og and the sensory-deprivation tank

Well, that was interesting. I had an opportunity this weekend to go visit a sensory-deprivation tank in Ocean Beach. Having recently watched a season of  Stranger Things on Netflix, the concept seemed cool enough: float in a body-temperature, salty bath without any lights or sound and you can go places in your head. (Sure, sign me up.)

For those of you who haven’t done this before, the chamber is about the dimensions of a king-sized bed, the ceiling in this case was something over 6′ high and the water came to just 12″ deep. They probably use epsom salts as the buoyancy agent so you seriously float in such a way that you’re not in fear of sinking at all. The cost for a 90-minute session was a mere $50 and since they only have a single tank at this facility and two employees, you kind of wonder how they stay in business. The entire process was a two-hour slot.

Feel free to Google-Image the term “sensory deprivation tank” but if the sight of nekked people bother you then make sure to cover one eye, maybe.

Sounds

Doctors would suggest that tinnitus is a malady characterized by a ringing sensation in your ears, say, because you went to too many rock concerts. Honestly, I hear that 24×7 and I don’t believe their reasoning.

In the tank, it was easier to focus in on different high-pitched tones. I don’t believe that these are/were a figment of the imagination. I would consider myself as someone with above-average hearing in the upper range. I normally sense (hear?) incandescent and fluorescent lighting and a lot of electric circuits, to be honest.

Lights

This was the most interesting aspect of the session. From the first moments in I could swear that I saw a red blinking light somewhere over my head but the actual position would change from time to time. This went away after a couple minutes, however.

Next, I began seeing something that is best described as…

Imagine that you take a large cylinder and use it to cut out some of the aurora borealis and then your head is falling backwards through this cylinder and you’re watching the vivid green and purple colors go by, only it’s the same whether your eyes are open or closed.

cylinder.jpg

With a little practice and perserverance, I was able to focus in such a way that I could get the purple color to reasonably fill my perspective with some black, almost silhouette-like cutouts near the bottom. But if I lost my focus and tried to make out the silhouette then I lost everything and had to start over.

Motion

After a bit, it was like my motion-detection abilities became confused. In biological terms, the inner ear is responsible for your sense of balance and the detection of movement (whether it’s linear or rotational). I’m guessing that we truly do rely upon vision as well to adjust the inner ear’s data because in the tank I had the following observations:

  1. I had a nearly continuous feeling that my body was shifting to the left.
  2. If I moved my (usually clasped) hands in different positions it would result in my body adjusting slightly higher/lower in the water, say, where my head was and yet… the feeling was as if my entire body was rotating 45 degrees in space.

With respect to the first observation, I later reviewed the placement of the building on a map, the orientation of the tank and my own orientation within that tank. It’s entirely possible that my body could feel the rotational movement of the Earth around its axis. If so, that would be really amazing. Note that in the northern hemisphere here we all move about 18 miles per second as our planet spins wildly in place every day.

Reviewing with their staff

I spoke with the people who ran the place afterwards and asked them what they experienced (not mentioning my own yet). The guy starts out saying “it’s difficult to describe but…” and then he made this round hand gesture with his fingertips and thumb together out in front of him and I knew immediately that he’d seen the same sort of light show that I had. We compare colors and they appear to be a common experience from others as well.

Ideas

You have to wonder if the observable phenomena is magnetic in nature (as in the magnetic lines of flux which are responsible for the way a compass orients itself) or if there is another explanation. Personally, I don’t think that this is something that’s merely imagined by the psyche. If that were the case then why do two different people see the same thing? So I think I can personally rule that out as an explanation.

It may be that our pineal gland (third eye) can “see” or otherwise detect changes in the electromagnetic field and then route these changes into the area of the brain where it normally just interprets what we see from our eyes. I think this version is more likely to be the truth since it would corraborate the claims of those who see auras, for example.

It’s not that far-fetched of an explanation to suggest that the pineal gland is useful in some way. Bats and whales can do echo-location with their particular physiology. Squids and chameleons have surfaces which can be changed at the pixel level to mimic their surroundings. Honey bees have tiny magnetic beads in their abdomens which they use to sense their orientation in the magnetic field. And it has been suggested by at least one person that the scarab beetle’s outer wings produce an electrogravitic effect to generate antigravity so that this over-sized bug can actually fly.

I would suggest that we have hidden capabilities which remain mostly dormant because we live in a world in which we have too many artificial lights and distractions most of the time.

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