With the Innocence of a Child: The Journey of Paul Odian

By: Kathleen Kiefer

Paul Armen Odian has been called a “healer,” an “extraordinary massage practitioner,” and a funny guy with a gift for making his client’s bodies feel better. No surprise for a man whose great-great Armenian grandmother was a medicine woman in a village in Turkey. As a young boy he routinely massaged family and friend. When he was twelve he got paid for his first massage. At age 19 he bought a book about full body massage.

Paul gives credit for his ability to feel deeply with his hands and fingers to Rose, a blind woman who introduced him to Braille when he was 4 years-old. He stayed in touch with Rose for many years. Wherever his gifts come from, his clients receive the benefits, both for his touch and his deep caring about their well-being. In 1999 he made a leap into the professional realm by going to professional massage school.

In 2000 he graduated from the Inland Massage Institute and was licensed by the state of Washington. He also holds a national license to practice massage. He has taken courses specializing in massage for oncology patients, cranio-sacral, positional release therapy and structural assessment and correction which are osteopathic techniques allowable within the scope of massage. He works on children, pregnant women, and the elderly. His considerate and detailed approach to working with the elderly is the subject of a popular YouTube video. Paul notes that, “if a person is breathing, they are eligible for massage.”

Red Mountain Massage is the name of Paul’s in-home practice in Chewelah, Washington. In 2006 circumstances led him to Soap Lake, Washington’s own mineral-water resort community. Massage practitioners had been working for almost a century in Soap Lake, making it a perfect place for Paul to extend his practice. With locations in Chewelah and Soap Lake he has built a dedicated clientele whose appreciation can be seen in testimony on his website: www.paularmenodian.com

Over the last year Paul reduced his practice in Soap Lake to one week a month so he can focus on the next chapter of his life. He has been encouraged by colleagues to encapsulate his work into a format that can be taught. His plans include offering classes to individuals and the community and to further develop his property as a retreat location. His goals include documenting and writing about his work and to refine his experiences as a healer in a way that be conveyed to the next generation of healers.

Fifteen years in his field have given Paul many experiences that have inspired a book project: Memoirs of a Massage Practitioner. In it he will share his stories and wisdom about the human experience from the perspective of someone who has worked closely with people through the many passages of their lives.


Paul and client, photo by Kathleen Kiefer

Classes he will teach at his beautiful Wrights Valley retreat include massage, massage for specific conditions, couples massage, pregnancy massage, infant massage and reflexology.

Paul sometimes works outside the perimeter, offering a practice called Divine Energetic Healing. These sessions are different than therapeutic massage. He notes that during a session, “my clients feel and experience an undeniable heat energy in my hands and a feeling of energy flow in their bodies.”

There is a clear wisdom to Paul’s work, informed by his years of experience. He doesn’t confine himself to modalities that are often prescribed by techniques taught in massage school. He feels the needs of his clients and responds, and notes that, “ I work with the innocence of a child. Healing is not about fixing body parts, it’s about feeling love within oneself. The body is not meant to last forever. The love you experience in this life will last forever….”

Kathleen Kiefer, formerly of Soap Lake, Washington now living in Baker City, Oregon is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. Her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, annual reports and hydropower industry publications. Her photographs have won awards and can be found published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and numerous websites. Her documentary films have won AVA Gold, Telly Bronze and Silver awards including a Telly People’s Choice award. Her YouTube channel is Kiefdom1. Her favorite subject to photograph, write-about, and to document is People.