Hi guys, my apologies for yesterday, my kitchen is back to it’s pristine state of Tony-ness, thank you very much! Today I’m going to take you to a place that I have very rarely taken anyone. We’re going to talking about Altered States and some of what you’ll read here is NOT for children and should be understood that the intent here is merely to educate. Specifically, we’re talking about “Think Tanks” or sensory deprivation chambers. And although they are generally used for very therapeutic reasons there are Metaphysical advantages to employing one in your personal life. An isolation tank (think tank) is a man sized chamber (some horizontal, some vertical) in which there is salt water, which is at skin temperature, it circulates at the rate of the earth’s rotation, there is no light or sound inside, (communications are done via audio equipment to listen and record) this environment is created so that the user floats inside with a sense of complete weightlessness akin to floating in space because of the darkness and soundlessness. They were first introduced by John C. Lilly in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation. These tanks are now used for meditation and relaxation, and they are also used in “Alternative” medicine. When I was first introduced to one in 1984 it was called a “Think Tank” but other names include Sensory deprivation tank, float tank, John Lilly tank, rest tank, and sensory attenuation tank. The most comforting thing about the tank (I found) was the water——-it is salt water that is so dense with salt that it is literally impossible to sink in it, and the temperature matches your skin temp. so, once you’re in there you’re no longer aware of the water at all. I found it comforting to know that no matter what, drowning was out of the question. This affect does a number of interesting things, it creates an unbelievable sense floating etc. but the most fascinating thing is what it does to your mind. All of your senses (except smell, which at one point becomes irrelevant) are cut off so your mind begins creating imagery so that you won’t go insane(minor exaggeration), because when your mind, in it’s waking state, has no sensory input it begins creating it’s own——-from memories, imaginings and experiences. I like to call it “instant meditation”. But I will go into all the metaphysical stuff in a sec, let me put your mind at ease with some facts.
Generally, users of think tanks enter the pool nude. The elastic material of a tight-fitting swim suit can create uncomfortable compressed stress points on the skin during the session. Due to the high salt content, the water is not changed more than twice a month and ALL users are required to shower, wash with a disinfectant soap, and rinse clean prior to entering for all of the obvious reasons. Most tanks have a surface skimmer, filtration system which includes ulra-violet sterilization and chemicals to keep the water free of microbes and sediment. So, if you have some sort of serious skin condition you’re outta luck, BUT, that doesn’t mean can’t but or build your own. If you’re serious about meditation and reaching altered states of consciousness it’s a VERY worthwhile investment.
A therapeutic session in a tank typically lasts 60-90 minutes. For the first 40 minutes it’s possible to experience itching in different parts of the body (also common in the early stages of advanced meditation) the last 20 minutes often end with a translation from Beta (or alpha-brainwaves) to Theta, which normally occurs very briefly before falling asleep and again at waking. In a float (think) tank the Theta state can last indefinitely without the client losing consciousness. A lot of people use the extended Theta state as a tool for enhanced creativity and problem solving for super-learning. The more often you use the tank the longer the Theta period lasts. —–THIS is where Metaphysics and my personal experiences blossom gloriously. Now, what I’m about to convey to you should not be attempted without medical supervision and complete soundness of mind. When I was 22 years old I found one these sensory deprivation chambers, just up the street from the “National Spiritual Science Center” on 16th street in Washington DC. I had just seen the awesome film “ALTERED STATES” in which William Hurt’s character experiments with a hallucinogen in the tank to regress himself back to an early Cro-Magnon man like form. Well being the fearless 22 year old that I was I acquired some psilocybin (hallucinogenic mushrooms) and booked a six-hour block of the tanks time. Which in those days was a VERY easy thing to do. Today it would be difficult if not impossible because of all of the legal ramifications involved. I befriended the guy working there and told him exactly what I was doing. He had no problem because he was familiar with the film and had another person ask him to monitor him similarly to my request. There was no problem with the first requester’s experience and so we anticipated no problems with mine. I took my mushrooms about 15 minutes before entering the horizontal tank so that the effects of the psilocybin would coincide with reaching the Theta state of brain activity and little did I know that I was about to go on the ride of a lifetime. After the first period of simple deep relaxing euphoria I began to see (eyes closed of course, it’s too overwhelming for the mind to keep your eyes open) I began seeing intense numbers of what appeared to be shooting stars screaming by me at incredible speeds, followed by strange sounds of water rushing and wind blowing and then into some of the most incredible scenes of picturesque splendor that are still beyond my ability to describe. Otherworldly comes to mind!. With colors so intense I don’t think that they exist for the human eye. I remember having soulful conversations with people I knew and some I had never met. I remember thinking I was a spirit flying throughout the universe with the ability to stop and picnic (Not kidding, PICNIC) at will. Whenever I thought of someone I could stop and speak with them. Most of the time however I felt as if I were moving, exploring , coupled with an outrageously intense sense of euphoria…..so much so that I did not want it to end. It felt like being cradled in the arms of happiness and pure joy with a view to stop your heart from pounding for fear that it might be frightened away by the sound of it. There was so much information passing through my awareness that I couldn’t keep it separated enough, I couldn’t categorize it, and after some great effort to comprehend I simply LET GO and just drifted and let it all just wash over me like some divine encyclopedia…..I still can’t describe it well enough, and I’m a poet!!…….it was so exhilarating and engrossing that I didn’t want it to end——ever!———when the sound of the door opening and the light streaming in shocked me back into reality I screamed “Close the damn DOOR!!!”…..he replied. “I can’t it’s time for me to go home!” I had been in there , in my mind maybe an hour, but in actuality I had been there over 7 hours he had let me stay longer because he said it was fascinating to hear me talk in different languages and voices. The only other language I could fake my way through was German, he said I was speaking some weird latin sounding languages. I was not aware I had spoken a single word——-and I was NOT dreaming——-hallucinogens don’t put you to sleep. The entire experience to this day remains somewhat of mystery to me, but I do know that in practicing meditation I am approaching some of those feelings of bliss and wonder only in a much more controlled fashion. I often dream of being in that chamber. I still think of it as a positive experience but the truth is, something happened to me in there that I just can’t explain. Nor do I feel the need to. I also lost any desire to go in again. Not because I’m afraid, but because there is something inside of me that knows that there is nothing more to learn there—–and that my new horizon lies in advanced, controlled, meditation practices……..don’t ask me HOW I know that……I just know!!………..I am Dartanion2………..and that’s the way I see it………..cheers…………..t xx