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

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My best friend, Brenda, told me that a friend of hers commented that August was going to be a very harrowing month. If we look at what has been happening on the political front, that is very true.

Having worked on the John Edwards campaign, the first political campaign I had gotten involved in since high school, the news of not only Edwards' affair and potential love child, but more so, the cover-up, the lying, and the media spectacle of it all shattered something deep in me.

Watching the McCain-Obama campaign unfold has also been harrowing, in its own way. The nastiness of some of the political ads on tv really made me cringe. There were some inspirational moments as I watched the Democratic convention. However, the chess game of McCain with his young female VP nominee, Sarah Palin vs Obama with his symbol of experience, Joe Biden, can rub me raw.

Perhaps a true silver lining in this whole process is the extraordinary presence of Ted Kennedy, who in spite of brain cancer, will never, never, never give up what he passionately believes in. While Ted's life is marked with both tragedy and its own version of media scandal from the days of Mary Jo Kopechne and Chappaquidick, the profound power of his spirit and the convictions of his heart cannot go unnoticed.

Kennedy really does fight for what he really believes in, no matter what the obstacles and no matter what the odds. I realize he is an embodiment of the message of one article in this newsletter this month, The Only Real Failure Is Giving Up Trying. Kennedy provides an inspirational model of one who, in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, does not give up.

I am happy to announce that I will be teaching a class at UMass Boston this fall, where my long-standing colleague, Cuf Ferguson, is the new Dean of the College of Community and Public Service. As a result, the weekly EKP therapy group has moved to Wednesday night for the fall semester.

We have lots of EKP opportunities coming up 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 Wednesday 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 : "Reflections on Anorexia,", a topic that I have been living and working with for much of my life, "Economics As If the Earth Really Mattered," by my longstanding friend and colleague, Susan Meeker-Lowry, and "The Only Real Failure Is Giving Up Trying," which I alluded to above.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Reflections on Anorexia

It has been 36 years since I first experienced anorexia as a girl turning into a woman. My period had been with me for a year or less, though time felt timeless back then. And I wanted to be perfect in some way, though I was a straight A student, a leader and someone wise beyond my years. Inside, I never felt good enough. No matter what I did, there was no way to be loved for who I was. And while I could not feel the feelings back then, deep down, I just wanted to be loved.

When I was 13, I can't say I was particularly conscious of my emotional state. I was aware of my committed determination to get my body weight down to 115 pounds. I had no idea that weight was dangerous for me, and that my doctor would tell me when I sought treatment that I should never weight less than 140 pounds.

I remember being told along the way, that anorexia is a way of getting control when one feels ones life is totally out of control. Eating is a private thing. It can even be secret. No one had to know what went into my mouth. Or not. When I was 13, my self-starving behavior felt like my place of power--a place where no one could harm me. I had no idea I was harming myself.

The story of my recovery from anorexia and the lessons learned along the way are not my focus in this reflection. Instead, I am reflecting on how, in spite of year of healing and healthy eating behavior, my anorexic tendencies can still crop up. I have come to see that they are part of a feral response.

The threat of the loss of a love will propel me powerfully into the spell of self-starvation, like a feral animal starving, but so paralyzed with fear that she cannot eat. I feel my heart and stomach clench with life-threatening fear. There is no room to take anything in I just have to hold on for dear life to survive. Sad.

If things stabilize in my relational life, I restore the sense of safety needed to eat again. Much like a feral animal in the process of coming off the streets. The animal needs to feel safe to eat. And it takes love, patience and constancy on the part of the person trying to help the animal for the animal to relax and respond.

The loss of a loved one--especially by emotional abandonment or rejection--sends me into the throes of self-starvation in another way. Perhaps it is a trauma response. But it has a different feeling than when the potential loss is just a threat, not a reality. When I am faced with emotional abandonment and rejection-- particularly when there is no room for my voice--when a loved one simply cannot hear me, puts up a stone wall and keeps me out, all of the pain and anger that I cannot voice in the relationship builds up inside my heart and soul. My body becomes full of emotion, so full there is no room for food. It emotionally hurts for me to eat. Eating food feels uncomfortable, the way it does when someone has overeaten.

I have learned I need to stay present with my feelings, and not try to stuff them down with food, force fed. It is like a cleansing fast. I need space to follow the pain. And when the feelings overflow, I have learned that I can let them out by connecting with a dear friend, by writing or both. The feelings need to come out for me to find peace. And the feelings need to come out to make room for any food to come in.

At this point in my life, I have no desire to hurt myself or punish myself. And if my body gets so starved that I can that I am over the line of reason--when my breathing begins to tighten, when my energy feels like it is lingering at the edges of my skin and not fully residing in my bones, I make sure to feed myself some healthy food.

But the pain cycles through, and if I am going to love myself in my pain and anger, I need to ride the cycles of pain through. If a loved one and I have a problem and the loved one can hear me out, I don't enter into this self-starvation cycle. Because I know what feeds my soul is connection and love. Those are the most fundamental food groups for my body and soul. And when I feel well-loved and connected, I naturally open to be nourished in other ways.

When I was 13, I was not at all conscious of what was happening for me emotionally or even somatically. I as emotionally numb, containing and suppressing my anger and pain. So, in a way, though I don't wish to experience the circumstances that allow me to revisit the place of self-starvation, it is a powerful learning experience to move through self-starvation consciously, with self-love, even if a deep sense of rejection or abandonment are underneath.

I feel like I have more than several lifetime's experience of living through this experience, enough to have several post-doctoral degrees. And I really pray life does not make me go cycling through it again. Yet, if it comes, I have learned I must have my voice, I must speak my truth, and I cannot contain the pain inside forever. I am worthy of love. And no matter what another person does, I have the power to hold myself in a place of self-compassion and self-love.

Please share your thoughts... 

 Economics As If the Earth Really Mattered:
 Gaian Economics

My dear friend and colleague, Susan Meeker-Lowry, has been working to redefine the concept and practice of economics for as long as I've known her. She and I met at a conference in the early 1980's, and together, we co-founded the Institute for Gaian Economics in 1986.

Susan was a pioneer in the social investment movement, publishing a newsletter for many years, Catalyst: Investing in Social Change.

Catalyst offered ideas and resources to help people develop and live from an "economics as if the earth really mattered," which became the title of one of her two books.

She publishes a print newsletter called Gaian Voices, which provides a forum to explore Gaian Economics in theory and practice.

So, what does Gaian economics really mean? "Gaia" means "land" or "earth" in ancient Greek. According to wikipedia, "Gaia is the primal Greek goddess personifying the earth." Gaian economics have a very different framework than our profit-maximizing model of capitalistic economics. In Gaia economics, one looks at the many stakeholders in an enterprise, not the just the owners, stockholders and top management. Customers, community, providers of resources to help make a business run, and the earth herself are all stakeholders too. And if an endeavor allows stockholders or managers to profit at other stakeholders' expense, the endeavor is non-sustainable, and therefore, not feasible from a Gaian framework.

Sadly, our lack of awareness of a Gaian framework has led to the depletion of the earth's natural resources, global warming, and a very inequitable distribution of the world's resources. If we don't include all stakeholders in our economic vision, eventually, life on this earth may not be possible for all.

I wanted to share some of Susan's thoughts on Gaian economics and what is necessary to transform our current economic system. "I have no trouble envisioning what my own local economy could be, but when my mind turns to the reality of corporate control, global markets, and free trade agreements, it all feels so difficult, even impossible, to implement. From the early 1980's to the mid-1990's, my work focused on ecological, community-based economics. Both of my books, Economics As If the Earth Really Mattered, and Invested in the Common Good, were on this subject. And the Institute for Gaian Economics, which I co-created, as well as those organizations I worked with, all dealt with economic alternatives."

"I even helped get a community currency project off the ground. So, the topic isn't a new one to me. I do admit that back then I was much more optimistic about transforming our economic system than I am now, and yet the transformation was never more essential than this moment in time."

"On the positive side, many of the models and enterprises just getting off the ground in the 1980's are now well established. Though the downside to that is some of them are also well entrenched in the status quo, which too often seems to happen when an enterprise proves that not only does it work, but it can also be profitable."

"In my heart, I believe that we need to do away with capitalism as it currently exits and transform our economy into something else entirely. So, when it comes to subjects like green business, economic development with an ecological face, fair trade, and similar practices, I am torn. I can see the positive, yet because the underlying principle of capitalism is profit, despite the best intentions of individuals, the momentum of the system itself can, and often does, undermine those intentions."

"To transform our economic system, local is where it is at. Transforming our agricultural system, for example, from one that transports food hundreds and thousands of miles to one that begins with local and regional production, and then only supplements or adds variety with foods transported greater distances. We need to take our cues from nature when it comes to scale and diversity and making the best use of something (or someone)."

"In nature, big works but only when it is supported by a myriad of smaller, diverse organisms. Old growth trees, for example, couldn't exist were it not for the mycorrhizal fungi that enable the trees to take up nutrients. There's a balance in healthy nature that we need to pay attention to and emulate."

"A Gaian economy is about much more than money and profit and trade. It's about relationships and participation. The economy begins at home. The household economy is important and it's where we all have to start. All actions have energy and energy moves and impacts everything else. Connection points and relationships begin in the household then move through the community, the region, and ultimately to the global scale."

If we can find a way to make connections from the household level up, perhaps we can create a groundswell of positive change. I have seen the impact of even small measures, like Whole Foods encouraging the use of reusable grocery bags, and no longer using plastic grocery bags in their stores. I have far fewer plastic bags to dispose of. And my reusable bags can conveniently live in my car, for use at a moment's notice. Being part of a CSA (community-sustainable agriculture) veggie coop allows me to enjoy the bounty of the season, and join with others who wish to do the same.

Susan invites you to share with her your visions of a Gaian economy and how we might create it together.

Please send her your ideas, personal experiences, dreams, and what you're doing to make them real, as well as stories about specific projects, enterprises, businesses and networks that you feel are contributing to the transformation of the economy and the well-being of the people involved, and ofcourse, the earth. These can be either where you live or elsewhere. Submissions will be considered for publication in Gaian Voices.

You can write to Susan at smlowry@fairpoint.net.

Susan publishes Gaian Voices, which you can find at www.gaianvoices.com.

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 The Only Real Failure Is Giving Up Trying

I have made many mistakes in my life. I have encountered many situations that have humbled me, where I have just not known what to do. However, I tend to think of myself as a successful person, in spite of my mistakes, and the times I have fallen short. What I have learned is that the difference between success and failure is in not giving up trying.

Feeling ill-equipped, falling short of our own standards, values or goals, hitting obstacles that feel impossible, incompatible or simply painful and hard, can lead us to feel like we are failing. We can feel that no matter how hard we are trying, we are not getting the results we desire--in our work, our relationships or any other part of our lives. When we try really hard, but don't get what we hoped for, it is extremely painful, and these feelings of deep pain, can lead us to give up.

We can take the internal rod and beat ourselves up. We can judge ourselves inadequate, broken, naive. Or we can ask what might be missing, and see what we need to learn. It can be very humbling when we discover that after all we have learned, there are still things we don't know. And in the spirit of love, persistence and commitment, we can go back to the drawing board and try again.

If we attribute our pain to some fatal flaw in ourselves or to another person who has become the messenger of our pain, giving up is a way to make the pain subside. If we beat ourselves up, we eventually become numb, but also hurt. Rejecting the other person removes the mirror, but it does not help us heal what is hurt within ourselves.

If we can find the inner strength and resolve, to keep working towards what we really want, to come from a place of real love, in spite of a fear of failure, in time, we will almost always find the way. And often, the way is something we never would have thought of or never would have known had we not had to overcome the obstacles that we encountered along the way.

Sometimes the amount of time it takes to succeed is eons longer than we would have ever imagined or been comfortable with. And we can become impatient that something seems difficult when we keep encountering obstacles. This is painful, frustrating and in our humanness, we may cry out that it shouldn't be so hard.

Sometimes, the message is to get help. We cannot do it all alone, and shouldn't have to. If we keep feeling that we need to figure it out, work it out, do it ourselves, we may be depriving ourselves of some important guidance that is the difference between hitting our head against the wall and moving forward.

Life puts us through its grindstone and the path to success can be full of obstacles that can feel insurmountable, until we find the way to surmount them. Sometimes, success is a matter of faith, believing while nothing supports your belief. This can test your strength, but in time will bring your dreams to you in full.

With a magical blend of love, commitment, faith, coaching or guidance at the right moments, hard work and time, if we keep trying, we will ultimately succeed. Not giving up, but keeping trying, even in the darkest moments is what allows us to realize our heart's desires.

Share your thoughts... 

 HealingHeartPower Calendar

Sunday, October 19, is the next Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing and community.

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 Wednesday night EKP Body Psychotherapy Group (which currently has room for a couple new members)
  • On-going Sunday EKP Monthly Process Group (which also has room for a couple new members)

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...