I used to think sensory deprivation was just a crazy torture method that no one in their right mind would opt-in for, until I stumbled upon some information recently about sensory deprivation floatation tanks.
These are water tanks big enough for one person, often set up at spas, where you can pay to float in salty water for hours, receiving almost no sensory information at all.
Sure, it seems crazy, but there are actually some alluring benefits, particularly when it’s done for short periods:
Short-term sessions of sensory deprivation are described as relaxing and conducive to meditation; however, extended or forced sensory deprivation can result in extreme anxiety, hallucinations, bizarre thoughts, and depression.
And as much as I’m really excited to try one of these tanks myself now, I’ve also found some interesting ways to use the same principles in an average day.
So what is sensory deprivation
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Can you remember a period in your life when, if you look back on it now, time seemed to stretch on forever? When a week seemed like four, or an hour seemed like it went on for days? What were you doing during that period?
Chances are, you were probably doing something (or a whole bunch of somethings) that was brand new to you and demanded your attention. The funny thing is, by focusing on what you were doing, you actually slowed down time (or how your brain perceived that time, anyway).
Neuroscientist David Eagleman used this great example to explain how time perception works:
Yet “brain time,” as Eagleman calls it, is intrinsically subjective. “Try this exercise,” he suggests in a recent essay. “Put this book down and go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move.” There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?
Before I explain these time-bending powers you didn’t know you had, let’s back up a bit and look at how our brains perceive time normally.
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