I got a text from my brother, Daniel, last week, and he told me that he was going to spend time in a sensory deprivation tank on Saturday. I thought he was joking.
I responded via text, “That’s so weird,” and his response was great.
“I don’t see why,” he said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.”
Maybe it wasn’t so weird after all. I didn’t know much about the experience, and I’m always the skeptic. But the idea of sitting still for an hour in complete, uninterrupted darkness didn’t sound interesting to me. I couldn’t imagine it.
I told him I would have a ton of questions for him Sunday afternoon, and that I was going to include it in a column. We sat and talked about the experience while I ate chicken wings and watched the Atlanta Falcons.
I did have a ton of questions — it was strange to get to “interview” my brother — and he had a hard time staying on topic. We’re alike in that way.
He watches this YouTube channel daily, and there’s a show called, “Good Mythical Morning,” and it’s two guys who have regular games and viral videos, but that’s not necessarily important.
However, they did take a trip to a sensory deprivation tank, which was what prompted him to try it.
The only one nearby was in Huntsville, he said. It’s called “Tranquility Float Spa, Inc.”
“I didn’t have any expectations,” he said. “I wanted to experience it for myself, so I didn’t read a lot about it.”
He did ask me the day before whether he should listen to music or not while he was in the tank.
“You’re going to be alone with your thoughts,” I told him.
“That’s terrifying, right?” he said.
“It would be for me.”
He opted for music, and his selection was the most Daniel selection of all time. He went for the Phish “Storage Jam” from the Super Ball secret set in 2011. It’s just over one-hour long, and it gets pretty trippy.
He arrived in Huntsville at the float tank Saturday afternoon, and he walked up to a desk where a guy who “wasn’t a hippie, but you could totally tell he was a hippie” gave him a rundown of what to expect.
Daniel walked into a room with the tank. It was isolated for privacy, it had a shower and a robe hanging in the corner.
He plugged in his phone and started to play the Super Ball jam. He climbed into the tank — he said it is more like a pod. It kind of resembles an egg, but it’s more oblong-shaped.
“You just climb into it, and move over onto your knees,” he said. “The door has a latch on both sides, so you just pull it forward and lock it.
“It’s pitch black, but there are these buttons on the side that turn on when you’re ready to get out.”
The tank is filled with water and 800-1,000 pounds of medical-grade Epsom salt.
The water is constantly filtered, and the floater just climbs in and sits for an hour in complete darkness.
Floating is used as a way to relax, meditate and clear the mind of all outside influences.
“It took me about 20 minutes to get used to the darkness,” Daniel said. “Then I started to see colors.”
Keep in mind the tank was pitch black.
“I just saw them scrolling past me, and then I said to myself, ‘I wonder if I can think of something and just picture it,’” he said. He thought of me and my dad.
“Do you think it was because you were listening to Phish?” I asked him.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I just wanted to see if I could do it,” he said. He quickly shook it from his mind.
Daniel floated for about a half hour. And then the Phish jam took a weird turn.
The song broke from an hour-long jam, and drummer Jon Fishman started to sing the song “Sleeping Monkey.”
“I laughed uncontrollably,” Daniel said. “Hysterically.”
Daniel was definitely hallucinating by this point.
“I looked up, and I could see little cartoon monkeys scrolling past me like wallpaper,” he said.
A few minutes later, the lights turned on and brought him back to reality.
He got out of the tank and showered the salt water off of him.
I had one other question.
“So, what else did you see?”
“Nothing,” he said.
“Yeah, my mind was just completely blank. I didn’t think about anything,” he responded.
“How is that possible? I really don’t think I can turn my mind off like that. I think too much.”
“Well, I think you should try it,” he said.
I’m looking at the website now, and I’m planning on booking a day myself. If anything, I think it could just be good for my mental health. It’s worth a shot. Of course I’ll let you know about it.
Managing Editor Bradley Roberts’ column appears Wednesdays. His email address is