By Je’Don Holloway Talley
For the Birmingham Times
Whether working as a technician or playing instruments, Herbert Gooden II likes to work with his hands, and he prayed that whatever he did would involve dexterity. After working in the communications industry for 25 years, he needed to make a change and finally was given a sign.
“I was [mentoring] a young man in Bessemer, and he had a son who walked around with an oxygen [tank] because he had a handicap. … The guy mentioned that a massage therapist came and worked with his son once a week to help with his breathing. That’s when the lightbulb went off,” said Gooden, 62, who runs his practice Stress Less Moments in Birmingham from Children’s of Alabama Hospital. As an outside contractor, he provides therapy for the medical staff, as well as family members of patients.
Gooden has a bachelor’s degree in leadership ministry from Southeastern Bible College—and he considers massage therapy another form of ministry.
“My sessions are unique to each individual, designed according to what the body and the mind need,” he said. “[By] being a believer [in Christ], that’s when the holy spirit is present in my sessions. The two become one, and their expectations and my expectations go out the door. That’s when what needs to take place and what they need as far as healing really take place.”
Gooden, who is married to Tanya and has four adult children, has always been good with his hands. He plays the French horn and coronet, and he was a TV service repair technician for Birmingham Cable (now Spectrum Cable). Now, working as a massage therapist allows the Hoover resident and Collegeville native to use his hands to help others.
“Massage is a very intuitive modality, … and it goes beyond what I see, but more according to what I feel as I’m touching the individual. Massage has the ability to allow one to see the potential of their inner-self,” said Gooden, adding that it suspends what you’re thinking about yourself.
“It isolates you and puts you in a certain zone, where you forget about the outside world,” he said. “Massage arrests your outside cues in order to put you in the comfort zone. It also releases the happy hormones in the body: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins.”
Massage therapy is more than being “rubbed on,” Gooden explained: “Massage affects the mind, body, and spirit. Massage is a universal language.”
Before starting his Stress Less Moments practice, Gooden worked for 14 years at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, where he met people from all over the world.
“Even if they couldn’t speak any English, they understood touch, and it broke through the language barrier,” he said.
Still, massage is all about ministry for Gooden.
“My entire practice and everything I do is centered around a particular scripture: Mark 1:41—[‘And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean (King James Version).’] Sixty-four percent of all the healings [Christ] did included touch,” Gooden said.
To learn more about Stress Less Moments or contact Gooden, email firstname.lastname@example.org.