Over Memorial Day weekend I crossed off a bucket list item and spent an hour in a sensory deprivation tank. Minus the saltwater (still) stuck in my ears, it was a really cool experience.
Way nicer version of the isolation tank I used
It’s a weird experience, and definitely different than anything I’ve ever done. You’re weightless (or as near to it as I’ve ever felt) and can’t see or hear anything.
The first 10 minutes were tough to get used to. My mind was racing, still caught up in the email/friends/work loop that it too often cycles through. Once I settled in, it was an amazing experience – peaceful, meditative, and just a good chance to chill out and think. Afterwards, I felt more relaxed than I have in months, like the post-shower calm you feel after an intense workout.
It was also a little depressing watching my thoughts during this process. I try to stay grounded and think about impact (as opposed to money), but find it challenging. Regardless of intent, too many of my thoughts revolved around money or success in some way.
My buddy Scott wrote a great post about money last week that I’d encourage you to read. Along with my co-author’s post about money (and how his perception of it changed after becoming a multi-millionaire at 26), I’ve realized the problem with my thinking is that I haven’t defined how I measure success. And with no personal definition of success, our culture kindly defines it for me as money, power, fame.
This is really easy to fall into, and is only really fought against by choosing different scales by which to measure yourself. The stoics suggest always choosing internal rather than external goals. Instead of “I will make a million dollars by age 30”, they’d choose a goal you can measure internally. Something like “I will start 2 businesses and spend 40 hours/month on each of them by age 30.” This is measurable, and most importantly allows you to feel accomplished because you put in the effort. It’s a process you have complete control over, and will get you closer to that external goal. Taking the time to reflect on my principles and how I’m applying them was really helpful in this case.
The rest of my experience in the isolation tank was really cool: deep calm punctuated with small hallucinations. It’s an experience I’d definitely recommend again to anyone, especially if you’re feeling stressed or like you want some time to reflect.