Tanking Experience

4 August, 2007 Ken Religion & SpiritualityUncategorized

Today I went tanking down in Ohio.  It was a typical Samadhi isolation tank and I spent an hour in it.  The only way I could describe floating in Epsom salt water would be … well … floating in Epsom salt water.  I think everyone should try it once and see if they like it, but I wont be buying my own anytime soon..

samadhi.jpgI can see how it would be relaxing, but did not find it more beneficial a circumstance in meditation than sitting upright or lying on a bed.  In fact, instead of decreasing external stimulus, for me it heightened my awareness of body.  My mind was neither more nor less calm or cluttered than usual, and if anything, I couldn’t get in the mood to “zone” (awake sleep state / lucid daydreaming) in such a strange environment.  Well, maybe a little near the end, but again, no more than if I had been dozing on the couch watching an uninteresting show on TV. 

I thought it would feel more natural … I dunno … “womb-like” or something.  I like to float in a pool, and it was great doing it without effort, but after a while you could smell and even feel the salts in the humid air inside.  I would have killed for some fresh air and quieter blood flow.  The ringing was tuned out after a bit and I could voluntarily choose to hear or not hear my heartbeat — it was more of a reverberating vibration than a sound in the usual sense.

In terms of posture, I was a bit uncomfortable laying on my back semi-weightless, and my neck and shoulders couldn’t relax, except when I placed my hands underneath me near the kidneys. 

The whole experience was anti-climactic in the sense I was hoping for SOMETHING different than the obvious.  Not necessarily past life clarifications or out-of-body experiences, and maybe not a super-heightened self-perception or better method of stilling the mind, but one could hope … In agreement with the tank’s owner, I suspect people who’ve had “spiritual” experiences in the tank likely used such a contraption aided by pharmaceuticals.

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One response to “Tanking Experience”

  • Ken says:

    Here’s something I (had) posted to a newsgroup in response to a few people asking about the noise of body an mind, as well as a friend saying they knew someone who did tanking and didn’t get the experience until about the fourth time:

    I wasn’t going for any particular result. For me I can enter “the state” I believe people are talking about at will, and was waiting to see if the environment was more conducive and (for me) it was not. Maybe it was unfamiliarity — that would be overcome by doing it a few more times — but halfway through I felt like getting out, like it seemed silly (not better or worse, but not worth breathing the heavy air and having sticky water cling to me).

    You have to also understand that besides that being an unnatural alignment (spine is not straight at all) for most meditation traditions, it was not comfortable for me personally. I had also just driven many hours and being on a schedule, didn’t have time to stretch as I had hoped.

    As for the suggestion it might be like some exercises that take a few tries to get it, I think it could very much be like that for tanking — many people don’t get significant awareness of their chi in some chi kung exercises until they’ve done it a few times — but I was misunderstood about the “noise” of the body. What I meant was the sound of breathing and blood flow, etc. was physically louder than outside ambient noise — not because of lack of sound (which would take a moment or two to cause quiet sounds to seem loud) but because of the eardrums being under water.

    But that wasn’t a problem — just seemed odd even though I should have expected it. I can meditate with industrial music or thruway traffic, and I tuned out this noise in the tank as well once I relaxed a little, but since I consider my body part of my environment, the term “sensory deprivation” hardly fits. I was hoping for the tank to do it’s thing without my effort I guess. However, I was more easily aware of my limbs, posture, etc., and the slightest change in temperature around my body. I could even tell when I would touch the side of the tank before it happened.

    As for noise of the mind, without getting into the argument that the
    senses are in the mind (which they are or are not depending on view point), I will differentiate thoughts and perceptions for the sake of this post. Since I am an introvert at heart, my mind more actively processes non-environmentally-related thoughts than the incoming perceptions of my environment, so I usually meditate with my eyes open, though sometimes closed when in a wakened dream state. I think I generally handle external distractions (environmentally-related perceptual, be they processed or not physically or mentally) better than internal ones (processed conceptualizations, subconscious flows, memories, etc.).

    Because of this I often use physical activity to activate an emptiness of mind. That’s why I love martial arts — it forces one to rise to this state at a moments notice, and with practice can be invoked at will, and over time becomes the natural state of just living.

    Maybe tanking several times would yield some beneficial result not possible without one, but again, what would that be, and is it worth spending the time and money to do it? The guy who owns the tanks does it several times a week, for up to six hours, and has never had anything more than a relaxed state of semi-sleep, sometimes forgetting where he was. He uses it as an aid to physical therapy and stress relief and it works great for him. You find these things in spas mostly and despite their coolness years ago they never caught on in any other field or use. So I guess my question is what result would be of interest to me that one would experience in the tank — without LSD and the like?

    Would regular tanking heighten my spiritual-mental focus or ability, when it seemed to have no noticeable effect at all the first time?

    Maybe, but what happens is a very subjective experience dependent upon the state of the individual. Maybe if I was mentally cluttered that day it would have make a big difference and I would have been wowed. But as it stands, it was just something to experience out of curiosity and not any real need or desire, and no experience is wasted.

    On another note, I think I’ll go rent Altered States …

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