waiting room at Total Zen Float in Casselberry, FL

Alone with my thoughts for the first time: my experience with sensory deprivation

Pulling into the parking lot at the address for Total Zen Float in Casselberry, I looked at the unassuming, if not mildly frightening exterior and thought, “Well, I’ll probably wake up without my kidneys, but let’s give it a shot.”

The creepy entrance to Total Zen Float in Casselberry
There’s a place a man goes to relax or wake up without his kidneys – you decide.

The concept of using sensory deprivation chambers has been around for almost fifty years. I didn’t look into the history of it in the slightest, but I can only imagine that it was invented by Helen Keller as a method to help her friends understand her world before she killed Hitler in 1972 with a hoverboard.

It’s been a fun summer, filled with stress, anxiety, and plenty of misuses of the word “fun”, so when I heard about the potential benefits of these isolation tanks, I was intrigued. Filled with a layer of water and a touch less salt than the popcorn you find in a dive bar, the tubs allow you to float effortlessly with no light or sound, helping with back pain, reducing blood pressure, relieving anxiety and stress, improving blood flow, boosting your thinking process, and giving you super robot powers. Or so they say.

The waiting room of the unassuming Total Zen Float in Casselberry, Florida
The waiting room didn’t appear to be a nefarious kidney-stealing waiting room . . .

The staff was genuinely friendly in a hippy-but-not-one-of-those-hippies-you-hate way, dispensing a warm albeit unexpected hug before leaving me to my own devices. After stripping down, showering to remove all natural body oils, and taking about thirty selfies, I climbed into a tank in such a way that I’m sure didn’t look at all like a fat monkey about to go on a water slide.

I pulled the lid shut, turned the light off, and prepared for transcendence. Laying back, relaxing my neck, resting with my arms above my head (as I was told to do because “something something lymph nodes”), I stared into the blackness, waiting.

And almost instantly saw a glow of light around the seam of the tank, coming from the supposedly empty room. “You motherfuckers aren’t getting my kidneys!” I said and threw the lid up in triumph. Luckily for me, the room was empty, with my muted phone’s glow being the culprit. Luckily for them, nobody was there to watch me throw open the lid of the tank like a creepy fat baby exploding from a robot womb. In retrospect, that was also luckily for me.

The sensory attenuation tank at Total Zen Float in Casselberry, FL
In a horror movie, this would never end well.

As someone who’s claustrophobic, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle being in the tank for ninety minutes, but once the light is out, you have no real sense of space, and it’s not at all disconcerting. If you’re scared of the dark, though, you’re fucked (and probably six years old).

It didn’t take too long to start feeling like you couldn’t tell where your body ended and the water beg-oops, my hand bumped the edge of the tub.

It didn’t take too long to start feeling like you couldn’t tell where your body ended and the-fuck, my foot just hit the side.

It didn’t take too long to start feeling like-goddamnit why do I keep hitting the sides of the tub?


Finally, I figured out the best way to lay so that my feet and hands stayed free of the borders of the tub. In the future, a tank that is designed for a broad-shouldered, tall-ish person would be better, but once I was able to get situated properly, I relaxed.

I was terrified of being alone with my thoughts. Like many of you, I can’t sleep at night unless I go to bed utterly exhausted, drunk, or medicated. Otherwise, my thoughts surround me, jabbing at me with tiny pointy sticks – the future, responsibilities, people who count on me, life, bills, money, loneliness, expectations, failure – they all join in. An hour and a half alone with those evil fuckers would have been hell, but thankfully it wasn’t the case.

I stared into the darkness. I saw lights where there were none. I fell asleep for a while with no sense of how long I slept and no grumpiness when I awoke. Most of all, I felt completely calm and utterly relaxed. I could have laid there all-shit, the light’s on. My session’s over.

Adam Avitable after his session in the isolation tank at Total Zen Float
The naked man baby and his robot womb.

I’ve done yoga naked. I’ve meditated, also naked. I’ve had massages – yeah, naked too. I’ve smoked weed and even ate an edible that almost killed me (and I ended up naked). I’ve walked naked through forests, and I’ve listened to the ocean as I laid naked on the beach in the pitch black. I can tell you that this experience was one of my favorite things to do naked. Well, top 5. Nah, 7.

And if you like to relax, you want to calm your mind and soothe your body, and you’re not a baby who’s afraid of the dark, a session in one of these rest tanks would be perfect for you. The prices are always reasonable, unless you find a place that actually does charge an arm, a leg, and a kidney.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for this review. I paid for it with hard-earned dollar bills that I found on the bottom of my car that I probably meant to give to a stripper but forgot one night. However, if Total Zen Float wants to give me more free sessions based on this fantastic review of their company, they know how to reach me, contact me, and probably steal my kidneys.

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