Dear Hunter: Episode 2 — The Iso-Tank

Dear Hunter

Mark Hunter, the lead singer of Chimaira, has returned with a second installment in his Gun Shy Assassin column, ‘Dear Hunter.’ We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

When I first discovered sensory deprivation tanks, I jumped to experience one first hand.

For those unfamiliar with iso-tanks, they’re like an enclosed bath tub where you float in total darkness. You can’t actually hear, or see much of anything, and if done correctly, your mind slows down to where you’re relaxed enough that you can effectively problem solve. If you’re lucky and well trained, you can hallucinate and have out of body experiences.

I am still surprised how underground the tanks are, but when I bring them up to people, they look at me like I’m crazy. “I’m too claustrophobic for that shit” my friends say. Hell, I am super claustrophobic, too, but this sounded way too fun not to try. Plus, if they were dangerous, there would be a warning. The real danger is peering into your own mind and potentially unlocking inner demons you might have to face.

Being a touring musician, I am no stranger to stress. I strive to achieve zen. Some methods work, some don’t. Most of my friends are well off with a stiff drink. I usually turn into a wigger that can’t stop vomiting when I choose that route. Doing things that most people would deem bat shit crazy is a turn on. Since my job can be as stressful as any, it is crucial for me to learn how to chill out so I don’t burn out.

Through my studies, I think most problems can be solved with an understanding of how to operate the brain. We have too many distractions that prevent critical thinking. Humans let emotions get in the way of logic. In order to get my brain at the processing power I desire, it takes extreme methods at this stage of the game. I’ve been around the world a few times and have seen enough to desensitize me.

The floatation tank was designed in 1954 by John C. Lilly, a neuropsychiatrist. This guy was into all sorts of groovy shit like psychedelic research, communication with dolphins, and a deeper understanding of human consciousness. A fan of the research, the notion that I could blow my mind with buoyancy was intriguing.

The flotation tank

My first experience was at Optimal Wellness in Lakewood, Ohio. I went there because it was the only option. If you want an opinion on who has the best flotation tank in Cleveland, that’s it. I don’t want this to turn into a Yelp review, but the place was warm and earthy. Exactly what you’d want from a wellness center. Yes, they had coconut water. No, I don’t enjoy it.

The room I was escorted to came equipped with a shower and the tank. I was pleased that they stocked the shower with high-end shampoo’s and conditioners. After all, a guy that once went on tour with Slayer was in the building. A good lathering and I entered the tank through an opening at the end.

The tank itself was pretty intimidating at first. As soon as I got in the lukewarm water and shut the hole of an entrance behind me, I suddenly had a moment of panic. My throat closed up a bit, I found it hard to breathe… basically, I was experiencing true isolation. That buried alive feeling, or that I might drown. I quickly opened the lid again to get a glimpse of light, and to calm my paranoid ass down. I was there to relax, have an experience, and hopefully expand my mind. I told my inner being to stop being such a pussy.

Once I got my shit together, I started to enjoy the experience. For the first twenty minutes, I was breathing extremely slow while my body tingled. It was similar to being on exceptionally strong pain meds. My thoughts raced at an alarming rate; finally, there was only my breath and the darkness.

I don’t quite recall much after that, but I do remember seeing some pretty astounding colors. Towards the end of my hour, I was in such a powerful, meditative place, that when the woman knocked to tell me my session had ended, she sounded like she was a universe away. When the last knock came, I jumped back into reality in the same fashion as if I had been sleeping and woken up unexpectedly.

I attribute the whole experience to being asleep while awake. True day dreaming. After my hour was up, I took advantage of the designer cleansing products again and headed home. While on the ride back, I could immediately tell my mind was different. I was focused, driven, and my problem solving ability was enhanced. My workload for the day was completed in less than two hours, and I was in a better mood that I had found myself in a while.

From stress, to writers block, to seeing what the hell is in the depths of your brain, the iso-tank is a fantastic, legal, and (somewhat) affordable way to trip your balls off and get your mind right. There is a minor feeling of rebirth that comes with the experience, and the more you do it — the more you can manage your brain.

What are some ways you guys like to relax and learn more about yourself?

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