3 Methods to Deep Relaxation on Oahu

Our senior editor sampled three approaches to deep relaxation. Results were mixed.

Method No. 1


Private North Shore residence; contact Kurt Rhoney, 638-9999

In the converted garage of a home near Sunset Beach, I stuffed silicon putty into my ears, removed my towel, stepped inside a coffinlike floatation tank and shut the hatch, sealing myself into darkness and silence. The tank was filled with 10 inches of water, heated to body temperature and loaded with 800 pounds of Epsom salt, which floats you like a cork and simulates weightlessness.

Float-tank junkies achieve states of deep relaxation and describe trippy experiences involving the suspension of space and time and the discovery of hidden layers of consciousness. I was hoping for, at best, a nice nap.

A session is supposed to last one hour ($60), but I lasted only 20 minutes before throwing the hatch open and climbing out, itchy from the salt and bored out of my mind. Then I climbed back in, not wanting to be a quitter. After another 20 minutes, I flung open the hatch again and returned to the realm of light, sound and gravity, where I belong.

Tranquility rating: *

Method No. 2


Kagyu Thegchen Ling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center, 26 Gartley Place, 595-8989

Seated cross-legged on a meditation pillow in an ornately decorated hall, I joined the weekly, hour-long basic meditation practice at the Tibetan Buddhist center in Nuuanu (Thursdays, 7 p.m., free). There were six of us in attendance, plus one of the center’s resident lamas, Lama Tempa Gyeltshen. Lama Tempa led a discussion that touched on the nature of thoughts, mind, superstition and appearance. At times I struggled to understand his English, which created an awkward moment when, out of the blue, and all of a sudden very clearly, he asked: “David, can you say back to me what I was just saying?”

We did two meditations, each of which lasted five minutes. In the first, we contemplated this question: Are thoughts and mind the same or different? In the second, we focused on whether thoughts and appearance are the same or different. Focusing on a single question, and nothing else, for five minutes is not as easy as you might think. Or perhaps it’s not as easy as it appears. Either way, somehow, I left feeling focused and calm.

Tranquility rating: ***

Photo: Angelica Rabang

Method No. 3


Oasis Spa • 1430 Kona St., second floor, 979-9000

After a warm foot bath and a hot cup of herbal tea, a therapist trained in Taiwanese foot massage dug in, pressing, squeezing, knuckling and inflicting just enough pain to bathe my brain in soothing dopamine.

Taiwanese foot massage recognizes 64 pressure points in the foot, each corresponding to a different part of the body. Get the full hour ($65), and the therapist hits all 64 points, covering you head-to-toe without leaving your feet. Get the half hour ($35), like I did, and the therapist might hit the liver, brain and spleen, but skip the sinuses, nose and lungs. I tried to count the number of points the therapist covered, but on each foot I lost track as my conscious mind dissolved like a drop of essential oil in a tub of warm water.

If I could have squeezed a Taiwanese foot-massage therapist into the sensory deprivation tank with me, there’s no way I would have bailed out after 20 minutes.

Tranquility rating: *****