Rebekah Hickman came across the Silva Method purely by chance… A friend introduced it to her, and she has never looked back since. Below is Rebekah’s story on how she used the Silva Method to overcome life’s daily challenges and even her heart disease to live a healthy and full life, despite her age.
“The Silva techniques certainly have kept me on my feet and feeling good and feeling happy all these years.
A psychic friend of mine introduced me to Silva. She came to town to visit me one day and told me about the course. We didn’t have a Silva instructor in Charleston, West Virginia, at the time, but an instructor who was traveling around teaching Silva courses came to Charleston. My friend said, “This is a real good course. I took it twenty years ago and it changed my life.”
I had been to a lot of workshops, and I thought, “This is one that will be exciting for a couple of weeks, then I’ll forget all about it and will have spent my money for nothing.”
I asked my friend how much it costs and how long it took to do it. When she told me I said, “No, I don’t have the money or the time to do that.” Those are the standard excuses for folks who don’t want to take the course. She said, “You’ve got the time, and I’ve got the money.” She literally dragged me to that course, sat me down, and handed out the money to pay for it.
I thought, “This must be really something, that she would do this,” because she didn’t have much money. I was sort of in awe that she did this. She had taken it twenty years before and it changed her life. In November of 1987 it did the same for me, and I will always thank her for it.
I had just gone through a heart operation, just two or three months earlier. I’d had a devastating experience with that. I started looking at my life and wondering what I had done. I knew enough to know that I was behind it somehow, but I didn’t know how to do anything about it.
I was a sort of a Type A personality, and I knew I had to make some changes because I wasn’t going to live with the fear that I might have another heart attack.
Most of my life was anything but boring. I have always been very, very active and into everything. I had a very happy childhood, very good and loving parents. My mother was a school teacher from the age of sixteen. I was born sort of “late in life” so I kind of had it easy and had a lot of fun.
My father was a butcher and he had a kind of Silva attitude too. It was during the depression, times were getting pretty bad, but my father always said that he wasn’t poor. He wasn’t worried about it. I never grew up with any great worries or fears.
So when that heart attack hit me, it hit with a bang because I’d never been afraid of anything at any time in my life.
I went to college, even though we were in the depression, and was an average student. At that time, in the 1930s, they really needed students in the colleges, so they encouraged me and helped me along. Now you have to fight to get into college.
I didn’t care too much for teaching, which is what I majored in, so I ended up getting married, I settled down to being a housewife, and raised three children. I waited about fifteen years before I went back to work.
I found out that I was more of a social worker than a teacher. I wanted to help the underdog, to work on something that had meaning, where I could solve problems. I went to work at child welfare and worked with children who were in trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Next I moved to juvenile court and worked with delinquents and foster care and adoption and all those things. I also loved that job.
After working at a job for a while, I would take time off to be with my children and help them. Then I’d go back to work. I was offered a job with mental health. That was a fun job; they were all fun, because I was helping people.
The next job was at a private psychiatric hospital. That was really fun because I got to work with all the patients, doing craft work, explaining things to them, taking them on field trips. I ended up working there twenty years.
The hospital administrator said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I think you are doing good because it is making the patients happy and that is all that matters.”
Does life end at 65?
I almost hated to leave there, but I ended up being 65 years old and most people retire at 65. I was just following the pattern the way so many people think: When you get to be 65 you have to retire.
But I didn’t retire. I took a job where I was executive director for Parents Anonymous. They work with people who are abusing their children, and try to break the cycle of abuse that is handed down from generation to generation. People don’t realize that they were abused and that’s why they abuse their children.
I also worked with a group in a housing development in the Charleston area, where there were a lot of drugs and other problems. I still get calls from some of the parents wanting to know what is going to happen when their kid is taken to court, and what they can do. I try to work with them. I would love to give them all Silva, but haven’t found a way to do it yet. As somebody once said, nothing is free…everything is paid for by somebody. I haven’t found the “somebody” to pay the expenses that would be involved in these people taking the course.
I must have thought I was getting old at that time. I was sort of beginning to feel old. When you look at the calendar and you are 65 – and I was more than 65 then – it can begin to drag you down.
For the first few years after I “retired,” I was traveling around, having a good time working and establishing other Parents Anonymous groups. In the meantime, on the side, I would dabble in art – sculpture and painting pictures. I always did yoga exercises three times a week, and still do. I kept myself active.
But eventually I gave it up. I thought, Well, I am getting old. I will turn it over to this young man who has a degree in social work. My degree was in teaching.
When I turned it over to him, I must have made a bad mistake, because it fell apart. They don’t even have a group now.
It was then that I began to go downhill. I was going in all directions, and felt the need to do some life changing things I guess.
“This is not going to be the end of me”
When I had my heart attack, I thought, This is not going to be the end of me. When they took me to the hospital in the ambulance, I knew I wasn’t going to die. I knew I had to live for something, that there was something else in life for me to live for.
I remember thinking, “I won’t close my eyes; if I don’t close my eyes I won’t die.”
I didn’t die. I got well before anybody else in the hospital, and I was on my way again.
That’s when I took the Silva course.
It was really life changing for me. I felt like it was what I had been looking for all my life.
It all made sense immediately. As the instructor said, the right brain doesn’t take a joke. And it doesn’t. I remember that one of my favorite expressions was, “That really hurts my heart.” I don’t know what kind of messages I was sending to my body, but I sure got busy and stopped sending them right quick.
I learned all the techniques and used them all. I went to every class the instructor gave in Charleston, and drove the four hours to her town to attend more lectures.
One day when I was in her class, I told the instructor, “You know, if I was twenty years younger I would love to go to Laredo and take the instructor training.” I really wanted to find out what was behind it, what made it work so good, what made all these good things happen.
She said, “That’s the silliest excuse I’ve ever heard! You know you can go to Laredo and become an instructor if you want to!”
Then I began to think that maybe I could. All my friends told me I was too old. By that time I was 69 years old. What people are going to put you through the training and let you start at 69? Society doesn’t accept that kind of thing. You know, you are supposed to get old and decrepit and end up in a nursing home by the time you are 70!
A sign from a higher power
Going to Laredo for instructor training began to sound like a wonderful idea. All kinds of fabulous things had been happening: I’d changed my life, I had helped my husband, and had done so many good things. People still laughed at me because of some of the things I was doing, but when they found out what the results were, they became believers.
For example, one time we were driving to the beach and our speedometer broke. My husband, who had not taken the course, was really upset about it. He didn’t want to drive without the speedometer. I told him, “Just hold on…” I was using the Three Fingers Technique; I continued, “There’s going to be somebody at the beach who will fix the car. It will be an Exxon station.”
He said, “It will cost a fortune.”
“No,” I said, “it is going to be real cheap.” I don’t know where it came from, but something must have come to tell me. After we got to the beach my husband and our older son went out to get the car fixed. When they came back, my husband had a sheepish look on his face.
“Well, we went out we got the car fixed” He said. “They fixed the speedometer.”
I asked how much it cost. He answered, “Thirty dollars.”
I asked where he went and he said “Exxon.” That is what I had pictured in my mind. I didn’t make it up, it just came to me.
Anyway, I still needed to make a decision about going to instructor training, so I decided to go to level and ask for a sign to let me know whether I should go or not. I knew that I was getting old, and I wanted to do more with my life. I didn’t want to give up my life. I wanted to be involved, and I liked helping people.
I programmed that if I received money from an unknown source, this would be a sign to go. I didn’t really need money to make the trip to Laredo, but it would be a sign.
A couple of weeks later I got a letter from a friend I grew up with, that I hadn’t heard from in thirty-seven years. When I opened the envelope, there was a check in it from the Wells Fargo Bank in California. I thought, “I’ve never been to California.” I didn’t know what Wells Fargo was. It looked to me like it was one of those fake checks that was just made to look like somebody was giving me $400, but was really some kind of promotion.
Then I picked up the letter and read it. It was from my friend Nellie. She said she knew I would be surprised hearing from her, and she used terms like, “I’ve been thinking a lot about you,” and, “I don’t know how much money I really do owe you but this number keeps popping in my mind.”
The way she wrote, it sounded like something or someone was sending her messages to do this, in order to send me a sign.
I wrote her a thank you note. I would have sent the check back because I didn’t feel like she owed me anything, even though she thought she did. But then I thought, Well, I did ask the universe for it, so I decided to accept it. I knew where it really came from.
That gave me my real sign, in the physical world. And it also paid my way to Laredo and back. I was very excited about that.
I went to Laredo and took the training, and felt like I was in heaven. I didn’t know enough about it to ask a lot of questions, but knew that I would learn more as I went along. As I’ve gone along with it during the twelve years since I attended instructor training, I have learned more than I have ever given away. I know that.
When I got up at the beginning of instructor training to introduce myself, they asked why I was here. I confessed what I thought, that maybe I was a little too old to start doing this. A lot of the instructors who were in that class have kidded me about that ever since. Twelve years later I’m still going strong, teaching at least one class a month, and involved in a lot more activities, like writing a chapter for Jose Silva’s new book.
It was like a dream come true. I had mentally pictured going down and getting my certificate and being accepted as an instructor. I looked at Jose Silva…and he was older than I was! And he was still so active. He was demonstrating a memory technique and could do it so well, I thought, If he can do that at that age, I’m sure I am not old either. He was a great inspiration.
I literally began to get younger every year… in my feeling, in my life, and in the way I could do things.
I found that I didn’t have to get old.
In fact, one of our instructors, Marcelino Alcala, used the Spanish term: (stop counting), which means, you just “stop counting.” I think that’s a great idea.
I once heard one of our graduates jokingly say, “I really don’t think I’ll ever die…and so far, so good!”
Practice what you teach
I used the Silva tools to set up my Silva business. Several of my graduates have become instructors. I teach every month in Charleston, and also travel to Baltimore, Maryland, to present classes. We’ve traveled through snow and rain to go teach classes.
We probably have more older people in our classes than most instructors. I think they see us and want to see if they can get what we have.
We organized one of the first Silva cruises with Victor Kovens, and have been on nine cruises since. We get to travel to wonderful locations all over the world, and we also get to present Silva workshops to people. We went to Alaska, the Caribbean several times, Canada, the Mediterranean.
We climbed the pyramids, rode on camels, did all sorts of things. If you have an ache or a pain, you just use a Silva technique to get rid of it and keep going.
One time I almost got – as they say – “camel-napped.” A couple of boys came and put me up on top of a camel and said, “For $20 we’ll take you for a ride.” I said, “I’ve already been for a ride, and the others are waiting for me.” I was kind of scared then, but I put my three fingers together and they finally thought, “This old lady is not going to give in to us, let’s take her back,” and they finally took me back.
People have given me many things to point out that I am older…but am still having fun.
I got one cute little gift that says, “Growing old is not for sissies.” It is hanging in my kitchen.
I’ve got one of my gifts on the front door. It is a Raggedy Ann doll holding a sign that says, “I am an old Raggedy Ann doll living in a Barbie Doll world.”
I’ve also gotten a lot of books about age, many from people who are fighting it off and seem to want to identify with me.
In one book, the author talks about working with various specialists who are supposed to be there to help older people. She was on a team to help older people keep active. The specialists were very hostile, she said. They didn’t want the old people to be active. They wanted them to go to nursing homes where they could make money off of them. Most of them die soon after they get there. If they keep them active, they live too long. They need to get them out of the way so the younger people can come along and take all the money.
I thought, That’s pretty much true. Most doctors, and everybody else, just kind of regale people past a certain age to the old age home. If the time ever comes where they try to do that to me, I may go teach yoga or something, or go teach Silva.
Young people worry about you. They don’t want you to take a trip anywhere. I can’t just sit there, I have to go visit. Two of my children live pretty far away, so I’m going to go see them from time to time. My daughter worries, but I told her, “Look, I stop a lot, I walk around, I use my Silva techniques to stay awake on the road so I don’t fall asleep, what have you got to worry about?” I think she is kind of understanding now. My family used to tell me about the problems that older people have. I said, “Look, I’m going to live till I die. I am going to live life. But I am not going to live in fear, and I don’t want anybody to tell me about these things, because I don’t want to hear that stuff!”
Older people don’t have to just sit in nursing homes. They can get out and be active. Silva gave me my life back after I had the heart attack. I decided, I’ve got to keep going; I can’t just give up. And I haven’t.
Occasionally I get a little flutter in my chest. I go to my level and talk to my heart. I tell it “I don’t want that, just keep going along smoothly.” Of course I still go to my doctor regularly, and I do my hatha yoga exercises. It is important to use both dimensions. I don’t turn away from the things I need, whether they are in the physical dimension or at the alpha level.
I don’t live with my children. I still enjoy life. I enjoy having them all come to visit. I enjoy going to the beach with them. I enjoy going on cruises. I enjoy teaching Silva. There is always something to do.
Right now I still take care of a ten room house, and have friends and relatives come to visit every day. I go to visit my children because they don’t have time to come visit me. Just recently I helped my daughter move to Pennsylvania. I had to drive six hours, and then I helped her unload boxes. She said, “Well Mom, you did pretty good for an old lady.”
Most people worry about me driving. My grandson rode to the beach with me one time, and his mom had kind of scared him a little. He usually sleeps all the way in the car, but this time she told him, “You be sure and keep your grandma awake, because she might go to sleep.”
After we got there he said, “You know Grandma, you did pretty good. I can’t believe I stayed awake all this time for nothing!”
I can remember doing the same thing to my mother. When she was sixty I thought she was old. She was late coming in one time, and she said, “Don’t you ever worry about me; I don’t want anybody to worry about me.” Now I know how she felt.
You don’t have to give up your lifestyle. In Silva, we have a different way of looking at it.
Things that keep you healthy
I give workshops a lot of time on forgiveness and things that can keep you healthy and happy, not holding grudges against people, things like that.
Sometimes I give a breakfast workshop on the weekend. We all meet for breakfast and have a little workshop, and everybody enjoys it.
The quality of life is the key to this – not “old age” – to this mellow, golden age.
It is important that we go to our level every day and take care of ourselves.
It is important that we stay active. As they say, Use it or lose it. That goes for both your body and your mind.
Our relationships with other people are so important to our physical and mental health. That’s why we need to forgive people, to let go of resentment, to have peace within ourselves.
It is important to help others whenever we have the opportunity, and to seek out opportunities to help others. It gives us a purpose beyond ourselves; it gives us a reason to live, to be healthy, to be happy, to feel good about ourselves. As Jose Silva has said many times, it is the reason we were sent here.
Trying new things will help to keep you young. My friends tease me. They say that whenever anybody suggests that we try something new, I reply: “Oh, that sounds like fun. What is it?” I guess I’ve always had that spirit of adventure.
As long as there is something new to discover, as long as there is somebody I can help, as long as I am able to be of service, I will continue my journey.”
(This is based on the workshop that Becky Hickman presented at the 1998 Silva Convention in Laredo.)