by Michael Stusser
Beyond our daily routines and to-do lists the world goes on with or with out us. The world of nature is generating its serene healing energy abundantly all the time if we could simply open ourselves to receive it. When, where and how we make our connection to this larger-than-human world is part grace, part circumstance and partly up to us. As we drive back and forth continuously in our cars and in our minds between the same points daily, our connection with nature and ourselves can unconsciously erode to the point where we hardly know much at all about our true selves.
The Big Question
What could one do in the time span of a day to go deep into a direct experience with nature and inner truth? We have been turning this question for over 30 years as we have developed our facilities, grounds and the way we serve at Osmosis.
From day one a core intention has been to create a meditative environment. The deep level of relaxation from spa treatments opens the door to greater sensory awareness, quietude and receptivity to present moment.
What is Forest Bathing?
Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a relatively new movement that is growing rapidly in Japan and around the world. The lead proponent in the United States is Amos Clifford, founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. He has provided training to establish programs at several different spas. The spa environment could be an especially effective gateway to an optimal forest bathing experience.
Amos has worked as a wilderness guide since 1972, pioneered eco-therapy programs connecting troubled teens to nature, worked in the arena of Restorative Justice and is the founder of Sky Creek Dharma (Zen) Center in Chico.
“Shinrin-yoku” is a term that means, “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest.
The idea is simple: if a person simply visits a natural area and walks in a relaxed way there are calming, rejuvenating and restorative benefits to be achieved.
We have always known this intuitively. But in the past several decades there have been many scientific studies that are demonstrating the mechanisms behind the healing effects of simply being in wild and natural areas. By breathing in the essential oils produced by trees (known as phytoncides), forest bathers can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and restlessness. These organic compounds support our “NK” (natural killer) cells that are part of our immune system.
Forest therapy approaches such as Shinrin-yoku have roots in many cultures throughout history. John Muir wrote, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” He is one of many people who can be included when we think about the origins of the practice.
Forest Therapy combines leisurely walks on gentle paths under forest canopy with guided activities and meditations to help you open your senses, hone your intuition, and experience the forest, as you never have before. It draws upon mindfulness meditation practices, and the techniques of deep nature connection mentoring. The Way of Council for group discussions is also used at several points along the walk, to help participants learn from and teach each other.
Evolution for Expanded Awareness
Blending spa treatments with elements such as mindfulness practice and focused nature experiences such as Forest Bath present an exciting evolution for expanded awareness. As pioneers in the wellness and vitality movement, we at Osmosis look forward to providing special opportunities for individuals to make their connection to the larger-than-human world of nature.
**The inaugural day-long spa Forest Bathing retreat at Osmosis with M. Amos Clifford, the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Along with Nicole Daspit, a Certified Forest Therapy Guide took place in 2016. Amos facilitated a series of invitations that progressively deepened connection with the more-than-human world of nature.
His perspective is that the forest itself is the therapist; as a guide, he opens the doors of sensing, embodiment, and presence that allow the forest to come into a person’s consciousness and do its healing work. We will be breaking new ground by combining the tension releasing benefits of our unique Cedar Enzyme Bath, 75-minute massage and a specially tailored program of Forest Bathing combined with time in our tranquil meditation garden.
Check our Event Page Here for our next Forest Bathing Retreat!
Have you ever wondered how you could possibly make time for self care when you have kids? Are you feeling guilty that you haven’t spent quality time with your family in a while? At Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary, we have a solution. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to prioritize self care as well as family time. Sound a bit like having your cake and eating it too? Well it is, and you deserve it! Read on to find our Top 5 Tips on How to Parent and Enjoy Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.
- Meander towards the coast on a scenic drive. Connect with your family as you enjoy the variety of landscapes that Sonoma County has to offer: from oak-studded hills to scenic valleys, from redwood groves to windswept beaches. Osmosis is located in the historic town of Freestone at the beginning of the Bohemian Highway. Nestled between river and coast, redwoods and vineyards, Freestone is close to everything wonderful in West Sonoma County.
- Indulge Mom while discovering the world-famous California Coastal Redwoods in a way you never imagined. Mom begins her great escape by settling into the warmth of a Cedar Enzyme Bath. This warm and fragrant treatment offers myriad health benefits, from improving circulation to relieving joint and muscle pain. This is followed by the Osmosis Fusion Massage in a secluded Pagoda along the forested banks of Salmon Creek. Her journey of quietude concludes in the Japanese style meditation garden where she is invited to walk, lay, sit, or meditate while experiencing its ethereal feel that is unmistakably calming. At the same time, Dad and the kids head down Bohemian Highway to Sonoma Canopy Tours just 6 miles away. They have two unique courses that feature zip lines, bridges and rappels for most ages and abilities. As well as panoramic forest views and deep ravines.
- Nourish the Family Unit with Fresh Baked Bread, Artisan Cheese and Gardens. After a couple hours of high adventure, it is time to come together and grab some fresh bread at Wild Flower Bakery in Freestone, (please note their business hours of Fri., Sat., Sun., and Mon. from 8am-6:30pm). This quaint, storied bake shop has organic French breads, scones & other treats, plus specialty coffees is a great way to break up the day. Visitors are welcome to wander in their garden located just beside the bakery. It features herbs, vegetables and flowers and picnic tables. Don’t forget to pick up some hand crafted artisan cheeses along the way at Freestone Artisan Cheese just a short walk through town.
- Rejuvenate Dad while discovering windswept beaches. A cedar enzyme bath is a good place to start for Dad. This fermentation bathing ritual involves immersing your entire body in a mixture of soft and fragrant ground cedar and rice bran with living enzymes that stimulate metabolic activity inside and out. Next up for Dad is an Osmosis Men’s Signature Facial, specially formulated for men’s skin care needs, including a series of hot towels and a relaxing foot treatment. At the same time, Mom begins her bonding adventure with the kids at Doran Beach Regional Park. This family friendly beach has a wide, 2-mile stretch of beach on Bodega Bay and is ideal for walking, picnicking, playing in the sand, flying kites, surfing, and bird-watching.
- Conclude the Day’s adventure with Dinner & Shopping. After Mom, Dad and the kids have been wonderfully nurtured, it is time for the family to come together to enjoy some food and shopping. The Barlow brings together the very best wine makers, food producers and artisans, creating a space that offers a direct connection between the consumer and the makers of the local products they love. It’s a place to share food and enjoy art, wine and time together.
These Top 5 Tips, are only a suggestion to the myriad of good times and relaxation a family can have together while spending the day in West Sonoma County. Feel free to substitute any adventure with some of the links below. We also invite you to explore our website to further customize your your experience to fit your families needs.
Sonoma Canopy Tours
Wild Flower Bakery
Freestone Artisan Cheese
Armstrong Redwoods State Park
Burke’s Canoe Trips
Bodega Bay Kayak
Vertex Climbing Center
Sonoma Country Regional Parks
Summer. A time for being in nature. For fresh air. When our skin gets to feel the warm sun, lie in the cleansing sand. The season designated for relaxation. So what are the best ways to relax in Sonoma County this summer? Luckily for us, this beautiful part of the country offers majestic natural landscapes that make for wonderful getaways–that time in nature is so important to our physical, mental, and emotional restoration! Here are our top five ways to enjoy Osmosis during the season of abundance.
- Massage in the Pagodas. Take a stroll down the wooded paths to a private pagoda and enjoy the songs of nature as you treat your muscles, your skin, and your mind, to some healing kneading.
- Hammocks! Need we say more? Sway in the soft breeze along Salmon Creek and rock yourself into a blissful summer dream.
- Lunch in the forest. Taste the bounty of local Sonoma County farms while enjoying a fresh, local meal prepared by Fork Roadhouse. Get lost in the views from our eating areas tucked away among the trees.
- Summer Skin Care. Let one of our expert estheticians rejuvenate you face, heal sun damage, and hydrate your skin–leaving you looking and feeling your best.
- The gardens! Soak up some rays or relax in the shade. Let your mind wander as you watch the coy fish meander through the Heart Mind Pond. Take a deep breath. This is what summer is all about.