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

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As we enter the last month of the summer, I am delighted have a wide variety of EKP opportunities this fall. See the HealingHeartPower Calendar at the end of the newsletter for details.

The EKP 3rd year apprentice team is looking forward to running the EKP Student Clinic at the Spirit of Change Expo in Sturbridge, MA on Saturday, September 27, from 11 am - 5 pm.

Come visit us at the Institute for EKP booth at the Spirit of Change Expo on September 27 and 28, and at the "Embracing the Power of the Heart workshop on Saturday, September 27 from 6 - 8 pm. All are in Sturbridge, MA. This is a wonderful community event, and we'd love to see you there.

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.

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 Retreat November 14 - 16 now at the Prindle Pond Conference Center in Charleton, 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 : "Living Through Loss: Restoring the Wholeness of the Broken Heart,", a topic I will develop in depth at Carole Lynne's Spirit Communication Seminar on October 4, "Understanding the Heart," looking at how how what we know about the heart has dramatically deepened over the past several decades, and "Living With Cultural Myopia: The Danger of Only Being Here Now," as I look at the politic, social and economic issues we are facing today.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Living Through Loss
 Restoring the Wholeness of the Broken Heart

Loss is a kind of trauma. When we experience loss, viscerally it can feel like a wrecker ball has torn through the fabric of our lives.

Sometimes the loss is sudden and unexpected. A loved one has a sudden heart attack with no history of heart disease. A friend is killed in a car accident or a plane crash. A bolt of lightning strikes your house.

Sometimes the loss is expected. An elderly relative who has been suffering from cancer passes on. A company that has been failing lays employees off. A family moves from their long-time home after selling it because they can no longer afford the mortgage payments.

However, while the "concept" of loss is something you can mentally grasp, the actual "experience" of the loss may be an entirely different matter, and something you can't really grasp or integrate until you have actually lived through it.

Living through loss may result in feeling "heartbroken," as though the loss of a loved one or something that really matters has literally broken your heart. Loss hurts. And the heart, which is where we develop a sense of bonding and connection, viscerally feels the tearing when a bond or connection is ripped away.

When I experience a loss, I literally feel a deep aching pain in my heart. And while it is clear that loss takes an emotional toll, this emotional toll also creates a physical and energetic stress on the heart.

Being respectful of ourselves, our feelings, our experience and our loss is very important in caring for the broken heart. However, this is not the cultural norm. Our culture could benefit from more emotional literacy education, and many people lack an understanding of the importance of emotional safety, especially when an individual is going through an emotional rough, raw or vulnerable time. Many of us are taught to hold in our feelings, push them to the side, ignore them. And that we are supposed to "suck it up" and "get on with it."

While it is possible to "suck it up" and "get on with it" with the raw feelings of loss compartmentalized and buried somewhere, this is not in our best interest in the short or long run. Buried pain still takes our emotional, physical and spiritual energy. And perhaps it takes more energy to keep it buried than to let it out.

Though we may be afraid of deep feelings, it actually takes less energy to feel fully, to cry, to grieve, to scream, and to be angry than to bury the feelings. To unearth and express these feelings, we need to feel safe, held, understood and loved. We need to fee free from judgment, pressure to be different or to be anywhere other than where we are emotionally at that moment in time.

Emotional safety is essential for us to feel what is true for us, including feelings that are deeper than we are used to, which may scare us. And loss often evokes primal feelings that are so strong that we tighten up and shut down because we lack the emotional space to just be with them in a moment in time.

When a deep painful feeling emerges, we are often afraid of the intensity of the feeling. We are afraid of the physical and emotional sensations in our bodies. We are afraid of the thoughts that stem from our fear. Will this ever end? Can we survive the feeling? If we surrender to the feeling, will we lose ourselves or be lost? The fear of the feelings breeds its own cycle of deeper fear and overwhelm. Often we shut down or numb out just to survive those scary, painful moments.

Some combination of internal feeling and reflection, support from others, and connection with the spiritual or divine level of life are usually part of a very personal balance of how to create emotional safety to feel fully and move through loss.

Sometimes, we cannot move through those feelings alone.

We need someone else to be there, just to be with us so we are not alone. We need someone to hold our hands, to look us in the eyes, to offer a solid embrace and/or to hear our pain.

Sometimes we need support to unfreeze the frozen parts of us, so the tears, the fear, the pain can melt and flow out of our bodies, hearts and eyes. Sometimes we need another to be with us--be it a beloved pet or a beloved person--to remind us that we are still connected to others and to life itself--that while our hearts may be frozen at this moment, we can still restore our sense of interconnection in time. At times, the company of others is essential if we are going to feel safe and be able to move through grief and loss.

Sometimes, what we need most is a spiritual connection.

Meditating at home, or going to a church, a temple, a place of worship, or a special place in nature may provide us an emotionally safe, sacred environment in which we can let our feelings go. Restoring a sense of faith and/or a sense of interconnection with the fabric of life, may be necessary to help restore our sense of wholeness.

Sometimes emotional safety involves disengaging from the activities of daily life.

Doing something that feels like self-care is important: taking time out from work, going for a walk outside, or lying quietly on one's bed. Activities like these allow the heart, the mind, the body and the spirit to focus internally and be at rest.

When we are able to "ride the rapids" of deeply painful, often unfamiliar, or sometimes too familiar scary times, we deepen our capacity for resilience and we deepen our hearts. In time, feeling through and moving through these emotions help us restore a new sense of wholeness, and the knowledge that we can survive even what initially feels insurmountable. And that we can both count on ourselves. And that we don't have to do it all alone.

On October 4, Linda will be giving a program on living through loss as part of Carole Lynne's "Spirit Communication Seminar."

For more information on Carole Lynne's seminar... 

 Understanding the Heart
 Heart Learnings From the Past Couple Decades

When I first entered Yale in the late 1970's, I knew the heart had special powers that were not written about in the scientific literature. Searching through books in the library did little to flesh out my intuitive thoughts. And speaking with engineers and scientists only challenged what I knew to be true.

At more than one cocktail party, as I tried to describe what I knew about the heart, I'd be silenced by a male engineer who was much older than I was saying, "The heart is a mechanical pump. It goes pump, pump." Either that, or I'd be told that the heart is a metaphor and to think that it had any special properties was hogwash.

Meeting my friend and colleague, Linda Russek, at a conference around 1990 was a transformational moment for me. Linda and her father, cardiologist Henry Russek, had done some early research at Harvard on heart-brain registration. They had discovered that the quality of energy one expressed from the heart registered in and even impacted the brain waves of the recipient. So, when one person expressed love towards another, there was a notable physiological impact.

Shortly thereafter, I met my colleague David Lee at the same conference, and he introduced me to the research being done at the Institute of HeartMath. This research was exciting, because it offered a new understanding of what the heart actually is, the role the heart plays in the body, and the relationship between the heart and the brain.

As it turned out, the heart did have its own intelligence, and in fact, there was an actual "heart brain." Rather than the brain being the body's only "command central," the heart had "a complex intrinsic nervous system" and could "act independently of the cranial brain--to learn, remember and even sense."1

Dr. J. Andrew Armour, an early pioneer in the field of neurocardiology, did work that revealed the heart's intrinsic nervous system, which helps us understand "what allows a heart transplant to work: Normally, the heart communicates with the brain via nerve fibers running through the vagus nerve and the spinal column. In a heart transplant, these nerve connections do not reconnect for an extended period of time, if at all; however, the transplanted heart is able to function in its host through the capacity of its intact, intrinsic nervous system"2 Pretty amazing!

Researchers studying the hormonal system also contributed to our understanding of the heart-brain communication system. It turns out that in 1983, the heart "was reclassified as an endocrine or hormone gland." It produces and releases a hormone called atrial natriuretic factor (ANF), which effects the blood vessels, the kidneys, the adrenal glands and "a large number of regulatory regions in the brain."3

The heart also contains "intrinsic cardiac adrenergic" (ICA) cells, which synthesize and release norepinephrine and dopamine, "neurotransmitters once thought to be produced only by neurons in the brain and ganglia outside the heart."4

And more recently, researchers found that the heart secretes oxytocin, the "love" or "bonding" hormone, best known for what a mother's body produces during birth and lactation to encourage bonding with her child. It turns out, "concentrations of oxytocin in the heart are as high as those found in the brain," and oxytocin is involved with "cognition, tolerance, adaptation, complex sexual and maternal behaviors as well as in learning social cues and the establishment of pair bonds."5

At the Institute of HeartMath, research has shown that helping emotion and cognition work together in a more ordered, harmonious way impacts our awareness, vision, listening abilities, reaction times, mental clarity, feeling states and sensitivities. "Emotions can easily bump mundane events out of awareness, but non-emotional forms of mental activity (like thoughts) do not so readily displace emotions from the mental landscape."6

This works helps us understand why developing emotional literacy and emotional intelligence is so important to be happy, healthy and successful in life.

Footnotes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 all draw from "Science of The Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance," An Overview of Research Conducted by the Institute of HeartMath.

You can view this article and many other Institute of HeartMath publications at www.heartmath.org.

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 Living With Cultural Myopia
 The Danger of Only Being Here Now

On July 17, Al Gore delivered a speech calling on the people of America to take action and end our self-destructive, yet seemingly ingrained practice, of relying on carbon-based fuel to meet our energy needs. Gore issued a "strategic challenge that the United States set a goal of getting 100 percent of our electricity from renewable resources and carbon-constrained fuels within 10 years."

Solar, wind and geothermal energy can be cultivated to meet our energy needs. They are in abundant supply, and they are available right here in the United States. Yet, in a country suffering from cultural myopia, such grounded practicalities may remain disbelieved and unseen. The visionary is not appreciated as the kind of leader who can take us out of the economic desert into a more fertile land, but as a Don Quixote-like character tilting at windmills.

Instead of celebrating a welcome pathway out of economic decline as well as planetary destruction, like a bunch of unsuspecting frogs in a pot of boiling water, we will continue to cook to our death. Part of the cultural myopia is driven by the narrow self-interest of those in the very industries that are profiting from what is destroying our lives and our planet. These powerful businessmen and political leaders practice a twisted kind of "being here now," focusing on maximizing their current earnings, regardless of the long-term costs.

By focusing only on the present moment, or very short-term, without keeping the long-term in our side view if not rear view mirror, we are likely to end up crashing, much as we are doing right now.

When I wrote Living With Vision: Reclaiming the Power of the Heart in 1988, a key principle of making vision real was holding the vision while keeping an eye on the present moment. The inter-relationship between "now" and "then" both holds the energy for creating what we really want and need, and allows the pathway of how to get there to unfold. People easily criticize visionaries, and without much thoughtful analysis, criticize them for not being grounded in the here and now. Yet, we seem not to notice people so focused on the here and now that they are mortgaging their (and everyone else's) future without a thought to the consequences of their actions.

It is not easy to operate in this culture as a grounded visionary. I recall meeting with my financial adviser nearly 10 years ago, sensing instinctively that the market conditions were about to take a different course--a turn for the worse that would not be easily explained or corrected by "the market forces" as we had known them in the past. I sensed that the market could plummet deeply and take years to recover. And that if I had the goal of investing my very modest savings over time to try to contribute to my now 12-year-old son's forthcoming college tuition, if I didn't watch out, I might have less than I had started with, rather than the abundant fruits of years of diligent saving and investing.

At that time, he could not see what I saw. And neither could other financial advisers who I spoke with at that time, and again about 3 years later. It reminds me of my conversations with engineers about the heart when I was in my 20's that I refer to in the article about "Understanding the Heart." Professional people can suffer from the myopia of their professional identity, and forget that all social structures and systems change and evolve over time.

So, as an isolated person of vision, I had an accurate hunch but no colleagues with whom to craft a new roadmap. And short of putting money under the mattress to assure that its value would at least remain intact, I had no better alternatives than to use the only system there was. Is it much consolation that today my financial adviser says to me, "Yes you were right. But there wasn't really much of anything you could do?"

So, like many other Americans, I have found myself a frog in a pot of boiling water. And I want to get myself and my fellow humans out of the pot before we are fully cooked. And I want to support Al Gore's vision and initiative, so that we create a better world for all. Yet, where is the pathway?

Disconnecting the moment from the long-term context can be hazardous to our lives. So can disconnecting personal self-interest from the greater good. Sadly, our economy, and too much of the global economy, has operated with both kinds of disconnection. And too many of us are paying the price for this collective failing.

My prayer is that some primal instinct in those with the political and economic power to steer the collective ship in a different and better direction, is stirred by Al Gore's vision and call to action. Perhaps, somewhere underneath the familiar myopic patterns, is some vestige of awareness that we are indeed all interconnected, and that for there to be a future, we need to be here now with our eyes on the horizon.

And maybe Gore's vision will rouse the primal power that resides in the hearts and minds of John and Jane Q. Public, so that we work together to heal the splits between now and then, and the individual and the whole. Perhaps we need a cultural prescription to correct our vision, so that we can see clearly once again, and act upon our fullsightedness.

Share your thoughts... 

 HealingHeartPower Calendar

On Saturday, August 16, join us for an afternoon of healing community and the power of the heart at the Healing the Traumatized Heart workshop from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. To register, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.

We will be doing another HTH workshop on Sunday, October 19, also from 1 - 5 pm in Newton.

Saturday, September 27 is the EKP Student Clinic at the Spirit of Change Expo in Sturbridge from 11 am - 5 pm. Linda will be giving an intensive workshop on Embracing the Power of the Heart at the Spirit of Change Expo as well.

On Saturday, October 4, Linda will be presenting on working through grief at Carole Lynne's Spirit Communication Seminar.

On Wednesday, October 8, Linda will be presenting at the Hand-in-Hand network of holistic practitioners in Northborough, MA.

Our 2nd Annual EKP Retreat has moved venues. We will be gathering at Prindle Pond in Charleton, MA (just east of Sturbridge) for weekend of healing, heartfulness and community. The EKP retreat provides an intensive group experience, and remains 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.

Sunday, March 1 Linda will be leading Body Psychotherapy and the Heart for Health Professionals at the New England School for Acupuncture.

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.