Citation: Anatoli Smorin. "Decimation of Mental Clutter: An Experience with Floatation Tank & Esketamine (exp112675)". Erowid.org. Jan 20, 2019. erowid.org/exp/112675
This report is part of a collection of seven reports. The collection consists of a summary report that is retrospective and generalized in nature as well as six more detailed chronicles of my experience with sensory deprivation, or floatation tanks. If desired, please see the summary report
, where one can find links to each of the other experience reports.
A little background: I consider myself to be well versed in the realm of substance use. Previous experiences include opiates, stimulants and psychedelics. A fair amount of my substance usage history includes novel research chemicals often in less than common combinations.
With the exception of the time spent in the isolation tank, I kept detailed written notes in combination with an audio recording device in order to write this report as accurately as possible. I am confident that all timestamps are correct to within a + / - 60 seconds.
All dosages in this experience were weighed using freshly calibrated .000-gram scale. The esketamine used in the entirety of the experience was all from the same batch that was sourced from a highly trusted chemist. It is worth mentioning that after each insufflation of powder, I waited several minutes and then insufflated a small amount of water to aid with absorption.
Floatation Tank: Decimation of Mental Clutter
It has been exactly one week since I last used esketamine or floated. I do not consider tolerance to be a factor in this experience. My last two floats have also been esketamine experiences. I began my dissociative substance usage in sensory deprivation tanks with a cautious low dosage. Over the last few floats I have gradually increased the dosages as I became more comfortable with the substance in this new and unusual environment. The experience last week (108 mg of esketamine insufflated thirty minutes before my float) left me surprisingly underwhelmed and hungry for more. I intend to satiate this desire for a strong dissociative floatation tank experience.
Today has not been a great day. It begins, too early, with a stressful meeting regarding the construction of my house-to-be and specifically the budgetary and timeline issues we have recently encountered. From here, my partner Kai and I make our way, seemingly always a little behind schedule, through a long to-do list of errands. Traffic is heavy and we are both feeling off our game today. This is generally not the state of mind I like to be in just prior to a psychedelic journey. I almost back out of the float entirely, but Kai convinces me to go through with the appointment, knowing how these sessions have been so therapeutic for me in recent months.
We arrive home, and although the errands are now complete, they took several hours longer than planned. I am tightly wound and stressed out. Overall my mood is negative. There is no time to mosey and center myself before insufflation. I decide to keep to my time-sensitive dosage plan. Almost begrudgingly I weigh out and crush up my first dose of esketamine.
I decide to keep to my time-sensitive dosage plan. Almost begrudgingly I weigh out and crush up my first dose of esketamine.
T + 00:00 [12:28 PM]
I insufflate 56 mg of the material followed by a small insufflation of water using the same nasal passage.
T + 00:04 [12:32 PM]
The back drip arrives. There is a cooling sensation felt down the back of my throat. This spreads throughout my mouth and I note that my breath is cool. The insides of my mouth feel as if I have chewed a refreshing flavor of gum or eaten a mint.
T + 00:06 [12:34 PM]
I can feel that I have left baseline. My arms have a light vibration pulsing within them. This internal buzzing comes and goes, swelling gradually stronger with each passing wave. I am happy to find my mental space changing as well.
The razor edge of real-life worries seems to dull a bit. I’m a step removed from reality or at least the troubles of my everyday life and thoughts of “reality”. Perhaps I’m actually a step closer to “reality” now?
My depth perception is different but I struggle to find words that describe how exactly it is different. I settle on the realization that the difference is awareness. My mind is assigning more awareness and attention of the negative space that lies between objects, rather than the objects themselves. I’m not seeing the air itself in a physical manner, but I have an increased sense of the space it occupies and my attention is drawn to it.
T + 00:16 [12:44 PM]
I’m continuing to relax mentally; slowly but surely my mood improves and my lack of caring grows. I’m seated on the couch swaying my head side to side slowly as the compound takes hold.
There are no structured or specific closed eyed visuals to report yet. The only change to the backs of my eyelids is mild abstract phosphene shapes, similar to what I would experience if, when sober, I press on my closed eyes or squeeze them shut tightly while looking towards a light source. These shapes begin to move faster and faster. I can tell there is something there, but whatever that is, it is veiled.
Numbness in my arms and fingers has gradually snuck up on me. It feels like my dexterity would be bad, but my fine motor skills are not diminished.
T + 00:29 [12:57 PM]
Very pleased with how my bad mood has been turned around by the esketamine, I weigh out my second dosage, 62 mg, and promptly insufflate. My excitement about the float has been restored.
T + 00:37 [13:05 PM]
Everything in my vision has an iridescent shimmer on its surface. Blues, reds, and whites are the most prominent colors in this clear but not clear visual filter I find myself looking through. The colors are a light source, having a light glow that seems to come from inside them, like a dialed back neon-light type effect.
Even the air plays host to this multicolor shine. The trails behind my moving hands excite the shimmer in the air, making its path visible in its wake. There is also a minor “traditional” trailing visual effect on fast moving objects. These trails smear the air behind the moving object with the same colors as the object and dissipate after roughly one to two seconds.
I am a little worried about acting normal when I get into the float shop. I figure I can “stick to the script” and survive the social interactions without being suspicious or weird. This thought comforts me a bit but I cannot help but feel a little odd as I come up on a heavy dosage of esketamine in the early afternoon in entirely sober company.
The frequency of my being is vibrating with increasing frequency and intensity. In mirror, noises take on a slightly higher pitch and increase in volume. These sensations are the physical manifestations of my worries and concerns.
I weigh and prep my final dosage for travel and head out the door. I’m a few minutes behind schedule and feeling a little rushed as Kai drives me to the float center.
The ride over is pure bliss. The change in scenery seems to have brought about a much more positive attitude. There is an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia. I walk through the generic memory of cold drinks shared among friends on a hot summer evening. I seem to be living this memory, all my senses are engaged in its recall. I can feel the sun on my skin, taste the cold beer, and hear the laughter of myself and friends. I sense this moment, right now, is one of those that I will recall with a sunny disposition in the future. My takeaway is that there are many of these wonderful moments that I have been ignoring or failing to recognize the beauty of in recent months due to stress and worries taking up too much of my mental energy. I am happy to have made this realization.
As the car ride continues I rest my eyes. Immediately in my minds eye I see myself, my face only, floating in a sea of black. I wonder to myself if this is what I actually look like. I can’t discern if the image is as good as a photograph, better, or extremely inaccurate. It is odd to watch a three-dimensional rendering of my own head rotate in the darkness. The sensation reminds me of hearing a voice recording of myself, certainly me, but somehow different than normal and slightly awkward.
Kai parks the car; she will be nearby doing some computer work while I float. We hug and kiss and she wishes my good luck.
Making my way inside, I am feeling awkward in my own body. Although my outward appearance remains composed, my legs, knees, and feet feel as I imagine a puppet’s might, being operated by a third party. I am between a + and ++ on the Shulgin Rating Scale; about the same level as my most intense floatation and esketamine experience to date.
The employee at the check in desk recognizes me as a regular patron and our interaction is quick, friendly, and easy. We share a laugh as I spill water when pouring a glass from the water cooler as I have botched the operation of this dispenser in a similar manner on multiple past occasions.
T + 01:11 [1:39 PM]
I close and lock the door of my float room behind me. I get right down to business, taking off all my clothes, folding them to assist in a quick and smooth exit, and make sure my phone is on silent. I chuckle to myself at the mental picture of my current situation; sitting naked on a bench, snorting esketamine, about to climb into the spaceship-esque pod that sits in front of me. The final dosage of 69 mg is followed by water insufflation which really clears the powder high into my naval cavity.
Almost immediately I am flooded with concern that I overdid it. The shower in front of me looks incredibly oversized suddenly. My spatial reasoning is falling apart rapidly.
I step into the tank only to realize I have forgotten to put in the wax earplugs. My dexterity is mediocre at best as I try to install them in my ears.
T + 01:15 [1:44 PM]
I shut the tank’s lid behind me.
I crouch down and turn off the light. The darkness shimmers with white light as I shift my weight backwards, beginning to lie down. The next thing my mind registers is total vertigo. Up is down and left is right; heels overheard and then head over heels. I spin in multiple directions at once somehow. I seem to have landed in a gyroscope rather than a soothing aquatic bed. My mind reels as I grope for the light, that precious light, that I know will end this calamitous spinning.
My mind reels as I grope for the light, that precious light, that I know will end this calamitous spinning.
The light immediately causes the sensation to end and even though it lasted just a few seconds, I’m shaken at the “realness” of the sensation. This was not the “spins” I have experienced after too much alcohol consumption. This was as if I was actually physically rotating; placed in some sort of cosmic washing machine.
With the light on, I tentatively lay down in the solution. Everything feels normal. I awkwardly reach out with my foot and somehow manage to press the on/off button for the light. The darkness starts off with shimmering shards of white light that slowly diminish until I am left with a very deep, very dark, very black, blackness.
I can feel that I am flushed, mentally and physically reacting to the horrible gyroscope phenomenon. The air is stiflingly humid and hot. I’m less than comfortable but begin to take further stock of my condition. Thankfully my motor skills are taken out of the picture, I actually don’t note anything specific physically beyond the uncomfortable temperature.
My mental condition is slightly different. I can feel the great strength of the esketamine swelling up inside me. I have a high-pitched tinnitus ring that competes with my loud uneven breaths as the only sounds present. I feel safer with my eyes open, thinking that I will somehow be more likely to determine if I am going into a K-Hole (out of body type experience). I am afraid of this happening despite the fact that “Sober Anatoli” deemed the risks (most specifically drowning) minimal, due to the great effort it would take to flip over in the buoyant solution especially in my heavily sedated state. This decision made sober offers enough comfort to allow me to sit back and enjoy the ride. I am not thinking about anything actively, just probing the darkness visually while I breath in and out, waiting to see what happens. I know if I “hole” it will likely happen in the first ten minutes of the float.
The loud ring is shifting. The frequency slows drastically until what was a single tone separates into a more mechanical syncopated pattern. It becomes guttural and raw. The transformation reminds me of a chainsaw when the chain is slowed from full out to an idle. This noise is crunchier, deeper, and more powerful than any chainsaw however. I can imagine a massive world-encompassing machine making such a noise, but not anything less. The time is near.
I feel my consciousness slide “leftwards”. An odd sensation of feeling “myself” move, but not my physical body. This is accompanied by sliding back behind my own eyes; I feel a click as my perception returns, sort of like blinking laterally rather than the vertical norm. The sensation is gentle yet confusing. I try to understand what happened. I walk myself through my short term memory. I can recall being in the tank, my focused breathing, and then there is a blank spot. I can tell time passed that I was not “here” for. After this blankness, I was slipped back into my mind and eyes; suddenly aware of my surroundings once again. I ruminate about this unfamiliar phenomenon, making sure I actively breathe.
I have the feeling if I do not consciously / actively forcing breath in and out, it will stop. I keep losing my focus and eventually tune out my automated breathing (not thinking about it and not hearing it anymore). I realize this and rush a large inhale, which makes the breaths loud again. In my current state I have trouble telling if I had been breathing while I was not hearing and actively performing the action.
To be on the safe side, I continue controlling my breath as a manual, rather than automated bodily process.
I slide back behind my eyes again. Perception reset a second time. My first reaction is to once again wonder: “what the heck just happened?” and start monitoring my slightly shallow and haggard breaths.
Up until now, I have had no true visuals. Nothing compared to the closed eye mindscapes I have come to know and love during high dosage dissociative experiences.
Now however, the air in front of me begins to take shape. Slowly, as if I am watching through a fogged and snowy windshield, a scene reveals itself to me in pieces; patches of the windshield that have defrosted or been scraped clearer. A large window, old and aged, finally reveals itself completely although faded, more akin to an aged Polaroid than a newer digital photo. The scale of the window is massive. My vantage point in the scene suggests that I am no more than a few inches tall, sitting on the cracked paint of the windowsill. I don’t recognize the window, but it captures my emotional attention, perhaps somehow conjured up from my childhood memories during which I lived in a few antique homes. The scene is immersive. Instead of the “visual” being an image over or in front of me, it is my whole environment and I feel as if I am actually within it.
Nothing develops further, I try to see through the window but nothing is revealed. The outward edges slowly begin to stretch and almost as it appeared, the windshield fogs and the scene fades away into abstraction. As this finalizes I become aware that I am in the tank, a fact I seemingly forgot while I was sucked in to the odd and absorbing window of wonder.
I feel a bit more like myself now. I am stringing thoughts together that go beyond the here and now. I estimate I am about halfway through my float session. This thought brings some disappointment. Usually a small piece of me looks forward to hearing the music signaling the end of a float. When my mind is chaotic I can yearn for the end to arrive. Right now however, I want to just stay right here. I’m incredibly peaceful and all worries and concerns that have been cluttering my mind have been swept out.
I’m incredibly peaceful and all worries and concerns that have been cluttering my mind have been swept out.
The temperature, although unchanged, is much more comfortable than when I entered the tank. I find both the air and the water to be just the right temperature to keep me cozy and at ease. The tinnitus, whose ringing was shrill and obnoxiously loud, has all but disappeared. I can still hear a tonal white noise, not far from soothing, but nothing more. Beyond the auditory sense, my body feels comfortable but not numb in a way that I could feel or register. “I”, my mind and thoughts, feel distant and removed from the physical portion of myself. I have only adjusted my position in the tank a handful of times, far fewer than any other previous session.
With my eyes open, there are essentially no “visuals”. There is some white and grey coloring that disrupts the pure black I normally see when floating, but it is no more spectacular than if one shuts their eyes and can see the random discolorations of their eyelids. I am realizing, slower than I would like to admit, that for me floating on this substance is not about the visuals. It is all about the mental tranquility and clarity of the experience.
To be fair, with my eyes shut there are some entertaining visual effects. They are not immersive however, and I’m aware I’m watching a closed eyed visual. I am particularly struck by how little meaning I find in them. My favorite is perceived in first person and the surroundings are similar to a water slide, one that is a full tube, so the rider is enclosed within. This tube is not bound by gravity however, and when it twists and turns, sometimes upwards, I get quick glances outside of it. One on such sneak peek I see a simple pyramid constructed of simple lines. I somehow know this is my end destination. This scene is still mostly black, but the outlines of the tube and everything for that matter, are thin rainbow colored lines. It looks strikingly similar to the “magic scratch coloring books” where one scratches off a black surface to reveal color below. The tube fades away before I ever reach its end and that chapter of the experience is over. My mind points again towards the fact that this particular experience is far more useful as a mental exercise, without the bright flashy visual showmanship so to speak.
Before abandoning my interest in visuals entirely, I decide to turn on the colored lighting inside the tank. I interrupt the experience by turning on the tanks internal light. I am hoping to try and discern if the lack of light input is responsible for the lack of visuals.
The light begins as a deep shade of red, and there is no eruption of patterns, breathing, or really anything else. The tank’s lid is relatively normal with some extra visual noise dancing on its surface like static on an old television. As the light slowly cycles to a turquoise and then deep sea blue, I sense this is the color to stop the light on. I navigate the control to do this without issue and relax the focus of my eyes. Almost immediately the details in the curved ceiling disappear. The seams of the structure and small vent at the top leave my view. The curvature of the tank also disappears as the outward edges shift to create a completely flat surface, which is all I can see, floating a few feet above me. The blue breaks apart into multiple shades of itself and gains depth. At first this fantastic blue plane seems to grow an inch deep, then three. Before I can properly assess the newly acquired three dimensionality, it grows fathoms. Above me is now an ocean, full depth, and I lie at the sandy floor, looking up through the blue material which glints and glistens much like the ocean when viewed from a scuba diver’s perspective at a depth that the sunlight still can reach.
As fantastic as this is, I feel bored and quickly decide to turn the light back off to enjoy the comfort provided by the darkness. As the blue drains away, my visual field is once again truly black. The deepest black velvet. All the greys and whites have been wiped clean. This clean slate does not last long; the perfection of black is quickly marked by the return of the grey scale abstractions that begin to accumulate upon it.
I am settling back into my calming mental space. I love this existence. I am worry free, concern free, and happy. This happiness and calmness is very authentic. I can tell it won’t evaporate once the high of the esketamine tapers off. I repeatedly think about how the things that have been causing so much stress and negativity in my life are not worthy of the attention I have been paying them. I can simply choose to let them go, view them in their true “size of importance” and deal with these items with less frustration and more success. This is an idea I am familiar with, but have seemingly forgotten recently. I feel enlightened, not in a hollow new age, yogi, or hipster sense of the word, but truly I am grasping a universal truth on how to manage daily life decisions in a healthier and more productive manner.
As I explore the largest stressors in my life, my first reaction is to worry, think faster, and enter a negative thought cycle. As I do this my tinnitus roars back to life. The relative silence cranks up to a high-pitched whine until I notice it. I center my thoughts and think through the issue with more of the calm and big picture logic. I arrive at a relatively comprehensive answer to the most pressing issue, while retaining my ability to not become overwhelmed by the depth and complexity of it. The ringing in my ears slows and dissolves, replaced by a softer and far less volatile hum.
I can feel the intensity of the esketamine subsiding. I feel a bit sleepy, and wish I could curl up in my favorite sleeping position on my side. I feel the need to urinate which is the first time my body has made much appearance in the entire float. My thoughts become slightly less esoteric but remain guided by the tinnitus, beautifully simple and lacking concern for unimportant worrying.
My thoughts become slightly less esoteric but remain guided by the tinnitus, beautifully simple and lacking concern for unimportant worrying.
The first note of the “time to get out” music startles me. I really wish it were not time to end. Often I get out of the tank as soon as the music begins but today I eke out every last moment in this tranquil darkness. The music vibrates through the saturated solution allowing me to simultaneously hear and feel each different pitch of the “chakra tones” (as the sound choice was described to me by the employee).
T + 02:13 [2:42 PM]
The lights in the room automatically turn on as I raise the lid of the tank. The adjustment from the dark is quick and without spectacle. I’m shocked by how cold the room is. I’m freezing! Normally I leave my shower cold after a float. Today I crank the heat and dance a bit trying to coax the temperature up quicker.
Once satiated with the hot water, I wash head to toes and finally get to take stock of my condition. Neither open nor closed eyes bring about much in the way of visual effects. There is softness to my visual field, leaving the sides of objects looking, on a level just above molecular, a little fuzzier than normal.
I force myself out of the comfort of the shower and dry off and dress as quickly as possible since I still feel unusually chilly.
T + 02:24 [2:53 PM]
I have a short chat with the employee on my way out. It was longer than I anticipated it would be. I felt cognizant and able to articulate my thoughts and even make a book recommendation. Ahh, the sunshine feels glorious as I walk out the door.
I see Kai and give her a big hug. I want to explain how grounded and calm I feel but struggle to find the words. I try to put some on paper as she drives me towards home. I can’t believe the difference a few hours have made. I went from full on stress mode, short tempered, and upset . . . to a beautiful, tranquil, and relaxed version of myself. This was exactly what the doctor ordered!
I feel more in tune with nature and particularly Kai. I can sense that her frustration levels are still elevated. On a whim I suggest we go to a favorite establishment of ours that has good beers, good food, and a lovely rooftop deck. Kai re-directs the car and we make our way there. As soon as I make the suggestion, I can tangibly feel her mood and the “vibe” in the car change. The change seems as real as a chill from a shadow being banished by a cloud moving to allow sunlight to warm one’s skin.
T + 02:43 [3:12 PM]
We arrive and seat ourselves in a sunny spot with a lovely view of the surrounding mountains. With Kai’s mood lifting and my mind now having a bit more time to process the experience I find explaining the experience a bit easier. Kai happily provides me the time I require to blabber about “ineffable mental states” until they begin to develop into slightly more coherent ideas about “new levels” and “transportation to a different mental plane”.
I’m feeling relatively sober at this point. I have minor discomfort in my head. There is a sensation of pressure on a middle layer of my brain that doesn’t feel like a typical headache. This is a common feeling for me on the comedown from a heavy dissociative experience.
My handwriting is improving as I jot down some key points from my discussion with Kai. My physical dexterity is about 95% back to normal. No visuals exist with my eyes open or closed but I am seeing things in a new way.
T + 03:25 [3:54 PM]
The beer I ordered upon arrival has sat mostly untouched. I finally take substantial sips. The taste seems too citric, all the flavors exaggerated. There is not much in the way of a “post float buzz”. There is no specific flow, buzz, or vibration. I do feel the expected physical relaxation and mental calmness that I often experience after a float session. I find stressful topics to be approachable with slow logical thoughts and conversation.
T + 03:44 [4:13 PM]
Kai and I depart the brewery and I head for home. The single beer has had more effect on me than normal due to the fact that it’s my first alcoholic beverage in 17 days (a long stretch for me). It is noteworthy that I can feel the relaxation and physical sedation from the alcohol rather than the ketamine swallowing and hiding the effects.
T + 04:07 [4:36 PM]
We arrive home and I feel most comfortable lying down on the couch. I begin to take additional notes but become far more interested in mulling over my feelings while slowly drifting towards a nap.
T + 05:48 [6:17 PM]
I awake from a restful sleep that Kai informs me I fell into after just a few minutes after laying down. I place myself below a ± on the Shulgin Rating Scale due to some lingering visual effects in the form of the color saturation. The mental effects of the esketamine have dissipated, but I am genuinely feeling the superb impact of the experience I have had today. My mostly comedown but recently woken up self is in a unique cognitive place. I’m still able to explore imaginary scenarios and their outcomes in a simple and calm manner much like I could in the deprivation tank. This feels natural rather than a “synthetic” effect of the material I ingested.
I continue to enjoy and explore the headspace that remains after the day’s adventure. I have spent the past few hours chatting with Kai and reflecting on my day. Kai has been kind enough to prepare a dinner of charcuterie and cheeses that we now enjoy. I have no desire to add alcohol to the mix tonight. I’m completely content.
The stress felt earlier in the day, followed by the intensity of the float session and the esketamine comedown, has me wallowing in sleepiness. The itis (Postprandial somnolence) is the final nail in my coffin. I am in bed struggling to keep my eyes open. I suspect a wonderful night of sleep is just around the corner.
[7:17 PM + 1]
I wake up with no recollection of dreams. I have to pee. I normally turn from side to side and put this off but today I zip to my feet and get the task done.
There is no hangover but there is definite afterglow. I feel like a new leaf has been turned over. I’m refreshed, not only from the deep and longer than average sleep, but from the brain sifting – recirculating of yesterday’s esketamine sensory isolation experience. I hope the effects remain as I settle into an easy Saturday of writing, relaxation, and reflection.
This was an influential experience. I complete writing this conclusion section after a few weeks of editing and adjusting. As I often find following psychedelic journeys: my afterglow and profound realizations fade slowly over a few days or even months depending on the intensity of the experience. This experience resulted in about eight to ten days of solid positivity
This experience resulted in about eight to ten days of solid positivity
that I can absolutely attribute to the float session described in the report above.
The most valuable take-away was the simple re-realization to let things go
. Let it all go
. I have been stressing, worrying, and thinking repetitive thoughts far too much recently. The idea of releasing myself from these imprisoning cyclical thoughts is not new to me but I seem to have fallen back into the mental rut of these thoughts without realizing it. This experience, even after a week has passed, is easily called upon in times of stress to serve as a reminder to relax. Recently I have been growing more and more aware of the stress in my life and the negativity that comes along with it. I can become upset about being upset causing myself further stress and general displeasure. For several weeks after this experience, I am, in the moment, able to realize the unhealthiness of the stress after it begins to settle in my mind and attempt to fight back. The experience did not cure me of my anxiety or offer a permanent happiness, but it has proven useful and meaningful.
I entered this experience with expectation of the vivid visual mindscapes I have previously experienced with this (and similar) substances, particularly with eyes closed, to increase and truly come to life in front of my eyes (open) while in a float tank. This did not happen during my first few esketamine and floatation experiments and I attributed this to my dosage being lacking. This experience showed me the dosage was not the culprit: my expectations were simply wrong, and in this case, unable to influence my experience in a significant manner.
Rather than a visual entertainment extravaganza, this sensory deprivation and esketamine combination was a nearly entirely mental experience. My mental clutter was decimated and replaced by beautiful simplicity. As this occurred, a piece of knowledge reaffirmed itself for me; psychedelic materials do not need to facilitate visuals in order to be extremely effective and productive.
The simplicity and cleanliness of the experience left me feeling like I had been elevated to a new plane of perfect existence. The ability to step back and see the big picture in the weeks following the experience would be blissful to any mind I would imagine, but for my often-anxious self this was truly special. This experienced was a beautiful and completely unexpected reminder of some simple truths I seem to have allowed dust to collect on.
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