I've always been interested in anything new and different whether it be doing Magic Mushroms in Amsterdam, Running with Bulls in Spain or being a Human guinea pig in a Research centre in Melbourne.
I've known about something called a Floatation Tank (also known as Sensory deprivation tank, Isolation tank or Rest tank) for quite sometime but never really looked into it. However over the last year I've been fairly regularly watching Joe Rogans (MMA commentator/Stand-up comic) Podcasts. He talks about all sorts of topics and subjects of discussion but the intrigue of the FT's (Floatation tank) mentions really got me interested. Joe Rogan happens to own a FT and has it in his basement.
The Floatation tank was invented by a man named John C. Lilly from the States. He was a Neuro-psychiatrist who was trying to test a Hypothesis that, If all stimuli are cut off to the brain then it would go to sleep. Essentially the Tank was designed to cut off your 5 Senses (Sight, Hearing, Smell, Taste and Touch [i dont know why i listed them, you have no sense if you needed to know what they were])
and see the effect it had on the Brain.
Pretty facinating shit! I'll stop ranting on Scientific shit i dont know anything about and tell you in Ross's terms (forget Layman). The Tank is bigger than a bath, has a lid (kinda like a coffin for Yeti or bigfoot) and inside theres about 30cm of water and about 800 pounds of Epsom salt (and heres me thinking Epsom made printers) which makes the water very dense and buoyant (kinda like the dead sea). Tanks were originally used to test Sensory deprivation, but nowadays they are used for general relaxation in Spa's, stress relief and in other cases Meditation...
So I decided to harness the wonders of Google and see if Japan had kept up with Technology (not quite keeping up as the Tank was first developed in 1954) enough to have their Chopstick loving hands on such an item! This was not in a bid to become a hippie and start tapping into my Meditating self, but just because it was something curious and something i had to try out. My search found me 2 Tanks; 1 in Kyoto and 1 in a Japanese man by the name of Miyabe-san's apartment in Tokyo. Fortunately he wasn't guarding it for only his naked self (Yes you are supposed to be naked in the Tank...i hope they clean those things!) like something from Area 51. He runs a business allowing people to "travel without moving" and experience the wonders of the Tank. What a man of the community eh. So after firing him and email and eventually booking a slot for my girlfriend and I to lose our FT virginities, I was ready....well i wasnt exactly sure what for but it seemed like something worth telling.
I told many of my Students (adults only of course) of various levels of English in different levels of graded English. Most appeared interested at the very least but most likely had no clue what i was talking about (i dont think they do anyway [or anyone for that matter]). I was going to tell my kid students but i wasnt sure which order FT's came in, in the ciriculum; was it Colours, Animals, FT's or did FT's come before Animals?!
Then the day of Tankification came (last sunday) and after waking up slightly hungover (from some Drum n Bassing the night before) we got some food and made our way to Miyabe-san's crib. I think my girlfriend was as interested as me, I managed to get her to Bungee Jump and White water raft last year with no rebuttles. Didn't matter anyway she was being dragged along regardless (I feel i still have slight salesman persuasion skills from my Electricity/Vacuum selling days down under). It worked out that it wasnt far to get to from my girlfriends humble abode. Miyabe-san lives in a very old 1960's/Kyoto looking narrow street in an old apartment. We were greeted and came into his apartment (after taking our shoes off of course) and made our way to the Living room, where we sipped tea and i was quizzed about where I'd heard about the FT like it was some kind of secret club in which i had to prove my worth. Once he had explained a bit, i was to be first (not ladies first).
The FT was in his bathroom next to seperate rooms for his Shower and toilet. He told me he needed to relax me before i go in..what did he means? (i thought my MMA [Mixed Martial Arts] training was about to be called for) He put a padded weight on my head and made noises with various maraccas and mini-symbols around my ears. I have to admit i was about to crack up and tell him to stop having a laugh....but i didnt want to be rude and interupt the voodoo proceedings.
I was told soft music would be played through a microphone into the FT to let me know when my session was over (1-2hour sessions, mine being 1hr). After a quick Shower to clean myself I entered the FT (a place literally thousands of other naked people have been in) and promptly closed the door. It was pitch dark inside (considering i needed a 'nightlight' to sleep when i was younger, i think I've come a long way!), the water which was supposedly outer body temperature but...it wasn't quite so i could still feel it (thats one sense intact)...as well as the walls which i instantly reached around for (thats two senses intact...oh wait thats still just one). Once i lay down i immediately floated, to the point where i didn't have to use any muscles, not even my neck. It was like a waterbed but minus the bed...so just like water then, but really salty water...Epsom (printer) Salty!
My experience lasted 1 hour. During this hour i wasn't exactly sure what i was meant to be doing. I went through thinking stages but nothing deep or spiritual, more like what i wanted for dinner later. I went through sleep stages, at one point i thought i heard the soft music sounding to tell me i'd done my time and i woke up (from my 60% sleep) and i'd imagined it. Although once i was awake again, i wasn't sure how much time had elapsed (big word for me there). So my perception of time had gone, which meant i didnt know if i had time to attempt to sleep again or what to do. Sometime later after drifting off again, my ears brought the rest of my body to the attention of the soft music telling me to...GET OUT. I waved my arms around trying to find the exit (it wasnt highlighted above the door!) eventually finding it, pushing it open thus allowing light into the FT (i was free like a Chilean Miner!). I didn't get the experience i had hoped for (not even sure what that was) but it was definetely relaxing!
While i was sipping tea (again) waiting for my girlfriend to finish getting her float on, Miyabe-san and i got talkin'. Very interesting guy, think he's about...well at least 60. Our conversation led to DMT (a chemical produced in your brain during deep sleep responsible for dreams) then to Ayawaska (a mix of plant extracts to create a hullucinogen, drunk by tribes in the Amazonian region) all very trippy but mind blogging shit. Eventually he asked me to come and check out an invention of his. It was quite the opposite of the FT, this was more of an attack on the senses (namely sight and hearing). We went upstairs (which we had to go out of the house to do) and met his wife in a study. Next to this was a room filled only by a huge waterbed (just like the tank but he added the bed this time, sneaky bugger) and some light sheet on the ceiling. I pretty much lay on the waterbed for about 40minutes, with my eyes shut and was exposed to a barrage of Amazonian sounds he had composed as a 'mix-tape'. While this was being played a bunch of strobe lights flashed all around like some kind of rave and low vibrations shook under the waterbed. It was interesting, i was alert but strangely relaxed. I havent a clue what the purpose of it was...but had i known my girlfriend had been taken up to a (water)bed while i was in the FT, then i would have ran upstairs salty and naked which would have made for an extremely awkward/comedic and slightly perverse situation, ha!
Right so, Miyabe-san explained that usually the first time you dont get that great an experience because your just getting used to the FT. You have to give it 4-5 times. On that note becoming a member seemed to be compulsory (apparently for hygiene reasons) but this made it cheaper.
So i now have a members card and am free to return pending an agreed upon slot. I don't think i can fully make an assessment of FT's as if the first time thing is true then i should give it another 3 chances before making my judgement (of what again...i dont know...but a judgement of something).
I though this was worth writing about as it was a strange day that ended eating Yakitori (assorted meat) in an Izakaya (casual Restaurant) wondering (hoping) if i was still in the tank.
If you've not heard of FT's you have now, and maybe they might become more mainstream and recognised in the future.
I casually find Phycology interesting I've read Derren Browns 'Trick of the Mind' and im currently reading Richard Wisemans 'Quirkology' (and for someone who previously only read pop-up or coloruing books this is BIG). My mind can just about handle these types of books and they are an interesting read on human nature.
I once opened fortune cookie about 7 years ago while i was in the States (i think it was a fortune cookie if i remember rightly) and it read "Short Attention Span Prevents me from being Productive. Socialise in Short Bursts and seek Variety in order to Prevent Boredom". I thought this summed me up back then and even today i think it really has me down to a T. Doesn't sound like a fortune though, but a pretty good definition...