We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Ellie Zarrabian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dr. Ellie, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I always somehow ended up taking the road less travelled. This was the case partly because I didn’t fit in a conventional box and partly because of my life circumstances. Initially, I tried working in the corporate world, but soon realized that the environment was too toxic. Everyone was out for themselves and climbing the success ladder without much regard for anyone else along the way. I saw it from the people at the top to the people who were just starting out. It was a culture that I did not respect so I left it behind. Then I went back to school and decided to take a more conventional route to healing and health. Once I went for my internship, I saw the same toxic behaviors play out in the health profession too. I was quite disillusioned and decided to go into teaching. At the same time, I became a certified massage therapist and supplemented my studies by working as a message therapist. I eventually found a teaching position at my local junior college in the department of Behavioral Sciences and taught psychology for almost 10 years. As an adjunct faculty, I was primarily working on my own, teaching and working with my students. I loved it, until I had a run in with the chair of my department. For some reason, she didn’t like the way I took leave of absence to have my baby. I ended up reporting her, but I was eventually let go. I was too tired to fight it all the way. But that was when the window of opportunity opened else where for me. I ended up pursuing my PhD and decided to work as a drug and alcohol counselor. I did that for sometime and then eventually decided to go off on my own and combine my years of education, body work, counseling and spirituality to become an integrated life and career coach. Because of my inherent creativity, I was able to combine all my skills and life experience together and form the Centerpeace Foundation. I started to teach health and wellness to the public and gradually started a coaching practice where I helped individuals around the world gain better mental and emotional solutions to improve their life. I created a niche market where I focused on wellness from a psycho-spiritual perspective and became successful in my practice. I believe, much of my success has to do with my thinking out of the box, perseverance and years of education and skill building.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am considered a Highly Sensitive Person. Elaine Aaron, the prominent American psychologist coined this term. There is a set of specific traits that define the personality of an HSP. We live in a culture where sensitivity is not well understood, nor respected. Most highly sensitive individuals struggle with life and career. I did too initially. But in graduate school, I came to realize that in fact sensitivity is a gift and one that when harnessed can really help to better my own life and the life of those around me. I honed in on this ability and used my sensitivity to become really good at therapeutic massage, which later lead to me becoming a Therapeutic Touch practitioner. Then I went into psychology and learned how to become a good listener. The combination of these gift and talents along with my keen intuition, lead me to become very skilled at my craft. Using my creative skills, I put together a practice where I use all these skills to help others heal from past wounds and trauma. I’ve been quite successful in helping people get healthy and I continue to grow and expand my work to this day.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well given my background and high sensitivity, I am more primed to love nature and contemplation. So I would take my friend to all the wonderful meditation gardens and places here in Los Angeles. We would start with Lake Shrine and then go visit the Peace and Awareness Gardens and then hit the beach and the mountains. Along the way, I would teach my friend to mediate and to journey inwardly. We would use the stillness and the beauty of nature to get more in touch with ourselves and to become more attuned to the deeper feelings inside. I would then engage my friend in fire talks. I use fire talks as a way to get really deep and to discuss important and meaningful topics about life and relationships. I would definitely stay away from busy and touristy places, but go into town for some great Korean, Persian and Ethiopian food on the Westside.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I had a pretty rough childhood growing up. I am a child survivor of war, an immigrant and an abuse survivor. My family and I also struggled with poverty and at some point I dealt with being homeless. I was teaching at the junior college and was homeless. Life did not start out in a promising way for me. In fact, statistically I should either be dead, or addicted to drugs or alcohol or living on the streets. But I owe much of my health, strength and wellbeing to a strong and dedicated spiritual practice. I started to pray and meditate as young as age 6. Because of my faith in the inherent goodness of all life, I was able to move through some of the most challenging and difficult life circumstances. I also got into therapy in my early twenties and owe much of my growth and wellbeing to many of the wonderful therapists and teachers who came into my life.