It hasn't quite felt like the fall recently, thanks to
beautiful, dry days in the 70's and 80's. I savor each and every one of
these days, knowing the cooler temperatures will be here soon enough.
Many of you have asked me when I would do an Introductory
Healing the Traumatized Heart workshop. As the mom of a
year-old, weekend workshops require a bit of scheduling magic.
The good news, is that on Sunday, October 28 from 1:30
- 4:30pm, I will indeed be offering an introductory workshop. So
that price is no object, the fee is only $25, and if you register,
you can bring a friend of loved one for free. So, please pass the
word to folks who might enjoy an afternoon of heartfelt community and
For 2008, I am considering starting a new set of
apprentices, so if you are interested in apprenticing in EKP,
please let me know!
The EKP Student Clinic will come to life again in
2008, as my current group of apprentices enter their third year of
study, and work with clients. This is a great way to have free or
low cost body psychotherapy. If you would like to be a client in
the Student Clinic, please let me know.
Many people have expressed an interest in being part of an
EKP therapy group that they can attend as their schedule allows. I am
considering this option. It would be helpful to get your feedback:
If I ran a group that met weekly in the evening, and you could attend
as your schedule allowed, but a minimum of 1 - 2 times/month, would
that interest you?
In this issue, articles explore Living a Heart-
Centered Life and what I've come to view as our cultural tendency
towards what one could call Relational Anorexia.
I always appreciate hearing from you, be it in response to
an article in this newsletter or on www.heartspacecafe.com/blog, or
simply because you are moved to write.
| Living A Heart-Centered Life
As one who does heartwork, over the years, I have gathered
lots of quotes about life and heart. Our language is full of
heart-centered images and figures of speech which reference the heart.
Make a list for yourself and see what you come up with! A
few that come to mind immediately for me are: home is where the
heart is, follow your heart, straight from the heart, learning it by
heart, playing by heart.
As Helen Keller said, "The best and most beautiful things in
this world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the
heart." And yet, so many of us have to keep our hearts protected to
survive in the work world and the world at large. While Pope John Paul
II said, "The worst prison would be a closed heart," sometimes the
prison becomes safer than the alternative.
So, how do we live a heart-centered life in an increasingly
chaotic, demanding and emotionally unsafe world?
A first step is having permission to get to know your
own heart. When we are busy, we often operate from our heads, and a
more primitive survival place. We need to slow down, step out of the
demands of the day to be able to come to know and experience our own
hearts. Where in your body do you feel your heart, when you hear
the word "heart?" If you place your hand on your heart, what do you
notice? how does that feel?
The heart needs a balance of solitude and connection
with others. What does this balance look like for you? Can you tell
when you need solitude and when you need to reach out and connect with
others? Are there any patterns to when you need solitude and when you
need connection? These are good questions to explore.
Take time to visit with your heart each day. Slow
down. Take a few deep breaths. Take a few moments to notice what's
happening in your heart. How does your heart feel physically and
emotionally? What are your deeper thoughts?
Listen to your heart. When you visit with your
heart, take the time and space to take in and consider what it is
telling you. Is your heart giving you guidance? What might your heart
want or need? How do you follow your heart?
Give your heart voice. Sometimes just having the
awareness of what is happening in your heart is enough. Sometimes your
heart will feel fuller when it gets to express itself, when you find
your heart's voice. There are many ways to do this. Some people benefit
from writing their heart's findings down in a journal. Others might
draw or paint or dance.
Expressing your heart may be a more personal practice, or
it may involve actions or activities with others. Learn to speak
and listen from the heart with those you care about-friends, family and
loved ones, to build connection, intimacy and more meaningful
Find your heart's natural rhythm. Learning how to
pace yourself is an important way to stay grounded as you encounter the
demands of the outside world. What is your natural pace? What does it
mean to live in accordance with your natural pace, rather than letting
your pace be dictated by outside forces?
Create emotionally safe spaces for yourself and those
you care about. It's amazing what a difference it makes to walk the
world from an emotionally safe, grounded internal place! Be present
with yourself and with others. Be a compassionate, sincere, attentive,
non-judgmental listener. Cultivate curiosity. Listen to your body's
cues about what makes you feel safe and unsafe.
If we can build our lives on a heart-centered foundation, we
will view our experiences through very different eyes!
| Relational Anorexia:
A New Kind of Eating Disorder?
More than 10 years ago, when my colleague Brian Schulz and I
wrote about "Basic Human Needs," sustained, meaningful relational
connection was at the heart of our list. People are not meant to be
islands. To be fully human, we need to speak to a compassionate, caring
listener and be heard. We need to touch and be touched emotionally,
physically and spiritually. Most of us need to connect deeply with an
intimate partner. We need continuity in our relationships. And we need
face to face contact, to take in and exchange at all the levels of
And yet, as we are so busy, so full with the increasingly
complex demands of daily living, more to do in so little time, there is
nothing left for relating at the end of the day. Or the end of the
week. Or the end of the month.
I have begun to wonder if relational anorexia is becoming a
new, yet very silent, cultural ailment.
I know that try as I may to maintain friendships, colleagial
relationships--meaningful relational connections--I feel more and more
like a salmon swimming against the tide. As a result, I become more and
more isolated. And I become more and more numb to my needs for face to
face relational connection.
For example, one of my dearest friends and I made an effort
for many years to keep connected. We got together regularly, even after
my son was born. And we were very central in each other's lives. As the
pace of life increased and the mix of demands became more complex, we
committed to monthly lunches. We did that for quite a while, but it
eventually broke down. And then it took more effort to get together.
But we found our way through. And our last couple times getting
together were even sharing tears on how disconnected we had become from
For the past few months, it has literally been impossible
for us to find a time to get together! Her elderly mom needs a lot of
her time, in addition to her work. I have had to juggle needs of my
aging parents, my son and my work. And somehow, our schedules are
exactly opposite. Lunches no longer work for her. She'd want to meet in
the evening, but my son doesn't go to bed til 9 pm, and I work two
nights each week. Even when we tried weekend, when I could see her, she
had plans. Eventually, I just had to throw up my hands.
I guess that's just a natural response. If you want
something and you try and try to get it, and you come up empty again
and again, eventually, you start to feel numb. It's much like an eating
disorder. Having been anorexic when I was 13, I learned to not feel my
hunger after feeling hungry long enough. Sure, my body needed nutrients
I was not giving myself. But if I couldn't have them (in this case,
wouldn't let myself nourish myself for fear of gaining weight), I grew
familiar to the hunger pangs. And if I waited long enough, they went
away. And I still seemed to be breathing. And there was plenty else to
do in life. So, I learned just to make do without.
Some days, when I have the time to really slow down and
think about it, I feel my emotional hunger pangs. I feel my isolation,
and my sadness about how hard it is to maintain relational connection.
I also feel tired for trying and trying, often in vain. My heart says
this shouldn't be so hard. My experience says, it is hard.
Even my son's soccer coach struggles to have time to have
weekly practices! He has two kids and a demanding job, and being a
soccer coach is a volunteer activity. First, practices were going to be
on Thursdays. He could only do one day a week because of his work
demands. Okay. I organized our schedule around them.
Then, he realized it was hard to keep practices to the
appointed time. The last two weeks, he had to switch the practice time
at the last minute--once to a Wednesday, which we juggled to make and
once to a Tuesday, when my son just couldn't come. Now, I truly don't
know if I should count on the former Thursday time or just play it by
ear week to week. And just pray that the time he picks is a time my son
can actually make it. More stress and chaos than I had bargained for.
Same for everyone else.
I believe we as people need a certain amount of structure,
predictability, and rhythm in order to manage the inevitable
unpredictable, chaotic dimensions of life. But when the unpredictable
becomes dominant, the human organism reacts as if its under siege.
While I have worked hard to heal from my teenhood eating disorder, if
my world becomes sufficient chaotic and unpredictable, my stomach tense
up and it's hard to eat.
Having a network of core friends and colleagues is part of
my nutritional plan for a healthy life. When I am relationally
well-nourished, my body and spirit feel great. And, as one might
expect, when I am relationally undernourished or malnourished, my body
and spirit feel empty, and in the face of prolonged relational
If one person is numb, but is around others who are more
vital, it is possible to bring the numbness back to life. But if we
find ourselves going through the paces of our days surrounded by others
who also share this numbness, numbness becomes a norm, a part of the
human condition, a way of life.
One can not be anorexic forever. Eventually, one's bodily
systems shut down one by one, and a person dies. Karen Carpenter was a
great example of that human reality for me. I am afraid that if our
spirits become relationally starved for too long, a part of us dies as
well. How can we overcome this cultural relational eating disorder?
| Upcoming Workshops and On-going Groups
Introductory Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop
- Sunday, October 28
- 1:30 - 4:30 pm
In this special introductory workshop, explore how our hearts
become wounded, how we heal, and how we can literally offer helping
hands to one another.
Register and bring a friend/loved one for free
For more information or to register, contact LSMHEART@aol.com
Embracing the Power of the Heart:
Cape Cod Retreat
Fee includes program, 2 nights, 6 meals
- November 16 -18, 2007
- Briarwood Conference Center
- Fee: $360
To register: Contact Gretchen Stecher (508)
The Tuesday Night EKP Body Psychotherapy
Group seeks both male and female members. This
therapy group provides a safe and sacred space to do
your deepest healing and growth work with others in
a committed group. We meet from 7:15 - 9:45 pm in
To apply contact
LSMHEART@aol.com or call (617)
An interview/one EKP session
are required to apply
for a space in the group.
Other EKP opportunities include:
- On-going Thursday night EKP Body Psychotherapy
- Monthly EKP Process Group
- Being A Guest Client With
the EKP Apprentices
- Apprenticeship Program
For more information on any of these programs,
If there are any workshops or groups
you would like to see, please let me know!