William Putnam

Are float tanks worth it?

Who's up for some sensory deprivation?

Though everything we do is for the purpose of altering consciousness, some experiences are more powerful than others. Sensory deprivation tanks, popularized by John C. Lily and more recently Joe Rogan, are said to be one means towards self-discovery. This relatively recently popular phenomenon has now moved to Bangkok.

Earlier this year, I experimented with sensory deprivation tanks at Theta Float Center on Sukhumvit 24. I thought I would share some of my experiences.

Sensory deprivation tanks are a simple idea. You go into a tank with water at about body temperature with enough salt in it to support the weight of your body. You float in this comfortable environment, in a pod or a room, and either meditate or follow your thought patterns.

The experience at Theta Float Center is pleasant and relaxing.

After you arrive, you are given tea and walked through what will occur during the session. Then, you go to the bathroom, shower, and get in the float tank. The music plays for the first 10 minutes of the session to allow you to get used to the lack of sensory input.

Once the music turns off, you have 50 minutes of being alone with your thoughts. At the end of the session, the music plays again, you shower again to wash the salt off, and then you eat some organic chocolate snacks and write about your experience in the guest journal (this is optional).

My first experience with float tanks was uneventful. I felt relaxed after the session, but no novel thoughts or ideas emerged, and I never lost track of time or where I was. The second time was even more relaxing, and I was able to work through some decisions, but no profound discoveries made their way into my consciousness.

Then, during my third session, I lost track of my proprioception entirely. I was truly floating in space, a vacuum, as if I were back in the womb. I knew this was only temporary, but part of me was terrified, worried I would be in this state permanently and end up as a neurological case study in one of Oliver Sacks' books.

Now, back to the question I have attempted to answer in this blog. Are they worth it? At 1500-2000 baht for a one hour float, sensory deprivation tanks cost about the same in Thailand as they do in the US.

I would say that they are worth trying, but they do not necessarily live up the hype that Joe Rogan and others have endorsed them with.

Give them a shot!


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