Meditation, For Rest Daily – Part 3: The Sensory Deprivation Chamber

by Aranyakananda

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.

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4 Responses to Meditation, For Rest Daily – Part 3: The Sensory Deprivation Chamber

  1. Dhrishti says:

    Is there a chance these potential hallucinations are an instance of macroconsciousness being re-squeezed into microconsciousness?

  2. Justin says:

    The people who told me about the tank highly suggested smoking a little bit of weed and getting into the tank. That may go against your religious beliefs, and fall completely inline with others. Marijuana has the effect of lowering your guard on your previously held beliefs and it expands your consciousness for a couple hours or so, making you more open to the information that is all around you all the time but our brains don’t process when we are sober. Judge me as you like, but marijuana was one of the first things that opened me up to the concept of meditation. I wanted to achieve the effects that marijuana provided (happiness, open mindedness, love, compassion) but without harming my lungs and to prevent myself from getting arrested for possessing a plant under our draconian laws here in the United States. Meditation was quackery to me before I became open minded to it by rethinking my stance on it while under the influence of weed.

    While I have never tried the float tank either, I have met people who DO seek out psychedelic experiences in the tank. These psychedelic experiences are one form of altered states of consciousnesses than man has been seeking since the dawn of time. Native Americans and dozens, if not hundreds of cultures all over the world have sought out methods to help them reach this state of mind to help them connect with the planet and their higher self, in a search to provide direction, meaning, and answers to the questions in life that don’t have defined answers.

    A variety of techniques have evolved including the use of drugs; the eating of plants, animals, seeds, or fungi; huffing chemicals; sensory deprivation; alcohol; meditation; starvation; near death experiences, lucid dreaming; chanting; rhythmic drumming; prayer; spiritual rituals, drinking the blood of an animal or human, controlled breathing, and hypnosis among other things that you wouldn’t typically consider like skydiving, bungee jumping, racing or other dangerous activities that put our lives at risk for the thrill the “user” gets from that experience.

    Believe it or not even the act of dreaming at night when you sleep is actually a psychedelic experience produced when a chemical called Dimethyltryptamine (or DMT) is released by the pineal gland. The gland is often referred to by some shamans or religions as the “third eye” or “the mind’s eye”.

    While some of these techniques of achieving altered states of consciousness are safer and easier than others, the seeking out and curiosity around these experiences are completely natural for human beings and as science is discovering, is an important element to living a happy and healthy life.

    It is only in the past 100 years or so that the majority of nations have made safe drugs like marijuana illegal. Is it such a wonder that most of us in the United States are completely disconnected from the planet? We scrape and exploit, and destroy that which sustains us all and as quickly as we can, all in search of false happiness. The act of acquiring more things, defining ourselves by our possessions, and feeding the ego, while simultaneously making the world a bad place for all life. The U.S. has some of the highest amounts of crime of any civilized nation!

    In closing I would say that the tank is a safe way to experience a psychedelic experience over other methods because if you begin getting scared you simply get out of the tank versus being stuck in a bad trip on mushrooms or LSD for another 6 hours. As far as I can tell though, experiencing a truly psychedelic experience in a tank is hard to achieve and takes practice and work on yourself. Meditating for long durations, combining the tank experience with marijuana and meditation may be the one of the safest and quickest ways to experience something like that. I think it’s all something we should make an effort to experience in our short lives. But I personally have never tried this myself.

    Namaste.

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