Serenity at Bahia Honda State Park

Capt. Sera L. Sullivan- Island Jane Magazine

Have you ever taken a calming moment to visualize yourself alone in a natural space?

Close your eyes to imagine yourself on a long white sandy beach in the middle of the Florida Keys.

Relax and notice how the air is warm and the sound of whispering waves fill your ears. Slow it down.

Drop from thinking and doing, to feeling and being.

What is your inner experience of this raw and real moment?

Our practice of going quiet in nature is central to the Serenity Eco Guides Mission.

The mission began before the company and around the time when I graduated from University of Vermont with a degree in psychology, chemistry, and snowboarding. Combining all three of my specialties, I made my professional mission to “reconnect the mind with nature” and combat the iphone which had just been born. Like most recent grads, I chose a non-profit counselor job for the experience and the Caribbean location. It didn’t pay much and involved living in a tent. Of course, I was thrilled!

My Keys adventure began with a long haul from the Smoky Mountains to Big Pine Key, Florida. We towed 12 kayaks, one boat, and twenty tents past the remains of Flagler’s dream — the Florida East Coast Railway. Miles of crystal clear turquoise water soothed us and I remember holding my breath for good luck as we cruised past the breathtaking old bridge at Bahia Honda State Park.

Capt. Sera L. Sullivan- Island Jane MagazineWhen the summer ended, I decided to live out the rest of the year in my tent amongst the endangered Key Deer to focus on saving the world… I still have my roots buried on Big Pine, although I no longer live in a tent. From here I have been able to gain professional experience both as a *naturalist and as a **clinician which is now the backbone of my own practice. No it wasn’t the infamous Keys Disease that made me choose to stay, although I do spend most of my time on the beach!

My early work in the Keys gave me confidence that a connection to wild joyous nature helps with the healing and recovery process. The tranquil water and dynamic coast line facilitates psychosocial rehab and eases stress. One of the most successful workshops I created was on recovery from addiction discussed in the context of the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane which shut down the railway. Flagler’s failure made it easier for my clients to admit their own.

The old disintegrating bridge stands as hard evidence of the truth “In order to build, sometimes you must first destroy.”-Elisa M. Ortiz

By 2014, I founded my dream practice in the shadow of Flagler’s and call my technique Serenity Eco Therapy. A state permit allows our operations to thrive symbiotically with the park and ensures that we will be here serenely. I am extremely grateful to the rangers of Bahia Honda State Park who honor and protect what is surely the most stunning of State Parks in America.

Capt. Sera L. Sullivan- Island Jane MagazineConsider joining us at Caloosa Beach for yoga and guided meditation in the mornings. From this western facing shore, you can capture your favorite pose in front of the iconic fixed bridges. If you are feeling highly anxious from a stressful week, then we’ll walk barefoot first.

Sandspur Beach, located more than a mile east of the Ranger Station, is prime for TAEE and paddleboard yoga on glassy water. From here we also have access to the twisted mangrove creeks and the sparkling sandbar. If you can, take the time to drive to the farthest pavilions which provide shade structure for picnics and play dates. This is where we play. If you need to chill out in the heat this summer and get the authentic Caribbean experience, then join us!

Captain Sera is the founder of Serenity Eco Therapy and owner of Serenity Eco Guides LLC. Her uniquely therapeutic paddle tours are based at Bahia Honda State Park & Oceans Edge Hotel & Marina Key West. Sera’s passion for paddling in the mangrove near-shore environment of the Florida Keys is the reason why she moved to Big Pine Key full time in 2012. Sera is currently working on her PhD studies with Akamai University in the field of Applied Ecopsychology.

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