What is a sensory deprivation or isolation tank?
A sensory deprivation tank uses ~ 900lbs of Epsom salt that allows you to float. The temperature of the water is set to your skin temperature ~ 93.5 °F. The result is that you lose awareness of your body.
This novel sensation accompanied with no light or auditory stimulus is extremely beneficial for your body. It helps to reduce the overactive stress response, induce a relaxation response, and decrease chronic pain. Also, the Epsom salt is therapeutic because your body is able to soak up the magnesium. A mineral, which is essential for your well being, but which the majority of the population is deficient in. For a more detailed description about the purported health benefits of isolation tanks, check out this great article from Men’s Journal.
I first heard about sensory deprivation through a mutual friend. However at first, I thought it was a load of B.S. But once I begin exploring it, I became fascinated. Then I was watching the Joe Rogan video below, and I knew I had to try it out ASAP.
My first experience with the tranquility pod was at West Coast Float . As soon as I entered the building, I knew this would be a wonderful experience. It was so calm and soothing. I was then ushered into my own personal room, where everything was laid out for me. We were then instructed how the tranquility pod worked, and to shower, dry off and enter pod.
I then entered the pod. I put my foot in, and it seemed to be exactly like regular water. I wondered if I had made a mistake Then I placed my entire body in and then by some “magic” I was floating! It was as if my body had disappeared. I still knew intellectually that I had a body, but unless I drifted against the sides of the pods I could not sense my body.
In the pods I had the option to close the door or not, and keep the lights on or not. I decided to fully immerse myself in the experience by closing the door and keeping the lights off.
It is remarkable the myriad of things that we are completely oblivious to because we get so caught up in the external world. As soon as I started floating, I noticed a lot of tension all over my body. I was shocked about how much unnecessary tension I was holding in my muscles. I pride myself on my body awareness, since I have been consistently practicing tai chi, qi gong, and yoga for a while. However, I clearly have a long ways to go.
I did not only learn more about my physical state, but also some hidden emotions. A few times, it seemed randomly, I would get a burst of fear where my heart would race, and I felt I needed to open the pod ASAP! At first I thought maybe the air was not circulating well enough. Upon reflection, I realized that this “fear” is an undercurrent in my daily life that manifests itself in subtle ways during the day that prevents me from being the best that I can be. When I was completely derived from external stimuli, there was no external circumstance my brain could use to rationalize this fear. Therefore it came out full throttle. But this was very therapeutic because I realized that the fear was unfounded, and just an outgrowth of my overactive mind.
Despite some minor unpleasant sensations, it was a wonderful experience. After the first 5-15 minutes the vast majority of my negative emotions subsided and I felt a peace and bliss I have never experienced before. This is something I would recommend everyone try at least once in their life. Also for those who are a tad narcissistic, my skin was glowing when I left and my hair looked so much healthier.
Could sensory deprivation or isolation tanks be used to improve athletic performance?
Yes! It is already used by NFL, NHL, NBA, and Olympic athletes to improve their mental concentration, induce a state of deep relaxation,and provide them a distraction free environment to visualize.
As one moves up the ranks in athletics, the physical aspect becomes less and less important because the talent discrepancy becomes smaller and smaller. Once at the world class stage, such as the Olympics, physically the athletes are almost identical. What separates them is their mental fortitude and belief in their ability that allows them to perform under pressure.
Pressure can cripple even the most physically perfect athlete because if they begin to think while they are competing they are bound to lose. For example in Tennis if you watch the pros warm-up, they are hitting perfect serves easily and effortlessly. Then how come during the match, they are many times in which they do no execute on their serves? They lose their concentration on the task at hand because of the pressure and distractions. The use of a tranquility pod is a wonderful way to develop your concentration, and learn to relax. This will carry itself over while you are playing your sport, which will allow you to express all of your potential.
Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,
PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.