Feeling the warmth of the sun touch me as I type in my
writer's cave is one of the gifts spring brings to me.
Receiving notice that the organic community-
supported agriculture veggie coop my son and I have
been part of for more years than I can remember is
getting underway is as heart-warming as the
beginning of the Red Sox season!
This spring, I will be leading a Healing the
Traumatized Heart workshop on Sunday, May 18
from 1- 5 pm in Newton. These groups have been
deeply moving and richly rewarding experiences for
those who want an experience of EKP when they can
find a space in their busy lives.
The Thursday night EKP Therapy Group has
openings for a couple of new members. This is a
mixed gender long-term committed group with a
minimum 6 month commitment. An interview and one
EKP session are required to apply for the group.
Contact LSMHEART@aol.com for more information or
And the 2nd Annual EKP Cape Retreat
November 14 - 16 at the Briarwood Conference
Center in Bourne, MA, provides an intensive weekend
experience of community, healing and EKP. It's not
too early to register. Contact Gretchen Stecher at
A long-term thread of fascination for me for much of my
life has been the relationship of the individual and the
collective. A huge source of suffering today is the
break in the spiritual connection between each of us
as individuals and our place in the larger web of life.
Many of the profound problems we are faced with in
our world reflect this broken thread: the war in Iraq,
global warming, economic crisis, increased isolation
amidst more technology and more and more people
having a harder time making ends meet.
this issue touch on the relationship between the
personal and the
global, the individual and the collective: Drugs in
the Drinking Water,
What is a "Real" Mothers? and We Live in
World and the World Lives in Us.
comments and contributions are welcome, as always.
Drugs in the Drinking Water
Another Way of Being the Proverbial "Frogs in the Pot?"
A lead news story both on AOL and on the front page
of the Boston Globe on March 10th smacked me
between the eyes. AOL titled it, "AP Probe Finds
Drugs in Drinking Water." The Boston Globe rattled
off, "Pharmaceuticals have been found in the drinking
water supplies of at least 41 million Americans,
spurring both assurances of safety and worries about
According to the Boston Globe article, The Associated
Press "surveyed the nation's 50 largest cities and a
dozen other major water providers, as well as smaller
community water providers in all 50 states."
Some key test results include:
o Officials in Philadelphia said testing discovered 56
pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking
water, including medicines for pain, infection, high
cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness, and
heart problems. 63 pharmaceuticals or byproducts
were found in the city's watersheds.
o Antiepileptic and antianxiety medications were
detected in a portion of the treated drinking water for
18.5 million people in southern California.
o Researchers at the US Geological Survey analyzed
a Passaic Valley Water Commission drinking water
treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in
northern New Jersey, and found a metabolized angina
medicine and the mood-stabilizing drug
carbamazepine in drinking water.
o A sex hormone was detected in San Francisco's
o The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and
surrounding areas tested positive for six
I found this data startling, but not surprising. With all
the pills people take in our culture, the residue has to
go somewhere. After all, human beings are part of a
cycle of life that involves taking in and putting out. Is it
any surprise that the medications we ingest pass
through our bodies, and flow through the toilet into
reservoirs, rivers and lakes?
While wastewater treatment plants do treat for some
things, pharmaceutical residues is not one of them.
The very fact that we have been consuming some kind
of homeopathic pharmaceutical cocktail for many
years has remained under the radar, since "water
providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical
screenings, unless pressed," the Associated Press
And while the pharmaceutical industry will focus on
the tiny concentrations of these chemicals in our
water, and that whatever concentration there is, it is far
below a therapeutic dose, for folks doing research on
this still to be fully understood topic, and for people
working on water-related issues at the EPA, the
alarming effects on human cells and wildlife are being
With all the environmental illnesses that people are
suffering from today--from chemical sensitivities to
children with severe peanut allergies--how can one not
start asking deep questions about what it means to be
the recipient of a silent chemical cocktail?
At a potluck lunch I hosted in March, a woman who
works as a pediatric neurologist commented on the
increased incidence of autism in children over the two
decades she has been in practice. "The numbers are
staggering," she reflected. "It has to be something in
the environment." Could the substances
contaminating our drinking water provide one of the
As someone who doesn't take ANY medicine, unless
absolutely medically necessary--under severe
conditions of duress, the thought that I have been
ingesting random combinations of pharmaceuticals
without my consent or even awareness is horrifying.
Here we have been taught that drinking lots of water is
the healthy choice. But the watersheds are
contaminated, so is any water really healthy? And
even if there are geographical locations that have not
yet been contaminated, how long will that last?
The article on AOL made it clear that the contamination
has been found in water not only in the United States, but
also in other countries all over the world.
When research is done on individual pharmaceutical
compounds, the effects and side effects are studied
when the medication is being taken on its own. I have
watched friends and loved ones suffer when doctors
have prescribed a myriad of medications, tested only
one by one, and not in chemical cocktail format...and
then watched my friend or loved one suffer the effects
of the cocktail--be it toxification, kidney failure or more
extreme reactions because the interaction of drugs
changed the effect of what would ordinarily be
considered a "therapeutic dose."
Why on earth would I want to be taking in an untested
chemical cocktail full of substances I have no reason to
ingest in the first place? I feel like one of the frogs in the
pot of boiling water in a whole new and unpleasant way.
But what is a person--or their pet dog or cat--to do?
Another article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out
that massage therapy reduced the need for
antipsychotic medication in the elderly. Why can't we
substitute more healing touch for chemical
compounds? This would take a huge amount of
education--building a kind of emotional literacy and
touch literacy that are almost anathema in our "anti-
relational, vulnerability-despising culture," to quote a
colleague of mine, Terry Real.
But even if we find ways to provide more information,
and educate people about the physical, emotional and
spiritual alternatives, what do we do about the
damage to the environment we have already done?
What are the long-term health consequences, not only
to two-leggeds walking the face of the earth, but also
to all other living forms effected by the actions of the
I hope the revelations that come with this kind of
information give us pause, and ask us to reflect on
what can be done. It is very scary when the fact that
we are poisoning the earth touches home in such a
personal way. In the meantime, I will continue my best
to be part of the solution, and continue to provide
emotional literacy and touch literacy education
wherever I can.
Share your thoughts:
What is a "Real" Mother?
A friend of mine posed a question to community I am
part of that really caught my attention. "What is a 'real'
mother?" she asked.
Seeing the word "real" juxtaposed next to the word
"mother" was very thought provoking. What makes a
mother a mother anyhow? Some mothers conceive,
carry and give birth to their children. Some mothers
are unable to to conceive, carry or give birth, yet are
100% there once a child becomes
their own. Mothering is very much a feminine quality.
Yet, does one need to be female to mother another
being? When my 7 1/2 year old former feral gray male
Toss, licks and nurtures my other cats, is it really much
different than when one of the female cats licks and
them? And when as a 4 month old kitten, Scarlett, my
Maine Coon cat, nurtured and embraced tiny 2 month
old Prayer, my chocoloate point Siamese cat, was
there truly any difference between Scarlett's attention
and Prayer's now distant mother?
I found myself going to a place of deep reflection for
several days, looking at my own experience of
mothering. One could say that there are maternal
qualities in the healing work I do: creating a safe
space, being fully present to those I work with, forming
a deep, committed, long-term bond where my
energies are directed towards the healing, growth and
self-fulfillment of those I work with, creating a sense of
trust and intimacy so that I can truly see and
appreciate another person from the soul level up....
Are these not some of the qualities I also bring to my
own son, though not with the limitations or boundaries
of my professional role?
Did I have to have a child to be a "real" mother? Or
was I always a "real" mother just waiting to fully
express myself with a child? And at some level, wasn't
I always carrying my son's soul and spirit in my heart,
long before I met his father, became pregnant, carried
him in my womb, gave birth and began my "official"
journey with him in this world?
Asking the question "what is a 'real' mother" evokes all
kinds of questions, thoughts and reflections. In my
heart of hearts, I believe mothering is an innate
capacity. It is both an innate human capacity, and an
innate capacity I see in other animals as well. It is so
deep and so primal, there is an archetypal energy of
mothering. It is a universal, spiritual force that allows
mothers of all kinds to feel a common bond. It is so
deep, that many a mother animal will do anything in
her power for the life of her child. If her child is hurt,
ailing or threatened, a mother's deepest passion,
power and protective qualities will rise up and out of
The mothering capacity includes the feminine energy--
being receptive, holding and containing a growing
organism, be it in-utero, in arms, at home or in one's
heart. Cultivating, nurturing, stewarding, nourishing--
emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, soulfully--are
all part of a mother's gift to her child.
Yet many people in our culture never experience
these qualities of mothering. Sadly, many mothers are
wounded, and therefore frozen, blocked or
undeveloped in some of these primal maternal
qualities. A mother may never have received real
mothering from her own mother...or anyone. So, she
is unable to fully presence, nurture, hold or care for
her child. One can only give what one has
experienced, and therefore knows to give.
Yet in other cultures, maternal qualities need not be
obtained only from one's birth mother or adoptive
mother. In The Continuum Concept, author
Jean Liedloff writes about the people of the Amazon
rainforest where a maternal energy and knowledge
pervades all who live in the indigenous culture she
visited. Even young children there were
knowledgeable and comfortable with the care and
nurturing of babies--perhaps more so than many
adults in our western world! It was because there was
a deep connection that was unbroken in that
culture...a deep connection with the organic
unfoldment of life..a sense of the natural progression
through which a baby developed.
So one would just
know to hold a baby in arms until the baby gave the
signal to be put down. And one carried the baby as
one went about the activities of daily life, so the baby
was always safe, held and in connection until the baby
was ready not to be. And when the baby wanted to
move forth and walk, there was the space to move
forth and walk and the watchful eye of those who knew
how to balance space and safe present attention.
What an experience for the maternal skills and
qualities to be available in men and women, boys and
girls, children and adults, family and community! Is it
any wonder that children raised in this environment
felt a deep, uninterrupted connection with the
continuum of life? Many qualities of "real" mothering
were internalized by all in that culture, and men,
women, children and adults ALL had the ability to
bring the qualities of real mothering forth to the next
The sense of the universal mother is more deeply
embraced and palpable in other non-western cultures.
I had lunch with a colleague of mine who was a
foster parent for Sudanese children. She described
how when her kids went to gatherings with other
Sudanese, there was a wonderful way the whole
community would watch the kids. Their safety would
be assured--not even in question. There was a way
that everyone there had a sense of attention to and
responsibility for each and every child, and not in the
isolated, burdened, separated way westerners view
parents, kids and kids in community.
Perhaps these non-western cultures have a deeper
sense of Gaia, the earth goddess, and the earth energy.
And with that sense of Gaia comes a connection to and
respect for other beings--human and non-human.
Am I being any less of a "real" mother when I take
home and care for a new kitten than a human child?
Is there really much difference in the skills, qualities
and essence I bring to a feral animal I wish to help
become safe enough to come off the streets of life, and
a human being who comes to me for sanctuary, safety,
healing and acceptance?
Is being a "real" mother mostly about having an opening
in the depth of the soul, so that children (and others) feel
the holding, the love, the nurturing, the respect for their
uniqueness of being and their organic unfolding growth
process that comes from this depth of connection?
Many of us still crave this experience of "real" mothering
into adulthood and throughout the course of our lives.
And many of us yearn to give the energy of mothering
abundantly and fluidly, just as we inhale and exhale.
Mothering and being mothered are essential, soul
deep experiences at the very root of being human, of
being a living, breathing organism. May we find ways
to bring this primal and essential energy to ourselves
and our loved ones, so that we can grow deep roots
and strong branches to reach into the world, and
contribute to the evolution of life and love.
Share your thoughts....
We Live in the World and the World Lives in Us
The Work of Julie Oxenberg and Monique Morimoto Flaherty
A long-term thread of fascination for me has been the
relationship of the individual and the collective. While
people need a strong, grounded sense of self, it is
hard to have a fully grounded sense of self without a
sense of connection to something greater--a larger
whole. This "something greater" can be a sense of the
social context we live in, a sense of belonging to a
family, a group, an organization, a society or all of
humanity or a spiritual connection that can be very
personal and yet all-pervasive.
No man or woman is meant to be an island. And when
we feel a connection to something greater, our moments
of aloneness are more akin to solitude than isolation.
Deep down inside, we know that fundamentally and
realistically, we are not alone.
Sadly, the sense of connection between the individual
and the collective, or stated otherwise, the individual
person and the larger world, too often feels broken,
shattered or invisible in our cultural consciousness
and in the reality of too many of our daily lives.
Isolation is rampant. Solitude is harder to come by.
The environmental crisis we are in the midst of, our
broken economy, and all the stress it poses on so
many of us and our families, the state of health care,
the war in Iraq all weigh heavy on us personally and
collectively. Yet, in our isolated states, we carry the
burden alone. And we feel powerless and hopeless
under the weight of such a burden. We withdraw and
shutdown rather than reaching out and opening up to
others or a higher power for help and guidance.
Our sense of connection to the continuum that is life is
gone, dormant, frozen or inaccessible. And we suffer
tremendously emotionally, spiritually, relationally,
financially, professionally and personally.
Psychotherapist Julie Oxenberg and Coach Monique
Morimoto Flaherty have been profoundly aware of the
impact of the relationship of the individual and the
collective, and the need for people to find or gain a
deeper understanding or spiritual frame of reference
to find stability in the world today. For each of them,
9/11 brought the need to focus on the intersection of
individual, intrapsychic dynamics and collective
behavior front and center.
Julie comments, "On 9/11 and shortly thereafter, it
seemed that many people were able to stay present to
the spiritually profound moment we were in when our
national illusion of being somehow separate and
largely buffered from the world's pain and troubles
was shattered and our fundamental interdependence,
and thus, vulnerability, was exposed. The limits of our
material power also became clear as a few religious
zealots with box cutters were able to level the most
powerful symbols of American global financial power
and military might. Our national sense of self, our
place in the world, and our inherent security at home
Sadly, however, most Americans were only able to
stay open to and present to the impact and shock of
what had occurred for a limited time. As Julie notes,
this "foreclosed the possibility that our collective
response might have reflected a deeper wisdom."
Unable to accept this message of our
interdependence, vulnerability, and the limits of
material power, Julie observes, "With reactionary
fervor our leaders instead redoubled their faith in our
superiority (dubbed 'exceptionalism'), our ability to
'unilaterally' force our will on the world, and the power
of our military strength to protect us, preserve our
'legitimate' dominant position in the world, and to
serve as a force for good."
In this context of collective denial, is it any surprise that
the lives of so many people have spiraled downward--
be it through the war in Iraq, major economic decline,
and a loss of stature in the eyes of the world?
Monique sees this as a time of extremes, where on the
one hand, "more social consciousness movements,
global peace initiatives and a drive to find deeper,
more meaningful purpose" are emerging, yet on the
other hand, "people have turned to fundamentalism,
bravado and materialism." On the one hand, so many
of our systems seem out of control and untouchable
and unreachable. On the other hand, Monique
reflects this is "a time where personal responsibility to
do the life-giving thing, whatever it is, is of the utmost
importance to our survival as a planet."
Both Julie and Monique believe that one way to help
empower people to find ways to positively impact their
social context, and to find wise responses to the larger
social and global concerns that can feel so
overwhelming and paralyzing when faced alone, is to
bring people together in groups. Julie reflects, "If
people feel inspired to join or create a group where
people can come together with others to reflect on
issues on a larger level are affecting them personally,
be very powerful." While we can't predict exactly what
people will say, or the result of their sharing their true
thoughts, feelings and experiences with others, Julie
acknowledges, "when people let themselves be more
aware of their own truths, they gain more power."
Being able to come together with others, tell ones own
story and personal truth, and have it heard,
understood, shared and mirrored back helps people
create the space within themselves and together with
others to find paths of right action. Julie believes that
the practical action steps people can take to work for
collective change, "from joining an activist or advocacy
group, choosing to work for a non-profit focusing on a
given issue, writing letters to representatives,
addressing a given issue creatively through art or
choosing to run for office..." are best informed when
such action "comes first from deep, personal
To this end, she and Monique are leading a class this
spring that creates a forum for people to come
together and reflect on how social issues impact us as
people, especially those of us working as therapists,
healers and coaches, trying to help others find
meaningful paths for living and acting in the context of
today's world and its many challenges.
Monique reflects, "Ultimately, I believe each of us is
called to listen deeply and provide a non-judgmental
space for the other to be as they are in the moment."
Monique believes this is what it means to "love one
another." She continues, "as we work through the
issues that prevent us from being loving and accepting
of ourselves, we are able to be more engaged in our
lives and release our human and spiritual potential."
This allows us to be impactful and empowered in our
lives and in the world.
For more information on their class, "We Live in the
World and the World Lives in Us: The Impact of Social
and Global Issues on Psychotherapy and the
Psychotherapist," contact Julie at (617)230-3215 or
Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology's
Continuing Education Department at (617)327-6777.
The class meets from 6 - 8 pm on 6 Wednesday
evenings: April 23, May 7, 21, June 4, 18, 25.
For more information on Monique's coaching work,
For more information on Julie's psychotherapy work,
For more information on the class...
Upcoming Groups, Workshops and Programs
For an afternoon of healing community and the power of
the heart, come to the Healing the Traumatized
Heart workshop on Sunday, May 18 from 1 - 5 pm in
Newton. We've added an hour to the workshop, but kept
the fee at $50. To register, contact
If you'd like to spend a weekend in a nurturing and
beautiful Cape Cod location while enjoying the
healing and heartfulness of an intensive EKP group,
please come to our 2nd Annual EKP Cape
Retreat the weekend of November 14 - 16. For
more information or to register, contact Gretchen
Stecher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am actively gathering apprentices for the next
EKP Apprenticeship Training. The apprentice
group meets one weekend a month. The program is a
four year cycle. The first two years focus on learning
skills and concepts of EKP with ones peers, including
the very popular second year study of body-centered
developmental psychology. The second two years are
clinical years, where apprentices get to work with
guest clients in our student clinic. If you are interested
in apprenticing, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.
EKP opportunities in Newton include:
- Being a guest client in the Student Clinic
- On-going Thursday night EKP Body
Psychotherapy Group (which currently has room for a
couple new members)
- On-going Sunday EKP Monthly Process
If you would like a Healing the Traumatized Heart
workshop near you, or have a group of people
who you would like to bring EKP to, please contact
To find out more....
The Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network
programs for the 2007-2008 season are posted on