Pay Attention: How sensory deprivation and floating impact the mind



Our series Pay Attention looks at how to retrain our focus and recapture our attention under the bombardment of technology and information that distracts us. The average person scrolls through 300 feet of mobile content a day, according to Facebook's global creative director, Andrew Keller. That's almost the length of a football field. We wanted to explore some of the ways people are trying to short-circuit the noise, from the mundane to the extreme – and that's how "CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson ended up floating in a sensory deprivation tank in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Floating in less than a foot water, buoyed by 2,000 pounds of salt, Dickerson felt weightless, unsure where his limbs end and the water starts. And at some point, the sensation is one of losing himself, never falling asleep but moving into a state of a clear but empty mind.

Sensory deprivation is about as far as a person can get from the chirpy world of breaking news, social media, email and the rest of what pinballs through our heads these days.

For the past six months, entrepreneur Scott McKenzie has floated three to six times a week in Southern California. "To have that nothingness and be forced to just decompress... there's something revitalizing about it," the Golden Age Companions CEO and owner said.

McKenzie said that "nothingness" has opened up his mind to new business ideas.

"What it does is it keeps me more focused," he said. "You realize, 'Wow, like my mind had a whole reboot.'"