Interview with Paulene Harrell- Massage Therapist and Student of the Body

CF: Hi Paulene! I wanted to interview you and feature you on our blog. Many years ago I found out about your legendary work and it took me a couple years of trying before I convinced you to work with us as a massage therapist. So how long have you been working here at Double Happiness Health? 

PH: Probably about 12 years now. 

CF: Wow. We're so lucky! Clients LOVE you. We love you! How many years have you been practicing massage? 

PH: I think it's around 27 years. 

CF: Amazing. And you incorporate so many styles like Swedish, deep tissue, craniosacral, myofascoal and jin shin jitsu. How do you decide what style to use with  each client? 

PH:  My work is tailored to how a person is feeling when they walk in the door. What they want to address. Sometimes they have been carrying things in their body for a long time like repetitive stress, emotional stress or just something recent that needs to be addressed today.

CF: Yeah, I appreciate that. What is your process for assessing the person you are working with? 

PH: Well I usually start with just noticing how the fascia is moving in the body. And then I might incorporate some deeper trigger points with a fascial stretch. Generally, I find using energy work to calm the nervous system helps because people sometimes think they want deep tissue. But when you go in and do deep work, their nervous system gets shocked or alarmed if it's painful. So in between the deeper work, sort of like a period of at the end of a sentence, I will stop and feel how the body is responding. Sometimes there will be some involuntary reflexes to the muscles in other areas of the body. I personally see that as a kind of road map to possibly something else going on- and something that's not even related to the neck and shoulder pain they walked in with. Or sometimes we will notice extraordinarily loud gurgling of the digestive track. I just learn a lot by listening and watching. A lot of times the bigger release isn’t always from the touch of the place that the person thinks the pain is coming from. 

CF:  I have been lucky to receive work from you so many times. You really attune to the body you are working with in the moment. And depending on where I am in a given day, your work will be different. It's never the same.

PH: Yeah. And sometimes even to me it might seem like it's the same but my brain is ferreting out things, because I'm constantly trying to visualize the anatomy while I'm working on the origins and insertions of muscles. And again watching how somewhere else in the body reacts or someone's says something that reveals the pattern.  Sometimes it is surprising to people when they don't realize there is tension somewhere else along a particular line of muscles and fascia.

CF: Is there any time someone shouldn't get massage work?

PH: I find when people are experiencing extraordinary amounts of pain and they have questions about whether they should or shouldn't get massage I just caution and say no.

CF: Right. What about if they're sick or on the verge of getting sick?
PH: I caution people on the verge of getting sick and I usually will tell them that they're going to get sicker if they get massage because of the effect of massage on the lymphatic system. 

CF: Beautiful. I know you are about to start working with a client now! Thank you so much for sharing with me today and I'm sure everyone's going to be excited to hear this.

PH: You're welcome!