium-sulfate. It is very good for you though.

Nov 7, 2013

No, that was probably just a lost in translation thing. Makes better sense now.

Nov 7, 2013

Interesting. I wonder if this will be the next craze amongst elite athletes. Isloation Chamber + Hyperbaric Chamber = win??

Nov 7, 2013

Interesting. I wonder if this will be the next craze amongst elite athletes. Isloation Chamber + Hyperbaric Chamber = win??

Nov 7, 2013

great write up Eddie glad you enjoyed it! and haha i knew you would want to make your second session etc for 90min +, time seriously flies by in there once you're relaxed. i tried 3 hours once with a ~15min break in the middle, i was living on cloud 9 for ~10 days after tha

the way you describe the zero gravity effect makes my back/neck tingle, the feeling is unreal, weird at first, but absolute bliss once you get used to it. i can't wait to get back into a tank... just found there's one in the canary islands https://www.facebook.com/pages/Interior-Floatation...

but I'll probably just drop the EU1,000 for six months unlimited use.

very very smart idea

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 7, 2013

Dude, didn't know you were heading down that way. I've got some spots for you. Roatan kicks ass.

Nov 7, 2013

Roatan is on the list for sure. not sure when i'll make it, maybe February, maybe April

Jan have this place booked in San Juan del Sur https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/982426

March this place in Bocas del Toro https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1129768

(i love airbnb)

will def hit you up for some advice once i get over that way

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 7, 2013

also just talked to the guy that owns the flotation device here, 70euro for two hours. instead of it being a pod, it's an open pool and you can choose to have complete darkness or 'scenes' playing on a projector on the ceiling above you, e.g. sky/clouds, flyover of the himalayas, nature scenes, etc. i'm getting ideas...

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 7, 2013

Eddie, interested in hearing what you mean exactly by this "door in your mind"/

You know you've been working too hard when you stop dreaming about bottles of champagne and hordes of naked women, and start dreaming about conditional formatting and circular references.

Nov 7, 2013

Did you get a years worth of experiences in a day? A real life hyperbolic time chamber.

Nov 7, 2013

Joe Rogan Army ITT

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

Nov 7, 2013

They should put these in the office, so that every time you run into a #REF, you can just pop off your suit and find the solution.

Also, anybody ever try jerkin it in those things?

Nov 7, 2013
BTbanker:

Also, anybody ever try jerkin it in those things?

Uhhh...you'd have to be some kind of savage. Who wants to lay in a tank full of their jizz?

Nov 7, 2013

Totes worth it.

Nov 7, 2013

One of the many things, albeit one of the less painful things to worry about.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Nov 7, 2013
Edmundo Braverman:

Inside the tank is about 12" of water and 800 lbs of epsom salt

my god, that's a huge amount of stuff.

Edmundo Braverman:
BTbanker:

Also, anybody ever try jerkin it in those things?

Uhhh...you'd have to be some kind of savage. Who wants to lay in a tank full of their jizz?

wait, I know you're a big shot, but jeezus christ.....how much jizz do you have to consider your load 'laying in a tank full of your own jizz' given the 800 lbs of salt and 12" of water. You really are Superman.

    • 1
Nov 7, 2013
BTbanker:

They should put these in the office, so that every time you run into a #REF, you can just pop off your suit and find the solution.

Also, anybody ever try jerkin it in those things?

lold hard

Nov 7, 2013

Eddie, the post a few weeks ago with you and Andy talking about isolation tanks caught my interest. I've been thinking about trying some basic meditation in order to help relax and focus better, and this seemed to fit in there.

Anyway, just for fun I went to the floatfinder website and there's is literally a place within walking distance from my office. So I may just have to give it a try.

Nov 7, 2013

Nice !

Nov 7, 2013

The inventor of the tank, John Lilly, used to take massive doses of ketamine before going in. Pretty sure you'd have a unique experience lol.

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

Nov 7, 2013

Great post, and very interesting. Found out there is exactly one location with multiple tanks within 500 miles of my location, at 75$ per hour. Definitely going to have to give it a try.

Wondering if there are any physical benefits to the relaxation and stress relief, such as (temporarily) relieving back pain.

Nov 7, 2013

@AndyLouis Dude, do you know how remote Bocas del Toro is? I actually came a hair's breadth away from buying a place down there. Beautiful area, but it's not easy to get to and you'd better have a boat to get around.

Nov 7, 2013

yeah don't plan to do too much moving around in bdt, have that place for a month then from there maybe see one or two other spots. as part of the rental there's a boat we can all go in for touring that area at least

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 7, 2013

Just figured out what I'm asking the 'rents for my birthday. Great post.

Nov 7, 2013

great post many thanks eddie, have been waiting for it :)

how about urinating inside it? (ye i know, awful, but hey, you can take a shower afterwards... xp>getting dirty)
2 hours is no joke, it could ruin my meditation if i remember after 30 min that i gotta pee :D

also, thirst?
did you sweat a lot?

Nov 8, 2013

Agree with @animalz, how do you regulate consumption/waste in a way that's not intrusive to the experience?

Also, is this something where you could jump right in to doing a couple hours your first time? or should you build up to it?

"Millionaires don't use astrology, billionaires do"

Nov 8, 2013

Well, you take care of all that stuff beforehand. If you find that you need to go, you just get up and go I suppose. You certainly don't piss in the tank, because then you have to change the salts at a cost of ~$800. That's a pretty expensive leak.

I think you could definitely do two hours the first time, and it's probably a good idea. It took me at least a half hour to get completely settled in, and when my hour was over I was definitely wishing for more time.

Nov 8, 2013

just booked 3 hours for tomorrow! 100euro

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 8, 2013

Really looking forward to a tank play by play after Eddie has eaten a handful of mushrooms.

Nov 8, 2013

Totally. The next tank write-up should be done after some edibles.

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

Nov 8, 2013
duffmt6:

Really looking forward to a tank play by play after Eddie has eaten a handful of mushrooms.

Believe me when I say there's nothing I look more forward to writing.

Nov 11, 2013

if yours was the rolls royce of tanks, mine was the stretch limo. having that much space to float around made the experience 3x better. and i guess nobody had ever done 3 hours in this tank, even the owner haha. No way I could do it that long every time but was much needed after not going for 3 months.

Photo

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 11, 2013

Epic. I'm going again this Saturday. Can't wait.

Nov 11, 2013

If this is some guerrilla marketing scheme for the big deprivation tank industry it is working.

Jun 7, 2014
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