2017 Rise of the Designated Driver: Illumination, Action and Trust

By  Lynnda Pollio, Empathic Consulting

You made it through 2016!

Take a moment to acknowledge, review and release this surreal past year. It has not been easy, but the person you are now is better prepared for what lies ahead. 

There is a certain trepidation we feel entering 2017. We know things will change as we traverse the coming days. The unexpected will continue to erupt into our reality, scorching familiar comforts. Accept this turmoil, however disruptive. Bold new bedrock, ideas and alliances will spring from these fires. The quest for what is real and true has begun.

I’d like to think that the worst is behind us. But it is not. There is no going back to what is “normal.” That box we constantly try to think outside of…is actually breaking apart. Change has begun and it is permanent. 2017 is the year you decide whether to jump into the front seat of your life, hands purposefully on the wheel, or submit to the back seat resigned to what happens. Take actions, however small, that steer you in the direction you want to go.

Most of us will experience a profound event in our lives, a quantum shift towards a new way of being. There will be waves of dread and chaos, then opportunity and wonder. New friends will appear. What we believed to be absolutely true might prove to be false. Something we assumed would last a lifetime does not. Trust will become both a question and an ally.

For those who choose to step up and be the designated driver in their lives this year, I offer guideposts to navigate 2017’s uncommon crossing:

Be present to what is. As illusions dissolve and current structures and belief systems crumble, steady yourself by being present to what is, regardless of what was or should be. We must learn to adapt to each jolt, and respond fresh from that moment without clinging to the verdicts of the past.

Know thyself. The most important thing you will ever do is being who you truly are. Grant yourself time alone. Turn off technologies and be still. Commune with the earth, touch trees, walk barefoot, and listen to the language of nature. It will remind you of your place here, and initiate you into a higher way of thinking. Be with people who care about you enough to expose your blind spots, those unrecognized hindrances you cannot resolve until witnessed.

Stand up. When someone is giving you crumbs, don’t let them convince you they are giving you the whole cake. Choose the world you wish to inhabit and stand fully in it. Reserve judgment of others but do not cower in the shadows. Allow yourself to be seen. This is the year to speak your truth out loud. Ladies, take your places!

Suffering is a teacher. We will receive as much pain as it takes for us to change. Most of it will be unfair. But it will transform forever whomever it touches. Suffering is asking us to wake up, end stale routines, remember our humanity and pay attention to what is wrong. Suffering precedes every great breakthrough. Ask for help, and hold a caring space for others traveling through difficult circumstances. You are not failing. You are emerging.

Cultivate the adult within. Be the person who can handle anything. 2017 will require the adult in us to intercede and take responsibility for our emotions, actions and goals. Find your courage. The world needs adults now more than ever. Stop complaining, blaming, and shaming. Lead, care, and manage, instead.

Have fun! There will be radiant sparks of happiness available all year. Respite from the storms. Seek people and experiences that bring you joy and make you laugh. Take risks. Your best life exists on the other side of those gambles. Fun fuels courage.

An explosion of sharing. Share kindness, vulnerability, support, money, things. It is the glue of a new community being born. Holding too tight to what you have will only bring fear and separation. Sharing will open hearts and doors to what is possible in the world that is unfolding.

Love what you don’t understand. Everyone will struggle with something this year. We may not always respond to our stresses in the best way. Be compassionate. Another’s journey may appear different from yours, but in the end the destination is the same. We will all need a little latitude as we grow.

Take care of your body like never before. Anxiety and illness will run high, and the healthcare system is not equipped. People will be dying this year in uncomfortable numbers. Eat healthy, move your body, quiet your mind. It’s the most important thing you will do for yourself in 2017.

Pray. Yes, pray. Reclaim the divine presence within you. Prayer is powerful, soothing and meaningful. Prayer helps you remember who you are beyond our social conditioning and technology and creates a spiritual cord that connects us all. Prayer transforms what you cannot bear. 

Stop buying stuff. You really want the world to change? Don’t buy anything until you need it. There is power in economic restraint. The best way to get the attention of those who seek to control you is by spending with discernment.

Be Kind. That’s it. Just be kind all the time.

Learn where to place your trust.  For now, do not trust institutions, corporations, the media, or governments. Trust each other. Get to know each other. Build community through shared vulnerability. Help your neighbors. Open to the possibility of our human connection. Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions. You are the only one you need to change. Love more. Fear less. Walk hopefully into what you do not know.

This year, we are going through a birth canal of sorts. It will be messy and uncomfortable. Where we finally arrive dwells within our individual choices more than we have been willing to accept. Act towards the world you envision for yourself. Everything better we can be involves moving beyond our personal dramas, prejudices and absolutes. The good news is that we will begin to understand this as we continue our migration together towards somewhere we have never been before. Go where you feel called, even if no one you know follows. Others will be there, waiting. Begin to recognize and fully embrace your fellow travelers. Let go. This is happening!

It’s going to be a momentous year. Hope to meet you along the way!




lynnda-pollio-empathic-consultingLynnda Pollio
Empathic Consulting
Author, Trusting the Currents
Website http://lynndapollio.com/
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Lymphatic Drainage Massage

A massage that promotes health in the deepest sense.

By Raizelah Bayen

What is the purpose of our lymphatic system?Lymphatic-System

The Lymph system serves as our first line of defense against disease or foreign particles by circulating immune cells throughout our bodies.  The lymph nodes filter fluid by using lymphocytes (immune cells) which can recognize and destroy invading pathogens or foreign particles.  These immune cells create antibodies for each disease they encounter, and for the rest of a person’s life, will recognize and destroy those organisms each time they invade.

History of Lymphatic Drainage Massage (LMD)

Lymphatic Drainage Massage was developed in France in the 1930’s. Initially it was used to address sinus infections, enlarged lymph nodes and acne.  There are now countless approaches to the ways in which Lymphatic Drainage Massage can be used.  At Osmosis, we may encourage our clients to explore the benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage if they are interested in cleansing or detoxifying, wanting to build their immune systems, or even healing from edema or soft tissue damage.

What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic Drainage Massage is a gentle, rhythmic style of massage that mimics the action of the lymphatic system.  It uses precise rhythm and pressure to open the initial lymphatics and stimulate the lymph vessel contraction to move fluid toward the lymph nodes.  Because the initial lymphatics are located just under the skin, LDM uses light pressure.  While the gentle touch of LDM is soothing and relaxing, it is also deeply therapeutic.  LDM has a number of important functions, which include: distributing immune cells throughout the body to defend against disease, ridding the body of excess proteins and toxins, helping to repair damage to injured tissues, and regenerating lymph nodes in areas of chronic infection.

How does Lymphatic Drainage Massage work?lymphatic system

When performing LDM, the massage therapist will move the client’s skin in different directions, which stretch the microfilaments just below the skin that control the openings to the initial lymphatics.  As the initial lymphatics are opened, they fill with interstitial fluid. This initiates a pumping response which is similar to peristalsis, moving the fluid toward the lymph nodes.  Within the lymph nodes lymphocytes cleanse and purge the lymphatic fluid of any microorganisms, foreign particles, and excess proteins, enzymes or hormones in the blood.  From the lymph nodes, the cleansed fluid is emptied into the lymphatic and thoracic ducts for return to blood circulation.

While Lymphatic Drainage Massage works directly on the superficial circulation of lymph fluid, it affects the deep circulation, including toward the nodes within the intestinal and respiratory organs, because lymph flow is increased through the whole lymph system.  The pumping response of the initial lymphatics moves like a wave through the entire lymph system to the deepest layers of the body.

Who can benefit from Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Everyone can benefit from LDM.  It cleanses the body and boosts the immune system, something everyone needs on a regular basis.  Lymphatic Massage is especially useful for those who suffer from:

  • Edema
  • Soft tissue injury accompanied with inflammation
  • Recent surgery
  • Recent or recurring illness
  • Lowered immunity

How often should you receive Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

You will benefit from Lymphatic Drainage Massage in any frequency.  Some people choose to start their new year with a cleanse incorporating LDM.  Others will choose to receive LDM as they move into cold and flu season to boost their immunity.  While others, who suffer from stress or other factors that lower immunity, will choose a monthly Lymphatic Massage for health maintenance.

How does Dry Brush Self-Massage help the lymphatic system?

Dry Brush Self-Massage is like a mini Lymphatic Massage that can be done at home. You can increase the benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage by incorporating Dry Brush Self-Massage into your daily self-care. The dry brush can be used to move the skin over the initial lymphatics to open and to stimulate the lymph vessel contraction.  While Dry Brush Massage offers cleansing benefits, Lymphatic Drainage Massage performed by a professional will affect the lymph system and our immunity more profoundly. You can learn more by reading our blog post about how to Dry Brush, HERE.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Osmosis

We offer 75-minute and 90-minute Lymphatic Massage at Osmosis. It can be booked as a stand-alone service or within one of our packages.  The Specialty Package includes a Cedar Enzyme Bath and any specialty massage, including a 75-minute Lymphatic Massage. Seasonally, we offer the Bath as Medicine Package which includes a 90-minute Lymphatic Massage, Cedar Enzyme Bath and Sound Therapy. Please call 707.823.8231 for more info.

Bath as Medicine Package

This exceptional package is designed to offer an synergistic blend of treatments for optimal detoxification, beautification and relaxation.
Synergy with the Cedar Enzyme Bath.

Fermentation is the fundamental impulse in biology. It generates the heat and dynamic energy in our signature  Cedar Enzyme Bath. This healing bathing ritual stimulates metabolic activity inside and out. It helps to break down toxins mobilized by your lymphatic massage and metabolize waste accumulated in the cleansing organs. This enzymatic activity also provides relief from aches including arthritis and joint pain leading to increased mobility. Lactic acid in sore muscles is broken down in this process as well.

This warm and fragrant treatment also improves circulation as it dilates the cardiovascular system and increases blood flow to even the smallest capillaries while the living enzymes deeply and thoroughly clean your skin, performing a full body exfoliation –  leaving your entire body exuding a radiant glow!


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

By Kim Westerman


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.

Shiatsu Massage

By Raizelah Bayen

Shiatsu massage, an Eastern-based massage modality not only relaxes, but revitalizes you.  It provides not only the calming and quieting that you would expect from a Western massage, but so much more.  It moves and balances our Chi, our vital life force, increasing our vitality and building the foundation for health.


This style of massage, developed in Japan, is influenced primarily by the Chinese understanding of the body, asserting that we are comprised not only of flesh, but also a network of energy channels called Meridians. According the the ancient Chinese medical text, Nei Jing, “The function of the channels (Meridians) is to transport Chi (energy) and to nourish the body.”  While we cannot see Chi, it can be measured with devices that detect electromagnetic fields, and it can be felt by each of us. When we feel elated, we feel a surge of Chi moving through our bodies. When we feel depressed, we feel the stagnation of Chi, making us feel inert, stuck or unable to motivate.

meridian-shiatsu-chinese acupuncture12 Meridians

There are 12 Meridians that circulate Chi throughout our bodies. The Chinese understand that the the unobstructed or balanced flow of Chi through the Meridians in the foundation of health. Chi blockages are the foundation of tension, pain or dis-ease. These blockages may be the result of stress, injury, trauma, or bad living habits (in diet, addictions, or lack of exercise). The key to strong immunity, vitality and health, is to keep the Meridian pathways unobstructed and flowing with abundant Chi.

Shiatsu Builds Health

Shiatsu Massage is a technique developed specifically to balance the Chi flow through the Meridian pathways. In a full-body Shiatsu massage, each of the 12 Meridian channels are massaged using rhythmic finger and palm pressure along these pathways. This slow, rhythmic compressive style of massage will engage the parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing the nervous system, while simultaneously opening Meridian blockages and revitalizing Chi flow.  This is a massage that offers not only the sedating benefit of our Western Swedish Massage, but also the deeper benefit of increasing our Chi or vitality, and building a foundation for health.

Clothing Optional?shiatsu-massage

As all Eastern styles of massage, Shiatsu is received with soft, comfortable clothing on.  Traditionally, this style of massage is offered on a thick, cushy floor mat.  At Osmosis, we offer this traditional style, referred to as Floor Shiatsu, as well as a Western version, called Table Shiatsu. These are equally beneficial and can be booked with one of our highly trained and skilled massage therapists.

If you have never experienced Shiatsu Massage, you are in for a treat!  

Book your appointment today! 

Raizelah Bayen is currently the Director of Training and the Massage Therapist Supervisor at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.  She has over 25 years in the field of massage, and over 15 years of experience an instructor in a massage certification program.  Her specialties include the Eastern Massage Modalities and Acupressure, Pregnancy Massage, and Body Mechanics for Bodyworkers.  If you have questions regarding upcoming trainings, please contact Raizelah at raizelah@osmosis.com

The Right Cut – A Master Pruner’s Journey

japanese garden master pruner

By Abby Bard

Sonoma Discoveries Magazine

Aesthetic pruning is a living art form combining the skill of the pruner, the science of horticulture, and the essence of a tree. While the emphasis is on beauty, maintaining the vitality of the tree is just as important; aesthetic pruners make the right cuts for the right reasons. For Master Pruner Michael Alliger, this art is a balance between the present and the future.

In the 1980s, Alliger was eager for change from a career in retail; he felt an inner calling to work outside. “I thought you had to be a gardener to do that,” he explained, so he enrolled in a plant identification class at Merritt College in Oakland. “I found I had a facility for it. My passion just exploded! I had never been happier.”

He had grown up in the suburbs, surrounded by lawns. “I hated mowing the lawn, so it was such a surprise to me. I found a whole new world to walk into. Suddenly the streets of Oakland came alive as I got to know the plants—the world went from two dimensions to three dimensions, from black and white to color.”

In 1986, while studying horticulture at Merritt, Alliger met Dennis Makishima, a Japanese-American student from El Cerrito. Wanting to connect with his Japanese heritage, Makishima went to bonsai clubs to learn that art, and realized that he could take elements of bonsai and apply them to landscape pruning. One day, Alliger watched Makishima prune a Japanese maple. “I was transfixed. I knew that was what I wanted to do. It felt like home. I asked if I could follow him around and watch him work.” Their relationship evolved into a formal apprenticeship.

“Dennis is brilliant,” Alliger said. “He’s a visionary, a brilliant organizer and strategist and leader.”  Makishima suggested to Merritt College that they offer classes in aesthetic pruning and asked Alliger if he would like to teach. “I taught an Introduction to Aesthetic Pruning for a half-day each month, and Dennis unfurled this whole series of classes.” The classes that Makishima organized and taught explored plant material, pruning for the focal point, pruning for the big picture, Japanese maples, pines and conifers, flowering trees, pruning as a career, and finding the essence of the tree. A year later, Makishima offered those classes to Alliger, who would teach most of them for the next 20 years.

The two men organized an informal pruning club that continues to this day at Merritt. “People could drop in or drop out any time. We would volunteer at schools, churches or parks. It was mutually beneficial. The students would get experience and the trees were cared for,” Alliger said.

Makishima also envisioned a professional organization for aesthetic pruning, similar to the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA); and he and Alliger were among the founders of the Aesthetic Pruners Association (APA), a non-profit that promotes the craft of aesthetic pruning and supports professional pruners in their work. This group sets the standards for aesthetic pruning.

Alliger explained the focus of the APA. “Our school of pruning is in the lineage of Japanese garden pruning, which is distinct from European pruning. Principles of the Japanese lineage are pruning to the human scale, size control and containment. The artistic model is based on nature as you see it, nature in essence. We seek both containment and natural expression.  The overarching factor is garden design: to have the tree or shrub fit the garden design and still honor the natural form. Our approach works on fruit trees, too, but it’s different from pruning skyline trees, like redwoods and oaks.

“Unlike most animals, plants and trees have the ability to regenerate lost parts. Follow-up pruning requires consistency and has the potential to give the tree longer life. In order for pruning to be structurally sound, it needs to be continually applied—you can’t just do it once.” Some bonsai trees in Japan are 500 to 600 years old. Because these trees outlive human beings, their care has been handed down from generation to generation. For Alliger, “It’s all about love and all about care.

“While the school of thought comes from Japanese pruning, we are not pruning Japanese gardens—we are pruning California gardens, American gardens. But the principles are universally applied,” said Alliger, who is exploring working with native materials to find their potential. The idea of containment and structural pruning has not happened before with our native woody plants.

“I’m experimenting at home with buckeye—how old do they have to be before they flower? How small can they be and still flower? It’s so exciting to think about! The Japanese have been working with landscape plant material in their gardens for 1,100 years. Here, we’ve been doing it for only 75 years, and we’re in the baby stage of realizing the possibilities and finding out which ones are going to be functional in gardens from the point of view of beauty and containment. The more we use our own plant material, the more comfortable we feel. That sense of context is salubrious.”

A powerful part of Alliger’s exploration is in joining the stream of people who have been doing this work for centuries; now he is able to pass it forward. After moving to Sebastopol in 1992, he took on the aesthetic pruning of the Japanese-style gardens at Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary in Freestone. While he continues to maintain those trees, most of his work is done in private gardens around Sonoma County. Retiring from teaching at Merritt in 2011, he currently offers an annual one-day, hands-on class in Aesthetic Pruning for the Master Gardeners of Marin County. He also writes a garden blog for the Osmosis Newsletter which you can sign up for here.

The following link has a brief video demonstrating “Aesthetic Pruning of Maples” on YouTube. A more extensive tutorial on that subject is available for purchase from GardenTribe.com.
You can contact Michael Alliger by email at twigchaser@earthlink.net. Learn more about the APA by visiting their website AestheticPrunersAssociation.org.