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

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Mother nature threw a curve the weekend of March 16 - 18, the weekend of my third annual Healing the Traumatized Heart retreat at Kripalu. The only serious snowstorm of this winter, a Northeaster, began early Friday, creating treacherous road conditions for the trek from Boston to Lenox. The usually two to two and a half hour drive became a four to eight hour drive past car and truck accidents galore, as my valiant staff members, Larry Cotton, John Yep, Despina Moutsouris and Donna Grant, and I discovered.

The good news is we all made it safely to Lenox, and a powerfully healing weekend was had by all who braved the storm to attend.

The biggest gift that emerged from the weekend was the realization that it is time for me to bring this Healing Heart work to kids, and parents and kids together.

I can thank my eleven-year-old son Alex, for making this crystal clear. Alex participated in the retreat with full embrace, and contributed to a new depth of healing for all--as an ambassador for the inner child, to a catalyst for intergenerational healing. Who among us doesn't carry with us emotional healing work that could be done with our parents, our grandparents and our children, as well as ourselves?

Read on below to learn of my active efforts to put together EKP programs for kids and parents and kids. And please give me your feedback on the questions I am now exploring to build these important and ground-breaking programs.

In this issue, you will also find an article entitled "At Arms Reach: Instilling A Sense of Rightness Through Loving Embrace," and an excerpt from my blog a www.heartspacecafe.com/blog/: "Love, Addiction and 'Dopamine on the Brain.'"

If you want a more steady flow of articles than just this monthly newsletter provides, you can find them at the HeartSpace Cafe. And please add your thoughts, questions, comments and add your own discussion topics. My webmaster has now fixed the website so you can response to my musings and start your own.

I am currently organizing a session of my 6 week coaching class, The Money Class, which provides a wonderful opportunity to get grounded, set and work towards financial goals, overcome money obstacles and make peace with money. The class will meet Thursdays from 8:45 am - 10:45 am in Newton.

And EKP apprentice Gretchen Stecher is working to organize a Healing the Traumatized Heart retreat November 16 - 18, 2007 on the Cape. If you, a friend or loved one would like to be part of an EKP weekend retreat, please let us know. We also welcome your ideas how to spread the word to those who might benefit from an EKP experience. It does take village--for almost anything of substance to become real.

Heartfully, Linda

 At Arms Reach
 Instilling a Sense of Rightness Through Loving Embrace

Some of my happiest moments are watching my 11-year-old son, Alex, cradle our 8-month-old Birman kitten, Flora, in his arms. He picks her up with gentleness and care, and turns her upside down like a baby. She melts. Her angelic face beams. Her beautiful blue eyes light up with animated joy. And so does Alex's face. He beams as she beams. And in seeing them interact, I beam as well.

Something is very right with this picture. With this kind of loving care from her young human (I can't bring myself to use the word "owner"), is it any surprise that Flora is a peaceful, happy presence in our home, on our beds and in our lives? Having rehabbed 8 feral cats and kittens before my son was born, I really appreciate the impact of giving a young creature love, care and respect from the very beginning of their life.

Being held in loving arms creates a sense of safety and solidity from which to move out into the world at ones own organic pace. When a creature has the foundation of a loving embrace, their energies can go to growing, learning and exploring, rather than being conserved and carefully rationed for bare survival.

Being held in loving arms provides a sense of welcome, acceptance and essential rightness--that everything is really okay, that the person is fundamentally okay and whole, and that they truly can be free to be who they are.

In her book THE CONTINUUM CONCEPT, author Jean Liedloff speaks to this point. "Without the sense of being right, one has no sense of how much one ought to claim of comfort, security, help, companionship, love, friendship, things, pleasure or joy. A person without this sense often feels there is an empty space where he ought to be."

Sadly, all too often in our culture, infants and young children grow up without this sense of rightness. We suffer from an intergenerational domino effect, where one generation who was kept at arm's length, lacks the relational, emotional, developmental experience to be able to cradle and embrace their own children. As a consequence, we pass on a legacy of emptiness, of anxiety, of pain, of feeling all alone and powerlessness to get the things we most essentially need.

In more than twenty years in practice as a body psychotherapist, one of the most poignant threads I have observed is how our unmet early childhood needs reverberate through and shape our lives. If we have not been held, embraced, nurtured and cherished emotionally and physically, a part of us numbs out. We become distanced from our basic human needs, because the pain of having them go unmet is only bareable for so long.

When we have our own children, we often cannot recognize the most delicate, intimate and essential parts of them. We love them, but we cannot give them what we don't have ourselves. Just as we have learned to "tough it out" and "push on," we pass these very messages on to them. Or, we can recognize our short-comings and model what NOT to do, but with a big question mark when it comes to looking at viable alternatives. We lack the skills and experiences needed to create emotional and physical intimacy in our friendships, with a partner, and in our own self-care.

Liedloff reflects, "The infant (like the guru) lives in the eternal now; the infant in arms (and the guru) in a state of bliss; the infant out of arms in a state of longing in the bleakness of an empty universe. His expectations are mingling with the actuality, and the innate ancestral expectations are being overlaid (not altered or replaced) by those based upon his own experience. The amounts by which the two sets of expectations diverge determine the distance that will separate him from his inherent potential for well-being."

Sad and foreboding as our common reality is, the good news is that it is truly "never too late to have a happy childhood," in the sense that within our hearts, minds and bodies exist the state of consciousness of the infant, the young child and all ages of being, and when we access these states of consciousness, we can get what we really need. One of the gifts of EKP is that we can create safety, make contact, and through the pathway of the emotion-body interface, reach into the "baby-back-there-then" and give him or her what s/he really needs in the here and now.

Many years ago, in a workshop I was leading, a participant suggested that we create a "cradling" ritual, where each member of the group had a chance to be held and cradled by all the other members of the group. Since it's easy to pick up an 8-month-old kitten or a 5-month old baby, in our own arms we have the capacity to provide an embrace. But when we have grown into adulthood and are bigger than even a big person's armspan, it takes a "village" to offer that same quality of holding space.

In the workshop, as we took turns cradling one another, many tears were shed. There is something magical about reaching in to the inner core--be it the adult-self or the infant-self--and being cradled and embraced. I could feel a softening in the room, as years of tension melted away, replaced by safety, rightness and peace. Together, we helped restore our cellular knowing that we are interconnected, that we matter, and that there can be places of safety and peace.

I have seen that this kind of deep reaching in and holding--emotionally and physically--is a powerful salve for depression. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have worked with who have suffered depression have not gotten their most essential early needs met. Helping restore a sense of rightness fills the void of emptiness and despair, and provides hope and possibility that even if life has its twists and turns, that fundamentally, we really will be okay.

For more information, check-out www.healingheartpower.com 

 From the Menu of the HeartSpace Cafe
 Love, Addiction and 'Dopamine on the Brain'

Tara Parker Pope is the Wall St. Journal's Health columnist. Her article, "Is It Love or Mental Illness? They're Closer Than you Think," sure got me thinking deeply.

She opens by saying, "At some point in life, most of us will face a potential major mental-health crisis. It is called love." She notes that recent studies of brain scans "show that being in love causes changes in the brain that are strikingly similar to serious health problems like drug addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder."

"Falling in love" may be a kind of addictive behavior, even though we have often not seen it that way. The "falling in love" model goes along with the image of needing another person to make you complete, where 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 whole, rather than a union of two already whol people, where 1+1=3 (partner 1, partner 2 and the relationship, being the third party in the equation).

When we "need" another to feel complete, "falling in love," becomes a way to fill the void, just like the substances and processes we become addicted to. Finding a love to "fill a void" is a sad motivation really. Perhaps this is why people feel so vulnerable and anxious when they open their hearts in the "falling in love model." In many ways, they are opening their hearts into a void, and that is dangerous.

I would rather open my heart into a space that will hold me or to a person who I know will be respectful, present, healthy and loving in return. I like to reality test the situation I am in as I open my heart. This take time over time with a person, and opening ones heart one step at a time, rather than in the dramatic, sudden and complete way of "falling in love."

"Falling" in love has always felt dangerous to me. The "falling" image of a person's heart standing on the edge of a high cliff, and willfully jumping off into the potential dangers of the valley below, has never been appealing to me. When you fall like that, you are likely to get hurt, if not killed. "Falling" in love also implies a lack of conscious participation. Something you "fall" into is not a conscious choice, but something that takes you or happens to you. Too, what you can "fall into," you can "fall out of."

Pope cites the work of Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, who has researched "love's impact on the brain":

"Dr. Fisher has studied love by looking at people's brain using magnetic imaging machines...Compared with..neutral photos, a lover's picture triggers the dopamine system in the brain--the same system associated with pleasure and addiction."

"Subjects dealing with failed relationships showed activity in their dopamine system--suggesting they maintained intense feelings for their loved one. But they also showed activity in brain regions associated with risk taking, controlling anger and obsessive-compulsive problems. Notably, the scans showed activity in one part of the brain linked with physical pain."

Given that many relationships end abruptly and dramatically, or very quietly, the result of years of words never spoken, essential conversations that have never taken place, it is not surprising that the ending of a relationship can evoke primal and irrational responses.

We lack the skills to work with our personal triggers, which inevitably arise in intimate relationships, and we also lack the skills to manage our triggers, both during the relationship and once it has ended. And so, the addictive, obsessive-compulsive quality to our brain chemistry, our feelings and sometimes our behavior.

Perhaps, if we gained more emotion-body awareness, and could have the essential conversations, feel our full range of feelings, learn to articulate our human needs, we would shift the dopamine pattern in our brains. Love from this place might have a different biochemical look and emotional feel.

I have grown to believe there is another way to enter the chamber of love, that is a more conscious and present progression. If two people feel a connection, find they have common values and interests, enjoy one another's company, why not together embark on a pathway of join one another in a space of loving and being loved? No falling required. More of a gentle walking forward--some on one's own and some side by side, slowing opening one's heart to the other, and together, building a special space of mutual love.

Doesn't sound as exciting as the sudden fall into romantic love? Perhaps it won't give you the "romantic hight" that parallels the brain chemistry of the drug addict. But I bet, if we studied the brain chemistry of two people consciously co-creating a space of mutual love, we'd see good things happening. If I can relax by meditating, listening to soothing music and being massaged, why would I ever want a cigarette, a pill or alcohol?

For more articles...and a chance to add your thoughts... 

 Heart Work for Kids, and Parents and Kids

I have been feeling moved to bring the tools, skills, concepts and experiences of EKP to kids for several years now. So much of the healing and learning we need to do as adults comes from the hurtful and missing experiences of our early life.

When my son was at his previous school, I proposed developing a curriculum called "Heartsmarts," helping kids learn about the wisdom and power of their hearts to cultivate emotional intelligence, self-knowledge, touch literacy, and relationship and communication skills. While the idea received an eager listening, sadly, the administration did not have the time/space to work with me to implement such a program.

I would like to find ways to bring EKP work to kids, and my experience is that middle school and high school kids are very ready to do this kind of work.

I would be very interested in your thoughts about the following questions:
  • What are some of the most difficult emotional, relationship and personal development issues 11- 19 year olds are facing today?
  • What are some of the most important issues parents and kids need to address together?
  • What emotional and communication skills do you think are most important for 11 -19 year olds to develop?
  • What emotional and communication skills do you think parents most need to develop?
  • What kinds of settings might be most receptive to offering EKP programs for kids or parents and kids? (i.e. Unitarian Churches, retreat centers, high school guidance counselors, college counseling centers, conferences, etc)
  • Is there anyone you know in such a setting that I might contact to explore the possibility of offering an EKP program for kids or parents and kids?
  • Would you be interested in being part of an advisory team who would provide feedback on the development of EKP programs for kids or parents and kids?

Please write to me at LSMHEART@aol.com with your thoughts, comments and ideas.

Thanks for your energy and involvement!

Find out more.... 

 Upcoming Groups, Workshops and Programs

I get lots of requests to speak or lead workshops in different parts of the country. While my abiltiy to travel is limited, when someone has the energy and desire to produce a program, I try my best to find a way to make it happen.
Thanks to a request from Joshua Tenpenny, I will be teaching a class at the Mt. Wachusetts Community College in Gardner, MA about body psychotherapy and specifically EKP in April.
And thanks to Babadez, I will be presenting at a Sacred Sexuality Conference in Sedona, AZ in May.

Want to make peace with money? Take part in The Money Class, a 6 week coaching class in Newton, starting this spring. The class provides an opportunity to look at your relationship with money, define your vision, work through blocks and obstacles, reinforce good habits, and take actions to realize your goals.
Class meets Thursdays from 8:45 - 10:45 am in Newton.
For more information contact LSMHEART@aol.com or call (617)965-7846.

For those of you who would like to be part of an EKP weekend retreat this fall, apprentice Gretchen Stecher is organizing a Healing the Traumatized Heart retreat November 16 - 18 on the Cape. Contact LSMHEART@aol.com or gwild7@verizon.net for more information.

EKP opportunities in Newton include:
  • On-going Tuesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group
  • On-going Thursday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group
  • On-going Sunday EKP Monthly Process Group

To find out more.... 

 About Linda

Linda Marks, MSM, is pioneer in body psychotherapy who has developed, taught and practiced Emotional-Kinesthetic Psychotherapy (EKP) for more than two decades. 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!