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

Join our mailing list!

Though this e-newsletter is only 3 months old, I am truly delighted at the dialogue it has generated with you, my community. The purpose of the newsletter is to nurture connection amongst people who have an interest in heart work. Hearing back from you is quite wonderful!

So, it seems only fitting that this issue includes a section with reader feedback, and an example of what you might find in the on-going blog at www.heartspacecafe.com. I encourage you to join the blog and share your thoughts on whatever issues regarding the heart, relationships, living a healthy, meaningful life, making the world a better place and the sex-spirit connection interest you.

I've also included articles on "Touchable and Untouchable: Intimacy After Trauma" and "Life As a Sexual Experience."

If you would like to participate in heart work, please consider being part of my Healing the Traumatized Heart weekend retreat at Kripalu in Lenox, MA is just around the corner: March 16 - 18. I would love to see you there!

As always, I welcome your thoughts, ideas and questions for topics, resources and other materials you might want to see in this newsletter. Just e-mail them to LSMHEART@aol.com, and I will continue to incorporate your feedback in future issues of this newsletter.

Heartfully, Linda

 Reader Feedback

I am delighted that this newsletter has generated responses from you, my readers. I surely prefer a dialogue to a monologue!

With permission, I am sharing some of the comments I have received over the past month. If you have thoughts, resources, or reflections, I welcome them. Just e-mail LSMHEART@aol.com.

In response to the Valentine's Day issue:
"Here's a Sandra Bullock quote that goes well with what you shared:
'People are so good at attending to their jobs, their plants, their pets. Why is it that when it comes to a relationship, we just sort of go, oh, it's here. It should just work. It doesn't!'"

From a reader in New Jersey:
"I wanted to comment about touching, healthy touch and deprivation (which I feel is my case). I feel it in my solar plexus, sometimes my heart center, and I can't make connection to people--not even romantically."

"For example, especially because I believe it is so intimate (I do not have an intimate partner as I write this), I kind of reject romantic and sex contact/involvement, even though I deeply love women and male-female relationships."

"The deprivation, distrust and something else (related to abuse by a woman when I was a child, even though I suspect something else is there), is so overwhelming, even though touch is good after the threshold of trust has been crossed. Crossing that threshold is difficult, even though some of the best experiences of my life have been in a relationship where there was lots of touching." --Nelson

From a colleague in London:
"Good to get your HealingHeartPower Newsletter. Love your "Heart Day" idea."

My colleague, Jack Martin Leith, and his Amsterdam-based friend, Steve Ormerod, are launching a new business called www.hoochie-coochie.com, in the spirit of helping people feel more comfortable and expressive in their sensuality and sexuality."

"We're creating Slow Sex Day (www.slowsexday.com) on Sunday, October 28, 2007--the day Europeans set their clocks back one hour, and the only day that has 25 hours. Like your Heart Day, Slow Sex Day is a time for couples to pay attention to their relationship and express their love, albeit in a physical way."

In response to the February issue:
"Your article on "Healthy Self-Reliance" really hit home for me. It seems that I grew up in a home where self-reliance was overdone, as you stated in your article."

"As a result, I and others in my family suffered because there was no healthy interdependence. This manifested in my parents' and my inability to give and receive love. This forgetting or devaluing our interconnection with others is probably the root of many family problems in this country such as divorce."

"I took matters into my own hands and am on the road to healing and recovery from this inappropriate behavior model."

"This is probably the best article of any type that I have ever read because it is at the core of what humanity is. Without proper humanity, we are just robots struggling for survival and one-upsmanship."

"Keep up the eye-opening work that you are doing. I believe that you have the voice to direct healing in our sick society."

--Jerry S.


 Virtual Relationships

In the Valentine's Day Newsletter, I announced that the www.heartspacecafe.com blog was now up and ready to run. I would like to encourage you to sign-up on the website and become part of the dialogue.

If you like the mini-articles that appear in this monthly newsletter, you will also enjoy the entries I add to the HeartSpaceCafe Blog.

I am including one of my entries here, so you can get a taste of the kinds of postings I have in mind.

Posted on February 14, 2007: Virtual Relationships
Today's Wall Street Journal featured an article describing how people today have become so attached to their electronic means of communication that they have lost perspective on what kinds of messages should be delivered via text messaging, e-mail, phone or face-to-face.

In the wake of a culture where you can "reach out and touch" your Blackberry or cellphone, and provide "instant contact" by pressing the right keys, it is easy to forget that something gets lost in translation--be it the sound of your loved one's voice or the sensation of their touch.

The article described how several couples had ended relationships via text messaging, complete with abbreviations. No face to face conversation sharing tears and one last hug. Not even a phone conversation, where final words could be spoken heart-to-heart. Just the surreal immediacy of a few quick letters flashing across a screen, "We R Done."

While the technoforums offer a kind of anonymous immediacy, which may indeed provide a good valve to let off steam, there is a way they also depersonalize the very nature of relationship and connection. Perhaps, it is easier to "blow off" someone who you aren't looking at eye-to-eye, missing the cues of pain, tears, love and even a desire to work things out. Perhaps, these technotools allows us to be more commodities to one another than sacred, irreplaceable friends and companions.

The Boston Globe also featured an article about the era of virtual relationships, describing the life of a couple who is too busy to have conversations about Johnny's soccer schedule or who's doing the laundry. Their solution is constant e-mails back and forth over the course of the day. This eliminates the need for lists and all the hardcopy time management tools we used to count on. After all, if you write it in an e-mail, you can always dig back into your archives to see if the soccer started at 2 pm or 2:30 pm.

While, clearly, I both appreciate and make use of these virtual tools--here I am writing these reflections in my new blog--I am also sad that so much of life has gotten so viscerally disconnected.

Maybe these thoughts, my own on-line journal, can be read by anyone who finds them, whenever the time is right. Yet, I would still rather be having a conversation with you face-to-face, sharing my thoughts and asking you to share yours as well. I think there was something magical in the era of the bound journal or "lock and key" diary I used to make these kinds of entries in when I was a girl or even an adult woman. I have a suitcase full of journals that one day I might break into, to gain a retrospective perspective on important times in my life.

So, while there is the satisfaction of being able to write, print and post these thoughts, a part of me would still rather be reaching out and touching someone, instead of my plastic keyboard.

Time to pet the real life cats and dog!

Join the dialogue.... 

 Touchable and Untouchable
 Intimacy After Trauma

Trauma is like a wrecker ball that tears down our emotional foundation and crushes the spirit. If we are young enough when trauma happens, our emotional foundation is likely fragile, if formed at all.

As a result, trauma impairs our ability to love and be loved. Trauma breaks our hearts, teaches us the world is unsafe, and people can't be trusted, including, and sometimes, especially, the people we love.

A person with a vital heart has grounded and clearly defined personal boundaries. This allows them to discern a safe person or moment, and allows them to be receptive and touchable.

A person with a traumatized heart may lack or have lost touch with a sense of grounded and clearly defined personal boundaries. As a result, when someone comes close, they are more likely to tense-up and defend against a potential intruder. In spite of their best intentions, they may find that they are untouchable.

Trust is a fundamental building block for intimacy. This includes feeling a deeply rooted connection with self, which allows us to truly trust ourselves--including our thoughts, feelings, intuitive knowing and gut reactions. Stan Dale, the founder of HAI, defines intimacy as "in-to-me-I-see." We need to trust ourselves to look deeply into our feelings, wants, needs and desires.

Sadly, trauma, deprivation and neglect can break this essential thread of trust within self, as well as with other people. If we don't trust ourselves, it is not safe to look deeply into what we sense, think, feel or know. Our feelings and needs become scary and/or overwhelming--something we must defend against rather than embrace.

If we must defend against our most vulnerable and intimate self, then even someone who truly loves us or wants to love us must be kept at a distance. Our response of keeping a loved one or potential loved one at a distance isn't even a conscious response. It comes from a much more primal, feral place inside.

How often have you experienced getting really close to someone, only to have them, in time, withdraw and pull away? Suddenly their workload is insurmountable, and they just don't have time for your relationship. Or all of a sudden, a relationship built on good two-way communication becomes riddled with fights--often over silly things not worth fighting over. Or, your once passionate partner who wanted to massage you and make love all day no longer wants to be touched, never mind be sexual. Or, your partner just leaves, or worse, "vaporizes," disappearing with little or no communication. Their fear of intimacy sabotages the very love they ultimately need to heal.

In THE POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER SOURCEBOOK by Glenn Schiraldi (McGraw Hill, 1999), the author cites a research effort which identified five fears that interfere with intimacy, and which must be neutralized for intimacy to grow: 1. Loss of control, 2. Abandonment, 3. Rejection, 4. Attack and 5. One's own tendency to hurt others.

Sometimes, a loving partner can become a "magical stranger," divinely sent to help in the healing journey. By being loving, present, trusting and trustworthy, non-judgmental, and often by offering safe sexual and non-sexual touch, an experience of being truly, known, loved and accepted for who one is can take place. Having ones needs met at this very deep and intimate level can both heal past wounded places and create a new experiential template for what is possible in relationship.

While "loving partner as magical stranger" may be many people's dream, and some fortunate people's experience, most often a trauma survivor needs to engage in conscious healing work to lay the groundwork to let a partner become close to them. Whether it be work with a body psychotherapist, a bodywork professional or a touch-inclusive personal growth workshop like HAI, healing from trauma most often includes some kind of safe, nurturing, appropriately boundaried touch.

We often need to feel safe "on the outside"--in our bodies, in our skin--to feel safe to let down our protective walls "on the inside"--to open our hearts. If we are safely held physically, we may not need our emotional defenses to protect us. We can soften and relax, to let pain out and love in.

Likewise, we need to feel safe "on the inside"--in our hearts--in order to let someone touch us "on the outside"--on our skin. There is such a direct connection between our bodies and hearts, that it is important that touch be conscious, respectful and loving, and that the toucher be grounded and centered in their own body and heart when reaching out to touch.

Understanding the relationship between emotions and touch is a very important part of both emotional literacy and touch literacy. I am sad that neither of these essential "languages" are taught at school, allowed at work or modeled in our families. So, our culture leaves people emotionally and touch illiterate more often than not.

Perhaps that is why a "professional magical stranger"--a therapist, bodyworker or workshop leader--may be necessary to help provide those missing experiences that help integrate emotions and touch. A healer can indeed be a kind of shaman or tribal elder in our culture which has become so "out of touch"--emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Find out more.... 

 Life As A Sexual Experience
 Sexuality, Spirituality and Being Alive

My colleague and downstairs neighbor, Ani, recently sent me a mini-article by the author of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, Neale Donald Walsch. The article started off with an intriguing, rhetorical question, and an even more intriguing, rhetorical answer.

The question Walsch poses is: In all new relationships with romantic potential, when do we become sexual? His answer is: Too late. You're already doing it.

Why? Because we need to ask the question "what is sexuality anyway?" And from a spiritual perspective, life itself is a sexual experience. So, if you are alive, by the fact of your very existence, you are expressing yourself sexually.

Or to quote Walsch, "There is no way not to be expressing yourself in a sexual way. LIFE is a sexual experience. Life IS sex....Sex is the Energy of Life, and the exchange of that Energy is Life itself, expressing."

I have always defined sex as "soul energy exchange" or "spiritual energy exchange." By virtual of living, loving and breathing in and out, we put forth life energy and we receive it back. In this sense, sex is not just limited to the genitals or even physical contact. It is a far more essential and spiritual part of being alive.

Walsch refers to the process of photosynthesis to draw a parallel between how plants sythesize "chemical compounds with the aid of radiant energy, especially light," and how love provides a human "photosynthesis" of sorts. The sun makes plants grow. Love makes people grow.

In Walsch's words, "Human beings grow, they become larger in soul, in spirit, and in their hearts and minds, when they experience love. And Love is 'the synthesis of chemical compounds with the aid of radiant energy, especially light.'"

He points out that when you send love to someone, you literally radiate energy. And people radiate energy all the time, not just when they are sending someone love. So, Walsch poses the question, "what kind of energy are you radiating?"

"Whatever you radiate is reflected back to you. You receive what you send." Here lie the origins of the familiar saying, "What goes around, comes around." Taken back to the sexual-spiritual level, since we are constantly radiating energy, the question becomes, "Not whether you are having sex, but what kind of sex you are having?"

This provides a very fertile playing field for the relationships in our lives. Each moment, through being conscious of what kind of energy we are putting forth, we can create and re-create our important connections with others. Focusing on "appreciations"--the qualities and attributes about the other that you really like and enjoy--provides rays of sunlight for the heart and soul. Sadly, we often don't take the time to speak appreciations. And this includes appreciating small gestures as well as large ones.

Taking the time to "be with" those you care about, making space and time to speak and listen from the heart will enrich your important connections. Love, in its purest form, is both the food and fertilizer of relationships and all we care about in our lives. Perhaps that leads to a law of "emotional physics"--Sexuality is spirituality is love is life.


Neale talks about when to have sex...too late, you're already doing it! 

 Upcoming Groups and Workshops
 with Linda Marks

Healing the Traumatized Heart:
    Kripalu Weekend Retreat
      March 16 - 18, 2007
        Please join us for a wonderful opportunity to embrace the power of our individual and collective hearts. Kripalu is conveniently located in Lenox, MA, so that folks from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut do not have to journey all the way to Boston, and Boston-area folks who love the Berkshires can have a weekend in this beautiful part of MA.
          For more information: www.kripalu.org

          EKP opportunities in Newton, MA include:
          • 3 hour Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshops
          • On-going Tuesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group
          • On-going Thursday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group
          • The Money Class
          • Apprenticing in EKP

          Find out more.... 

 About Linda
 Body Psychotherapy for Individuals, Couples and Groups

Linda Marks, MSM, is pioneer in body psychotherapy who has developed, taught and practiced Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP) for 23 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 11-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda 

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!

"Love has to spring spontaneously from within and it is in no way amenable to any form of inner or outer force. Love and coercion can never go together; but though love cannot be forced on anyone, it can be awakened in him through love itself."

"Love is essentially self communicative; those who do not have it catch it from those who have it. True love is unconquerable and irresistable, and it goes on gathering power and spreading itself, until eventually it transforms everyone whom it touches."

--Meher Baba