Peace Out

Central Florida’s only Total Zen Float brings tranquility to those who seek it.

Flotation tanks (also known as sensory deprivation tanks) are designed to create a soundless circumstance ideal for the relaxation and rejuvenation of the mind and body.


Their brochure describes the experience as “lying in a hammock on the moon.” Total Zen Float, located in Casselberry, opened in October 2013 and is attracting people all over the Central Florida area.

Whether you are battling chronic pain, anxiety, injury, depression, or just in serious need of some quiet time, owner Derek Hudiburg offers that floating “provides a unique forum for deep tranquility and healing.”

The concept is simply floating in a tank void of sound and light. There’s a momentary feeling of claustrophobia when the tank door shuts, but co-owner Will O’Brien encourages customers feeling confined to “envision an infinite space in the darkness.” As a warm Epsom salt solution envelops your body, you’re soon unable to distinguish where your toes end and the water begins; as the brain and body calm, relaxation sets in. Imagine feeling suspended in a gravity-deprived state, much like a womb. The skin temperature solution of water allows the body to literally float, and the mind to float away.

Originally purchasing the float tanks for their own personal use, Hudiburg and O’ Brien saw potential in sharing the experience with others. Floating is not a new trend, though it has gained recognition in the past decade. It was developed in 1954 by neuro-psychiatrist John C. Lilly whose research centered on consciousness and sensory deprivation. Several reputable studies were conducted on float tanks and their use in treating patients with depression, fibromyalgia, chronic anxiety, and other physical and mental ailments. A 2007 study out of the Human Performance Laboratory at Sweden’s Karlstad University saw a large reduction in cortisol levels—the stress hormone—in float tank participants who suffered from chronic stress and pain. Out of 140 study participants, nearly all saw improvements in sleep, a reduction in anxiety, and reduced pain; what’s even more compelling is that participants felt these effects as much as four months post-treatment (about 12 sessions in the tank).

Kelli Hastings, a Central Florida attorney, can vouch for these statistics. She’s a frequent visitor at Total Zen Float since the opening. “Not only did I enjoy relief from the pain in my body when I experienced weightlessness, but I felt I tapped into a profound layer of my mind; I was able to see my thoughts differently. They felt less important, and I saw with clarity how I can be my own worst enemy.”

Perhaps Hastings is experiencing some of the physiological effects said to occur during deep meditation. Mental health counselor Marta Rocha of Orlando regularly uses meditation as a practice for her own patients as a means of relieving anxiety. Rocha notes: “Unlike medication, regular meditation has been shown through research to actually change the areas of the brain which regulate emotions and stabilize moods. Meditation encourages mindfulness and awareness.” It’s not surprising, then, that Hastings had such an ethereal experience.

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