There is a “synthetic ocean”, its waves lap on the outskirts of Auckland city (Que faire à Auckland). and I have been called to bathe in its water. I am shown into a room with a shower, a bench car-sized sized pod which contains a body of water which is being illuminated by blue LEDs.
After removing my clothes I shower and dip my toe in the water. It is thick and silky and the temperature of a human body. Lying down I am buoyant, Like lying on a bed of water. The lid of the pod comes down over me, I am weightless. To my surprise the complete silence and pitch black only last a few moments. I find myself not deprived of sense but overwhelmed by them.
The voice in my head sounds like it is speaking through an intercom, amplified and distant. I wonder where I should direct my attention and try a simple meditation technique, focusing on slow breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. In a sensory deprivation tank, even the sound of slow breathing is loud. Staring deep into the pitch black, my vision is filled with swirling white static haze, like clouds in my mind, impossible to focus on.
My mouth and nose are now the interfaces between two fluids, air and water. As I breathe the upper liquid in through my nose it is drawn below the surface into my lungs which are submerged below the surface of the lower liquid. With each breath in I feel my body rise and with each exhalation, it gently sinks.
I can hear blood being pumped through my ears and can feel my heart beating in my chest. I feel a subtle pulse spreading through my entire body. The popular notion that bodies are made mostly of the liquid becomes a concrete reality. My pulse radiates beyond the boundaries of my body, rippling through the larger body of water that I am submerged in. I sense small waves lapping against the hard inside shell of the tank and pulsing back towards my body again. I am aware of my pulse in my body and of my pulse tapping back against my body, the whole tank is vibrating at the frequency of my heart. I wonder whether the tank can sense my presence, whether it knows that it is occupied?
I start to wonder again, what I should be doing in the tank? I realize that my body knows what it wants. I rest my attention back on the sensations of my body. I feel my muscles releasing tension, I am becoming rubber. My body wants to move, its fun, like being in a womb, kicking off the walls and feeling my body bob on the surface. Gentle music comes on, an hour has passed, opening the shell of the tank the dim light above the basin is blinding. Stepping out of my private ocean my body feels supple. I feel that I will return to answer the call of this ocean again soon.
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