January 1, 2009 
 HealingHeartPower Newsletter
 Reclaiming the Power of the Heart
In This Issue

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I greatly appreciate all the appreciative feedback I received from community members about the December newsletter. It seems that the articles really touched a chord for many people! That is always a real blessing. My purpose is to write from the heart to the heart. And my hope is always to provide a little bit of heartfull enrichment to all who read this newsletter.

One reader commented,

"Thanks for your monthly newsletter. I always look forward to reading it and today, the stories about the narcissistic heart wound and your lovely story about heart seeds and pods just couldn't have been better timed to drop into my e-mail box."

Thank you for helping keep my heart open!"


Another reader, my colleague, David Anick, reflected on a concept I decided to explore further in this e- newsletter, "other-esteem."

David wrote:

"In addition to teaching self-esteem, we need to make sure our children learn 'other-esteem.' Other- esteem is related to, but not identical with respect and courtesy. Other-esteem requires the humility to recognize that others have gifts in various areas that are greater than one's own and do matter, and the gratitude to know that you and the world are better off for their gifts."

Another community member wrote:

"I was humbled to hear myself described as part of the EKP community. I had only thought of myself as a person, seeking solace, comfort, growth from EKP. But if one finds solace, comfort and growth as a part of this work, you do go out into the world and act and react to it in a different, more "heartful" way. In an essence you become a part of this virtual community wherever you go, sending this heart energy into the world.

I had thought of them more as stones but you are right, they are "seeds," seeds of hope and happiness... The same day you sent me your note I ran into this quote:

Growth can only be gradual. The seed that is sown today does not sprout into a tree the next day. It does so only in the course of time, at its own pace, and by its own order.

- Swami Kripalu

Serendipity and fate are two perhaps contradictory ideas. I believe in both and whichever made our paths cross, I am forever grateful.

I am glad to hear your 50th was, in the end, a nice celebration. You have certainly planted a lot of heart seeds along the way - you just never know when they will sprout...


Articles in this issue focus on matters of love in all of our relationships: "Other Esteem: Everybody Really Matters," following from my colleague David Anick's reflections, "Love Without Strings," my own reflections on the journey to live from a place of unconditional love, and "Sustained Relationships and Heart Health."

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Other Esteem: Everybody Really Matters

When my colleague, David Anick shared his reflections on the article on "Narcissism and Self- Esteem Versus Ego" from the December newsletter, I deeply appreciated his use of the term, "other esteem."

How we think about, understand and relate to others is as essential to both our personal well-being and our collective survival as having a healthy, grounded sense of self. One could argue that in our culture, people have learned to develop their self-esteem, but few even think about, never mind consciously develop, a sense of "other-esteem."

"Other-esteem" is a good umbrella concept to embrace many values at the very heart of EKP. First and foremost, EKP is founded on the deep belief that everybody matters, and what matters to each person really matters. In our culture, too often, we can discount, push away, block out or try to forget another person if we don't like what they are saying, if we don't believe the same things they believe, if they have hurt us or if we just don't understand them. While there are times we do need to set boundaries for our own self- preservation or well-being, one can set boundaries without discounting that another person is still a person, and that as a person, they do still really matter.

If we "other" a person--separating them from us, focusing on how different they are, including judging them as bad or wrong, we lose a part of ourselves. My English colleague, Nick Ralls wrote:

"In a war situation, if I think you are very much like me and you are the enemy it's going to be much more difficult for me to hurt you or kill you. But if I feel distant and removed from another person and do not recognise myself in that person, I do not feel or recognise my humanity in that person. Therefore, it might be nothing for me to kill you. The more alienated I am from other people, the more dangerous I am. Separation is the most profoundly painful thing that we human beings can ever experience. Even the concept that we are separate.. that you and I are separate is what is so very painful. When we see our connection with one another... realise that we are all God potential even if we are not expressing it... then our world changes and how we see other people changes too.

When I lead long-term groups, very often group members don't realize what a difference it makes to be absent from the group. I always tell people, your presence makes a difference and your absence leaves a gap, but this is often a very foreign concept.

When people are absent they often feel, "no one is going to care if I am not there," or "maybe the group will be better off it I am not there, because there will be more time and space for everyone else, " or "I am ashamed of missing the group, so let me be invisible and no one will notice." Likewise, when a person is running late, they may not realize that taking the time to make a phone call, to communicate that they will be even 10 minutes late makes a difference and feels like a gesture of respect to the others who are waiting for him/her.

Recognizing that our presence makes a difference and our absence leaves a gap helps us realize we matter to other people, and our lack of communication or presence or absence really impacts others. Realizing we matter to others and our actions or lack of actions impact them is part of "other-esteem."

Another piece of other-esteem is the recognition that everyone has unique gifts to give the world and everyone also has learning edges--places to learn and grow. When we are able to connect with our gifts and bring them to other people and the world at large, the world is much richer for it. When we hold back our gifts or are afraid to expose our gifts, everyone loses. Having courage to learn and grow only strengthens us and those around us. When we are afraid of our human frailties or the things we don't know, we pull back our energy and our absence leaves a gap, once again.

Having both a healthy respect and a humility about our gifts can make it easier to embrace and give them. Having compassion for our growing edges and human frailties can make it safer to explore them. In EKP, one core value is all parts are welcome here, and in order for our strength and our vulnerability to show up all the way, we have to feel safe, welcome and embraced for who we are.

Other esteem asks us not to take anything for granted. There is so much we don't know, and there are so many people whose cultures, values, beliefs and experiences are different than ours in this world. In the class I teach at UMass Boston on relationships, we draw from the "social constructionist framework." One principle from this framework is "a critical stance towards taken-for-granted knowledge." It is important that we strive to view the world objectively without preconceived notions about how people should behave.

Another principle is "historical and cultural specificity." One should not assume that our way of understanding the world is any better than any other human being's way. We need to factor in differences in culture, experience, and context. There is an old saying, "where you stand is based on where you sit." Trying to understand people's thoughts, feelings, actions, beliefs and behaviors in their own context helps us develop other-esteem.

And finally, another key principle of other-esteem is that while roles are replaceable, people are not replaceable. Each person in this world is a unique being, and deserves to be seen, treated and received as such. If we lump people together as "all men" or "all women," or "all children," or "all babyboomers," we lose sight of the uniqueness that distinguishes any person from a group they may also be part of. And in doing so, we are more likely to "other" the person rather than appreciating both their uniqueness and our sense of interconnection with them for their uniqueness.

Deep other-esteem is something that needs to be consciously cultivated over time. It can go hand-in-hand with self-esteem, but one does not guarantee the other.

In closing, I'd like to share another one of my colleague, David Anick's reflections:

"It has taken me much time and practice to learn true other-esteem. which is not the same as the pseudo-other-esteem I used to do (and usually got away with) giving to them. That was more like flattery born of kind intentions. Even though it 'worked,' it never led me to feel connected to others. A certain kind of self-esteem has had to go as I develop more genuine other-esteem. It isn't fun and involves facing fears and doubts that I've long hidden from. Self- esteem/other-esteem is one of those spirals we keep returning to just when we think we've got it."

And in the spirit of that spiral of evolving thought and knowledge, I welcome your reflections on this topic!

©2008 Linda Marks

Please share your thoughts... 

 Love Without Strings

When I was in my mid-20's, I had an experience that opened my eyes to the importance of healthy, grounded, spacious and present love. I lived in Shrewsbury, MA at the time, and was beginning my body psychotherapy practice, while doing organizational consulting on a contract basis for Digital Equipment Corporation.

I had been struggling with drawing healthy boundaries with both of my parents. I had been more like a mother to my mother than a daughter, and my father had rage management issues. So, I learned to set a healthy distance between me and them, so I could have space to be myself and have a life. While my mother did have a warm and loving side, because of her abandonment by her own mother when she was young, she also had a wounded child, whose abandoned part made her cling to me in what I called a "desparate" way. She wanted something from me that I could not provide, because I sensed she was reaching out to me when she really needed to reach inward to herself. She did not know this, and would not seek therapy, since in her generation seeking therapy meant you were "crazy." As a result, she acted out in relationship to me without being aware of what she was doing or the painful impact it had on me.

One day I was on the phone with an organizational consulting client in my dining room. I had the doors to my breezeway locked, since it was a beautiful day, and the main door to my house was open. Out of nowhere, I heard a banging on the breezeway screens, and a voice shouting, "Open the door right now! How dare you lock out your mother!"

I found myself in a state of shock, as my mother had arrived literally at my door step, unplanned, and at an inopportune time. Rather than considering that I might be at work, and that my screen doors might be locked for a meaningful reason, she took it personally when I wasn't even expecting her! Her shouting was loud and disruptive to my professional call--embarrassing even. I had to tell my client an unexpected visitor had arrived at my door, and I would have to call him back after I attended to that business.

I found myself concluding in that moment that I could no longer relate to my mother if she came to me out of desparation and I could no longer relate to my mother if I came to her out of guilt. I realized that I felt guilty about her sense of desparation and my need to distance from what felt like the vacuum sucking pressure of her unmet needs directed towards me. And as I put up healthy boundaries to counter the vacuum sucking energy, she felt more and more desparate and pursued me more heatedly. This was not healthy, and something needed to change. So, I told her that day, I could no longer see her til she came to me out of choice, not desparation and I came to her out of choice, not guilt. That was quite a message for me to deliver. And she did not speak to me for 6 to 9 months. And I never felt more free than after making that statement so clearly and heartfully.

I came to realize energetically that love attracts and fear repels. Yet, it isn't always someone's fault that they are carrying the energy of deep fear. Deep fear often has its roots in unmet needs. And even if a person is conscious of their unmet needs, it doesn't mean they know how or where to get their unmet needs met.

In fact, if they did know how and where to get their unmet needs met, most likely, they would have already done so, and found a way to integrate and move past the fear.

In spite of the depth of my commitment to healing and growth, I have found over the years, that I too, being human, can suffer from this very ailment. Even after years of therapy, bodywork and all kinds of healing workshops and processes, there are parts of my abandoned self that still seek full integration and healing. Parts of my inner child, and perhaps even inner infant or prenatal self, still need to be presenced, loved and seen for who they are...And having not had those experiences, when abandonment or potential abandonment sets in, I move into an uncontained energy, that most likely has some of that very "vacuum sucking" quality I experienced from my mother.

Even though I know that about myself, know how to curl up in my bed with pillows between my knees, on my heart and in my hands, and know how to "ride the rapids" of painful feelings that course through my body and heart in those "vacuum" moments, there are times I pray that I can experience the missing experiences I need to heal this deep place, so I don't have to ride the rapids again.

I realize that the more deeply I can integrate and heal those uncontained places, the more fully I can love unconditionally in all moments, and not fall prey to my own frailties brought forth by my experiences of emotional abandonment or unmet needs at a very early age in a very primal way.

I have come to realize that the more deeply I heal my soul, the more deeply I can fully love without strings. Some people consciously attach strings to love, making a spoken or unspoken contract that says, "If I do X, then you will do Y." Meaning that what is exchanged in a package called "love," is actually conditional, and not really freely given and received.

For others, who have done more inner work exploring and integrating their unmet needs, love need not be so conditional. A greater sense of spaciousness and respect can enter into the love arena--both with love for self and love for another human being. Truly spacious love breeds the space for another person to come by choice and not obligation. And this creates an emotional freedom that allows a much deeper intimacy to build.

What is very humbling is that even with lots and lots of inner work at conscious and unconscious levels, there can still be primal vestiges of unmet needs, some of which may exist in the transgenerational energy field of our ancestors, yet still effect our lives. By engaging in transgenerational energy work, like Family Constellations, we can release some of these strings in a heartbeat. And by going deep into the body, heart and soul, using EKP, we can have moments where we are known, seen and heard for who we truly are, and heal the places of unmet needs. These experiences help us integrate our uncontained energy, and shine light on our darkest places.

If we have the opportunity to fully be ourselves, and be fully received and loved for who we are, we become lovers of choice, not obligation or desparation. And we can give and receive love freely, without strings.

©2008 Linda Marks

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 Sustained Relationships and Heart Health

Iraq Weedflower As I started to prepare for the Rowe retreat, and started flipping through my Rowe workshop notebook, I came across a wonderful article by Daniel Goleman entitled "Friends for Life: An Emerging Biology of Emotional Healing." I am often amazed about the gems I have found and hidden away inadvertently, leaving me lucky enough to rediscover them when the time is right.

The key message that stood out from this article is "the emotional status of our main relationships has a significant impact on our overall pattern of cardiovascular and endocrine activity." Simply put, the health of our important relationships effects our heart health and endocrine health as well as the quality of our lives.

Intuitively, this is not new information. Yet, I always love it when science comes up with a way to explain what I've always known to be true in my heart. Goleman reflects that the relationship between important relationships and our heart health and endocrine health, "radically expands the scope of biology and neuroscience from focusing on a single body or brain to looking at the interplay between two at a time. In short, my hostility bumps up your blood pressure, your nurturing love lowers mine. Potentially, we are each other's biological enemies or allies."

An interesting concept that has emerged from the new field of social neuroscience, the study of how people's brains entrain as they interact, adds an important piece to the health and relationship puzzle. Mirror neurons are "a widely dispersed class of brain cells that operate like WiFi. Mirror neurons track the emotional flow, movement and even intentions of the person we are with, and replicate that sensed state in our own brain by stirring in our brain the same areas active in the other person."

Have you ever noticed that laughter is contagious? And so is depression? "Mirror neurons offer a neural mechanism that explains emotional contagion, the tendency of one person to catch the feelings of another, particularly if they are strongly expressed. This brain-to-brain link may also account for the feelings of rapport, which research finds depends in part on extremely rapid synchronization of people's posture, vocal pacing and movements as they interact."

If you add in the power of the heart through its electromagnetic field, which allows us to touch without words powerfully when we are 8 - 10 feet away and more subtly at greater distances, there is a lot more to interpersonal interaction than we may have ever fathomed. The more fully grounded we are in love, respect, listening, honoring and hearing self and other, the more powerfully our electromagnetic energy field, our brain waves, and our life energy impact another in a positive way. When we lose our grounding, feel badly about ourselves or project our triggered feelings onto a loved on, we became a literal energy drain on the cardiac, mental and life energy systems. That makes a really good argument for the importance of good self-care, including caring for the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of our lives.

Goleman notes that coordination of emotions, cardiovascular reactions or brain states between two people allow people to become a "mutually regulating psychobiological unit." And this helps explain the power of body-centered healing methods like EKP. As we literally connect emotionally, energetically and neurologically, we can become healing forces for one another in all ways.

Goleman cites "the biology of emotional rescue," when a friend or loved one holds your hand in a stressful or painful time. When people bear difficulties in isolation, the very zones of the brain that generate the sting of physical pain are activated. Is it any accident that we use the term "broken heart," to describe the loss of a loved one? There is a literal break in the energy field when we suffer a loss, and a loved one leaves or removes the conscious intentional loving energy of their heart towards your heart.

All of this research points to the importance of sustaining close relationships consciously over time. If we can bring conscious care and attention to ourselves and our loved ones over time, our heart health, our overall health and the quality of our lives will only grow.

Much as we've learned to reach out and touch the keyboard (and I am doing so right now as I write), there is no substitute for being in the presence of the ones we love.

©2008 Linda Marks

Share your thoughts.... 

 HealingHeartPower Calendar

Saturday, February 21, is the next Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing and community.

The Embracing the Power of the Heart, weekend retreat at Rowe Camp and Conference Center in Rowe, MA, January 9 - 11 is right around the corner! My friend and colleague Alan Krentzel is part of the staff team, integrating Tai Chi/Qigong to balance the EKP healing work.

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.

Alan and I are also working to integrate Tai Chi, EKP and Stress Management tools in other settings. Alan is offering a Tai Chi and Qigong class at the Beacon Hill Athletic Club in West Newton on Wednesday, January 14 at 6:45 pm. The two of us are offering at Stress Management workshop at Beacon Hill Athletic Club on Wednesday, February 11.

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 work.

The next EKP Apprenticeship Training begins this month, January 2009.

I am delighted that two of my colleagues, Dan Cohen and Alan Krentzel will be enriching the learning environment for the first year and fourth year apprentices. Dan will be bringing his Family Constellations work, and Alan will be bringing his Tai Chi/Qigong work to the training.

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. You only need to commit to the first year of training to participate.

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 almost 13-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda... 

 Heart Seed of the Month

Last month, I took the risk of planting a heart seed of vision at the end of the newsletter. I've decided, at least for this month, that it's a good and meaningful practice to do that.

In addition to having a beautiful, open, spacious, private home space, which remains a heart's desire of mine, in whatever time it comes, another heart seed I wish to plant is for an organic structure that grows the presence and availability of EKP work.

As the field of neuroscience has developed, deepened and broadened, so that neurocardiology, neurochemistry and even social neuroscience have emerged and evolved, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that the healing heart work EKP provides should be available to all. I would like to grow the apprenticeship program so that more people can participate, more of my wonderful colleagues with complementary bodies of knowledge and skills can integrate them, and so that more and more members of the general public can have access to health and care for their hearts and lives.

I can imagine developing a program with a university affiliation. I can imagine developing a program in collaboration with a group of my colleagues that we offer privately, much as the EKP apprenticeship has evolved. I am open to all possibility, just looking for ways to bring the spirit of EKP and heartpowered healing to people in the local community and people all over the world.

Your thoughts, ideas, reflections and actions are always welcome!

I welcome your thoughts....