Sensory Deprivation Tank

A sensory deprivation tank is filled with a half ton of epsom salt to create a unique floating experience.

In this column, Ashland Source correspondent Waylon O'Donnell shares his experience inside a sensory deprivation tank. 

ASHLAND — Recently, I find myself growing weary of certain words that I hear on a daily basis: Quarantine. Coronavirus. Social distancing.

Every syllable bears the reminder that the Earth has been feeling under the weather as of lately. I often reminisce about when times were normal; when each day wasn’t accompanied with a predetermined layer of stress.

We all have our own tactics to alleviate our anxieties. Some rectify their angst on the golf course, while others tackle their jitters by shoveling spoonfuls of ice cream down their throats. 

Recently, I decided to mitigate my stress-level with a different technique, one I hadn't tried before. I decided to spend an hour inside a sensory deprivation tank. Research led me to discover True REST Float Spa in Cleveland, a facility that specializes in these meditative devices.

Sensory deprivation tanks, sometimes referred to as isolation tanks, are large, light-proof casks that are intended to boost relaxation by eliminating an individual’s senses. It creates an experience that mimics floating on a cloud. In addition to its calming effects, the capsule also decreases chronic pain, reduces swelling, increases circulation, improves mental clarity and also can diminish depression and addiction. 

Each sensory deprivation tank is filled with 1,000 pounds of epsom salt dissolved into ten inches of water. The abundant amount of salt makes the water significantly heavier, allowing individuals to float on top of it with ease. 

I ventured through the doors of True REST Float Spa eager for the endeavor. The receptionist led me to a room with four lounge chairs facing a sizable television and instructed me to watch an informative video since it was my first time floating at their spa.

After the film concluded, the receptionist escorted me to a tile-laden room with my own shower, bench and sensory deprivation tank. The entrance to the pod reminded me of a hippo opening its mouth. 

I tucked my ear plugs in, slipped myself into the tank and closed the lid. My body easily glided across the water as I attempted to settle myself into one of the several floating positions acknowledged in the video.  

The tape explained that I should lie motionless and not let my mind wander. My meditation skills aren’t the most pristine, however I tried my best to remain as still as humanly possible while focusing on my breathing.

It became an incredibly euphoric experience. I could not see because of how dark it was, and I could not hear anything except for my own breathing. I could barely feel anything because the water was heated to skin temperature; it was extremely difficult to perceive where the liquid ended and the hot air began.

It was a weirdly familiar floating sensation, maybe akin to an infant in the womb. It seemed that I was silently drifting through space, but the horizon was starless.

My brain began to play tricks on me. It’s not unusual for an individual to hallucinate in a sensory deprivation tank. I started noticing streaks of lights. Colorful patterns graced across the ebony canvas in front of me. 

Close your eyes as tight as you can and you’ll see splashy meshes of shapes and color. I saw this, except at a much higher clarity and intensity.

I started to hear the blood rushing past my eardrums. I recall listening to my own heartbeat inside of my head. The outside world was covered in an oblivion abyss, and I simply just enjoyed existing for a while.

Soft music began playing inside of my capsule - my cue to exit. Upon departure, I was surprised to notice how energized I felt. My skin felt rejuvenated as well.

True REST Float Spa typically provides complimentary flavored oxygen in their Oasis Lounge for first-time floaters, but unfortunately the coronavirus rendered the machine unusable at the time.

I left with a bright grin on my face, thankful I had the opportunity to escape the trauma associated with current events. 

The next time you feel overburdened with stress or tension, I recommend researching the unique treatment that a sensory deprivation tank offers. It’s a blissful experience unlike any other.

Support Our Journalism

Local news coverage is only sustainable with local support. Here at Ashland Source, our stories will always be free to read, but they aren’t free to produce. Consider supporting our coverage of Ashland County by becoming a member today.

West Sunbury, PA native & recent AU grad. Also the news and sports announcer for 104.5 WQKT in Wooster & a trivia host at local venues. An avid vinyl record collector with a cat named Raava and hedgehog named Lucille.