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

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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 newsletter. 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!

Heartfully, Linda

 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 between men and women, women and women, or men and men.

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 life's experience 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 physical presence of a caring friend can be the difference between a 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 weight."

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 a DELIGHT to surrender and get led. While many serious dancers learn both to lead and follow, I was content just to follow. To have one place in life where I DON'T have to 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 and soulfully.

I loved this piece that my friend Dianna sent to me called "Guidance."

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 life.

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

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 The Traumatized Heart in a Traumatizing Economic Climate

Iraq Weedflower 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 of:

* an $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values

* a $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets

* 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 wrote:

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 and loving constancy. While not all of life is predictable, we need some fundamental structures to be stable to be emotionally and financially safe. When 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.

We need 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 matters.

2. Live within our means. The entitlement society contributes to the debt society. People spend beyond their means and carry heavy debt. This needs to stop.

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 community healthy.

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 environment?

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

Share your thoughts.... 

 HealingHeartPower Calendar

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

Saturday, April 26, is the next Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing and community.

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 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 - 8:30 pm.

On Sunday, March 22, Dan Cohen and Linda Marks will be leading another Healing the Traumatized Integenerational Heartworkshop. 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.

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 Thursday 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

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 13-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda... 

 Community Announcements

My friends and colleagues, Penny Goldmuntz, Michael Trachtman and Lee Weinstein are offering their Use Mind Powers Course beginning on Tuesday, March 10 in Arlington, MA. This 6 week class lets you learn and practice the universal laws of mind and the key ingredients to super charge your visualizations, affirmations and meditations to manifest all of your heart's desires.

Researchers at Merrimack College are conducting a study on the relationship between intimacy and sexuality in all romantic relationships. Professor Michael Mascolo, PhD, is leading the study to explore what makes relationships intimate and what makes sex with a partner intimate.

The study will take 30 minutes or more and will be conducted anonymously by phone or IM. If you are interested, contact Michael at

I welcome your thoughts....