April 1, 2008 
 HealingHeartPower Newsletter
 Reclaiming the Power of the Heart
In This Issue

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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 to apply.

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 gwild7@verizon.net.

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.

Articles in 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 the World and the World Lives in Us.

Your comments and contributions are welcome, as always.

Heartfully, Linda

 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 long-term health."

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 drinking water.

o The drinking water for Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas tested positive for six pharmaceuticals.

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 discovered.

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 noticed.

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 clues?

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 two-leggeds?

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 cat, Toss, licks and nurtures my other cats, is it really much different than when one of the female cats licks and nurtures 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 her.

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 generation.

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 were shaken."

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 how key issues on a larger level are affecting them personally, this can 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 reflection."

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, visit www.soulworkscoaching.com.

For more information on Julie's psychotherapy work, visit www.Tikkuninstitute.org.

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 LSMHEART@aol.com.

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 gwild7@verizon.net.

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 Group

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 LSMHEART@aol.com.

To find out more.... 

 About Linda

Me and Flora 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 12-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda... 

The Boston Area Sexuality and Spirituality Network programs for the 2007-2008 season are posted on www.sexspirit.net.