BSc(hons) Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington NZ
Certified Yoga Instructor, Sivananda Vedanta Center, Neyyer Dam, India
Certified Zero Balancing Practitioner, ZB Health Association, Maryland
Certified Massage Therapist, San Francisco School of Massage
Certified Zero Balancing Teacher, ZB Health Association, Maryland
Certified Labor Doula, Cornerstone Doula Training, San Francisco, CA
CZB, CMT, YT, Global Fulcrum
BSc Honours Psychology, 2001
Earned a Bachelor of Science (honours) in psychology, at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Specialised in social-cultural psychology, interested in how to create systems to support cooperation and community rather than triggering resource competition and conflict.
Yoga Teacher Training, 2005
Attended the Sivanananda Ashram in Kerala, Southern India. Completed their 200 hour yoga teacher training. The programme taught an integral practice including meditation, asana, chanting, service, and clean diet.
Thai Massage & Reflexology, 2005
Studied level 1 and level 2 Thai massage, and Thai food reflexology at TCM the Thai massage school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This is the northern form of Thai massage which is more heavily influenced by yoga that the southern style. Thai reflexology is performed with a teak stick to create intense pressure into specific reflex points.
Zero Balancing Certification Training, 2006
This was a 2 year programme of study beginning in New Zealand and finishing up in the US, with the Zero Balancing Health Association, which involves 100 hours of contact hours, 50 written case studies and 2 formal projects.
Massage Therapy Certification Training, 2012
At the San Francisco School of Massage, California, a fundamentals Swedish massage intensive.
Zero Balancing Teacher Training, 2012
This was a year and half programme designed specifically to give the depth and breathe of knowledge and experience to be able to accurately transmit the teachings of Zero Balancing. Learning directly from Zero Balancing’s founder Dr. Fritz Smith, a small cohort of student-teachers came together in four international locations to learn.
Certified Labour & Postpartum Doula 2017
Through Cornerstone Doula training in San Francisco. An in-depth training to understand how to be fully present in support of a woman going through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Evidence based best practice.
Rebekah's Healing Journey
I was born in inner-city Baltimore, Maryland, and spent my first three years in the classic brick row-houses of that city. My parents were exploring bridging divides between class and race, how to build community and live well. Thursday night dinners at our house were open to the neighbourhood and involved spaghetti, sitting around playing music and talking about the deeper things in life.
Early Years at Claymont
(Claymont is a 350-acre property in West Virginia run by an intentional community grounded in the Guerdjief tradition)
My first visceral memory is the day we arrived at Claymont, just before my third birthday. I remember the rich smells of heat hitting the earth (not concrete!). I remember the feeling of richness in the air, and the colour and spaciousness. I remember running down the long stone-lined pathway that borders (still!) the Great Barn where we were to live in for the next 10 months.
With another 50 people or so (children included) we lived dorm-style, learning spiritual practices of meditation, mindfulness, ‘movements’ or sacred dance, Zikr and more. We grew our own food, cooked together, maintained our collective spaces. I was mostly participating in the children's’ activities, which centered around jumping on rocks, hiding under beds, running up and down the incredibly long hallways and other high-energy pursuits for interacting with our still very new world.
New Zealand Farm Life
At the age of seven, I immigrated to New Zealand with my mother, step-father, and 4-month old brother. I was teased for talking funny, for not understanding important cultural cues. Everything different about me was ascribed to my Americanism suddenly!
We lived on an 800-acre sheep farm in rural NZ. I learned about resource scarcity - four people using the same bath water because we relied on collection from our roof. One trip a week to the grocery store, meant if we ran out, we ran out. And so I also learned incredible resourcefulness. Whatever creative project ideas I had (and I had many), chances were I could find enough tools and materials scattered in the farm sheds or from nature herself, to satisfy my needs.
I learned to climb trees, to run barefoot over damp hills and feel the spring mud squelch between my feet. I learned how we are connected with the cycles of nature and a long drought could be devastating for our flocks and our livelihood.
I decided to study psychology, I knew I wanted to help people to find joy, health and balance in their lives. I certainly had the arrogance of youth, believing I could fix people and their problems once I knew the magical formulas of psychology. So I studied in Wellington. Only, very early on I found myself more drawn to the professors and classes in the social psych realm. Group identity, cultural psychology, how to create systems that would support cooperation rather than exploitation and tragedy-of-the-commons. In the abnormal psychology classes I felt frustrated and disillusioned by the low success rates of the treatments that we were learning, and how mental/emotional health was being looked at as completely separate from physical health. I realised I wanted to find instead, a therapy that recognised the holistic nature of a person’s wellbeing.
At 22 years old, just college graduated, I decided to travel to Peru. I was craving a dramatic experience. Some kind of magical awakening, sudden healing, reconnection with body that I felt alienated from.
In a country where I spoke neither the native language nor that of the colonisers, I participated in a plant ceremony that left me deeply ungrounded. I became completely disconnected from my belief systems. I was terrified and didn’t know how to move forward. At this most vulnerable time, I was sexually assaulted, but felt I couldn’t tell anyone for fear of the implications.
Returning to New Zealand, I ‘discovered’ meditation practice as my only solution. No amount of thinking could bring me to a happy resolution. And continuing in the endless loops of my mind was a harmful, obsessive indulgence. Stopping and focusing on something else, anything else, was my guide rope. It was during this time I had my first Zero Balancing session. I told the Therapist very little of what had happened, only that my feet hurt, and that I felt lost and ungrounded. At one point, he said “It’s not your fault, let go of that burden” and I felt my body instantly drop that heavy weight.
Building a platform to stand on
The next stage of my life was all about learning to create stability and give the mainstream ideas of ‘success’ a go. I worked as a quantitative Research & Evaluation Analyst for the New Zealand government agency responsible for social welfare policy. I worked in an office, learned about bureaucracy and internal politics, tried to fit in, and I slowly felt my health decline. Some part of me recognised that I could not thrive in that environment, and yet I couldn’t tell what to move into next without getting completely out of the system I was in!
I took a Zero Balancing practitioner course, and felt that I had found the therapy that I’d been looking for! Though most of my immediate circles were skeptical of something they had never heard of.
Time to leave
I was walking down Aro Road in Wellington one calm evening and felt a shiver of knowing run through me. It was time to leave the comfort of this place, these friendships, this familiarity and relatively easy living. I knew it so completely there was no hesitation or doubt within me.
Quitting my “good job”, I joined the Zero Balancing certification programme, spent my savings from said ‘good job’ to get to Thailand and train in Thai massage, and then went on to Kerala, India, to train in Yoga Teaching. I then went to Claymont in the USA to give back to the community I’d lived in as a child.
I made a commitment to act only in support of my values, not from scarcity, greed or an idea of success or approval from others. I committed to make any big life changes only in response to that clear message I had received when I knew it was time to leave New Zealand.
Living in Community
I lived at Claymont for 6 years and poured myself into, everything! Teaching yoga, developing a ZB practice, becoming a chef in the retreat center kitchen, starting a community garden and an internship programme to support it. I put into practice a lot of social-psychology theory. I took part in every spiritual retreat on the land that I could, and I learned a huge amount about community and interpersonal challenges alongside very basic practical life skills. During my ZB teacher training, my husband and I decided it was time to leave Claymont and return to New Zealand. As we transitioned into an unknown phase of our lives, we came to the hard decision to travel solo.
Listening to my heart
What followed was 5 years of travelling. I could not arbitrarily choose a new home, community, garden, way of engaging with the world. I let go of all the anchors in my life and explored the freedom (and the restrictions) of learning to listen to the voices and messages inside of myself. I taught ZB, yoga and saw private clients in NZ, Maui, the SF Bay Area, and Olympia WA. I slept on couches and lived in urban communities, rustic hilltop cabins and old farmhouses. I think of this period as a kind of personal initiation journey. It was a very self-centred time, as I needed to prioritise my own needs over giving back to my community in any substantial way. I became more and more of a private person, unable to share the complex inner processes taking place.
The Current Chapter
I'm living in Kula, Maui for 3/4 of the year running an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and practicing and teaching Zero Balancing. The remainder of the year, my partner Gabe and I, travel to New Zealand for Zero Balancing teaching, and to lead our annual Yoga and Mediation Retreats.
——-To be continued!…
Health is not a static position, but the ability to adapt and respond to changing circumstances. We do not reach ‘health’ and then remain healthy by staying the same. Healthy individuals can adjust to cold weather, to wind, to high stress, to different foods. Most of us become stuck in response strategies from the past. We break our arm, for the first few weeks we must hold it very still and steady so it sets right and doesn’t hurt. It mends but the body continues unconsciously to hold tension in the arm and shoulder, stuck responding to a situation of the past. Coming back to a healthy state means helping the body to release tension patterns or strategies from the past so we can better respond in this present moment.
Pain is a block in the flow of energy, and is important to pay attention to, not simply to suppress of avoid. Pain is a loud and important signal that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. It is natural and to want that feeling to go away. However when we repress the pain, numb it or avoid it without taking head of the message the pain is giving us, things tend to get worse in the long run.
We have an incredible potential for healing but often do not have the ability or tools to tap into that capacity. The body needs to be relaxed, very relaxed and feeling safe in order for the nervous system to drop into self-repair and healing mode. Most of us do not often have that kind of deep relaxation in our lives. Sleep comes close, but often is not enough.
Mental, emotional, physical pain or imbalances all impact each other. To treat a person as though the body, the mind and the emotions are unrelated is similar to treating a person as though digestion is unrelated to what and how we eat. Our posture, what we eat, tension on a physical level all have an impact on our mental emotional health. And it goes both ways! Emotional and mental states impact whats happening in our physical body. I see it as a vibrational pattern that exists in an emotional, mental and physical form.
Where we feel the symptom is often just a small piece of the pattern underlying the symptom. Addressing only the symptom will usually have short term relief only, as an underlying tensions patter remains unresolved. If someone has pain in their wrist, addressing the wrist is important. However, much of the time, there is also a tension or imbalance in the shoulder that underlies the wrist pain. And perhaps additional tension patterns throughout the body that have slowly built up to the experience of the symptom in question.
Much more of our system is changeable, plastic, influenceable, then we tend to realise. Learning to tap into that is the trick! Our bones, far from being the rigid static forms we often imagine them to be, have some flexibility, change density and even shape depending on our use of them. While some patterns of imbalance and poor health have taken many years to build up to, and some have come from traumatic accidents and injuries, much pain and imbalance in the body is possible to change. It may take developing complete knew habits of movement, of thought and behaviour, but knowing that dramatic change is slowly possible can be a huge breath of hope that its important to stay connected with.
The deepest healing you can offer another person is often to hold safe space for them and listen completely and without judgement, so they can access their own healing potential. As healers, therapists, body workers, our primary work is not to fix another person, but simply to create such a space of safety and ease through our touch, our grounded presence, our listening and non-judgement, that the person’s own healing mechanism is activated and they can tap into that holistic plastic space where long-held patterns from the past responses can drop away in a gentle instant.
“When I first get off the table I don’t feel anything.
But then later when I’m resting I can feel my entire
body adjusting and integrating the treatment.
It feels amazing. Like nothing else I’ve experienced.”
-ZB Client, Maui, Hawaii
"As Rebekah guided me through this gently healing practice, I felt cleansed energetically and physically. I continued to feel a shift and realignment long after our session."
-A.Y., Shephersdstown,West Virginia
"With gentle manipulation of my entire body and extra attention to vulnerable areas like my lower back and shoulders, Rebekah focuses warmth and energy in a way that feels like no other body work... After my session I am able to move back into a hectic pace with a calm center."
ZB Client, Berryville,Virginia
“"Rebekah, you are an awesome instructor and an amazing practitioner. In my opinion, you have a perfect blend of knowledge and intuitive skills combined with an incredible ability to connect with others on an energetic level. I am so grateful for your sense of tender touch and they way you protect those in your care."
B.P., Olymlpia, Washington
"I participated in 'The Anatomy of Energy' workshop with Rebekah, and I am so glad I did! The day was a perfect balance of self-reflection, group interaction, and theory. I can sometimes feel resistant to working with partners or engaging in group activities, but Rebekah's facilitation style created a safe, welcoming, engaging learning environment for all of us. I left the workshop feeling more in-touch with myself and my work. I felt inspired to apply my new understanding into my work and to share insights with others."
-Workshop Participant, Olympia, Washington