Today I wrap up my four-part blog about my first float in a sensory deprivation tank. With a little luck I will soon be floating again, and sinking ever deeper into the vast dark sea of enhanced creativity and consciousness.
Floating, part 4
With more reverence for all of life, with more awe in the face of the inside unknown and the outside unknown, with deeper experiences with other human beings from the far side of the planet, maybe the bombs would never have been needed and hence not made or planned. John C. Lilly
It has now been a week since my initial float experience, and every time I think about it I am eager to go into the tank again. I do want the visionary and out-of-body experiences recounted by so many others who float frequently, but even if those experiences never come, the serenity alone will be satisfying too. And I don’t mean serenity the way we so often think of it these days, as a physical place free of noise and clamor and worry, the way a museum or library or forest can seem serene. I mean the serenity intended by the Latin word serenus, an inner clarity, and the calm that clarity provides.
When I search back through the years of my life, moments of serenus are rare. Invariably, they were generated by deep feelings of love, most notably and frequently my love for my sons. It is a love so total and profound that without it, I suspect, most of who I am would cease to exist.
There were also times when my love for a woman produced moments of serenus, and though I have learned to cherish my solitude I do miss the human contact of a woman’s body against my own, a hand reaching out to touch me in the darkness, taking comfort from my presence, and giving comfort in return.
But the love of one’s children is of a whole different order than romantic love, eros. It is greater than just storge, familial love, because it is also agape, a selfless, unconditional love. And the serenity I felt in the float tank, deprived of all external stimulation, came close to approximating the serenity that comes over me when I look at my sons’ photos above the fireplace, or when I see one of their names appear on my cell phone’s screen, or when I simply remember what it was like to hold one of their tiny sleeping bodies warm and softly breathing against my chest.
Words can only suggest the true depth of such feelings. Purpose. Meaning. Completeness. Perfection.
It seems odd to say I felt a similar kind of love in the float tank, but I did.
In The Book of Embraces, Eduardo Galeano presents a word invented by fishermen along the Columbian coast, sentipensante, to describe language that speaks the truth through a kind of thinking that derives from feeling rather than from logic or intellect. Lawrence Durrell, in one of his wonderful essays about travel, uses the word rapport to suggest what to me sounds an awful lot like sentipensante, which in turn sounds like what I mean by the word serenity:
“The great thing is to try and travel with the eyes of the spirit wide open,” Durrell wrote, “and not too much factual information…. It is to be had for the feeling, this mysterious sense of rapport, of identity with the ground…. If you just get as still as a needle you’ll be there.”
Columbian fishermen obviously feel that profound sense of identity with the sea and the shore. Durrell felt it on the island of Corfu and elsewhere. I feel it when I think of my sons, and when I remember love. I felt it too in the blind silence of the isolation tank, when I lay as still as a needle. I felt that rapport not for the tank or from the tank. But for everything, from everywhere.
Thank you for reading Floating. These blogs will be included in my nonfiction book-in-progress, Two Wheels, No Map: One Man’s Ride into the Deep Why. The book will be a chronicle of my search, through various activities such as floating, past life regression, shamanic healing, and so forth, to explore the nature of non-ordinary states of reality. If Two Wheels, No Map sounds like a book you might want to read some day, or if you have any suggestions for activities and places that should be considered for inclusion in the book, I would love to hear from you. Here you can find a short video pitch for the book (with my apologies for the wind noise): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ZpqB1vetc
Other useful links related to floating:
Capristo Wellness Spa and Salon in Shadyside PA: www.capristosalon.com
Pittsburgh Float: firstname.lastname@example.org