by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~
I have traveled all over the world and have visited some beautiful beaches; Phuket in Thailand, Hamoa Beach and the Big Beach in Maui, Kuta Beach in Bali and the sugary sand beaches of Cancun. Out of so many, there is only one that I always want to go back to and that is South Beach in Miami.
This sacred jewel situated between the mainland and the sea, is a strip of beach that is kissed by the warm Gulf Stream, which rises to meet the sand along Miami Beach. This part of the Gulf Stream, referred to as the Florida current, maintains an average water temperature at or above 25 °C (77 °F) during the winter. The East winds move over this warm water and move warm air from over the Gulf Stream inland. This helps to keep temperatures milder across the state than anywhere else across the Southeast, especially during the winter. When the Gulf Stream meanders up along this precious beach, it reveals the most beautiful blue green water, that I see nowhere else.
The most healing color combination in the light spectrum, these turquoise waters hold a magical spell over me. In the summer months, the water is also so incredibly warm, it is like slipping into a soothing blanket. I spend hours at a time in this water, splashing about, exercising, floating and just giving thanks in a ritual I perform every time I submerge my body in its embrace.
When I was a teenager, I first remember seeing Miami Beach with my parents, grandparents and brother, Steven in the late 70’s. Miami Beach was used as a retirement community with most of its ocean front hotels and apartment buildings filled with elderly people living on small, fixed incomes. I will always recall the hundreds of elderly people sitting on rocking chairs on the very large porches outside their hotels and apartments. This was the place known as the retirement strip. The area of Florida where you would come to retire and eventually die.
I was reintroduced to Miami Beach in the early 90’s, approximately 8 years after the area was saved as a cohesive Art Deco unit by Barbara Capitman and a group of activists who spearheaded the movement to place almost one square mile of South Beach on the National Register of Historic Places. The Miami Beach Architectural District was designated in 1979. This allowed for the protection of every Art Deco building to be preserved from its early days of the late 1920’s to early 30’s. South Beach is about 23 blocks south of Indian Creek to the tip of South Point. This is when I rediscovered Miami Beach and the sanctuary it would become. Rich in vegetation, a glow with the most amazing light, warm gulf water and mystical sand bars, this beach seemed to be perched on a precipice that was sacred ground. This tropical paradise would become my most inspiring muse, a place of many metaphysical discoveries and the place I would always come back to in my mind’s eye!
South Beach is the place where I bought my first home. Inspired by my partner, Tonio, would be the one who most influenced the decision to buy in this new hot spot! Sitting on the south end of Flamingo Park and overlooking the ocean to the east, this home has become a place for me to come and relax. To entertain friends and family over the season, at holidays and in the summer. It is a home where I am most inspired with ideas and a place that sparks inspiration for my writings. Although still a very new and up and coming area in the mid 90’s, South Beach was raw and full of amazing possibilities. You could just feel the kinetic energy surrounding this special island. It was a place not yet full formed. It was truly a diamond in the rough, when we bought here.
I remember how Lincoln Road was an abandon strip mall with shops that had closed down in the late 70’s, completely unkept and undeveloped. The minute you would walk past Ocean Drive coming from the beach, you would still see many hotels and businesses boarded up and abandoned. But, you could feel transformation in the air! And transform it did.
Tonio and I would spend our winters here. We would spend our days frolicking on the beach, eating delicious Cuban food and renovating the condo. I remember meeting up with Gianni Versace many afternoons on the beach. We would discuss with him the beautiful and magical place that is South Beach. We would talk fashion and industry, beauty and design, all during our many blissful days of sunbathing.
South Beach is the place where I met one of my treasured metaphysical mentors and teacher, Zachary Selig, who has also become a lifelong friend. I recall the many days we spent talking about and debating metaphysical teachings, practicing our yoga and swimming in the warm cleansing waters. South Beach is the place we say “we ran around when we were children” and in many ways, where we grew up! I am a greater person for knowing Zachary and I am forever grateful for all he has freely given me!
The mystical ocean is where I discovered the healing powers from floating. One cloudless morning, I went to the beach early in the morning to do my yoga. After I had worked up a sweat in the reaches of the morning light, I jumped in the ocean. I lay back in the azure water and let my body float on the surface. As I lay there being held and caressed by the magical waters, I could feel the tension in my shoulders release. Then my lower back relaxed and then my hips. It was literally a chain reaction. The more I let go and gave my body up to the floating sensation, the more my body simply unwound! Since that day, not a time goes by that I don’t wade into the waters and float, sometimes hours at a time!
Some of my most amazing sunrises are found here. The sun crests over the horizon of the ocean and spills light throughout my bedroom in the mornings. It is my call to the beach where I can do my sun salutations and yoga on the warm sand! The play of light as it cascades over the sea and the palm trees in the park is unparalleled.
I recall the great fun I had one summer day when two colleagues of mine from acupuncture school, came and spent a most wonderful day with me! Stacey Van Gorder, L.Ac. and Ellie Tansey L.Ac. came to South Beach to visit me and what a memorable time we had! I remember showing them how to “wave ride” the huge swells of water that day. We spent hours bobbing up and down in the beautiful water, riding the waves to shore, laughing and sharing the day. Afterwards we had a nice lunch on my terrace. Both girls were friends from school and study buddies, but that day we become so much closer and bonded in a very special way that I will never forget. It was the perfect day.
My parents come to visit on the holidays. We have spent some wonderful Thanksgivings, Christmases and New Years, sharing big meals, watching spectacular fireworks and exchanging memories. There was one particular day we went to the beach. My mom was relaxing with a good book on the pristine beach and my dad and I took a long walk along the shore. I remember walking all the way to the northern most tip of South Beach before it rounds a bend and you can no longer see the southern most tip of the beach. It was quit a long walk and I recall being concerned that my mom would begin to worry about us. But that day, my dad and I had wonderful conversation and shared many memories. It is a special moment I will always revisit every time I look at the furthest point north on South Beach.
It is now 15 years later that I am writing this. It is still an amazing place for me to come and rejuvenate. I continue to find my inspiration from the nature surrounding me. I enjoy my long walks around South Beach. I look forward to my stops for lunch and moments sipping coffee on Lincoln Road. I love experiencing the warm waters of this magical beach as they have given me more joy than I could ever express in words.