Sensory deprivation turns to appreciation

I've had some interesting experiences lately, involving sensory overload and sensory deprivation, which has been an interesting and enlightening contrast.

The year started off promising with a decent run in the PCA and Aussie Millions Main Events. At Aussie Millions, I had been doing really well on Day 3 and had a top 10 stack with around 70 players left, but everything went badly after that, losing a few key hands. While I didn´t have my own seat at the final table, I did enjoy railing Sorel Mizzi and Scott Seiver.

During my stay in Melbourne I tried a flotation tank for the first time. It was an interesting experience that I have enjoyed a few more times since. In fact, I'm writing from Mexico City where I'm about to have another two-hour session.

My first session was a little awkward as I had no idea what to expect. It´s basically a tank the size of a bath, filled with one foot of salty water, and a lid to eliminate all light. I couldn't see or hear anything, and felt slightly claustrophobic at first, but that soon eased and I just focused on the continuous stream of random thoughts as I lay there in the dark. I even fell asleep a few times and had some vivid dreams. Although I didn´t feel like I was entirely asleep -- it was a strange midway state, and the images popping up in my mind were wild.

The next sessions were more calm, and I was able to meditate more. After each float, I felt more restful than I'd ever felt before. I was physically and mentally relaxed, almost to the point where I couldn't even speak properly at first.


In the same week, my girlfriend, Lynn, and I went to Vue de Monde for lunch, one of Melbourne´s best restaurants. This was easily one of the top three meals I've ever had in my life -- insanely expensive, but absolutely worth it. I´m always happy to splurge a little when it comes to food as I love to enjoy a nice meal with special company, and this was quite something with a four-hour, 10-course lunch. A different chef would serve each dish, proudly describing what made it unique -- and unique they were! From snap-frozen herbs poured with liquid nitrogen at the table, to fresh truffle grated over chocolate mousse. All of this, combined with views from the 55th floor of the Rialto in the heart of Melbourne, the lunch offered a serious sensory overload of sights, smells and tastes.

I've continued exercising and improving my health and stamina for long poker sessions, but I'm mostly training my mind, taking online courses on subjects like neuroscience, astrophysics, and the philosophy of mathematics. I´ve noticed some benefits already from these studies, combined with the flotation sessions. I find myself less stressed about money or other day-to-day worries. I think when you deprive yourself of something, or allow your mind to be still, you are then more aware and appreciative of sensory stimuli later on. It helps you be more present in life, which is really the key to easing stress.

Time to go back into the tank -- not like at the tables, but literally!

Angel Guillen is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Angel Guillen
@PokerStars in Team PokerStars Pro