Posts Tagged ‘cedar enzyme bath’

Osmosis Day Spa: A Unique Meditative Retreat In California Wine Country

By Kim Westerman

Forbes

At the base of the Bohemian Highway, within a stone’s throw of California’s best coastal vineyards, is the tiny town of Freestone, tucked between the redwoods and the ocean. Blink your eyes and you’ll miss it—but consider it a destination for deep relaxation. Osmosis Day Spa & Sanctuary, founded by Michael Stusser in 1985, is a Zen meditation retreat here, at the center of which is a cedar enzyme bath experience.

A day at Osmosis begins with a welcoming cup of hot tea and a walk through the Kyoto-style meditation garden, whose labyrinthine paths are designed to bring you into the present moment. Based on the Zen parable of The Ox and the Herder, a metaphor for the experience of enlightenment, the ten-stage journey carries you through various elements of earth and water with opportunities to stop and reflect for as long as you’d like.

Zen Garden meditation space at Osmosis Day Spa. Photo by Kim Westerman

Designed by British horticulturist Robert Ketchell and built by the late Steve Stucky, once the Abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, the garden is lovingly tended by unobtrusive staff who will come find you if you lose track of time. After all, that’s the point.

The lovingly tended rock garden at Osmosis Day Spa. Photo by Kim Westerman

The lovingly tended rock garden at Osmosis Day Spa. Photo by Kim Westerman

When it’s time, you’ll be led back to the main building for a tea service in a private room overlooking a beautiful tea garden that you’re also welcome to stroll in. The tea is infused with enzymes designed to aid digestion and mirror the experience your skin will have in the forthcoming cedar enzyme bath.

Next, we had massages in the couples room, a quiet space where two therapists work in harmony on your respective sore muscles, tailoring the treatment to your specific needs. There are also outdoor pagodas available for massage therapy, a good option on warmer days. Our massage therapists were especially attuned not only to what we reported our bodies needed, but also what they sensed through their own intuitive assessment.

After the deeply relaxing massage, we took a break for lunch, which was a generous salad of local greens and an egg, served at a picnic table by the creek.

Lunch by the creek at Osmosis Day Spa. Photo by Kim Westerman

Lunch by the creek at Osmosis Day Spa. Photo by Kim Westerman

At last, the main event: the cedar enzyme bath, a therapeutic treatment from Japan that is the only one of its kind in North America. Wooden boxes hold the deeply aromatic mixture of ground cedar and rice bran, infused with enzymes created by a biological catalyst imported from Japan that triggers fermentation, hence the steam rising from the “bath,” which is, actually, not wet, but rather humid from perpetual fermentation. And warm. Perfectly, relaxingly warm.

The cedar enzyme bath is the only one of its kind in North America. Photo by Kim Westerman

The cedar enzyme bath is the only one of its kind in North America. Photo by Kim Westerman

The cedar enzyme bath takes about 30 minutes, all told, and an attendant walks you through the process, coming in periodically to wipe your face with a cool cloth and give you a sip of water (as your hands are buried in the mixture). Then, she brushes your skin off with a little broom—yes, a broom!—before leading you into the adjacent shower.

So relaxing was our time at Osmosis that it seemed like a crime to get in the car and drive back to reality. But it’s a comfort to know that this sanctuary is always there.

Forest Bathing Spa Retreat

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. A robust body of scientific literature now exists on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Inspired by the Japanese practice and the emerging worldwide trend toward nature-based wellness practices, Osmosis is offering this one-day retreat in partnership with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Through training a world-wide network of Certified Forest Therapy Guides, this association is leading the effort to bring shinrin-yoku inspired practices to the United States and the rest of the world.

Our presenters:

amos cliffordM. Amos Clifford, the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs and one of the world’s leading advocates for Forest Therapy. Along with Nicole Daspit, a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, Amos will facilitate a series of invitations that progressively deepen 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. For more information about forest therapy see www.nftg.org.

What to expect:

Expect a very leisurely walk with a series of guided invitations, ending with “shinrin-yoku tea,” a simple ceremony of drinking tea made of plants foraged along the trail.

The program includes a mindful Forest Bathing walk, a cedar enzyme foot-bath, a revitalizing 75-minute massage or facial, organic lunch, shinrin-yoku tea and time for quiet reflection in the gardens.