arrived at Osmosis wound pretty tight. I don't know why. Maybe it was
the quick trip to Bodega
Bay I squeezed into that morning before arriving at Osmosis. Maybe
it was just one too many cups of coffee. Whatever the reason, Osmosis
was just what I needed. The layers of stress that enveloped me were
peeled away one by one as I worked my way from the front of the spa
to the back of the 5-acre property during my treatments.
The experience started at the door before I even entered
the building. There were instructions posted to leave shoes on the shelves
on either sie of the door. I tucked my clogs on a shelf and walked in.
Abandoning my shoes made me feel slightly vulnerable, but at the same
checked in at the reception desk. Since it was about 20 minutes before
my appointment, I was asked to wait on the sofa in the retail
area. I wandered into the area. However, I couldn't sit still. I
hopped up and down taking a closer look at the books
on Japanese gardening, kneeling stools, CD's,
flannel robes, and other items for sale. After a few minutes, the receptionist
brought a warm, scented neck wrap filled with healing Yucca root and
aromatic spices. I was finally able to sit down and relax. The soothing
warmth immediately started calming my mind and pushing the stress from
my neck and shoulders right out the bottom of my stocking-footed soles.
One layer of stress gone!
Tea Ceremony and The Japanese Tea Garden
the appointed time, I was escorted to the tea room by my bath attendent,
Kirana. This sparse room
held a low sofa, a low table, 2 kneeling benches, 2 pillows and a simple
screen. The most amazing thing it held was the view of the beautiful,
private Japanese Tea
Garden outside - water flowed down a hill, under an arched bridge
and into a koi pond just outside the door. Kirana brought a tea
service into the room. The pot of herbal tea blended specifically
for Osmosis was mixed with enzymes made from over 25 different organically
grown plants. This
is a digestive aid that is soothing to the whole body and works with
the metabolic processes that occur during the bath that follows. According
to Kirana, this tea starts the de-stressing process from the inside
out. Kirana left me to enjoy my tea and contemplate the garden. I sipped
the tea, but my feet and head were not quite ready to be perfectly still.
I slid the doors open, and stepped into the garden. I brought my tea
with me, taking sips on the bridge and resting on a bench at the back
of the garden. The sound of running water, the serene beauty of the
garden, and the warm tea removed one more layer of stress.
Japanese Enzyme Bath
wandered back into the tea room just in time for Kirana to take me to
the enzyme bath room. On the way, we stopped at a changing
room where I exchanged my clothes for a flannel
robe. From there, we entered a room containing a redwood box - large
enough to accommodate two - filled with a mixture of shredded cedar,
rice bran and over 600 active plant enzymes imported from Japan. Steam
rose from the mounds of damp sawdust. These ingredients heat naturally,
by fermentation, creating biologically generated warmth that mimics
the body's natural heating process. Windows in the room overlooked another
garden. Kirana instructed
me to remove my robe, step into the box and then lay down in the depression
she had scooped out to support my body. I crawled in and she covered
me to the chin with the steaming sawdust. The heat enveloped me completely.
Relaxing was not an option, it was a necessity. It was finally time
for my mind to be in the present, to ingore stray thoughts, to get centered,
and to enjoy the sensation and the view. Every 5 minutes or so, Kirana
came into the room to put a cool compress on my forehead and give me
a sip of water. After about 20 minutes, it was time to get out. Sawdust
stuck to the perspiration on my skin. Kirana handed me a brush. I brushed
off my front, and Kirana brushed off my back. I stepped into the adjoining
shower to rinse
off the rest of the wood fiber.
enzyme bath is a therapeutic heat treatment that originated in Japan.
Osmosis is the first location in the US to offer this unique form of
heat therapy. The treatment relieves aches and pains, improves mobiility
and boosts metabolism. The largest organ of the body, the skin, comes
in direct contact with intense enzyme activity in the enzyme bath, which,
in addition to heat, produces its own electro-chemical environment.
This combination of heat and energy influences body chemistry and natural
cleansing processes, and breaks down body wastes in the subcutaneous
layer of the skin. The surface of the skin, pores, and even the cells
themselves are thoroughly cleansed.
I emerged much more deeply relaxed than I went in - more
layers of stress evaporated in the heat.
waited for me after the shower with a glass of water and garden
clogs. She then escorted me outside to show me where my massage
would be. (If you don't have a massage following your enzyme bath, you
would be taken for a blanket wrap for a cool-down period.) I followed
Kirana down a path
along Salmon Creek to an outdoor waiting
area. She gave me a cloak in case I got cool. However, I was still
quite warm from the enzyme bath and didn't need it. Shortly, Janice
came to escort me to the one of the Japanese-style massage
pagodas. Janice gave me an excellent massage over the next 75 minutes.
She periodically checked to ensure I was comfortable with the temperature.
The pagoda has a small heater and extra blankets if I was cool and the
windows and shoji doors opened in case I was hot. Fresh air, natural
light, the sound of birds and the gurgle of the creek make this natural
setting perfect for massage. Another layer of stress sunk from my body
and was left behind on the massage table.
Japanese Meditation Garden
over and close to total bliss, I slowly strolled back towards the spa
building and was drawn into another beautiful, but much larger, Japanese
Meditation Garden. There I met and spoke with Michael Stusser, the
owner of Osmosis, who was puttering around the pond. Gardening is Michael's
passion. While in Japan studying gardening in the 80's, he became acquainted
with the use of enzyme baths by the Japanese and was inspired to combine
his passion for gardening with the healing benefits of the enzyme baths
- opening Osmosis in 1985. He moved it to its current locatioin in 1989.
This garden, he explained, was dedicated in June 2003 after four years
of work. Designed by a freind, Robert Ketchell, who is master gardener
in England, the garden is laid out to recreate the ancient Chinese parable
Story of the Ox and His Herder based on a sequence of illustrations
depicting the levels of realization in Zen. Large stones are arranged
throughout the garden to represent various stages of the story - the
search for the ox, finding the path, seeing the ox, capturing the ox,
taming the ox, riding the ox home, ox forgotten, ox and self transcended,
back to the origin, and illuminated man helping others.
garden was also designed using the princples of Feng Shui. A large red
boulder is located in one corner of the garden. 9 gold coins were placed
beneath to ensure prosperity. Rocks are arranged as a turtle in the
pond facing just the right direction to eat up the bad energy. There
were other interesting symbols used thoughout the garde. Sadly, I don't
recall them all.
Michael showed me three aromatic chamomile beds where
you can lie down in the garden. The weight of the body crushes the plants
and releases the natural oils and a fabulous scent - a wonderful form
of aromatherapy. This unique form of chamomile was used in Roman times
to promote sleep, stop headaches and create a profound sense of relaxation.
This garden is a lovely, peaceful place where Osmosis
guests can savor their heightened state of sensory awareness and inner
peace - meditate, journal or just be one with the surrounding beauty
and tranquility. Osmosis is inspired by a vision of healing, beauty
and inner peace and shares it with all who visit. Every last trace of
my stress had taken flight. I left relaxed to the core.
Osmosis Spa Menu
Cedar Enzyme Bath - 1 1/2 hours
including tea in the Japanese Garden, Enzyme Bath and a Metamusic blanket
The Ultimate Experience - A half day of rejuvenation which includes
a cedar enzyme bath, 75-minute massage, and a facial.
Osmosis Rejuvenation Package - 2 1/2 hours including tea in the Japanese
Garden, Enzyme Bath and a 75 minute massage.
Facials (Aromatherapy, Gentleman's, Deep Cleansing, Signature)
75-Minute Massage - Rejuvenating 75 minute Swedish Esalen Massage. For
an additional charge, enhance your massage in a secluded pagoda.