February 2007 
 HealingHeartPower Newsletter
 Reclaiming the Power of the Heart
In This Issue

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February is always a special month for me. My son, Alex, was born on February 8, so every year, we get to celebrate what he creatively calls his "birthday anniversary."

Then there is February 14, which for many is Valentine's Day. However, I'd love to see it be honored as "heart day"--a day to remember the wisdom and power of the heart, and to take time to slow down a listen to the heart's voice.

In the spirit of the heart's voice, this issue of the HealingHeartPower Newsletter is chock full of relationship-focused articles: Healthy Self-Reliance and the Ability to Give and Receive Love, The Power of Partnership, and Gender Matters: The Plight of Single Parent Mothers and Fathers.

This March, I am organizing a section of my 6 week coaching class, The Money Class, for the first time in several years. This class provides a wonderful opportunity to make peace with money, explore what really matters to you, and reflect on how much is enough. The Money Class will be held on Thursday mornings from 8:45 am - 10:45 am or Fridays over lunch from 11:45 am - 1:45 pm. If you would like to participate, please let me know.

If you are interested in participating in EKP in an on-going way, my Tuesday and Thursday night Mixed Gender Body Psychotherapy Groups have openings for male and female members. An interview/one individual EKP session are required to apply for a space in a group.

And March 16 - 18, I will be leading my annual Healing the Traumatized Heart at Kripalu in Lenox, MA. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend a weekend in a beautiful Berkshires setting, eat healthy food, and embrace the power of the heart.

In closing, I wanted to share a favorite quote by poet Aeschylsus: "Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

Heartfully, Linda

 Healthy Self-Reliance and the Ability to Give and Receive Love

Our culture places a large value on self-reliance, often understood to mean we should be capable of doing everything in our lives on our own, and not need others' help. While healthy self-reliance is an important part of being a whole, grounded and healthy adult, I am afraid I often see the "self-reliance concept" taken to an extreme. In fact, we seem to forget or devalue our interconnection with others.

Crudely translated, "self-reliance" in the vernacular, tells us that "need" is a four-letter word, and when we need other people for help, support or guidance, we are "weak." I sometimes wonder if this overfocus on self-reliance comes from a lack of understanding that in human development, there is a natural progression from healthy and appropriate dependence, to healthy and appropriate independence, to healthy and appropriate interdependence. I see many people who are so afraid of being dependent, that they overcompensate. The go out of their way to keep a distance from others. In doing so, they also keep a distance from their own vulnerability and basic human needs.

While this can quickly become a "chicken or the egg" debate, sadly, people who have not had the experience of growing through healthy dependence to healthy independence, are often unable to experience or create interdependence in their relationships. This limits our ability to both give and receive love.

As I watch people parent their children, I see that sometimes well-meaning parents are so afraid of their own needs and vulnerabilities, that they push a child towards independence prematurely--before the child has had the developmental experiences they need to be independent. Parents can also stifle a child's appropriate efforts towards separation and independence, because the parents are not yet ready for this separation. It's as though we don't trust our natural developmental urges, or because our developmental urges weren't followed and nurtured, we cannot follow them or nurture them in a child.

This reminds me of a film I watched before my son was born. The film looked at how children's bodies intuitively know what nutrients they need from their food. If offered a well-balanced selection of foods, a child will gravitate towards the ones which fulfill their nutritional needs. I remember a scene in the film where a child is offered a big plate of carrots, a big plate of M&M's and a big plate of broccoli. As the child reaches for the carrots, the parents are happy.

After eating his fill of carrots, the child then started eating M&M's with great pleasure. The parents were now horrified, afraid the M&M eating would get out of hand. In actuality, the child ate what he felt was "enough" M&M's, and stopped, deciding it was time to move on to the broccoli. The child had an internal sense of self-regulation. And in the end, the child's eating habits were perfectly reasonable, demonstrating that moderation is a good thing.

This sense of internal self-regulation applies in our love relationships. If we haven't had the chance to find our pathway from dependence to independence to interdependence, we cannot callibrate our needs for space and connection, for closeness and distance, and for rhythm and pacing in a relationship. And we surely lack the language to communicate our feelings and needs.

As a result, as a relationship grows and intimacy deepens, we become frightened and often act from a primal "fight or flight" place. Instead of being nourished by love, we become overwhelmed by it. Instead of opening our hearts to people who are loving and kind, we put up a wall to keep them away. Like a feral animal, we have learned to do it alone, and doing it alone keeps us in our comfort zone.

We need to learn a healthy sense of self-reliance to open our hearts to give and receive love. To do this, we need relational experience where someone who truly cares about us will stay in emotional connection with us as we work to take down the walls that protect our vulnerabilities, and strengthen our sense of independent self so we can love and be loved. Rather than opening up our hearts and having no one there or being slammed, we need to experience a loving, listening presence. Rather than doing what we need to take care of ourselves and having another be resentful or angry, we need to be respected for our need for self-care.

EKP can help create the experience of "magical stranger," a steady healing presence who knows just where to stand in relationship to our dependence and independence needs. By healing our hearts in this respectful way, we develop the capacity to be interdependent, to love and be loved.


 The Power of Partnership

"At present, people create barriers between each other by their fragmentary thought. Each one operates separately. When these barriers have dissolved, then there arises one mind, where they are all one unit, but each person also retains his or her own individual awareness. That one mind will still exist even when they separate and when they come together, it will be as if they hadn't separated. It's actually a single intelligence that works with people who are moving in relationship with one another..."

--David Bohm, Physicist

If I look back at my life and ask myself what accomplishments have been most fulfilling, a surprisingly high number of them are ones I have done in partnership, as a collaboration. As a kid, I teamed up with my grammar school best friend to give "campaign speeches," from the auditorium stage when drafted to run for class president. While I hadn't ever had the bug to seek "public office," my classmates saw my leadership potential. I needed a "campaign manager." Who else to choose, but my best friend. With Denise at my side, this shy girl was able to sit on the stage, speak from her heart and win by a landslide. It was a good model of partnership.

In my early 20's, I was fortunate enough to collaborate with a musical partner, Lisa. For three years we practiced for hours and hours, wrote music together, and overcame our shared shyness to move beyond the confines of our living rooms to perform on the radio and in coffeehouses. The songs we wrote together often had a richer texture than those we created alone.

And as I embarked on my last job in the corporate world as an organizational consultant, strategically planted in a line job in a business unit, I realized having a collaborator would help others ally with us in a way that I could never accomplish as sole trailblazer. My colleague, Peter, embraced the vision, and together, people could hear us in a way they could have never heard either one of us alone.

My mentor for 17 years, Bob, who sadly died an unexpected death the day after his 69th birthday, was another collaborative partner. He held my vision in his heart as I held it in my own. And the power of his support and understanding of who I am and what I aspired to in the world helped me realize dream after dream after dream. I came to realize the power of a another person holding my vision, and have enjoyed being the "co-holder" for many other people's visions as they have taken steps to make them real.

As I addressed in the first article in this newsletter on "Healthy Self-Reliance and the Ability to Give and Receive Love, " our culture gives so much attention to the individual, the sole hero, the lone wolf. And surely, there is a place for individual accomplishment and contribution. However, I have always felt that a divine force operates when two or more people come together, commit to a common vision, and work together towards this higher goal.

I have founded many groups and organizations, and I can assure you, I could not have done any of that alone. Each time, a team of partners who shared a common vision joined me. And together we were able to do more than any of us could have on our own.

Creating a child requires an essential partnership--at the very simplest level, the coming together of a sperm and an egg. And parenting a child is designed to be a partnership of at least two adults committed to the unfoldment and well-being of the child.

I guess there is a sacredness to true partnership, where God or a spiritual dimension supports the commitment and collaborative effort two partners make to each other. David Bohm speaks to this point in his quote at the beginning of this article. And singer Paul Stookey points to this experience in the words from "The Wedding Song," "the union of your spirits here has caused him to remain. For whenever two or more of you are gathered in his name, there is love."

If we can embrace the power of sacred partnership, we can be happier, more successful and fulfilled in our lives. Knowing we are truly not alone in our most important endeavors gives an incredible rootedness. Holding each other in our visions gives them extra creative power. Working together towards a common vision, creates a result greater than the sum of the parts.

Find out more.... 

 Gender Matters: The Plight of Single Parent Mothers and Fathers

Living in a time when 62% of marriages end in divorce, and many children find themselves living in single parent households, the question of what life is like for single parent mothers and single parent fathers is one worth some study and reflection.

A colleague of mine, Tracy Marks, actually did some research on this topic when she was in social work school years ago. She was a research assistant for a professor doing a comparative study of the plight of single parent mothers versus single parent fathers in the US and 10 European countries as well.

The results were sobering. Not only did single parents in the US fare worse than in the European countries, but also, the differences between women and men were profound. They found that women flocked to a single parent man and wanted him as a partner. They thought everything he did for his child was wonderful. Men, on the other hand, often ran from the single parent woman, or expected her to be able to work full-time, handle parenting superbly and have a lot of time for "relationship" without a complaint.

In my observations, things have not changed dramatically since her study. While, to be totally fair, there are men who have had children themselves who love having the opportunity to be involved with a child again, and there are also men who didn't have the chance to be a parent, and welcome the chance to contribute to the growth of a child, I have found this is the minority.

I have attended countless social functions where men looking for partners have made it clear that a woman with children at home would not be of interest. I have also watched grown men feel intimidated or angry in response to a mother's appropriate nurturance of her child, because he did not receive this from his own parents. I have listened to men voice their resentments of the time demands parenting requires of a single mom, and have watched a seeming insensitivity to why the mother might need to plan activities, and surely trips.

To be totally fair, as well, I have listened to women whose children are grown also express their desire not to get involved with a male partner with children still at home. It just seems that I've heard more men than women voice their lack of interest in a single parent with children still at home.

I welcome your feedback on this important, and perhaps, emotionally charged topic. What is your experience? What have you observed? How might we improve the state of affairs for single parents and their children in a society that is still founded on the institution of the two parent family? Write to me and tell me at LSMHEART@aol.com.

Find out more.... 

 About Linda
 Body Psychotherapy and Coaching for Individuals, Couples and Groups

Linda Marks, MSM, is pioneer in body psychotherapy who has developed, taught and practiced Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP) for 22 years. Author of LIVING WITH VISION and HEALING THE WAR BETWEEN THE GENDERS, she co-founded the Massachusetts Association of Body Psychotherapists and Counseling Bodyworkers and is the founder of the Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network. She holds degrees from Yale and MIT, and has a vital almost 11-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda.... 

 On-going Groups and Upcoming Programs

Body Psychotherapy Groups

These long-term committed mixed gender EKP body psychotherapy groups have room for new male and female members:

Tuesday Night Group
meets 7:15 - 9:45 pm in Newton

Thursday Night Group
meets 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Newton

An interview/one EKP session are required to apply to be part of a group. For more information, e-mail LSMHEART@aol.com.

The Money Class, a 6 week money empowerment coaching class, is forming a Thursday morning section (meeting in Newton from 8:45 am - 10:45 am) and a Friday lunch-time section (meeting in Newton from 11:45 am - 1:45 pm).

For more information, e-mail LSMHEART@aol.com.

Healing the Traumatized Heart weekend retreat at Kripalu in Lenox, MA, March 16 - 18, 2007

For more information, go to www.kripalu.org.

Find out more.... 

You may also want to visit www.sexspirit.net to see the wonderful programs the Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network has put together for 2007!

In closing, I leave you with a beautiful quote that Jim Shipsky sent to me:

"There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, lease of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves; banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred way and in celebration. We are the ones we've been waiting for."