Why do we fear the dark and feel helpless in the face of its power? Even as children, our first encounters with darkness evoke fear and anxiety. Our heart starts beating, our imaginations run at full speed, and our eyes begin to inspect the room for hidden monsters and other dangers. Our vision becomes powerless, we lose our orientation and we cannot predict what is next. Fear often continues to accompany us when we grow up.
From an evolutionary point of view, fear has saved us as a species. Thanks to it, primitive people avoided wandering the African savannah in the middle of the night, risking encountering hunting predators. Even then, the fear of darkness kept us out of trouble and encoded in our subconscious.
Today I will introduce you to two places in the urban jungle that skillfully flirt with the dark and have turned it into a successful business.
Flotation and sensory deprivation
We are heading towards metta space – a space for relaxation and meditation, where as I enter, I notice that time has really stopped. The hosts invite you to leave your shoes at the entrance. You can smell the yerba mate aroma in the air. The visitors seem calm and at peace with themselves and it is somewhat quiet around.
I’m here to do another experiment with myself – flotation and sensory deprivation in a hi-tech tank. What do these exotic words mean? – Within an hour (or more if you wish) you lie in an egg-like bathtub filled with magnesium sulfate. Salts do not allow you to sink and imitate a state of weightlessness without feeling gravity.
The water temperature is close to your own – 36 degrees and it is quite warm and cozy. There is complete darkness and silence inside the tub and the information given to you through the five senses is limited to a minimum. Before you enter the flotation tank, you can take a shower and have an entire apartment at your disposal. If you are a girl and have recently had your hair dyed, it is not the right time to float- postpone it for later – the staff really insist.
They give you earplugs to isolate any side noises, and a cream to cover open wounds on your body that can be irritated by salt water. Inside the egg you’ll also find a pillow for your neck – I strongly recommend it – without it the feeling is not the same. Also, be careful not to splash water on your eyes while you go inside.
After all the directions, the lights go out. Only you and the egg are left in unprecedented darkness and lack of any external stimuli. There is no Facebook and Instagram to kill the boredom. The thousand tasks that you are in a hurry to complete are far away and your loved ones are not near so that you can share what is happening to you. You are completely alone in the middle of nowhere and the experience is very unusual. It is as if you are lying on your back in the sea, but there are no waves and you cannot sink. All the time you hear your heartbeat and breathing.
I was very curious how my mind would react to such an experiment. In the first minutes I was obsessed with the passing time and trying to figure out how many minutes had passed. Then I realized that time was irrelevant in the egg and had lost its value.
As a modern person who plans their schedule up to the last detail, giving away my concept of time was even scarier than dark. I realized the importance of sometimes just stopping, slowing down, relaxing, thinking about what was happening to you, and giving your body and mind the rest they need, instead of constantly chasing goal after goal.
After the flotation was over, in order to get back to the material world, something sweet had been left for me to eat.
I did not gain insight into my mission or the meaning of my life, nor did I come up with a brilliant idea, but I definitely felt energized after staying in the capsule – as if I had slept for 4 hours. I recommend to anyone who wants to escape from everyday life.
For part 2 and the dark dining experience you can read more here – Dialogues with the dark – dark dinner.