Since my mate told me about the Harvest Moon Centre, I have always wanted to try a deprivation tank and now, the time has come.
First of all, what is a deprivation tank?
It is basically a big tank filled with two feet of really salty water in which you float in complete darkness for an hour.
If you need help picturing this, remember that Simpsons episode:
There are two options: one is an entire room if you are in any way claustrophobic and the second is an actual tank, but it’s way bigger than the one Homer jumps into so don’t worry.
What’s the point?
It’s to deprive you of all sensory input, including sound, sight, and gravity. As you float weightless in the silence and darkness, the brain is supposed to enter into a deeply relaxed state.
Without the constant pressure of analysing the world around you, your body lowers its levels of cortisol, the main chemical component of stress. Your brain also releases elevated levels of dopamine and endorphins, the neurotransmitters of happiness.
On top of this, not having to fight gravity lets your muscles, joints and bones take a well-deserved break. Your body suddenly has loads of extra resources and gets to focus on things like healing and resting.
What was my experience like?
This was my first time and up until I dived in, I had only a brief knowledge on this but I was really looking forward to it.
I popped down to Harvest Moon Centre on Baggot Street and was greeted by the staff who showed me to the deprivation tank room.
It is honestly just a big tank in a small room so it doesn’t look the most appealing but I didn’t think much of it and walked around to jump in.
There are a few formalities before you start. Like you have to take a shower before going in, cover up any cuts with vaseline, wear earbuds which are provided and make sure you don’t touch your eyes with wet hands from the tank. That’ll sting!
I did bring swimming shorts but was told you float better when naked and who was I to disagree with the experts? So I stripped off, jumped in, closed the door behind me and turned off the lights.
And there I was, floating naked in complete darkness… in a basement on Baggot Street.
I’m not going to lie, for the first 15/20 minutes it's very hard to relax. A lot is going through your head as a first time participant. What am I supposed to be thinking of? What am I supposed to be doing? How do I relax? Have they changed this bloody water since the last naked floater?
As it was my first time, they also gave me a floating neck pillow which I started off without but my neck got very sore about 5 minutes in and I had to grab it.
After this initial period you do seem to drift away, pretty much daydreaming as you get lost in your own thoughts.
It was similar to lying on your bed in darkness without any distractions, just you and your thoughts, but what I found interesting was that without these distractions, only important thoughts seem to surface.
I wasn’t worried about social media and followers but more on real life decisions, like career and health, and real life people and relationships. This is the time that’s supposed to be very good for creative thinkers and it’s not often you slip into this state of mind so I enjoyed this part.
In saying this, you are still quite aware you’re in this tank and return to reality every now and then.
Until the last 10/15 minutes.
For this period I couldn’t tell you if I was asleep, dreaming, awake or hallucinating. Quite trippy.
Not that anything mad was happening, I was just so relaxed my thoughts either seemed like dreams or my dreams were coming to life. Most probably, I was slipping in and out of sleep.
You feel neither here nor there; no stress, no worries, just calmly floating in space.
I can’t report too much on this part as you really have slipped away into complete relaxation at this point which is the entire goal of this practice.
So yes, this had worked on me.
You then hear a big knock on the outside of your tank and the hour is over.
Quick warning - do not lick your lips before washing them as the salt in the air has stuck to them. I made this mistake... ew.
Shower yourself off and say goodbye to the lovely staff.
Overall, I really enjoyed the entire experience. I was skeptical at the beginning, especially when I couldn’t switch off, but as the time went on it just got better.
I reckon this is something that would get easier and better with the more sessions you do, as you could try shortening the initial restless period and prolong the last period of complete relaxation.
I left the building feeling like I wanted to go straight to bed and sleep, so I’ll take that as a success.
Now, these ain’t cheap at €60 a session but they do have good deals on at the moment. Check them out here.
I will definitely be going back for more.