The impact of our economic downturn seems to be
more and more palpable as each day passes. I have
met with two financial planning colleagues over the
past few weeks, and in addition to offering "The
Money Class," the 6 week money empowerment
coaching class I have offered over the past 25 years,
am looking to collaborate to find new ways to help
people gain tools for self-care and money
empowerment in economically challenging times.
If you would like a place to talk about your money
goals, your money fears and take concrete action, you
may want to participate in the Monday night section
of the Money Class beginning on March 30 from
7:30 - 9:30 pm in Newton. More information is
included at the end of the 3rd feature article in this
Heart of the Matter Discussion Session
I am gathering together a small group of people who
all live with heart issues: atrial fibrillation, cardiac
arrhythmia, atrial tachycardia, past heart attack, and
other heart conditions, for a discussion exploring
people's experiences with conventional medical
treatment (medications, procedures), mind-body
approaches for heart issues and observations about
the relationship between emotional states, stress and
their heart health. This group will set up one meeting.
If you or anyone you know is interested, e-mail
Articles in this issue include: "Friendship and
Stress Reduction," exploring how reaching out
and connection with a friend is a healthy alternative to
fight or flight,
"Dancing With God," reflecting on the
metaphor of dancing as a spiritual metaphor for life,
and "The Traumatized Heart in a Traumatizing
Economic Climate," taking a look at how our
current financial environment impacts our emotional
well-being and healing.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome!
Friendship and Stress Reduction
I have seen many studies over the years extolling the
value of close relationships for better health over the
course of our lives. However, a friend recently brought to
my attention a "landmark study" at UCLA that notes that
turning to a friend in a time of stress is actually a good
alternative to "fight or flight."
While the study has a limited lens--only friendships
between women are studied--I believe the
message is relevant to all deep friendships: whether
men and women, women and women, or men and
In a summary of this study, Gale Berkowitz notes that
while spending time with friends can "soothe our
tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our
marriage, and help us remember who we really are,"
it can also "counteract the kind of stomach-quivering
stress most of us experience on a daily basis."
After five decades of stress research, mostly on men,
discovering that there is another response in addition
to fight or flight is groundbreaking. Oxytocin, the
bonding hormone, is released as part of the stress
response in women. So, rather than just fighting or
fleeing, women choose to reach out and gather with
others--children or friends. "This tending or
befriending" releases more oxytocin and further
counters stress. Because men produce high levels of
testosterone when they are under stress, postulates
the study, the effects of oxytocin are reduced.
Estrogen enhances oxytocin.
I wonder how much is truly nature and nurture. If men
are socialized to "hole up" by themselves under stress,
and women are socialized to seek connection and
support, does that not impact our neural and hormonal
pathways in addition to our primal male and female
natures? What if men were allowed to reach out, and
still would be considered strong and masculine?
Sadly, women too, can "hole up," when we
really need to reach out, if we've learned through our
that when we are vulnerable, no one is there.
When I struggle emotionally, I also struggle viscerally.
No matter how many self-care techniques I have, and
how well I master them, plenty of times I literally need
a shoulder to cry on, a friend to lend a
helping hand, or a friend who can hold me and put
their hands on the front and back of my heart. The
presence of a caring friend can be the difference
momentary transformation and hours if not days of
heaviness and pain.
Having close friends who are available, helps us lead
healthier lives. Gale Berkowitz's article cites a Nurses'
Health Study from Harvard Medical School, that found
"the more friends women had, the less likely they were to
develop physical impairments as they aged, and the
more likely the were to be leading a joyful life."
The results were so significant, that the researchers
concluded, "not having close friends or confidantes was
as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra
The Beatles spoke a health-related fact when they
sang, "I get by
with a little help from my friends." Is it really a surprise
that cardiace health issues in what my colleague Terry
Real calls, "an anti-relational, vulnerability despising
culture?" Hearts seek connection.
Hearts seek and offer comfort. If my heart hurts and I
am physically held, the pain melts out of my
chest and I am recharged.
Taking the time to cultivate emotionally close
relationships and making the space to spend time with
close friends is powerful stress reduction medicine!
©2009 Linda Marks
Please share your thoughts...
Dancing With God:
Dance, for me, has always been a spiritual practice. As a
child, as soon as I heard a rhythm, my body just started
moving. In fact, as a young girl, when my parents would
drive by a "record hop," I felt a pull in my gut to stop the
car and go inside.
Most often, my parents would ignore the request of a 7
year old girl to go to an adult function. But one night, my
requests must have been so permeating, that my parents
actually stopped the car and let me go inside.
I found myself enraptured with the dance floor, the music,
the whole environment. And when I stepped out to move
with the music, the adults looked at me in puzzlement.
Why would a little girl be there to dance?
As I got older, and pursued partner dancing--East
Coast Swing, Ballroom Dancing, and eventually, West
Coast Swing, I realized that dance was a wonderful
metaphor for life. In the dance, one surrenders and
goes with the flow of the music. It is a moving, body
meditation, celebration. I found myself to be a dancer
in the larger dance of life. And the dance floor was the
place I could reground and recharge and bring my
passion from the dance floor back into all of my life.
I loved partner dances because it was a place where I
could truly be feminine. I am such a leader in life, it is
DELIGHT to surrender and get led. While many
dancers learn both to lead and follow, I was content
to follow. To have one place in life where I DON'T
lead is heaven!
To dance in life is to wait til there's a stirring in my
heart, and then to follow the rhythm as it moves me.
When I connect with a song, my body just goes with
the flow of the music, and whatever unfolds is a
unique creation of the moment. I know no better
expression of my soul than dance, and no better way
to communicate with a partner than dancing.
Everything is present, deeply, without words. And
connection, joy and partnership can be shared fully
I loved this piece that my friend Dianna sent to me called
Dancing with God.
When I meditated on the word Guidance, I kept seeing
"dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading
that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The
movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything
is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person
realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies
begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the
back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness, and
attentiveness from one person and gentle guidance
and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance. When I saw
"G," I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i."
"God," "u," and "i" dance.
God, you and I dance.
As I lowered by head, I became willing to trust that I
would get guidance about m life. Once again, I
became willing to let God lead.
If we can surrender, and follow our hearts, and join
one another in the leading and following of dance, we
can be guided by the spirit of life to wherever we need
to be at any moment in time, and in the marathon of
I welcome you to join me in the dance. And I will
celebrate as you find your own rhythm in the dance.
©2009 Linda Marks
Share your thoughts on this article...
The Traumatized Heart in a Traumatizing Economic Climate
Eight years ago, my gut told me the economic
structure in this country was going to collapse. I
met with a number of financial professionals to try to
have this conversation, and felt like I was talking to the
wall. Not only could people not hear what I was
sensing. They kept trying to convince me that the
standard approach to money
management and investment was etched in stone and
was the holy grail.
Nothing would change. To reach a goal like
putting my son to college, I just had to follow the magic
formula and everything would be okay.
Three years ago, I approached the financial
professionals again, this time with the data that things
had not followed the
magic model. When I articulated that I sensed the
economy was in a
further decline, at least some of the financial
professionals could agree I had been on to something
8 years ago. But no one knew what to do.
And neither did I. I truly felt like a frog in the pot of
boiling water. I knew that the heat had been turned
on, and I like all the other frogs, was slowly boiling to
my death. But I didn't know how to get out of the pot or
what else I might do instead.
My best friend, Brenda, sent me an article entitled,
"Worst Is Yet to Come: Americans' Standard of Living
Permanently Changed." The article noted that "there
is no question the American consumer is hurting in the
face of a bursting housing bubble, financial market
meltdown and rising unemployment."
But according to
Howard Davidowitz, a consultant to the retail
industry, "the worst is yet to come." Davidowitz
believes our standard of living is undergoing a
"'permanent change', and not for the better as a result
* an $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining
* a $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened
* a $14 trillion consumer debt load amid 'exploding
unemployment,' leading to 'exploding bankruptcies."
Davidowitz reflects, "The average American used to
be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a
good school (and) buy a car. A lot of that is gone."
As one who has always lived simply, made conscious
spending choices in the present with an eye towards
the future, even in small ways, and has saved
diligently towards college for my son and a SEP/IRA
for myself, even with a modest income, I feel betrayed.
I have watched my
life's savings crumble under a house of cards. Our
economic system has eaten my hard earned savings
and riddled holes in my financial future. The same is
true for most
everyone else who has been trying to find a way to
take care of themselves and those they love through
responsible money management. The
structures offered to provide a secure future have
stolen our life's
savings in the blink of an eye.
One newsletter reader wrote to me and requested that
I address the impact of a traumatizing economic
climate on healing the traumatized heart. The reader
In my life right now I continue to experience trauma
triggered feelings. And what is exacerbating this is the
economic downturn the country is in. I believe we
have reached the point where a depression is taking
over the collective mindset as millions are losing their
jobs, homes and even taking their own lives from
being despondent. I hear so many media reports that
seem to confirm this. And I worry as my savings
dwindle. My father went through the major depression
in the 1930's and told me of the soup lines and the
destitute conditions of the day. So, today as many
similar vibes emanate, my feelings become more
acute. I also wonder about the many others with
traumatized hearts who may be affected."
Healing a traumatized heart requires emotional safety
constancy. While not all of life is predictable, we need
some fundamental structures to be stable to be
emotionally and financially safe.
the world around us, and the ways we very personally
plug in to the
world, cannot hold us, we are pushed to the brink of a
primal fear and despair.
Society is "supposed" to
provide a "catchment net" for its citizens. We are all
interconnectedly spiritually and practically. But in the
isolation and compartmentalization of our current
world, we can lose touch with this truth. We are taught
to operate in a mode of full self-reliance. When things
crumble, there is nothing underneath us. We crumble.
We are left alone in the dark, quite literally and
figuratively. I was appalled when I read an article
several months ago
about a man in his 80's who froze to death when the
electric company turned off his heat for several months
of unpaid bills.
The impersonality of life in today's world, renders us
invisible to one another. This way of life may always
carry a shadow of pain and loneliness. It is terrifying
and barren in times of great need. It is too
easy to slip through the cracks and get lost. The
sense of entitlement that is epidemic today only
exacerbates the problem.
to build infrastructures that restore care, awareness
and community consciousness. We need one another
to survive. And we need social architecture that
allows us to support each other to survive, especially
in dire times.
To create catchment nets for our times we need to:
1. Simplify our way of life. Slow down. Stop
running pillar to post. Ask ourselves what is really
essential. Realign our lives around what really
2. Live within our means. The entitlement
society contributes to the debt society. People spend
beyond their means and carry heavy debt. This needs
3. Help thy neighbor. If those close to you--
geographically as well as emotionally--are going
through hard times, be part of the solution. Volunteer
a few hours of your time. Look at the needs in your
community and help come up with community-based
programs to meet these needs.
4. Patronize your local small businesses. Keep
your money in your local community. Local
entrepreneurs are stakeholders in your community.
Helping keep them healthy will help keep your
5. Share more. Consider taking in a
housemate. Offer a ride to a friend if you are both
going to an event. If someone is ill or in need, bring
them a meal.
6. Lend an ear or a helping hand. Be a good
listener. Spend face to face time with your friends,
especially when they are having a hard time. If you
know someone is trying to do it all alone, offer help.
We need to restore both giving and receiving to the
circle of life. What goes around needs to come back to
us, and then cycle back again.
©2009 Linda Marks
The Money Class: Making Peace With Money in
Economically Challenging Times
The Money Class is a 6 week coaching class
that gives you an opportunity to explore your
relationship with money. What does money mean to
you? What role does it play in your life? How clearly
do you look at your financial reality in concrete terms?
How much is enough? And what can you do to regain
some money control in an economically traumatizing
This class will help you gain a clearer picture of your
relationship with money, and define action steps you
can take to build a more empowered, "right
relationship" with money, no matter what your
circumstances. The class format includes exercises,
partner work, group discussions, homework to
supplement in-class exercises and personal coaching.
I am looking to start a class on Monday nights from
7:30 - 9:30 pm beginning on March30.
For more information, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.
Share your thoughts....
The Thursday night EKP Therapy Group has
openings for a couple new members. An interview
and one EKP session are required to apply. Contact
Linda if you are interested at LSMHEART@aol.com
April 26, is the next Healing the
Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in
Newton. Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing
There will also be a Healing the Traumatized
Heart Workshop on Sunday, March 15 from 1 - 5
pm in Bedford. We are bringing the heartwork into the
living room of someone who is unable to gain access
to most of our regular venues.
The Money Class: Making Peace With Money in
Economically Challenging Times is a 6 week
coaching class designed to help you build a more
empowered relationship with money, no matter what
your circumstances are. I am looking to start a
section of this class on Monday, March 30.
Contact LSMHEART@aol.com for more information.
Linda Marks and Alan Krentzel offered
a Stress Management workshop at
Beacon Hill Athletic Club in West Newton, MA
on Wednesday, March 25, and are working to
arrange an ongoing Stress Management Class there.
If you would like to participate, e-mail
Linda and Alan are also offering a Stress
Management workshop at Wayland Wellness
in Wayland, MA on Wednesday, March 11 from 7 -
On Sunday, March 22, Dan Cohen and Linda
Marks will be leading another Healing the
Integenerational Heartworkshop. This workshop
Hellinger Family Constellations work with EKP to
provide an incredibly powerful opportunity to heal
integenerational enegy doing soul work and oversoul
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 Thursday 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....