A conversation with a Canadian colleague, Dr.
Edward Beltran, led me to some very interesting and
important information. At McGill University, research
has been done on the epigenome, which is the
protein cover around the genome. As it turns out,
emotions are stored in the epigenome, and the
epigenome is the field that governs genes.
Emotional impact is registered and stored in the
epigenome, and is passed on transgenerationally.
This has huge implications for the experience of
emotional trauma and of healing. Working through
emotional experience at the body level, and having a
soul deep healing experience can not only improve
the quality of our own lives, but likely will impact what
we pass on to the next generation.
As scientific research deepens, the spiritual nature of
life becomes more tangible and understandable. And
hopefully, this can help us take better care of
ourselves, our loved ones and literally pass on a
better world to the next generations!
Research like this also helps explain how integrating
Hellinger Family Constellations work with EKP, as
Dan Cohen and I are doing in our January 24
workshop, can provide a powerful model for soul
deep healing, both personally and
Articles in this issue are: "The Narcissistic Heart
Wound and Self-Esteem Versus Ego, which sprung
from a conversation with my almost 13 year-old son,
Alex, Heart Seeds and Pods, my own reflections
from sitting in the vacuum of life, and Spirituality As
an Everyday Practice.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome!
The Narcissistic Heart Wound and Ego Versus Self-Esteem
My almost 13 year-old son, Alex, and I were talking in
the car the other day. He said, "Mom, what's the
difference between ego and self-esteem?" I found that
to be a very interesting question for him to be thinking
Alex then reflected, "People with big egos puff up and
take lots of resources (money and power)." I reflected
that people with big egos may actually have low self-
esteem. People with high self-esteem, know who
they are, ARE who they are, and are at
peace with who they are. People with high self-
esteem also have a grounded sense of self with other
people and other living beings. They don't need to
puff, because they feel an internal sense of okayness
and power. They don't need excess money or power,
because internally, they are enough. So, in terms of
external resources, they need ENOUGH, but not an
exorbitant amount for the purpose of status or being
"better than" others.
People with big egos, but low self-esteem always want
more. Because their sense of security and power
does not come from being at peace with who they are,
they may never feel they have enough. Internally, they
may have a voice that keeps telling them that to be
worthy, to be enough, and to numb out a deeper
sense of insecurity or not enoughness, they need to
keep acquiring more and more and more.
Sometimes when a person has a big ego, but low self-
esteem, they engage in self-defeating behavior.
Because deep down they don't feel worthy or good
enough, they may start to form a relationship with
someone, but ultimately abandon it if it is loving or
sustained. A sense of self-hatred can ultimately push
away even the most loving friend, colleague or
It is difficult, if not impossible to have a truly intimate
connection with someone who has a big ego but low
self-esteem. If the person wants to connect with you, it
may be based on what you can offer them, or how
being connected to you may make them look better,
rather than based on who you are deep down inside.
Even if the person with a big ego and low self-esteem
can appreciate who you are deep down inside, the
reason they may choose to connect with you is
because it looks good to the outside world and reflects
well on them to be associated with someone who is
good deep down inside.
Sadly, people become objects to the person with a big
ego and low self-esteem. Whether you are a good object
or a bad object, it still feels pretty empty. It does not feel
good to be an object rather than a unique human being
with gifts and frailties.
When I was writing Healing the War Between the
Genders: The Power of the Soul-Centered
Relationship, I gave a lot of thought to what I called
"the narcissistic heart wound." I wrote: "The wound to
heart and psyche that gets called narcissism occurs
when a child's vulnerable and developing core sense
of self is not seen or reflected back by the adults
Children are multi-dimensional, and for any part of
their psyche to develop, that part needs to be seen,
heard, understood and valued. Children develop and
integrate the many different parts of themselves
through positive mirroring--the experience of having
an adult bear witness to who they are at an essential
level and reflect it back.
When a parent's own woundedness and unmet needs
are the predominant force in relating to a child, the
child's core sense of self can be lost, broken or
undeveloped. This wound to the core sense of self is
the root of narcissism.
Narcissism may include a
simultaneous trauma to the core sense of self, and
neglect/deprivation of the core self. A narcissistic
parent may trample or invade a child's sense of self
without even realizing it. And likewise, they may be
unable to recognize or provide what the child really
needs. The inability to recognize and respond
appropriately to the core sense of self hurts the child's
My colleague, psychologist and writer, Richard
Grossman, commented, "To avoid the narcissistic
heart wound, a child has to be valuable to their
parents from day one. That means being valued for
the basic core self you are, not valued determined by
the parents." When we are valued for who we are, it
builds self-esteem. And it teaches us to value
ourselves for who we ARE, not just what we do.
If we don't feel valued for who we are, we may feel a
deep emptiness inside, and we overwork, overbuy,
overeat, and engage in other self-anesthetizing
behaviors to fill or avoid the void. Ironically, it is love
that really fills the void. Yet, because love also brings
up deeper feelings connected to the void, we push
To truly heal, we need the faith, the courage and the
loving presence to feel our way through the void,
uncomfortable, scary, painful, angry feelings and all.
Only if we "ride the rapids" of deep feelings that reside
in the void when the void feels empty, can we get to
the other side, and find the peace, connection with
self, and self-esteem we really crave.
Human beings are like seeds in many ways. Each one of
us is full of potential, and born with all the raw ingredients
necessary to grow into the full embodiment of who we
are. Like a seed, under the proper conditions, we are
sparked to life. We germinate. We are nourished. We
grow. We develop roots and leaves.
When the proper conditions are lacking, the seed may
never sprout. And we may never start the journey
towards our full potential. Our deepest self may lie
dormant and decompose. It may also try to sprout and
then shrivel and die. What may be left is the shell of
the person, but the inside is hollow and lifeless. Living
from this place feels very empty and purposeless.
Healthy mirroring allows the soul and spirit to
germinate. Continued love, mirroring, and feedback--
including ways we need to tune our behavior to be
more effective, help us further develop our self-esteem
as we learn and grow.
Narcissistic faux-mirroring damages, if not destroys,
the potential to germinate one's sense of self or cuts
us off at the knees as we start to become stronger and
grow. It damages our ability to put down roots that
support our development, stunting our ability to fully
engage in life. This creates "emotional birth defects,"
which are physically unexpressed but set emotional
Developing a big ego can be a way to compensate for
a fundamental sense of inadequacy, unworthiness or
a lack of self-love. Sadly, without the kind of deep
contact and healing that will burst our bubble of
illusion, but bring us to our senses, our capacity to be
fully human is stunted and we are programmed for
failure in the most intimate ways.
The best gift we can gift to our children and loved ones
to work on
healing our traumatized hearts, so we strengthen our
sense of self-esteem, and are therefore, more
to see our loved ones for who they really are.
©2008 Linda Marks
Please share your thoughts...
Heart Seeds and Pods:
Reflections From Sitting in the Vacuum of Life
My 50th birthday provided a great opportunity for me
to let go and see what life would provide. When I
turned 30, my first book came out, and I threw a grand
party for hundreds of people at a popular Boston
nightclub. The night was magnificent and a lot of
work. I know everyone had a great time, and a special
community of heart was created. I am glad I did it. But
I didn't want to have to do it again.
When I turned 40, my marriage ended. My ex-
husband is 12 1/2 years old than I am, so his 50th
birthday was just a few months after Alex was born.
Having had a 48 hour labor with a home birth that
turned into a complicated hospital birth, and a
neonatal ICU stay for Alex, I
was in no condition to nurse my new son 24-7, pick up
my clinical work to support our family, and throw my
ex-husband the grand party he wanted. I was
exhausted, and having the energy for the most
mundane tasks I had previously taken for granted felt
unfathomable. Being able to garner the strength to
cook dinner was a big accomplishment. Out of love, I
moved beyond my non-reserves, and created the
party he envisioned so he would be celebrated the
way his heart desired.
As my 40th birthday approached, and I asked him to
return the favor, his response was, "I don't need to do
that. You can do that yourself." I knew we were
As I faced my pain and disappointment, I did put
together a special
party. But though I danced, it was with a broken heart.
VOWED never to throw myself a party again.
I kept my word to myself. I let go. I decided that if
anything was going to happen as I turned 50, it would
be out of love, friendship and choice from the people
in my life who care about me. I took the risk of having
nothing happen. I opened the door and walked into
the void--a place that no one likes to jump into,
including me. In the void, I had to sit in nothingness,
and face feelings of loss, isolation, grief, broken
dreams, rejection....and the other feelings and images
that go bump in the night. Not pleasant, but a work out
in the "emotional embody building gym." And the time
ticked away. And the vacuum remained rather empty.
My best friend, Brenda, who lives in Indiana, mailed me a
package, with instructions not to open it until November
25. That felt like a heart seed. It sat, unopened, in my
bedroom, and it held the space for whatever else might
grow. No matter what else did or did not happen, I knew
Brenda was with me in spirit.
One friend had promised to take me out for my
but he never called to nail down the plans. And on
November 24, he proceeded to renege on his offer.
heart sank, and I went into my inner well of despair. I
continued to let go.
The morning of November 24, I received an e-mail
from a very special newer friend, who offered to
celebrate my birthday on November 26, in what turned
out to be a special breakfast. I felt like this friend,
without even knowing it, became an answer to a
prayer. Even if the birthday breakfast never
happened, the very act of my friend reaching out with
that gesture already made my day.
Around 8:30 pm the evening of November 24, the
phone rang, and it was my dear
friend and soul sister, Lisa. I hadn't spoken to her in
several months, and her call was a welcome gift. One
thing led to another and she asked who was taking me
out for my birthday. When I said "no one," in disbelief,
she said, "Then I will!" I was stunned and grateful.
When one door closes, another one opens. Lisa had
opened the door. And now the universe was clearly
letting me see that new life grows from a vacuum.
Momentum started to build as a friend from NH, who
rarely ventures down to Boston offered to take me out
to lunch for my birthday, in spite of torrential rain.
A very special friend who is working in Pakistan who I
hadn't spoken to in weeks, called. Another very
special friend who I have known for 30 years called
and left a singing voicemail for me. Friends from all
different times and places in my life wrote messages
on Facebook. A woman I went to high school with,
even sent me a photo from the yearbook my junior
year in high school! All kinds of unexpected treats and
treasures were emerging. And I had the wonderful
opportunity of just letting and receiving. I was filled
with gratitude and humility.
The dinner with Lisa was magnificent. She brought
me a dozen peach colored roses, and treated me and
Alex to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants.
When I opened her special birthday gift, inside were
three handmade porcelain seed pods--symbols of the
void from which life grows! It turns out Lisa's brother
had turned 50 the month before I did, so she made
him a set of 50 seed pods as his gift. She had three
left over, and gave them to me. I was very touched.
Besides being beautiful, they seemed so perfect for
me having spent so many days and weeks sitting in
the void, seeing what life might unfold. And when I
realized the next morning that a member of the EKP
community had given me a pouch of "heart seeds"
when she moved to San Francisco, I realized that I
had the very seeds to place in each pod.
When the universe works through synchronicities, I
know I am on the right track. The morning of
November 26, I awoke at 5:30 am, and realized I
needed to give one of my three seed pods with a heart
seed to my special new friend/colleague who was
bringing over the birthday breakfast. Lisa's pods were
already bearing fruit, and the gift of her love was
already multiplying, so I could pass it on.
When my friend received his pod/heart seed and it
was clearly the right symbol at the right time, I felt full
and truly blessed. This is how life is supposed to
work. When we sit in the vacuum, new life can grow.
And when we gratefully receive the gifts, expected or
unexpected, they only multiply and grow. I felt so
connected to the spirit of life, and so much a part of the
circle of life, I was moved to tears.
So, perhaps that was my ultimate birthday gift. By
letting go, and surrendering into the vacuum of
nothingness, by letting and not doing at all, my heart's
deepest dreams could be realized.
Interesting how I
had selected "When Dreams Suffer," the song I wrote
in 1978, which became my signature song in my semi-
professional singer/songwriter days to include in the
Thanksgiving HealingHeartPower newsletter. "When
dreams suffer, there must be fear in their way. So,
close your eyes until you realize, your dreams will, in
time, guide your way."
including it was inspired by Safia Mohamed's
incredible story about dreaming to be the best that she
could be. Love comes around full circle. Even our
I think I will make it a habit of sitting in the void more
often, and of consciously planting heart seeds in pods,
and letting them grow!
©2008 Linda Marks
Share your thoughts on this article...
Spirituality As An Everyday Practice
My colleague, Walter Rice, gave a presentation which
explored spirituality in our lives and in the healing arts at
the November meeting of the Wellness
Roundtable. He made what I believe was an
important and wise point, that many people connect with
spirituality only in a crisis, not as a daily practice.
This is sad in many ways. Connecting with a sense of
spirituality evokes a universal energy which can help
us, in divine time, create the things that really matter
in our lives. The more often we connect with a sense
of spirituality, the more this universal energy is
available to us. When regular meditation, prayer or
whatever spiritual practice we choose is practiced, we
are more likely to be living in the flow of life, where our
heart's voice is more accessible.
Walter shared a wonderful piece that is said to be a
handwritten sign found on the wall of Mother Theresa's
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior
motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends, and
some true enemies; be successful anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy
overnight; build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be
jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget
tomorrow; do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be
enough, give the world your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was
never between you and them anyway.
I think this message is a wise one to inspire us to follow
our hearts, and do what is really right and true, no matter
what shakes out in the journey of life. I think this
message is a wonderful meditation to help create
spirituality in daily life.
December 6, is the next Healing the
Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in
Newton. Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing
The EKP Community Holiday Party is on
Saturday, December 6 from 6 - 8:30 pm. Bring a
contribution to a potluck dinner, and any favorite music
musical instruments. Friends and loved ones are
welcome. RSVP to LSMHEART@aol.com, so we
who is coming.
Linda will be leading Embracing the Power of the
Heart, a weekend retreat at Rowe Camp and
Conference Center in Rowe, MA the weekend of
January 9 - 11. Rowe is the most warm and
welcoming place to go for a workshop! We hope you
can join us! Register Online at www.rowecenter.org.
On Saturday, January 24, Dan Cohen and Linda
Marks will be leading Healing the Traumatized
Integenerational Heart. This workshop integrates
Hellinger Family Constellations work with EKP to
provide an incredibly powerful opportunity to heal
integenerational enegy doing soul work and oversoul
EKP Apprenticeship Training will begin in
January 2009. The apprentice
group meets one weekend a month. The program
four year cycle. The first two years focus
skills and concepts of EKP with ones peers,
the very popular second year study of
developmental psychology. The second two
clinical years, where apprentices get to work
guest clients in our student clinic. If you
in apprenticing, contact LSMHEART@aol.com. An
interview and one EKP session are required to
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
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
couple new members)
- On-going Sunday EKP Monthly Process
Group (which also has room for a couple new
If you would like a Healing the
workshop near you, or have a group of people
who you would like to bring EKP to, please
To find out more....
Planting a Heart Seed
For quite a long time, my heart has been telling me it is
time to get a "real house"--one that is my own home, and
both has the space to welcome large groups of people
(for events like the holiday party) and for privacy and
solitude. Ideally, I would like a house that allows for a
sense of home and family.
While I am very grateful to this house at 3 Central
Avenue for holding the space for me to simultaneously
work and be a present single mom to my son, I am
afraid my heart and spirit have truly outgrown the
space. I love my office and group room, but I have
little space for me in this big house. To make things
work economically, so I can live by my values, which
include being fully present to my son, and providing
services for people who cannot truly afford me in
addition to those who can afford me, I have
"squeezed" my own life into a much smaller quarters
than I really need.
I don't know exactly how I will be able to get my "real
house," or when. Creating financial circumstances
that will allow me to get a single family home is
something I must actively work with. Just by putting
out my intention of finding a way to find/afford/manifest
a "real house," is an important first step.
For those who have come to love 3 Central Avenue, I
have every intent of keeping my office here. This
house has provided space for lots of healing over the
past 18 years, and I would like it to continue to serve
that purpose for many more years.
When I first moved here from my prior office at the
Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart in
Newton Corner, I remember the feeling of disruption
and displacement from many of my clients at the time!
I realize how sacred it is to have one place to count on
coming to for healing work!
So, in the spirit of pods and heart seeds, by writing this
here, I am planting a seed. And I am holding it gently
with an open hand and a sincere heart, trusting that, in
time, my hearts desires will be able to come true.
I welcome your thoughts....