My daughter, Cheyane, was visiting for a couple of days from New York, and I couldn’t resist adding a little diving adventure into her trip.
Key Largo offers terrific diving and is only a road trip away from Sarasota. Our children grew up in the water. Scuba diving has always been a part of their lives, and many happy childhood memories revolve around playing at the beach and our underwater expeditions.
Scuba diving provides opportunities to spend time together and strengthen family bonds while building self-esteem in a world removed from the distractions of our busy everyday lives. Since Colin and I have been diving for fifteen years, we felt it necessary to share our love for the ocean’s underwater beauty with our children. Scuba diving became our go-to for our family vacations. I would always joke on the dive boat that no matter how rambunctious our kids were, once everyone placed a regulator in their mouths, peaceful silence always followed. Underwater communication becomes magically limited to hand signals in a silent world without distractions.
Colin and I marveled as our children gained confidence and skills, learning to navigate and hover weightlessly alongside marine life. We found ourselves glimpsing the serene underwater wonderland through their lens. Nature’s power and beauty piqued our children’s curiosity and forged lifelong respect for the environment in their curious young minds. Scuba diving taught our four children numerous invaluable lessons such as checking pressure gauges, O-rings, depth, buoyancy, water density, visibility, and length of time underwater – all requiring discipline and zero tolerance for error; learning to slow down and think carefully. Together we gained an appreciation and reverence for the health of reefs, including the ramifications of global warming, pollution, and overfishing, on the marine and oceanic environment.
Diving provides an opportunity to connect to the sound of your rhythmic breathing focusing on slow and steady inhalation and exhalation. The conscious awareness of breathing reminds us of the connection between the body and mind. The sound of the breath becomes soothing, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and calming the body’s stress response by slowing one’s heart rate down. A 2011 study conducted at Johns Hopkins University found that veterans with spinal cord injuries that took part in a scuba diving certification course reported improvements in their muscle movement and a significant reduction in post-traumatic stress syndrome symptoms. Disabled divers describe experiencing less anxiety and fewer headaches, attributed to the silent weightless reprieve that diving provides. For me, gently gliding underwater alongside marine animals and beautiful corals builds my appreciation of the wondrous world we live in, spiritually enhancing my connecting to something larger than myself.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Cousteau
Photos by Hadriam Vega.