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

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I am writing the introduction to this newsletter after a weekend at the Natural Living Expo sponsored by Spirit of Change Magazine. In my pre-mommying days, when the Institute for EKP was in full bloom, a large team of EKP apprentices and community members would gather for weekend Expos at least annually. It has been more than 12 years since I attempted having an EKP booth for a weekend at an Expo, and now, Alex is part of the team that holds the space to bring EKP work into the world.

The EKP Student Clinic was received with more enthusiasm than we ever imagined. Our 11 am - 5 pm schedule was full just 10 minutes after the Expo opened on Saturday! An Expo participant was generous enough to offer her room to us, so we could double our capacity! And our new "second shift" of sessions was full with a hefty waiting list just half an hour after we were able to make it available!

Our Embracing the Power of the Heart Workshop was very poignant, and a meaningful conclusion to a very long first Expo day!

Deep thanks to Carol and Michella Bedrosian for all their care and effort to create such a powerful resource for the community! And thanks to apprentices Donna Grant, Despina Moutsouris, Beth Sangree and Gretchen Stecher for their community service in the clinic and work at the EKP booth! Thanks also to EKP community members Alex Marks-Katz, Jeremy Richman, Candace Hopkins, Robin Daiell, Harriet Severino and Jeff Tavares for working at the EKP booth!

We still have a few more spaces in the Healing the Traumatized Heart workshop on Sunday, October 19 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.

For those of you who like my articles, I have a bunch of them available on www.ezinearticles.com. If you would like to receive a notice when more articles are added there, you can do so at http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Linda_Marks

Articles in this issue include : "Spiritual But Not Religious: Is There a Political Parallel,", in response to some thoughts shared by a reader after my last newsletter, The Dark Mirror of Intimacy," looking at how easily we point the finger outwards and blame others rather than going inside and looking more deeply at our own inner work, and "Intimacy in Our Later Years," by my colleague, Carla Tara, who is developing a workshop on intimacy for Baby Boomers.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Spiritual But Not Religious:
 Is There A Political Parallel?

My opening reflections about the political climate in this country generated a thought provoking response from a reader. She wrote, "I'm sorry about your discouragement re: Edwards, but am puzzled at why you would extrapolate from losing faith in him to losing faith in the general political process. Yes, the process is flawed, but it's what we've got."

I appreciated her concerns, particularly because they gave me an opportunity to put words on far deeper thoughts about the political process than I had articulated before. The last few years, I have been acutely aware that many people who have come to my office are feeling despair in regard to political action. They feel the political process seems so distant and unrelated to them and their daily lives. Their sense is the political figures are so far removed from the realities of being "an ordinary person" in this country, that political battles, the power they wield, and their sphere of concern is in a kind of "political ivory tower," serving the interests of the wealthy and the elite.

For an "ordinary person" to feel connected, and involved in the political process requires a "handle to grab onto," that allows one to take action that impacts personal and social change. With a two party system that can feel media driven at times, to the point that the delineation between parties can become blurred or even questionable, many people feel confused, alienated and have no idea how to connect to the political process.

I can surely relate to these sentiments. I like to be able to "get a handle" on social issues, and either join in efforts to make a difference, or if necessary, found or co-create efforts to make a difference if I can't find an effort already underway. I have come to realize that there is a parallel in the way spiritual community has moved in this country over time with the way political community may need to move.

While some people still find meaning and value in traditional religious institutions, be they Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim or other, there has been a growing number of people who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious." This allows people to focus on the inherent value, and the very personal nature of spirituality, without getting lost in the "political dogma" of a particular religious institution. I belong to a Unitarian Church because it welcomes ALL spiritual belief systems, and has a strong thread of social justice and social action. I have always been a deeply spiritual person, yet have never identified with a major religious denomination.

Likewise, when I see the way both Democratic and Republican parties promote themselves through today's media, I often cannot relate to tactics. Sometimes there are real differences in the positions one party or the other takes. At other times, it appears I am just watching a media contest, where the tactics of one party mirror the tactics of the other, and I don't feel comfortable watching what feels like a "cat fight" or sorts.

I have tried to define my own "spiritual but not religious" equivalent for political action, since I think the concept is applicable here. I respect people who chose to identify as Democratic and Republican, just as I respect people who chose to identify as Catholic, Jewish, Protest, Muslim or other.

I have found community organizing around professional matters (like the Boston Area Body Psychotherapy group I reconstituted almost 2 years ago), or writing articles that call attention to specific issues (like the articles I wrote about "Jenny's Law" and "Pet Renting") specific steps I can take that give people tools and handles to "take meaningful action" in their own communities and their own lives. Organizing people into community groups and addressing causes we can touch and act upon as volunteers feels like the spiritual heart of good political process. It does not have to happen under the auspices of an official political party. It can happen in any way that effectively brings people together and empowers them to act.

If there is a way to integrate a community organizing effort with an existing political party or candidate, all the better. I am very much one for networking, integrating, streamlining. However, when the issues that tug at people's heart strings feel very separate from the formal political channels available, why not create structures that will achieve one's desired outcome?

Perhaps, in time, there can be more of an integration of community organizing efforts, with a more official political process. Surely, the way Deval Patrick got elected as governor of Massachusetts was by bringing people together in a more personal, social network- based style. I found myself pulled into the Patrick campaign for this very reason. My friends and colleagues were excited and felt that this was a campaign where there was room for THEM. I met Diane Patrick at an event, and she felt very real and human.

Likewise, I was pulled in to the John Edwards campaign by seeing him speak and talking with him personally about matters of deep concern to me, and seeing he had a real grasp of the depth of what I was talking about. He moved from being "an anonymous figurehead" to a very real person who shared common values.

I realize the process of running for president requires working with huge numbers of people, and the scale of such an effort may make it impossible for a candidate to remain real and human. And there is no way a candidate can have even a 5 minute personal conversation with every individual voter in this country and hear his/her concerns. However, it is the very act of personal, human contact that transforms the experience of the political process. People like to feel connected in a real, tangible way. People need to be heard and need to matter as individuals as well as in the collective.

Finding ways to integrate the personal touch of community organizing with the formal political process is equivalent to finding a way for spiritual but not religious people to have the heart of their values heard and integrated into formal religious organizations. How different the world would be if we could build these bridges!

Please share your thoughts... 

 The Dark Mirror of Intimacy
 Pointing the Finger Outwards, Rather Than Inwards

This past Thursday, the subject for the class I am teaching at UMass Boston was "romantic relationships." During the class, I realized how rarely people talk about what really happens as relationships deepen and intimacy grows. The media gives us images of eternal "new relationship energy," as though any relationship worth its salt should be easy, organic and conflict free-- always. This imagery is a real disservice to people who wish to sustain real, long-term intimate relationship.

When we first meet a new beloved, and feel a connection, it is indeed a divine act. However, with the divine feeling, also comes a lot of fantasy, projection of hopes and dreams, and a natural tendency to be on our best behavior, as we ride the magic carpet of attraction, connection and new love.

The sense of connection and newness draws us in, so that the relationship may progress. And how quickly or slowly a relationship progresses is very personal to the two people involved. However, at some point, the intimacy will deepen sufficiently that the relationship will move over the threshold from the "getting to know you stage" to the next stage that comes with deeper intimacy, "the shadowlands."

In the shadowlands, the "work" of relationship starts to arise. And this is both inner work on self, and work together with one's partner. Sadly, our culture is not very emotionally literate, and I have seen countless "Dear Abby" kinds of columns in newspapers that reflect, "if a couple needs to go to counseling before they are married, they shouldn't be in relationship." This attitude does another huge disservice to the reality of the emotional work that deepening intimacy requires. Few of us have the models of two people doing their inner work and their joint work together deeply. And in our culture of sometimes pathological self-reliance, the notion of reaching out for help, and letting ourselves be coached to reach our full potential can be judged as weakness, rather than appreciated as an act of emotional maturity.

When I was writing Healing the War Between the Genders, I interviewed an Argentinian psychiatrist who had worked with couples for more than 30 years. He had come to the conclusion that if after an initial period of time, such as 3 months, a couple wanted to try to build the container to go the distance in a long-term relationship, that early phase was the perfect time to get a "coach" on board.

His reasoning was that most couples run into difficulties with communication as intimacy deepens, and people begin to bump up against their undeveloped parts, their scars from past traumas, their fears, and all the shadow pieces that deepening intimacy surface for us to heal and work through. Why not have someone there to help build in good communication pathways early on, and get to know the couple as individuals and together BEFORE the dark pieces surface? Then, when the shadow times hit, as they inevitably will, both the knowledge and trust are there to most effectively guide the couple through their shadow work.

His logic made a lot of sense to me, and I have actually tried to follow his coaching in my own relationships. However, finding a partner who will agree to such an undertaking has not been easy. Sadly, I have encountered too many people who ascribe to the popularized belief, "if we need to see a counselor before we get married, we shouldn't get married." And more sadly, when the shadow work has emerged in these relationships, my partners have cut and bailed rather than recognized the opportunity for what it was--a time to heal, learn, grow and move through longheld pain to deeper intimacy, peace and partnership.

When many people hit their pockets of deeply held pain, their often blame their partner, rather than turn more deeply inwards to work on themselves. It reminds me of Cinderella, and the ugly stepmother saying, "Mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all," and when the mirror tells the truth, the stepmother becomes angry and breaks the mirror. We do that to our loved ones far too often if we don't realize that the finger needs to be pointed inwards, not outwards.

I have full empathy for how scary and painful it is to touch upon deep, unhealed pain. Sometimes we reach places where our self-esteem is in question, or we find places where we don't feel good about ourselves, or we see ourselves behaving in ways that we don't really want to accept. No one wants to see that they are hurting their loved ones. No one wants to see that they have an anger management problem. No one wants to have to writhe in pain that can be so consuming it is hard to work, sleep or eat. Yet, healing that pain DOES require feeling it fully, facing it head on, and often that takes facilitation. We CANNOT do it ALL alone.

As a lifelong lover of the Red Sox and professional sports, the model of having not only ONE coach, but a whole TEAM of coaches is worth noticing. No serious athlete gets to major league baseball on just self- reliance. Yes, an athlete who is going to shine has to have a certain degree of raw talent and a huge commitment to develop themselves. However, they work in conjunction with a series of coaches at every level of play they engage in. The Red Sox have a pitching coach, a batting coach, a first base coach, a third base coach, a team manager, and a whole support staff behind the scenes who attend to everything from medical needs to motivational needs. If a player hits a slump, is injured, or hits unexpected challenges, a full team of experts is available to help the player confront their challenges and take steps in a corrective direction.

Why is it that we can't apply this kind of model to our own lives? If a ballplayer starts feeling pain--physical, mental or emotional, can they truly improve by pointing the finger of blame outwards to their teammates, or the opposing pitcher or the batter they just faced? They must point the finger inwards and work on themselves.

Perhaps if we had better models of coaching and support through the shadowlands for couples, we would be better able to navigate them without breaking up. If only we gave our children the message that relationships do require emotional and spiritual work, and time investment over time. And that we need to develop skills on our own, but we cannot and should not have to do it ALL alone, especially when things are scary, painful and hard.

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 Intimacy in Our Later Years
 By Carla Tara

Iraq Weedflower We are on multiple journeys during our lifetime. In our early years, we are growing up to understand the world we live in. In the second stage, we are striving to work in order to survive. And in the next stage of our journey, we provide for our famiiles and loved ones.

But what about later in our journey, when we have handled survival and no longer need to take care of someone else? What do we do? This is the time to rediscover ourselves, to determine what makes us happy--learning to embrace those feelings, those emotions, those passions.

As essential contribuing factor that increases the energy we have available for all this activity is definitely having a great sex life, rich in real intimacy and deep connection.

According to a U.S. News and World Report article, "Sex, Health and Happiness," a study published in the British Medical Journal found that more 70-year-olds are enjoying sex regularly than 30 years ago.

This is good news, even if it is partly a result of men using Viagra to improve their performance. Anything that safely adds pleasure to our lives is definitely welcome. However, some use Viagra (or similar products) to get stronger and longer lasting erections but neglect to build the emotional connection that is essential for both men and women.

"Jane" (whose real name I have withheld), a wonderful woman in her sixties who I'm counseling, recently told me that her husband had started using Viagra. He was so enthralled with his newly gained ability to stay erect for a long time that he was leaving out the best part of lovemaking for her, which was foreplay and the romantic approach. She admitted she enjoyed him more before Viagra!

Looking at her situation with new eyes, she decided to ask for the romance she wanted, while still enjoying the added sexual power that Viagra was giving her husband. She also decided to ask him not to use Viagra all the time, and he was smart enough to agree.

As with anything, science brings us mixed blessings. Scientific discoveries definitely bring us more choices. However, receiving real life enrichment from these choices depends on whether we use them wisely.

For instance, the car has been a great invention. However, if people use it all the time and no longer walk, they suffer from the lack of movement. We see the results in the epidemic of obesity around us.

Mature male lovers who have a healthy sex life have learned to become more caring, take a longer time pleasuring their partner, riding the wave of pleasure, and are more open to sexual adventures than in younger years.

When you no longer have kids coming home at all hours, you can turn your whole house into a playground for enjoyment of sexual newness.

Men and women who are sexually active and emotionally connected have the added benefit of: feeling and looking younger, having more energy than people of the same age who have given up sex, and with sharper minds and healthier bodies, they have a more cheerful attitude towards life.

The article I cited earlier from U.S. News and World Report, magazine, "Sex, Health and Happiness," listed the following benefits of staying sexually active: more connectedness, joy and excitement, improved circulation with obvious benefits, release of hormones that lower stress levels, improved sleep, and holding off wrinkles.

From my own experience and from what I've learned from helping people, mature lovers take foreplay, or rather "love play," to a higher level because: 1. they are able to stay fully present to each other's desires and enjoyment level without pushing for a goal, 2. they have learned that asking for feedback on how to accommodate their touching, kissing and intercourse movements and positions to the ever changing moment enhances the experience of ecstasy, 3. they realize that moving slower and taking more time often allows for more expansion of pleasure, more emotional-spiritual connection, and therefore, longer lasting satisfaction, and 4. their orgasms can be longer because they are more keenly aware of the wave-like vibration their orgasm produces throughout their whole bodies.

However, remaining sexually active past middle age, of course, requires a healthy lifestyle that includes a good choice of nourishing food, good water, deep breathing, exercise, and mental stimulation sandwiched with relaxation and emotional health..

The real fulfillment comes when sex is aligned with intimacy and genuine connection. Having a happy heart brings an inner smile with it that is contagious. "Louise" (52) and "Frank" (63) emphatically said to me that they cultivate an inner smile that breaks down walls, and inspires them to love each other and life more.

They were thrilled with the breakthrough realization that they are only in the third quarter of this action packed game of life. Through learning to get more in touch with their own sexuality, both Frank and Louise also learned to understand their authentic sexual nature...leading to a deeper understanding of love, life and intimacy.

Both Louise and Frank proudly announced that they enjoy re-exploring each others' sexuality and that they can now more fully express an important need that they were both suppressing...their need to contribute to one another's life through compassionate empathy which keeps their live fresh and growing. Today, Frank and Louise's love life is firing on all cylinders, and they are looking forward to many years of joy.

Carla Tara is now developing a workshop to help mature lovers, sometimes called "Baby Boomers," to re-invent themselves and to keep sexually and physically active as they enrich each other emotionally and spiritually.

Visit Carla Tara's website... 

 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.

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...