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

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Over the past 6 months I have felt more and more compelled to address some of the issues happening in the world around us, all of which impact both our inner and our most personal relational lives.

My best friend, Brenda, first called my attention to the commentary of Lou Dobbs, and I felt I had struck gold when I read his powerful book, WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS. In his book, he named a lot of what I had been observing, supporting it with statistics and facts.

In the last month, two more articles have crossed my path, thanks to Doug Wilson, the director of my favorite retreat center, Rowe Camp and Conference Center, and the source of amazing, relevant articles on what is happening in our larger world.

"Leave No Child Inside" by Richard Louv and "Iacocca: Where Have All the Leaders Gone?"--an excerpt from Lee Iacocca's new book, form the backbone of the articles in this issue of the HealingHeartPower newsletter, along with Dobbs' WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS. When we live in an oppressive environment, we feel the toll on our bodies and hearts. It is time to break the cultural veil of silence and speak to these issues, thoughtfully and heartfully.

In addition to offering my reflections on "Creating Life From Our Leadership Vacuum," "Reconnecting Children and Nature" and Iacocca's principals for emerging leadership, I invite you to write to me with your thoughts. Share them at the HeartSpace Cafe (www.heartspacecafe.com/blog/) or e-mail them to me at LSMHEART@aol.com.

If you wish to participate in EKP, both my on-going groups (Tuesday nights 7:15 - 9:45 pm and Thursday nights 7 - 9 pm) have room for prospective members.

I am still 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 thanks to all of you who responded to my call for input on bringing this work to children. I am now reflecting on what kinds of programs to put together and where to bring them.

EKP apprentice Gretchen Stecher continues to work on organizing an EKP retreat on the Cape. If you would like to support her efforts, know people on the Cape, professionals who might want to know about this work, etc, please contact her at gwild7@verizon.net. Thanks for being part of my community!

Heartfully, Linda

 Creating Life From Our Leadership Vacuum

As a child, I remember hearing the phrase, "no life grows in a vacuum" in science class. That phrase called my attention. As I have been looking around at what is unfolding in the lives of the people whose paths I cross through my work, friendships, parenting and just through the course of daily life, I have been really struck by the leadership vacuum that seems so front and center, yet unspoken in our country right now.

I am not generally a "political type." I am more more focused on the lives, health and connections of the people I know, and of building and sustaining community. Yet, the state of things in our immediate world and the larger world around us directly impacts our lives, our health, our ability to make and sustain connections, and the presence or absence of a sense of larger community.

What I have been observing for many years is an increasing list of demands in the lives of most everyone I know, be they young or old, single or partnered, living alone or living with others. You name their profession: scientist, teacher, small business owner, musician, corporate employee, personal trainer or even school-age child, both work and daily life demand more and more, while the 24 hours in a day remain constant. This means more and more stress, less and less down-time, more difficulty for even the most organized person to stay on top of the many layers and levels of life to be managed, and more overwhelm for the less-than-most-organized person.

In the face of these kinds of demands, organizing groups of people is much harder, attempting to keep regular rhythms of contact with friends and loved ones becomes more and more challenging, and once essential rituals too easily disappear or fall away.

As people run faster and harder, just trying to keep things together and survive the demands of their daily lives, it is easy not to notice, not to think about or not to have the time, space or energy to figure out what to do about the breakdown of many of the structures and systems that surround our lives.

I don't know anyone who favors, never mind supports, the War in Iraq, the presidential style of George Bush, the high cost of housing in the Northeast, the growing costs of health insurance coupled with the difficulty of access to health care, the cost and inequity of the legal system, the prevalence of violence in the headlines, be in on the streets of Boston or on the campus at Virginia Tech.

Yet, how do we change any or all of this? Where do we begin? And how do we find the time to even think about the solutions, never mind to act?

In his important book, WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS, Lou Dobbs reflects what George Bush has asserted in his two presidential campaigns, that America has become "the ownership society," is true. And sadly, this "ownership society" is one of oppression for the majority of Americans. Dobbs writes, "America has become a society owned by corporations and a political system dominated by corporate and special interests and directed by elites who are hostile--or at best indifferent--to the interests of working men and women of the middle class and their families."

While for almost two hundred years, we had a "government of the people," Dobbs sees we now have a "government of corporations," and "the consent of the governed in now little more than a quaint rubric of our Declaration of Independence, honored as a perfunctory exercise in artifice, and practiced every two to four years in midterm and presidential elections in which only half of our eligible voters go to the polls."

Dobbs continues, "There is almost no countervailing influence in our society to mitigate even at the margins, the awesome and all but total corporate ownership of our political system. Labor unions are nearing extinction, and those that survive are in the midst of internal leadership struggles to find relevance in economy and our society...Most alarmingly, our federal government has become so dysfunctional that it no longer serves well the needs of the people, nor do our elected officials assert the good against the power of money and capital."

Long and short, we are in big trouble. We are at the mercy of an oppressive system that we have silently or unconsciously colluded in creating through powerlessness, lack of information, and lack of access to leverage points for change. Like a bunch of frogs in a pot of water on a stove, living in the trance of trying to stay afloat in our daily lives, we didn't know that someone turned on the flame and we are slowing boiling to our deaths. We just haven't had the time and energy to notice, never mind act.

This has been on my mind for a long time, so it was fortuitous to receive an excerpt from Lee Iacocca's new book WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE? in an e-mail from the director of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, Doug Wilson. Iacocca is on the same page as Lou Dobbs, and he is taking the message a step further. As he calls things the way he sees them, he is mad. Outraged, in fact. And he is challenging us to wake up and find our outrage as well. Existing silently as we try to survive doesn't grow awareness of what is actually going on.

He writes, "Had enough? Am I the only guy in the country who is fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, 'Stay the course.' Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic...You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up."

He goes further, "I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks..." who he'd love to leave the rage to if he could only "pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention." We voted for the "crowd in Washington," but "we didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason." Iacocca calls this a "dictatorship not a democracy."

Iacocca identifies nine characteristics of a leader, and illustrates how they are all sadly missing in our current president. He challenges us all to take action. "You don't get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for someone else to take action. Whether it's building a better car or building a better future for our children, we have a role to play."

Just like Al Gore's wake up call, bringing our attention to Global Warming, Iacocca is issuing a wake up call to stop silently losing ourselves in our daily grind and to come forward, join together and make a change.

How refreshing to see people break through the wall of silence perpetuated by the news media and its lack of objective journalism. Lou Dobbs, Lee Iacocca and Al Gore have each grabbed hold of some critical information, felt the fire in their belly, and come forward to speak, act and move others to do the same, regardless of whether others like what they have to say. In my eyes, this is true leadership, and something we are hungry for.

Perhaps, by speaking to the leadership vacuum in this newsletter right now, I am beginning to find a way to follow suit. I have wanted to speak and act. But it has been hard to know where to begin. Getting our inner lives in order can be fruitless when we are sinking on the Titanic.

We need to each find the facts that will fuel the fire in our bellies, feel the impact of our local and global context on our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and come together to make a change. We may not have the road map. But with passion, a vision of what needs to change, and collaboration with other good people, we can, in time, find a way.

I invite you to write to me at LSMHEART@aol.com with your reactions to this article, the larger context I am writing about, and your thoughts and ideas about what kinds of actions we might take--large and small.

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

 Leave No Child Inside
 Reconnecting Children and Nature

I am not much for AM radio. However, Red Sox baseball games are broadcast on AM radio stations, so my car radio is often tuned in during baseball season.

One afternoon this week, I started my car, with the baseball station on, and heard a talk radio host make a comment that really caught my attention. He was talking about how kids never play outside anymore. And that when he was growing up, kids spent time running around on a green thing called a "playground."

He then translated what this meant for his younger listeners. "A playground when I was a kid is a lot like what playing Nintendo DS is for you. It was a lot of fun. It was something we did every day and with our friends. But it involved a lot more moving around, and it was outside."

Wow! To think that one would need to offer a technical definition of a playground! And then to realize that kids today are not OUTSIDE playing in the yard or at the playground, but INSIDE playing their techno-videogames in front of a screen.

Videogames, be they the handheld portable variety or the wired versions requiring a living room and a tv, are now a universal language of play and downtime for so many kids. And playgrounds are used for recess at school, should the child attend a school that still has a playground, or for organized practices of team sports like soccer and baseball.

When my son and his best friend go outside to kick the soccer ball around or play basketball with the hoop in the driveway, I realize the airwaves are kid-silent. It is only the laughs and conversations of the two boys I hear. There must be other kids around in the neighborhood. But are they all inside?

You can imagine my amazement as I read Richard Louv's article, "Leave No Child Inside: The Growing Movement to Reconnect Children and Nature." The very thought that children of all people have gotten so disconnected from the natural world is horrifying to me. Yet, as I thought about it more, I realized what Louv was saying was true.

"Within the space of a few decades, the way children understand and experience their neighborhoods and the natural world has changed radically. Even as children and teenagers become more aware of global threats to the environment, their physical contact, their intimacy with nature is fading. As one suburban fifth grader put it to me, in what has become the signature epigram of the children-and-nature movement: 'I like to play indoors betters 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are.'"

As housing developments have snatched up what once were woods and open pieces of land, fear of "stranger danger" and increasing traffic has kept kids off of the neighborhood streets, homework demands has minimized "downtime," and television and computers have become competing forces in the shrinking pie of "play" time, "urban, suburban and even rural parents" can all list the myriad reasons "why their children spend less time in nature than they did themselves."

Louv states, "In a typical week, only 6 percent of children ages nine to thirteen play outside on their own. Studies by the National Sporting Goods Association and by American Sports Data, a research firm, show a dramatic decline in the past decade in such outdoor activities as swimming and fishing. Even bike riding is down 31 percent since 1995.

What are we doing to our children? In his book LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS, Louv coins the term "nature-deficit disorder." Harvard professor E.O. Wilson's "biophilia hypothesis" states that we as human beings are innately attracted to nature. Louv writes, "We are still hunters and gatherers, and there is something in us, which we do not fully understand, that needs an occassional immersion in nature. We do know that when people talk about the disconnect between children and nature--if they are old enough to remember a time when outdoor play was the norm--they almost always tell stories about their own childhoods: this tree house or fort, that special woods or ditch or creek or meadow. They recall those 'places of initiation,' in the words of naturalist Bob Pyle, where they may have first sensed with awe and wonder the largeness of the world, seen and unseen."

This gets at the very essence of being human and being interconnected, not alone. "When people share these stories, their cultural, political and religious walls come tumbling down."

While there are risks in the larger world, there are also risks "in raising children under virtual protective house arrest: threats to independent judgment and value of place, to their ability to feel awe and wonder, to their sense of stewardship for the Earth."

There are also threats to their psychological and physiological health and wellbeing. I have worked with countless clients who as children, found safety and sanity in the natural world, finding refuge from an abusive or neglectful household. Where are today's children to go? For even adults suffering from depression, connecting with nature can be a salve for the spirit and soul. Connecting with nature is part of our self-care, and an essential way to move from isolation to connection with a larger whole. How can we teach our children this kind of emotional and spiritual self-care, if we don't ignite their innate sensibilities?

The media is full of articles on the increasing incidence of childhood obesity and its long-term potential impact on the health of the next generation. If kids can't go outside and run around or take a walk in the woods, sitting in front of the tv eating junk foods fills up their time and as my son says, "kills their brain cells."

In addition to our health and personal survival, Louv goes further about the importance of reconnecting children and nature for our survival as human beings. "The outdoor experiences of children are essential for the survival of conservation. And so the truth is that the human child in nature may be the most important indicator of future species sustainability."

Louv continues, "If society embraces something as simple as the health benefits of nature experiences for children, it may begin to re-evaluate the worth of 'the environment.'" Instead of associating environmental health with the absence of toxic pollution, public health officials can have a more positive spin on their work: "how the environment can improve human health."

"Seen through this doorway, nature isn't a problem: it's the solution." Who can imagine being a member of "the last generation to pass on to its children the joy of playing outside in nature?"

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

 Lee Iacocca's Nine C's of Leadership

In his book, WHERE HAVE ALL THE LEADERS GONE?, Lee Iacocca lists nine qualities he feels every true leader should have. Here they are:

1. CURIOSITY: A leader needs to look and listen to see what is going on in the world around him/her. Hearing different points of view, putting his/her beliefs to the test and seeing how they play out in real life, and being willing to not know are all essential.

2. CREATIVITY: Iacocca feels a leader needs to think outside the box. "Leadership is all about managing change, whether you are leading a company or leading a country. Things change and you get creative. You adapt."

3. COMMUNICATION: Iacocca defines communication as "facing reality and telling the truth." Too much denial and dishonesty masquerade as "communication" or "information." "Communication has to start with telling the truth, even when it's painful."

4. CHARACTER: "Knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the guts to do the right thing," is how Iacocca defines this characteristic.

5. COURAGE: Whether you call it "balls," or "ovaries," for Iacocca, "courage is a commitment to sit down at the negotiating table and talk." This means straight talk, not bravado or tough talk.

6. CONVICTION: This means passion, a fire in your belly. "You've got to really want to get something done." And it includes doing what it takes to get that something done. Whatever it takes.

7. CHARISMA: Iacocca isn't talking about the tv/media glitz of being flashy. "Charisma is the quality that makes people want to follow you. It's the ability to inspire." Inspiration comes when there is a message worth listening to and heeding, and when the messenger embodies the spiritual aspects of the message.

8. COMPETENCE: While you might think this is a no brainer, it is surprising how many people in leadership positions are NOT competent. Competence is not just knowing what needs to be done, but also surrounding yourself with people who know what they are doing.

9. COMMON SENSE: This is different from sound bites that sound good. Iacocca quotes Bill Clinton, "I grew up in an alcoholic home. I spent half my childhood trying to get into a reality-based world, and I like it here."

Find out more.... 

 Upcoming Groups, Workshops and Programs

The Tuesday and Thursday night EKP Bodypsychotherapy Groups both have room for new members. The Tuesday night group meets from 7:15 - 9:45 pm in Newton. The Thursday night group meets from 7:00 - 9:00 pm in Newton. Both groups are mixed gender. One interview/EKP session is required to apply for membership in either group. The groups are on-going,committed groups. A minimum 6 month commitment is required to join.

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, apprentice Gretchen Stecher is organizing a Healing the Traumatized Heart retreat 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!