Last week, I had a series of interviews for a new position at work. A position that, if I got the job, would put me on the path towards a drastically positive change in my life. I, along with the two other finalists, were told to expect a decision this week. Quite understandably, I have been a blob of uncontrollable nerves since Sunday night, and was desperately trying all of my favorite relaxation techniques to calm down.
Interestingly, my family had some old friends visiting from out of town who had been looking for a chance to try out a sensory-deprivation chamber. Since we all felt that together, we had a good excuse to finally test it out, we scheduled appointments for Monday morning, and gave it a go.
It was not what I thought it would be.
Reading the FAQs on what to expect from our visit, I learned that floating in a sensory-deprivation chamber is meant to make you feel better both physically and psychologically. The Epsom salts are meant to relieve stress, help your body recover from injuries, and the feeling of floating weightlessly in water in a dark and silent space, with no distractions, has been shown to be a great gateway into meditative states. Websites on floating in sensory-deprivation chambers used phrases such as “your brain pumps out dopamine” and “your level of concentration and creativity is amazing.” Honestly, I didn’t expect to find nirvana, but I did want to relax.
Unfortunately, this did not happen. Slipping into my robe and slippers was wonderful. Sitting in a massage chair for twenty minutes, sipping chamomile tea while soft music played, and watching as the lights danced on the dark ceiling felt soothing. Being led to the room where my chamber / tank was and taking a nice, warm shower got me excited about what was coming. But once I actually got into the chamber, shut the door, and laid down, I felt like the “relaxation” part was over.
I tried floating in the dark at first – no noise, no movement, just allowing my mind to slow down. This did not work. Then, I lifted my hands above my head and spent some time pushing myself back and forth between the walls of the tank (I’ve always loved the sensation of being in water). This also did nothing. I tried singing to myself. I tried putting my hands under my neck. I tried lying still again. Nope.
After what felt like a lifetime, I opened the door and poked my head out to look at the clock – only fifteen minutes had passed. I forced myself back into my tank, and tried to relax again, but I just kept getting more and more frustrated that these relaxation techniques that I’d heard such rave reviews about, were just acting as a stressor for me.
I ended up lasting an entire 25 minutes out of the 60 I had booked. I showered again, went to change, and actually cried in the locker room because I was so upset that I had spent money on such an uncomfortable experience, and had only ended up more tense and exhausted than before.
Our family friends ended up with very similar experiences (minus the crying – that’s my specialty). Afterwards, we all treated ourselves to some delicious Mexican food and felt much better. But I think still I’ll need a few good night’s sleep – and a few classes at Sanctuary! – to make up for my time in the sensory-deprivation chamber.
I will say that my experience seems out-of-the-ordinary. There are dozens of articles online about people’s wonderful experiences with these chambers, so if it sounds interesting to you, go try it! Just make sure to keep your expectations in check.