Massage Therapist Strives for Deeper Connection

Owner Michelle Harkey of Mullein Leaf Massage. Photo by Mandy Marksteiner

By Mandy Marksteiner

“I enjoy being able to help people,” said Michelle Harkey, who opened Mullein Leaf Massage, 3500 Trinity Dr., Ste. A-5, a year and a half ago when she moved to Los Alamos. “I want to connect with people and make a difference on a level that not everyone is willing to make: a deeper level that is physical, intellectual and emotional.”

Letting go of chronic tension

People with chronic tension may wonder why they always have pain in the same place. Even if they get a massage and change possible physical causes, the tension may be back a couple of days later.

“In those cases it helps to stop and take a look at the underlying roots of the tension,” Harkey said.

According to Harkey, one reason people hold tension in their bodies is that traumatic experiences get trapped within their nervous systems. When humans face dangerous situations, our bodies want to react. Our body might want to throw a right hook, run, cover our face protectively or scream.

The problem is that, as humans, we can cognitively opt out of completing the action that our body is trying to make. We can choose not to do what our body is urging us to do. 

“When those actions are not fully realized, they can result in chronic tension in our bodies,” she said.

One of the biggest reasons that people don’t complete the motion their body is asking them to do is that it’s not “safe.” People unconsciously “hold” trauma-based emotional tension in their muscles, she said, adding that lack of completing the underlying action causes the imbalance.

Using Hakomi, Somatic Experiencing, cranial sacral therapy, and yoga therapy, Harkey creates a body-based interaction where the client gets into a mindful state that allows them to sense what’s going on and finally is able to release the tension through movement.

“This is not psychotherapy. It’s an exploration of how the body feels and how it reacts to stress and trauma,” she said. “I don’t need to know the story of the trauma. Many people are interested in releasing the trauma, but not reliving the story.”

Turning roadblocks into stepping-stones

Last summer, Harkey received training from the Robbins-Madanes Institute. She now provides vitality mentoring, so her clients can live happier, more vital lives.

Living a happier and more vital life means something different to everybody.

One of her clients wanted to lose a lot of weight. Harkey was a source of accountability for her client, helped the client to examine her beliefs about food and made it possible to keep her commitment to regaining her health. Another client wanted to start a business.

“There are principles in life that govern results,” Harkey said. “When we understand and apply these principles, we create vitality and movement toward our goals. When I work with a client I really listen to what he or she wants to achieve. I facilitate her moving down the path toward achieving those goals and removing internal roadblocks. I believe the things we encounter are there for a reason, and that reason is to help us grow.”

BioElectric Massage and massage for couples

The gentle electrical current that is used in BioElectric Massage provides a deep tissue massage without the deep pressure.

“It’s more relaxing than a normal massage,” Harkey explained. “Once people try it they really really like it.”

Harkey is the only massage therapist in New Mexico who offers BioElectric Massage. She also offers a couples massage workshop, which helps couples bond and learn how to take care of each other.

“People give the type of massage that they want to receive,” she said. “The problem is that your favorite type of massage may not be the type of massage that your partner wants to receive. If both spouses can learn to give what their partner wants it will strengthen the relationship.”

Harkey sees client’s by appointment only and can be reached at 695-2095.




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