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

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This past month, two themes seemed to have emerged very poignantly in my travels. The first is an increasing sense of isolation people are feeling while increasingly "hooked up" technologically. The second, and more hopeful theme, is individual people who have created inspired projects that allow them to reach out to others and be "part of the solution" rather than simply feeling powerless amidst society's challenges.

Having traveled to Indiana in July with my 11-year- old son Alex, to visit my best friend, Brenda, it was very interesting hearing many of the same themes that have emerged in Boston conversations. I had the opportunity to watch Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko" in Indianapolis as well as Boston, and watch the parallel audience response in both cities.

So, it is no surprise I have chosen to include articles in this newsletter that build on these themes. Bridging the Isolation: Making Face-to-Face Connections in Our Technological World looks at the deeper hunger so many of us have to sit across the lunch table from a dear friend or even a new friend-to-be, instead of just reaching out and tapping the keyboard for hours on end. Part of the Solution: People Making A Difference highlights three local innovators who are creatively addressing social challenges. And finally, Health Care For All: America's Broken Social Infrastructure looks at how Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko" actually touches on more than just our health care problems.

In future issues, I hope to highlight other people and projects that are making a difference and helping to create a more healthful, heartful world for all. Your comments and contributions are welcome, as always.

The Tuesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group is actively seeking new members for September. If you would like the opportunity to do deep, healing, heartfelt work in a safe committed group, this is a wonderful place to do it. The group meets from 7:15 - 9:45 pm in Newton. An interview and one EKP session are required to apply. Please contact me at (617)965-7846 or LSMHEART@aol.com.

The Thursday night group also has room for new members of both genders.

The EKP Cape Retreat November 16 -18 promises to be a nourishing experience for all. For more information, contact Gretchen Stecher at gwild7@verizon.net.

And finally, if you are interested in being part of a HeartSmarts emotional literacy workshop for kids or parents and kids, let me know at LSMHEART@aol.com.

Heartfully, Linda

 Bridging the Isolation
 Making Face-to-Face Contact in Our Technological World

Perhaps it is just a fact of modern life that so many of us spend so many hours each day alone, sitting in front of computers, talking on cellphones or listening to iPods in the intimate comfort of our own personal space. Since I am self-employed and work out of a home office, having contact with people other than my clients and my son's friends often requires a Herculean scheduling effort.

As someone who has always been a "hub of the network" type person, an organizer, a community- builder, it has been very humbling to realize how "out of touch" I often feel, in spite of the massive number of e- mails that go in and out of my AOL account each day.

Yet what has been even more striking is how prevalent this feeling of isolation seems to be. In the past several weeks, I have had the good fortune of sitting across the luncheon table first, with a long- term colleague and then, with a long-term friend. I traveled to Indiana and shared 24-7 time with my son and best friend--and met her family and network of friends. Upon returning to Boston, I attended a gathering of people all interested in meaningful connections with other people. In all of these different venues, there has been a common conversational thread: very warm, connective, intelligent people expressing how isolated they feel, and how much they miss the face-to-face connection that used to be more common in past decades.

Recently, I had lunch with a body psychotherapy colleague, who I used to work closely with in the late 1980's and early 1990's. We met as we grew the nation's first state body psychotherapy professional association. We spent hours together with some other wonderful, dedicated colleagues doing ground-breaking work, including writing a very thoughtful Code of Ethics, and gathering together our colleagues into a community body. It was quite sobering to realize how few of those colleagues we had actually been in touch with over the past 10 years.

So, we hatched an idea: why not try to find a handful of our colleagues, and invite them to get together to connect and reconnect over a potluck lunch--even once. And maybe, with a bit of luck, we might have the beginnings of a quarterly lunch group that could meet for conversations, connection and community.

Searching google to find these colleagues became an interesting journey of its own. Many of my colleagues have welcomed the invitation to gather with others they too have lost touch with.

I realized when a call was put out for classmates to join the team to organize my 25th grad school reunion, I got excited. I jumped at the opportunity to have contact with my classmates, many of whom I spent special time with so many years ago. In my heart of hearts, I hoped most everyone would attend our reunion. Alas, I learned that with the passing of time and the busyness of people's lives, only a fraction of my classmates could attend. When the reunion took place in June, I was delighted that one of my favorite classmates had flown in from Minnesota. Not only did we enjoy connecting at the dinner, but also I was able to have him join me and my son for lunch the next day.

I realize how important it is to have the continuity of connection with people who have been part of my life along the way. And I hear again and again how everyone struggles with keeping up connections, finding the time for face-to-face relating, while juggling all of life's responsibilities.

Sometimes it amazes me how many times in a day, a week or a month I hear people speak of their isolation, and their hopelessness that they will ever come of out their personal wilderness and have the kind of connections they really yearn for deep down inside. So many of us become resigned to "the way it is" or that we "have to go it alone" just because that is such a strong thread in modern day life.

So, I look for the small ways I can make a difference for myself and for the people in my life--bringing people together, picking up the phone, initiating a meeting or a gathering. And I am very grateful when I received an invitation, a phone call, an outreach from someone also trying to build a bridge across the great divide of our separate lives.

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

 Part of the Solution
 People Making a Difference

Iraq Weedflower So many of the issues we face today seem overwhelming and out of our reach. I don't know anyone who supports the war in Iraq, yet who has the power to stop it? The cost of homeownership, college tuition, health insurance and health care, the likelihood that most Americans will never reach a point of financial security to "retire," the growing gap between the "ruling class" and "everyone else".... This list gets very long.

Living in an era better known for its leadership vacuum than its visionary leaders, as I wrote about in the May HealingHeartPower newsletter, I think it is particularly powerful to spotlight individuals who are finding ways to be part of the solution to our individual and collective challenges.

Keith Washington (whose Iraqi weedflower painting is depicted above to the left), Glenn Koenig and Trish Blain are three such individuals, who are making a difference through their visionary efforts.

Keith Washington, Painter as Peace Activist

In February 2005, Keith Washington, an assistant professor of Studio Art Foundations at Massachusetts College of Art and a Painter, journeyed to Iraq as part of the Christian Peacemaker Team. "The Christian Peacemaker Team is a small non-government, Quaker organization that is truly the vanguard for peace in conflict and war zones throughout the world," comments Keith. "Individuals are willing to, and often do, risk their lives for non-violent conflict resolution."

"The inspiration to go to Iraq came out of my personal frustation with what I felt was the ineffectiveness of the anti-war movement, but also feeling it wasnt enough for me to go down to Government Center and protest the war. I felt it was important for me to take my American privilege and put it on the line: to stand in solidarity with the citizens of Iraq."

Keith had been thinking about the beauty and potential meaning of flowers as a metaphor for both human beings as individuals and for peace. "I was curious to see what the flowers were like. I imagined that I would see flowers that had been trampled by boots or were at the edge of bomb craters."

Keith came up with the name, "A Rose By Any Other Name: Flowers of Conflict," for his project.

When Keith went to Iraq, spring had not yet broken. He visited three mass graves that were from the aftermath of the George HW Bush war. "I ended up documenting the weeds that were growing on top of the three mass graves. Being there was very moving," reflects Keith.

After Keith got home and started working on the images, the violence escalated. "After I had completed two or three dozen paintings, they looked like pretty flowers. No apparent emotional charge. And certainly not equivalent to the way Iraqi violence had escalated," he notes.

So, the project went on hold. As Keith was looking through his files of images, he can across one image of a group of three flowers, that in his mind, does have the emotional charge. "I decided to paint one image a hundred times, and incorporate it in a large painting of one of the mass graves. This painting portrays the futility of this particular human activity. Maybe flowers can represent an alternative path."

Keith hopes to show his work in March 2008, the 5th anniversary of the war, and to title it "May every flower be a mediation for peace."

You can reach Keith at liminalx@aol.com

Glenn Koenig, Deciphering Massachusetts' New Health Insurance Law

As a self-employed individual without health insurance, Glenn Koenig, like many other Massachusetts residents, found himself in a quandry when a new state law requiring health insurance for all residents came into effect on July 1. A database consultant, who also works as a filmmaker, Glenn decided he better research exactly what the law meant, so he would know how to respond. He realized that the information he was unearthing would be valuable to others as well, so he made a DVD entitled, "Insurance, the Commonwealth and You."

As he opens his DVD, Glenn remarks that it feels a bit like a 12-step meeting, where he could introduce himself by saying, "I'm Glenn and I'm uninsured." He reflects that his house and its contents are insured. So is his car. Yet, he has not had health insurance for four years. And that perhaps the name "health insurance" is a misnomer.

Glenn feels "medical insurance" is a more accurate name for this mandatory coverage, since "an insurance company can't insure I'll be healthy." Too, he believes that health includes spiritual, emotional, nutritional and physical dimensions, as well as medical, and in reality "only a fraction of these are covered by medical insurance."

Glenn reflects, "An insurance company cannot insure I'll be healthy. It can help pay for costs if I need treatment. My health is ultimately my responsibility."

In his DVD, Glenn explores "what does this new law mean to a wide variety of people?" Josh Tobin of the Insurance Partnership, a government agency that helps small businesses and self-employed individuals, and Kathy Bitetti of the Artists' Foundation, a non-profit, join him in the dialogue, along with members of his studio audience.

To dialogue with a real human being about the new law, your personal insurance situation and your options, Glenn and his panelists identify the Health Care For All Help-Line (800)272-4232, and website www.hcfama.org, as useful resources.

All in all, this DVD provides a good overview of the new law, its implications, language and complexities, and where to turn for help in figuring out what to do about it.

You can reach Glenn at www.openeyesvideo.com or video@openeyesvideo.com.

Trish Blain, Growing Connections

A social entrepreneur who has owned seven businesses at the forefront of social change, including an environmental products store in 1989, Trish Blain always had an interest in creating places for like-minded people to gather together. "When I ran the Whole Health Expo, we created 'community badges' so people could connect based on common interests and needs. The community badges were linked to a website where an individual's information could be linked back to their badge."

"While not everyone was ready to tap in to the technology part, a lot of meaningful connections were made simply through the badges and the information they contained."

Over time, Trish realized that "to effect change, we need people of different specialties coming together to create cross-pollination. This is moving beyond 'preaching to the converted.'"

When she moved to Boston from Northampton, a place where she knew lots of people and met new people who came into her store, Trish noticed how challenging it was to meet people. "When I lived in Ireland for a year, you could just sit in a pub and meet people. In Europe, people go to cafes to meet people. Here, I would go to Starbucks to be among people, but everyone was on their own--at their own table, working on their own computer. It was very different."

Realizing many people felt the same way, Trish began envisioning a physical building that would serve as a kind of club--a new kind of community social center with a restaurant, bar and cafe, flexible office and meeting space and event facility. Her club is the Connections center, and builds on her dual vision of providing a place where people can meet face to face enhanced by the possibilities of connecting using webtechnology.

"We are now working on building a team to bring the concept into physical form," notes Trish. "We have a physical building. There is a building development team, a business team working on structuring investments and pursuing financing, a conference planning team and a membership team. The Connections center will be open to the public, but will also have a membership component, Members will be given priority in renting the space, and will have a multi-faceted web presence for themselves and their business."

Connections will be hosting some initial events over the next few months. For more information, contact Trish at growconnections@gmail.com to get on the mailing list.

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

 Health Care For All?
 America's Broken Social Infrastructure

I have now seen Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko," three times. The first time, I went by myself, more than curious to see how this courageous documentary filmmaker was tackling one of the most important, yet broken systems in this country: the health care industry. I was so moved by the messages in the film, that I returned to see it again, first with my 11-year-old son Alex, and then with Alex, my best friend Brenda and her friend Jene during our vacation in Indiana. I would love to view it, yet again, with a group people, followed by a deeper conversation about America's broken social infrastructure.

You see,while Michael Moore's film is not only a very powerful and moving portrait of how broken the American health care system is (it delivers neither health nor care, and is really the "medical industry"), but also a clear depiction of how broken so many other social systems are in our culture.

It is no wonder that Americans have shorter life spans than Canadians, Brits, the French and Cubans--all of whose health care systems and social services systems are presented in the film. The "me, me, me" profit-motivated, ugly American way of life depletes the soul, isolates us and kills us. I found myself in tears as I watched some of the people the film chronicled, including three 9/11 "heroes" go to Cuba to get the health care they could not attain or afford in this country--and receive REAL help.

And because Moore's portrait delved more deeply into the way people lived--from the cost of housing, maternity benefits and help when a child is born, to education and social catchment systems for people in crisis--it was clear that other countries have a much deeper reaching sense of "community" and "we."

Moore's own Canadian relatives were afraid to set foot on American soil without health insurance to protect them from the threat of the liquidation of their life's assets in a heartbeat, should some medical crisis happen. In contrast, the many Americans profiled who set foot on foreign soil, were treated with respect--as valuable human beings in need of health and care. And they were treated with no personal financial risk. It was very powerful hearing foreign physician after foreign physician assert they could not possibly put financial considerations ahead of their patients' health and well-being.

An interview by Moore of a former member of Parliament was very powerful. He talked about how American people are beaten down by fear and disrespect. They become disspirited and powerless. People are afraid of the government, since it exerts a power over them. In France, the government is afraid of the people! While we preach the gospel of "freedom" and "the American dream" we are actually prisoners of the American nightmare. But as we stay isolated in our little cubicles, trying to survive, we cannot see the forest from the trees, or more likely, the bricks from the pavement.

In a culture where basics like education, healthcare and housing are not birthrights, but instead expensive commodities that can break one's financial back for life, people cave under the weight of just trying to survive. In France, people are required to take at least 5 weeks of vacation and work 35 hours each week. If a person works more hours, they are given more time off!

In America, too many people work 12 or even 16 hour days, 6 or 7 days per week. Vacation time sits unused. In fact, the work culture says it is politically incorrect to take time off. Even unsafe. It may reflect badly on your work ethic if you take a vacation.

After seeing the sincere sense of connection amongst the French, the Canadians, the Brits and the Cubans, and the way they were able to reach out and embrace their American visitors, I felt a longing to live in a society that was built on a foundation of providing for all of our most basic needs.

Dog Eat Dog Productions made the film. I am afraid, I don't know many dogs that would be as heartless, cold and calculating as too many human beings-- Americans in all fields of endeavor. Upholding a broken system asks that you break or be broken. Doctors overseas respeatedly echoed the message, "I would never want to work in a system in which I was required to deny care to people in need."

We need more visionaries like Michael Moore and Al Gore, who are not afraid to look a tough issues head on, and thoughtfully bring the facts to the masses, so we have a prayer of crawling out of our collective pot of boiling water alive.

Share your thoughts... 

 Upcoming Groups, Workshops and Programs

The Tuesday and Thursday night EKP Body Psychotherapy 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.

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... 

The Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network is currently developing its programming for the 2007-2008 season. Visit www.sexspirit.net later this month for our new schedule.