And now for the third and final installment of this little trilogy – one which I promised could prove beneficial for anyone pursuing the practice of meditation, regardless of physical ability. It is something I have not experienced myself but I have heard and read great endorsements for it. The sensory deprivation chamber.
This post was inspired by a very short yet exciting conversation I had with a friend several weeks ago during which he brought up the idea of getting a friend of his a certificate for a session in “the chamber of solitude” as it were, or “the tank”. Since then I have read a bit on the subject and can see the potential for benefit.
The tank neutralizes your sense of sight, sound, and smell but in many of these tanks you lie in a pool of water which is regulated to adhere to your body temperature, so that your sense of touch is veiled from your consciousness. Not only this but the more advanced tanks will take away the sense of gravity.
DISCLAIMER: It seems that after a certain amount of time, some say the “psychedelic experience” is duplicated. Indeed hallucination has been a known side effect to spending too much time in the tank.
But that is not the intended result, obviously. As with anything, temperance is the key. The middle path, all that. I only suggest the sensory deprivation chamber as a springboard to deeper, self-guided meditations. It is called the “think tank” because reportedly sessions in the tank result in opening up to parts of your brain that one never used before, or understanding one’s thought process like never before. Without the external triggers present, one’s thought process is restructured in a way never before experienced. It is said one comes out with a revitalized understanding of his/her own emotions, tendencies, and motives.
This is something that meditation can also do for you, and very well if done correctly and earnestly. But for a beginning meditator, it can be difficult to reach this stage. I myself was not able to meditate long at first unless (and this sounds counter-intuitive, I know!) I put headphones on and played a 30-minute Ravi Shankar raga every time I meditated. Somehow I was able to completely ignore the music, but it would help me block out the background noise in my apartment, which had been even more distracting. So what I am saying is that the tank might be a huge first step into meditation but it might also be a helpful tool, if used correctly.
I said I had not experienced “the tank” but I do recall now, when I first began experimenting with meditation, I had a side-practice in which I would enter my bath with lukewarm water up to the neck, and I would turn the bathroom light off, and cover the doorjamb so no light and minimal sound would enter the room. I could spend an hour or two in there, to the point that my wife would come knocking. Or I’d come out, and she’d say “were you meditating?” And I was. And it was fantastic. I think I’ll revive the practice soon, and I may just get myself and my wife certificates to the sensory deprivation chamber in the Twin Cities. I think it could be a valuable, perception altering experience for both of us.
I told my friend that I wondered if members of my temple would be interested in helping to fund bringing a sensory deprivation chamber to our city. As “artificial” as it seems in comparison to good old-fashioned lotus and mantra yoga, it is yet another path, or at least an aid, to self-realization.