In 1957 a study was published by Dr. Heron in Scientific American titled “The Pathology of Boredom”. Basically, it was touted that boredom in the absence of stimulus was bad, a disease even, and we needed input for our brain to function normally.
For some first time floaters, the initial time in the tank is frustrating. While they feel good- relaxed and peaceful – they didn’t find the nirvana they were looking for. They spent the majority of that first float feeling restless, thoughts racing and even moments of boredom.
Could that be the sign of a bad float?
At first thought, it might seem this is an undesirable result. But in 1975 Dr. Peter Suedfeld revisited the 1957 study and found some surprising results. Suedfeld felt the anxiety reported in the original study that lead to the conclusion of Dr. Heron’s study were largely due to the result of “anxiety-arousing instructions” and was dismayed that the significant beneficial results had been ignored altogether.
Among the benefits of periods of sensory restriction included increased visual acuity, improvements in tactile perception, improvements in auditory sensitivity, increased sensitivity to certain tastes like sweet and bitter and to top it off, some of these improvements were lasting as long as two weeks!
In addition Suedfeld noted that “significant aspects of perceptual functioning seem to be enhanced by sensory deprivation.” These include improvements in learning, recall, I.Q. scores, perceptual motor tasks, enhanced visual concentration, increased short term visual storage and improved discriminatory learning.
All this from an environment that an early study announced would harm us and cause the brain to cease from functioning in an “adequate way.”
When people inquire about float tanks it is common to hear concerns about being alone in the dark for that long. In a world where we are bombarded by stimulus constantly –to the point we become numb and live day to day like zombies living in a haze, mindlessly searching for brains – the thought of being sensory deprived is uncomfortable to say the least.
While not everyone feels the boredom we all have moments of restlessness in the tank. And often times this phase passes quickly after the first or second float and you regularly become "one with the tank".
Hang in there. Take a deep breath. It’s only temporary until deep relaxation takes over. You are on your way to creating powerful positive results that will impact the way you feel, the way you think and the way you function.