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

Join our mailing list!

I am very excited about some seeds that have been planted to bring EKP to the New England School of Acupuncture. The heart is a very central organ in Chinese medicine. As the fields of neurocardiology and neurochemistry have expanded our concept of the heart, the scientific basis for body psychotherapies like EKP is better understood. Many somatic practitioners are not well-trained in the relationship of emotions and the body or the skills and tools needed to work with emotional issues that arise during somatic/medical treatment.

I've submitted a proposal for a continuing education course at NESA, and am exploring research options as well.

Over the years, a good number of EKP apprentices have either arrived having studied Chinese medicine, or chosen to study Chinese medicine after studying EKP. Integrating both methods could provide many benefits for clients/patients.

Thanks to Robert Gracey, who was one of the first EKP students in 1990, Jonathan Ammen, Chairman of Chinese Acupuncture at NESA, acupunturist Heather Chatfield, who well understands the relationship of emotions and the body, and acupuncturist Emily Konstan, for their review and refinement of my proposal for NESA.

Stay tuned for more developments as they unfold!

We still have a few more spaces in the Healing the Traumatized Heart workshop on Saturday, August 16 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.

As gas has reached $4/gallon and heating oil costs have skyrocketed, "The Money Class. is perhaps very timley. This coaching class meets weekly for 6 sessions, and provides a chance to look at how much is enough, and work through emotional blocks and obstacles in your relationship with money.

I am now actively taking applications for the EKP Apprenticeship Training Program. The first year of the program will begin in January 2009. Apprentices meet once a month for weekend sessions. I am exploring incorporating some Family Constellations work led by colleague Dan Cohen, into the program. If you are interested in discussing apprenticing, please write to me at LSMHEART@aol.com.

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.

Articles in this issue include a short piece on "Young@Heart," an amazing chorus of spirited elders profiled in a documentary film, who happen to be coming to the Somerville Theatre on June 20 for a live performance (I'll be there!), "Reflections on Integrity," inspired by an article my colleague Margaret Paul wrote, and an EKP article, "Hearing the Heart's Voice in the Body: The Emotion Body Interface."

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Transforming Life, Death and Love Through Song and Community

If you have any stereotypes about aging, time to throw them away. The lifeforce in our bodies, minds, spirits, hearts and souls is timeless and ageless. Having the opportunity to see the documentary "Young@Heart," was more than a poignant, and even transformational experience. The Young@Heart chorus, whose members range in age from 73 - 93, hail from Northampton, MA, and exude a passion and spirit that, at times, can defy even death. The film offers an intimate look at the people, their life stories, their journeys woven in with a tapestry of community and song. Moments of deep laughter follow heartfelt tears, sprinkled with thoughtful reflections from Bob Cilman, the chorus' visionary founder and musical director.

In a culture enamored with perpetual youth, Young@Heart offers a rare window into the "Golden Years" of life, sprinkled with mixed metaphors, like elders singing Sonic Youth's "Schizophrenia," or the Ramone's "I Want to Be Sedated," and injecting new life and meaning into classic disco tunes like, "I Will Survive" and "Staying Alive."

One of the most touching vignettes is the profile of Fred Knittle, a man with a voice so beautiful that he could make most anybody melt and a vital spirit. Fred left the chorus due to congestive heart failure. Bob Cilman seeks him out to sing Coldplay's "Fix You" in collaboration with another former chorus member who also has serious health problems. Even while carting around the oxygen tank that allows him to breathe, Fred's life force and spirit burn strong. Watching him sing his tour d'force in concert is heart-rendering, particularly since it is sung in memoriam to his fallen colleague, Bob, who died shortly before the concert takes place. Hardly a dry eye remained in the theatre.

The power of music, of Bob Cilman's vision and heart, and of the desire for connection, community and fully living every day of one's life as long as one has the opportunity to walk this earth bursts through and leaves a lasting impression. Young@Heart is a troupe of heartful missionaries in unexpected clothing. They bring their message to prisoners, to the fortunate citizens of Northampton of all ages, and to audiences around the world. As James Verniere of the Boston Herald writes, when you walk into the theatre to see Young@Heart, "You are about to get to know some people you will never forget."

YouTube has quite a selection of Young@Heart numbers including "Fix You," "Schizophrenia," "I Will Survive," and "Staying Alive." The movie "Young@Heart" is currently playing in small independent/artsy movie theatres.

Share your thoughts: 

 Reflections on Integrity

Recently, when I read an article my colleague Margaret Paul wrote entitled, "Why Do So Many People Lack Integrity?" I found myself reflecting on the subject of integrity and why indeed it is so rare in our culture today. If integrity means that a person's words and actions are in alignment with their truest values and beliefs, and that their words, actions, beliefs and values remain consistent over time, when I look at the behavior of those most visible in the political arena, I see a real "lack of integrity crisis."

Last fall, a friend showed me a YouTube video highlighting how Hillary Clinton has literally spoken out of both sides of her mouth. The video showed her making a comment on an important issue, like foreign policy or health care, and a split second later, another statement saying exactly the opposite of what she said in the first statement. As a voter considering who to place my faith in, I found this deeply troubling. How can I trust someone who changes their opinion as the wind blows?

But to be totally fair to Hillary, she is far from alone in her doublespeak. Democrats and Republicans alike will say or do almost anything they feel will get them elected. And one could argue that the only way a politician can implement their vision is to be in office, so why not do whatever it takes to get there? Recently, Mitt Romney, who vociferously positioned himself as anti-McCain when he was running for president himself, is now making himself visible as a McCain supporter. Finding a politician who actually defines his/her own personal beliefs and values and stands by them over time is the exception, not the rule. And will a leader be rewarded for demonstrating personal integrity or be run over by the others who are pushing their own self-interest, doublespeak included?

The "lack of integrity crisis" is rampant in business as well as in politics. In 2007, Gerard Arpey, the CEO of American Airlines received a 21% pay increase to $6.6 million while the airline is telling passengers it will add a $15 surcharge for even one piece of luggage taken on a flight. Too many senior executives command exorbitant pay as their companies lay off blue collar and middle class workers without conscience or care.

In her article, Margaret Paul points out that our "wounded ego self," a programmed state of mind we developed as children "to protect ourselves from the things we feared and could not handle," generates fear-based thoughts that lead to behavior lacking integrity. She writes, "We might have learned to lie to protect against our parent's anger. We might have learned to steal to get what we wanted. We might have learned to have temper tantrums to get our way." Sadly, these childish behaviors carry on into adulthood, and the lying, stealing and temper tantrums prevail when the now grown up wounded children are in positions of power.

Margaret notes that we have also learned to think "Being kind gets you nowhere. If I'm kind, people will run over me and take advantage of me," "If I don't fight to get what I want, I won't get my fair share," or "There is never enough to go around, so I had better make sure I'm at the head of the line, even if others get hurt. The end justifies the means." Sadly, having learned to think this way, there are ample opportunities to discover how many other people think and act from these beliefs. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I know that both as a child and as an adult, because I chose to live from my heart and try to be fair and equitable to others, especially people in difficult situations, I was often ridiculed, called naive, and in many cases seen as someone easy to take advantage of. However, while those judgments hurt, I felt more sad that so many people were living life from that point of view. >From my heartful value system, being fair and equitable to others was an essential part of being a human being, and if I was called naive for having these values, let the others call me naive. I learned to set boundaries and limits, because I did not believe a caring person should be an easy target, and made it clear that my care was given with consciousness and discernment.

Integrity is a quality of heart, and if our hearts are wounded, our sense of self fragments into many parts. Living as a broken self rather than a whole self leads to feelings of insecurity, powerlessness and fear, so that like a wounded animal, we attack from our vulnerability rather than connnect from it. Creating emotionally safe spaces where we can open our hearts to others who recognize and respect the vulnerability and courage it takes to expose our wounds so that we may heal is essential if we are going to be able to create a culture where personal integrity and truth telling are more present and visible. Human beings need connection with self and others to be happy, healthy and at peace. As Margaret Paul points out, the wounded self tries to get meaning and fulfillment from things outside the self, and ultimately never feels happy or fulfilled. Only when we can look inside, into the depths of our hearts and souls, and define the life we want from the inside out can we find true, lasting peace of mind. And it is from this place inside that we can live and act with integrity.

Read more articles by Margaret Paul on the www.innerbonding.com website.

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 Hearing The Heart's Voice in the Body:
 The Emotion-Body Interface

The heart has a voice, but it is not always a verbal one. Heartful feelings are often deeply felt--not only in an emotional way, but also in a sensory, somatic, bodily way as well. At any moment in time, one can learn to sense both an emotional and energetic current I call "the living energy edge." This "living energy edge" has both an emotional feeling quality (i.e. sadness) and a somatically felt sensory quality (i.e. a lump in the throat). Because it is an emotional- energetic current that can be felt or sensed in the heart and the rest of the body as well, in EKP, we call this current, "the emotional-kinesthetic charge."

This living energy edge or "emotional-kinesthetic charge," may be experienced as a subtle current, a gentle flow, an intense point of tension or a deep, strong sensation. It can be constant and steady over time or it can change from moment to moment. It can have one feeling quality to it or it can have multiple feeling qualities at the same time (like being sad and happy or scared and angry at the same time...)

For example: When I am feeling relaxed and at peace, my breathing feels spacious and open, and the sensation I experience is very soothing and nourishing. When I am scared, my stomach may clench and feel uncomfortable or my heart might be so tight it actually hurts. In order to feel the emotional, somatic and energetic qualities of this "living energy edge," I need to be grounded and feel centered and present in my body. So many people feel disconnected or disenfranchised from their bodies, that the experience of being ground, centered and present in emotionally embodied sensory experience may be foreign.

Because our educational process focuses more on our intellects than our bodies and our emotions, many people are not aware that this emotional-energetic information even exists. In fact, it is an incredible source of information about who we are, what is happening for us internally, what our truth is from moment to moment, and what we really need. Being able to recognize, access and work with this emotional-energetic current is important, but rarely are people given the tools to do so. A colleague of mine many years ago, upon witnessing an EKP demonstration commented, "the human body is an organ of perception, and in EKP you are restoring people's connection to this innate capacity."

We can learn to sense and gain guidance from our living energy edge as we learn to explore what in EKP we call, "the emotion-body interface." The emotion- body interface is a place where emotional experience and somatic experience meet and become one. Most often, we are aware of an emotional experience or a somatic experience, but not both at the same time or the relationship between the two levels of experience.

What is it like when we explore the emotion-body interface? If I have a knot in my stomach, I may be able to pinpoint exactly where I feel the knot physically. I notice that it is in the very pit of my stomach and it begins two inches beneath the surface of my skin. Yet, the knot may stay with me, and over the course of the day, the only thing I might feel is the tightness and stress in my body from walking around with a knot in my stomach. I may feel grumpy and uncomfortable.

In EKP, if a hand is placed on the knot in the stomach, and if the person having an EKP turn is giving the space to fine tune both the location of the hand, and the quality of contact (how deep, how light, how hard...) to be exactly right (is the hand placed lightly on the stomach or does it apply pressure? is it right in the center of more to the left or right side of center?), an emotional connection can often be made. For example, in the case of the knot in my stomach, as a hand is respectfully placed on my stomach and fine tuned to be in the right location with the right quality of contact, I might find tears rising up and out my eyes.

The tears might feel deep, and non-verbal, and in EKP the feelings are just as important as the words. The EKP therapist might ask, " if the hand had a message, what might the message be?" The person having the turn might say, "you're not alone." Deep. Core. Profound.

Being present to the knot in the stomach with both the physical contact of the hand, and the caring presence of the heart deepen the physical sensation which can allow the emotional and spiritual levels of experience to open. Care can be received. Tension can be released. Missing experiences can be provided. New neural wiring can be created. And a deeper sense of inner peace can take place. The knot in the stomach melts, as the person feels truly supported in a present, sincere, honoring, personally tailored way.

Emotional safety is the cornerstone for this kind of work. Without emotional safety, we are often not out of touch with the emotional and physical sensations that allow us to journey into our deeper felt experience. When emotional safety is lacking, we many not notice energy currents in the body, subtle sensations or even strong sensations that move through the body and heart. In fact, when we are emotionally unsafe, we may numb out, disconnect, or compartmentalize our emotional and somatic sensations, keeping them at a distance or keeping ourselves distant from these sensations and the deeper parts of ourselves they are connected to. We may exists in a more fragmented state of being, rather than an integrated state of being.

Dissociation, disconnection and numbing out are survival responses. If we could be hurt, judged, or not seen for who we are, why would we take the risk of opening our hearts or exposing our guts? To truly see, hear, know and respect someone for who they truly are, we need to offer more than a superficial handshake or even a polite listening ear. It takes a quality of full, sincere, heartful presence, and, with permission, often a deeper reaching in, like literally reaching out and lending a helping hand, to make contact with the other person's essence or core. Intimacy needs to be earned. And emotional safety is needed to earn the right to connect deeply with another human being.

Working at the emotion-body interface, with permission, in a climate of emotional safety, we are able to literally reach out and touch someone in just the ways they need to be touched. This translates into being seen, heard and known for who you are. And this is a very sacred and healing way to connect and relate.

To learn more about EKP... 

 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 Saturday, August 16 from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. To register, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.

The Money Class is a six week coaching class that helps you make peace with money. Work through emotional blocks and obstacles, explore how much is enough and take action steps to meet your goals. 11:30 am - 1:30 pm in Newton. Daylong intensive workshop is also available. 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.

The next EKP Apprenticeship Training will begin in January 2009. 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. An interview and one EKP session are required to apply to the first year apprenticeship training group.

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.