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

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This newsletter arrives as summer draws to a close and the school year begins. Having been in Santa Fe and Maine during August, writing this newsletter has been quite the logistical challenge. Away from my computer, from e-mail and the technotools I have come to depend on, I have turned to pad and paper to write articles the old-fashioned, pre-technology way.

The experience has felt both fulfilling and disjointed. The good news being that my writing can follow me wherever I am. The bad news being the short windows of time to input my handwritten notes, run drafts by the people I've interviewed and then get everything onto this template. All very grounding and perspective- building.

The articles this month include a look at how in our culture today we are perhaps, not entirely consciously, redefining our basic needs in What Are Our Basic Needs: Redefining Food, Clothing and Shelter, and two profiles of people making a difference in their local communities and in the larger world: my graduate school friend and colleage Luigi Sison Cooking As Connection: Feeding Body and Soul, and Spirit of Change's founder and publisher Carol Bedrosian, Making Connections Locally and Globally: Spirit of Change Magazine at 20 Years.

Your comments and contributions are welcome, as always.

The Tuesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group is actively seeking one or two new female members. 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.

And the monthly EKP Process group that meets from 2:30 - 5:30 pm one Sunday a month, has room for one or two new members.

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

 What Are Our Basic Needs?
 Redefining Food, Clothing and Shelter

Recently, in one of my EKP groups, a very interesting thread of conversation emerged about food, clothing and shelter. As the conversation unfolded, I came to realize that in our culture today, how we have come to understand food, clothing and shelter is very different than when I was growing up. This difference was underscored poignantly as I recently spent some time with Native Americans in the Southwest.

When I think of the words, "food, clothing and shelter," I think of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "Food, clothing and shelter" are at the bottom of the pyramid of needs for life, providing the foundation, our most essential needs. "Self-actualization" is at the very top--the icing on the cake when all other basic needs are satisfied.

When I was growing up, food was something you bought at the grocery store and then prepared and cooked at home. When I had a chance to go to a farm, as I learned how to milk a cow or tend to vegetable plants, I got to see where food "really came from."

As a child, I spent a lot of hours gardening and growing vegetables in my backyard. Clothing was something I learned how to sew from McCall's or Simplicity patterns in Home Economics class or something one could purchases at stores like Sears or Filene's Basement. The goal was to take care of whatever clothes I made or purchased, so they would last a long time. And plenty of kids provided or received "hand me downs."

Shelter was a simple, yet sufficient home. In the 1950's and 1960's, ranch and Cape Cod style houses were built, and served as the warm vessel for home and hearth.

I have found, over the years, that in some ways I have become a dinosaur, an anachronysm, as the practices associated with food, clothing ahd shelter have changed drastically, in our "crazybusy" commerical culture. I still prepare home-cooked meals every day and grow vegetables in my garden. I have come to see how rare this is. When my son was in pre-school, he had a friend over for dinner. I had made a home-cooked dinner, and my son's friend didn't recognize any of what was on the table. Steamed vegetables. Cut fruit. A carefully prepared entree.

The boy exclaimed, "What is this food? What we have at home is Chinese take-out, KFC or McDonald's." I explained what I had prepared, and the boy said, "My mom never makes home-cooked meals." I guess that was one of my first initiations.

Recently, I heard someone comment, "Dinner means I give someone a twenty dollar bill, and they give something back to me." With the burgeoning of prepared foods and restaurants of every possible cuisine imagineable, "food" for many of us is something someone else prepares, and we purchase to eat--either in or out of the home. The cost of prepared food can be much greater than the cost of a home-cooked meal. But time has become even more precious than money in many circumstances. And when both time and money are scarce, the quality of food one can have diminuishes.

And then, there is clothing... About eight years ago, a friend of mine who was going through a divorce asked if she could stay with me for a few months while she transitioned and figured out her next steps. I said, "Yes." So, in moved my friend, along with her extensive wardrobe.

At first, I was taken aback. One day when I went to her house to help her move, I saw that she had filled an entire room with clothes. I soon discovered, that was only the first course on her menu. She had filled two walk-in closets, a bathroom, and the bedroom she shared with her soon to be ex-husband. How could she fit all of those clothes in the spacious, but nonetheless, solo bedroom she would be staying in at my house?

My friend decided to put half her clothes in storage, delegate her second tier choices to my basement, bought a special armoire to supplement the brimmingly full closet, and considered herself "roughing it." As someone with an eye for fashion, my friend thought she had just what she needed to be "current."

Then, came the woman who had a great corporate job and a six figure income, but never enough money. A major woe for her was that she spent a fortune on clothing, because once she had worn an outfit a couple of times, it was time to throw it out and buy a new one. I was, once again, surprised, feeling at the very least naive, and perhaps even Polyannaish. I asked her why she didn't wash her clothes or take them to the dry cleaners. She replied that would be too much work. In her busy life, it was just easier to buy new clothes. And besides, they'd always look fresh.

I recently learned from a man working in the corporate world, that even though his best intention is to dry clean some of his expensive professional suits, some sort of coating is put on the fabric that breaks down at the dry cleaners. So, in essence, he has little choice but to wear the suit til it is dirty, and then throw it out and buy a new one.

In each of these cases, the definition of "clothing" is so different than what I ever imagined it might be, and what is "necessary" to have "enough" feels wasteful at many levels--be it through people's definition of what "being okay" or "professional" or "current" means...or even through the planned obsolescence that comes with clothes that aren't made to last--but rather to break down.

And finally, there is shelter. Chances are you know what's going to come next. In my town, even in my neighborhood, so many of those cozy, homey ranches and capes have been torn down in favor of today's MacMansion.

On my own street, just a handfull of years after I moved into my house, a lot of land was sold to a real estate baron. Suddenly a gigantic two-family unit was constructed, that didn't fit in with the character of this Victorian-lined "historic district" location. Several years later, the same folks who sold the parcel of land, most likely in a time of financial difficulty, sold a tiny strip of land in back of their house, moved their carriage house onto the adjacent street to become a garage and allowed a tall, thin luxury two- condominium structure to reach into the sky. A copper beach tree that was hundreds of years old was lost in the process. But a lot of money was to be made and spent by real estate developers and consumers of luxury condos. I was very sad.

That took place a number of years ago, and seems tame compared to the 10,000 square foot home the parents of someone in my son's school now live in, having torn down a perfectly good 1950's home and built their MacMansion. Do these huge homes really provide shelter? And if so, from what? Surely not the same elements the Native American folks I spent time with were referring to.

As someone who still sees the merit in the definition of "basic needs" I came to understand as a child, I find it scary and overwhelming to see our "supersized," "crazybusy," "commodity-based" new definitions of these essentials. I think the essence of our basic needs gets lost in the "packaging" of what we feel pulled to "consume." Perhaps another kind of empty calories, translated beyond the realm of food and nutrition?

Can we find more meaningful ways to "feed," "clothe" and "shelter" ourselves, and even enrich these concepts to include true nourishment, protection and expression, and home/hearth?

Share your thoughts: 

 Cooking As Connection
 Feeding Body and Soul

Luigi Sison, 52, lives in Northfield, Minnesota. We met in graduate school more than 25 years ago. We had a lot in common then. And it's funny how it works with some people, that with the passage of time, our common threads remain and have grown. One of our common threads is cooking. But not just ordinary utilitarian cooking. Rather, cooking that creates connection, bringing people together and nourishes body and soul.

"When I came from the Phillipines to go to Sloan, I had been used to home-cooked meals every day. My family support was now gone. I was on my own. To maintain my standard of living, I needed to learn to cook. I was fortunate. Julia Child was on PBS. And I lived in a house with other students and needed to cook for them once a week."

Over time Luigi found his love of cooking encompassed more than just preparing community meals. "Because cooking means more than eating, it opens up a whole host of other things. First, there is the element of culture. Food has a context in the people who prepare it. Second, there is economics. In preparing food, you are part of a value chain from the farmer to the table. You become part of the chain from the people who produce the food to the people who consume it."

"Third, cooking is an art form. I look at cooking like the performing arts. It is temporary: here now, then gone. Lots of elements go into cooking. The final product appeals to multiple senses, just like a performance would. Fourth is community service. I work for the natural foods coop in my town and do regular food demonstrations there. I interact with parts of the community and am now part of many people's lives. I ask them what's for dinner. They ask me questions about aesthetics and economics. It's a connection."

"When I am aware of where I am in the food chain, I educate others to. Coops are known for having more expensive food. I can explain in the context of the chain why the eggs are more expensive. This builds awareness about the people who raise the food for us and who serve us."

Fifth, cooking provides Luigi an opportunity to do things with his 15 year old son. "We cook together and do food demonstrations together. We do cooking classes for his peers. Our house becomes a meeting place, since I cook for my son and his friends. Food becomes a draw for the kids to be at our house, and provides a very soft way of supervising him or being in touch with his peers.

There is still a deeper meaning to cooking for his community, his son and their friends. "When people come to your house, you're not just feeding them. You are offering something of yourself. Cooking can be an expression of yourself towards others. So, you want to offer something special."

Luigi shared a beautiful quote from a Mexican cookbook, The Food and Life of Oaxaca. "Oaxaca is a poor state, but is rich in culinary history. Indigenous people there resisted Spanish rule. The book quotes a father who had a party for his graduating son."

"I present this offering to thank you for helping us to celebrate this special occassion, for you know that alone we cannot share life. Others must be there."

And in this communion, this sharing, we take in nourishment for body and soul.

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

 Making Connections Locally and Globally
 Spirit of Change Magazine at 20 Years

I count myself lucky to have been introduced to Carol Bedrosian just over 20 years ago, as she and a group of friends and collaborators were setting out to launch what has become a key resource for people interested in holistic health, healthy living and making our world a better place: Spirit of Change magazine.

Carol was from Central Massachusetts. Aware of a holistic magazine that covered another geographic area, Carol realized there was a need for a holistic resource in Central Massachusetts. Carol and her friends founded Spirit of Change, and it grew from there.

"It really grew on its own and intuitively, like a plant," reflects Carol. "It's not so much I had a vision or goal in mind that I wanted it to be this big. The articles came to the magazine organically, although we also reached out and requested things. It has always drawn resources that come to it and serve as nutrients. The fodder. And it grows. And like with a tree or plant, at certain times you need to prune things, and a new growth starts. It has always grown naturally"

Today, the magazine's circulation is 75,000 copies per issue. And because magazines are in households with multiple readers, the readership is several times the number of copies printed. Spirit of Change also has a website, where Carol and her staff continue to add archived articles. So, the cumulative knowledge gathered in the magazine can reach many more people over time.

Spirit of Change has made a profound difference in many people's lives over the past 20 years. Having a vehicle to bring resources and ideas to people to help them lead healthy, fulfilling, satisfying lives has been Carol's goal.

"Over time, different themes have come to my attention," notes Carol. "Someone sends in an article or a letter, makes a phone call, identifying issues that should be explored or brought before a larger audience. My vision for the magazine now is to continue being a vehicle and a forum for people to address important issues--for us to communicate and evolve--whether it's as a community, a species or as individuals."

Spirit of Change has surely enabled many people to make meaningful connections over the years. "The most visible example, acknowledges Carol, "was that Spirit of Change brought James Carboni into contact with Guatemalan Elders, Felipe and Elena Ixcot. This allowed a midwife center to be built in their hometown of Concepcion, Guatemala. Prior to establishing the center, this area had no medical care for well over 100,000 people. There was a group of people in that town that wanted to preserve the traditional Mayan ways of living, healing and mid- wifery. When the Ixcots were introduced to Jame in 1998, the funding could be arranged. Land was purchased in 2000. The building was built. The center opened in 2004."

"The project, which is now 3 years old and very successful, is now being held up as a model of what can happen when traditional people and financial support come together. American mid-wives have gone and learned from traditional mid-wives in Guatemala. And American mid-wives were also an important part of this opening. There is on-going support both ways--sharing knowledge and information from both American and Guatemalan cultures."

In addition to building such a poignant cross-cultural bridge, Spirit of Change has surely opened many doors closer to home. "At least 50% of the staff members who have come and gone through the offices of Spirit of Change over the past 20 years have come in not knowing about this work, and have found it so interesting they have becomne users of holistic medicine or even practitioners themselves." acknowledges Carol. " It's a great learning tool!"

And, Spirit of Change has also been a great learning journey for Carol. "I have always been aware that it is really about me and my learning process-- watching how I conduct myself on a day to day basis with all the individual people, as well as with the larger task of communicating with the public. It's about how in balance I can stay in my mind, in my emotions, because it's very easy to get sideswiped, to be thrown off balance. The 20 years have been a wonderful practicing ground in that respect. For those people with whom I was off balance, I apologize and try better next time. I really appreciate everybody who has contributed to Spirit of Change over the years and read it and enjoyed it. It has been an adventurous and awesome journey."

To read Spirit of Change on-line.... 

 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.