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

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This past month has been a voyage into the obstacle course of today's medical system for me and my son Alex. He broke his left arm (he is a lefty) on a school field trip on March 6, and I have learned that to get him the care he needs and deserves, sometimes more than even strong advocacy is necessary.

My experience has only fueled my passion for developing a Community Wellness Program model to assure care is available to all who need it. I am working with my colleague, Cuf Ferguson, who is the Dean of the College of Community and Public Service at UMass Boston, to write a grant proposal to pursue this vision. I hope to pilot my concept with the City of Newton, since I have lived here for two decades and have practiced EKP here for nearly 25 years.

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 the Money Class which will meet on Monday evenings from 7:30 - 9:30 pm in Newton.

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 LSMHEART@aol.com.

Articles in this issue include: "Kindness and Survival," which acknowledges goodness and kindness may be biologically wired into our make-up to ensure our survival, "Lower Standard of Living, Higher Quality of Life" reflects on reader feedback to one of the articles in the March newsletter, "Alternatives to Medicating Our Children." We need to be careful WHY we medicate children, and we empower our children more deeply by teaching them to master their inner lives. And....

On a lighter note, a newsletter reader sent in the following story:

"I went to the Merrimack Repertory Theatre last night to see what was a superb single performer comedy entitled 'Bad Dates.'"

"The theatre also had a Bad Dates Contest and had the winning entrant printed in the program. Here it is, entitled 'Country Boy,' from a woman named 'June.'"

"My friend Susie gave me a membership in a dating service for my birthday. Bachelor number one met me at a local restaurant for dinner. He had shoulder-length white hair, coke-bottle glasses, and was dressed for a night at the Grand Ole Opry. He told me he was widowed, lived in a trailer park, and had been saving up for this night for several weeks. Just as I was wondering if ordering soup and salad would be an extravagance, I smelled something burning. His menu was on fire. Apparently, he failed to notice the lit candle in the center of the table. He extinguished the flames with her water glass and simultaneously drowned the bread basket. Our waitress graciously escorted us to another table."

"Half-way through the meal, he excused himself to use 'the facilities.' A few seconds later, I heard a shriek. Apparently, he had wandered into the ladies room. After he finally sorted it out and returned to the table, I noticed he had about six inches of toilet paper stuck to his cowboy boot. I prayed not to encounter anyone I knew. When the check came, he left the exact amount and told me he didn't believe in tipping. I felt so sorry for the poor waitress that I told him I left my gloves at the table so I could go back and leave a ten dollar bill. I waved goodbye (forever) as he drove away in his rusty pick-up truck complete with gun rack!"

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Kindess and Survival

When I was a child, my sense of service and compassion led me to leadership positions at a very young age. More recently, these same qualities have led too many people to treat me as a "chump" or a "cosmic tit," to be taken from, in spite of my clearly articulated and enforced boundaries. This has troubled me greatly.

My closest friends have commented that in today's world there are more takers than givers, and givers can be seen as "chumps," rather than part of the circle of life. Isn't what goes around supposed to come around? How did the circle get broken? Why do people not realize we are fundamentally interconnected, and we need to be kind and good to one another to assure our mutual survival?

I was delighted to discover an article in Scientific American from the Mind Matters section, February 26, 2009. The article is entitled, "Forget Survival of the Fittest: It is Kindness That Counts." The author interviews Dacher Keltner, author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

Keltner believes that through evolution as mammals and homonids, our species has "remarkable tendencies toward kindness, play, generosity, reverence and self-sacrifice, which are vital to the classic tasks of evolution--survival, gene replication and smooth functioning of groups."

Keltner says these tendencies can be felt in the "realm of emotion," as we experience "compassion, gratitude, awe, embarrassment and mirth." Darwin may be known for his "survival of the fittest" concept, however, he also studied "our capacity for caring, for play, for reverence and modesty" which is built into "our brains, our bodies, genes and social practices."

Keltner points out that in Descent of Man, Darwin argues that human beings are a "profoundly social and caring species." He "argues that our tendencies toward sympathy are instinctual and evolved," and perhaps even stronger than the instinct for "self-preservation."

In Darwin's Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals, detailed descriptions of "emotions such as reverence, love, tenderness, and embarrassment" are provided along with conceptual tools to document the origins of these emotions.

Keltner's own research has been on the vagus nerve, which University of Chicago psychiatrist, Steve Porges, has called "the care-taking organ of the body." When the vagus nerve is active, Keltner comments, "It is likely to produce that feeling of warm expansion in the chest, for example when we are moved by somone's goodness or when we appreciate a beautiful piece of music." The vagus nerve reduces heart rate, and new science has shown it may be closely connected to oxytocin receptor networks. Oxytocin is the "love hormone," or bonding hormone. It is also the "anti-stress hormone," since in addition to reducing stress, it also counteracts the effects of the "long-term stress hormone," cortisol.

If Keltner's research becomes more widely known, it provides an impetus for a cultural shift from consumption and materialism to kindness and caring. David DiSalvo, who interviews Keltner for the Scientific American article reflects, that "play, caring, touch and mirth are our older sources of the good life" in an "evolutionary sense."

I guess we really do need to lose our minds and come to our senses to restore what it truly means to be human beings. Compassion, empathy, loving touch and respect are perhaps as much bare necessities are food, clothing and shelter! Without these qualities of heart, life on earth really is at risk in more ways than we can even imagine!

©2009 Linda Marks

Please share your thoughts... 

 Lower Standard of Living, Higher Quality of Life?
 A New Definition of Abundance

I received two moving e-mails from newsletter readers in response to my article in the March newsletter on The Traumatized Heart in a Traumatizing Economic Climate.

"I read your newsletter about the looming changes to our standard of living and am at first scared. But I also see an opportunity for us as beings to find deeper spiritual connection with each other. For years, we have been numbed by the media-fed painkillers of consumerism and the God of money...We followed the drum beat to chase material gains, ultimately to our unwitting detachment from the celebration of life with each other. Perhaps, now in our shared crisis of economic instability, we will once again find our common bond."

-- Kim

"I think of Wendell Berry and my own 'food, clothing and shelter' security themes. I wonder if this may turn out to be important to people again, people besides me and Wendell."

"I was cutting some wood for the stove in Vermont that heats my house (and happily cooks food simply by putting said food on top of it, not to mention drying clothes) and noticed that most of my feelings of stress and panic were gone."

"In the depression, ordinary people didn't have cars, doctors, insurance or education where I come from. If they planned well and worked hard, they might have food, clothing and shelter by virtue of not losing the farm (or by the luck of sharing someone else's farm who hadn't lost it."


Comments like these make me reflect on the question, have we lost the distinction between standard of living and quality of life? I think of stories my clients have told me about friends or colleagues who have beautiful homes with beautiful furnishings, but who work so hard and travel so much to make the money it takes to "own" their house that they are never there to "live" in it. It remains a "house," but never becomes a "home."

Right now, many groups have arisen to help people follow the Law of Attraction. What we truly desire we have the power to create through thought, feeling and action. And yet, to be happy with what we create, it is essential we really cut to the core, and let ourselves unveil our heart's desires. I learned many years ago that the mind has the power to create anything we really want. But if what we "want" in our minds isn't what we really "need" or "desire" in our hearts, then "getting what we want" won't make us happy.

Too often, I have listened to people talking about creating abundance and focusing on nicer cars, bigger salaries, fancier houses, and more exotic vacations. And while there is surely some pleasure in each of these, there is another kind of abundance-- one that is based more on the quality of our days, our sense of connection and our relationships than on what we have or wish to acquire in the material world.

If gathering our material trinkets is at the expense of our emotional and spiritual lives, we may be materially abundant, yet emotionally and spiritually poor. Too often material abundance and emotional/spiritual abundance become polarized--two extremes on a continuum, rather than interconnected puzzle pieces and part of a larger whole.

I find when people experience emotional and spiritual fulfillment, their ability to have "enough" is greater, and what they "need" materially may simplify. One can have an appreciation of beauty and fine things, AND be satisfied by having something beautiful and fine, rather than a constant craving for more and more.

While I never wish hard times on anyone, sometimes it is those very hard times that strip away what have become the truly "unnecessary necessities" of daily living, and reveal what really matters at the core of our lives. By living simply in a shared space, on the one hand, I sometimes feel trapped or limited. Yet, at other times, I count my blessings that I am living a sustainable lifestyle, that can weather really hard times as well as good ones. While I lack the private space of a single family home, I also have others around should the furnace fail, or the water heater break. And I can ask for help or guidance when such emergencies require knowledge I don't possess or resources I don't know how to find.

If indeed we are being ushered into an era with a lower standard of living, we may also be receiving an opportunity to support one another when times are tough, and collectively share a higher quality of life. If abundance is about life providing what we really yearn for and need, then maybe the farming community Craig wrote about illustrated that kind of abundance. By having catchment nets where if one person is having a hard time, another pitches in with needed food or care, we know that we will all be caught.

I really love Hezekiah Walker's song, "I Need You to Survive." While some people read a title like this and interpret co-dependency, that is not the message I see in it at all. The lyrics go, "I need you. You need me. We're all a part of God's body. Stand with me. Agree with me. We're all a part of God's body. It is his will that every needed be supplied. You are important to me, I need you to survive."

If we can let ourselves be important to one another, through our ingenuity and care, we will truly have what we need!

©2009 Linda Marks

Share your thoughts on this article... 

 Alternatives to Medicating Our Children

Iraq Weedflower Why does our society medicate our children? What are the consequences of doing so? What do our children lose by being medicated? And what are alternatives? These are questions I explored with psychologist and health educator Roxanne Daleo.

"The most important question to ask yourself as a parent," reflects Dr. Roxanne, "Is what is motivating me? Do I want to medicate my child because I feel out of control and can't manage this child or is it truly for the betterment of his/her wellbeing?" We know from the psychobiology literature that pharmaceuticals in general do effect the integrity of the immune system." Too, studies of Ritalin use in children , particularly preschool age children, show that these children are likely to develop cardiac arrhythmias as young adults.

If a parent is overwhelmed by their child's needs or behaviors, the parent may seek to medicate their child to manage their own overwhelm or anxiety. A second factor Dr. Roxanne identifies is our sense of time in this culture. "Our relationship to time in this culture is a source of stress for many people. People have ideas of 'not enough time,' always having deadlines, being goal oriented and unable to approach a day or a task with a healthy balanced impression of 'I have the time I need...everything is in divine timing.'"

People suffer from what mind-body medicine physician Larry Dossey terms, "hurry sickness." "Type A personality people have 'hurry sickness,'" reflects Dr. Roxanne. "'Hurry sickness' drives the body into a fight or flight response, the stress response. We don't need it. We needed it when we were running from the sabre-toothed tiger and when we had to fight or flee. In modern times, we are running our bodies into overdrive all the time without relief. That wears the body out."

Dr. Roxanne feels relaxation, meditation and even hypnotherapy are better alternatives than medicating our children for many reasons. First, meditation or the relaxation response, a term developed by Herbert Benson, completely reverses the stress response. "It lowers the heart rate, the blood pressure and the overall metabolic rate," notes Dr. Roxanne. "It brings the body back into homeostasis or neutral. That ability to restore calm to mind, body and spirit is more powerful than any medication you can take. Learning to restore calm consciously is a powerful too."

Mind-body techniques allow us to tap the body's internal pharmacy, which generates natural chemicals, custom made by our bodies for our bodies without unwanted side effects. Research in the fields of neurocardiology and neurochemistry also shows that heart has its own internal pharmacy as well. As we tap the power of our hearts, we generate another class of natural, custom-made positive chemicals.

Dr. Roxanne recommends some simple ways to bring about a relaxation response:

1. Spend some time in nature. Absorption in a pleasant experience will bring about the relaxation response. The natural world helps us feel more connected.

2. Exercise. Any rhythmic, repetitive exercise puts the body in a zone that allows it to relax and restore itself.

3. Conscious relaxation. This is a powerful skill to cultivate. We can learn how to consciously relax using meditation, guided imagery and self-hypnosis.

4. Laughter and play. People take themselves too seriously. We can use song and merriment to offset the heavy doldrums of daily life.

Dr. Roxanne reflects, "It's your choice to change the channel." Sadly, too option people aren't aware there is the option of changing the channel.

Dr. Roxanne emphasizes the importance of teaching children conscious meditation and relaxation practices rather than intervening chemically with medication. "Children who have exhibited an inability to cope with anxiety and depression are given medication to numb their feelings, not to heighten their awareness and their ability to tap into their inner life. The innermost self is where we learn how to be responsible for our own happiness and peace." Teaching people to connect with and work with their inner life is an essential skill for both self-care and emotional and mental health.

"If children who have expressed hopelessness and helplessness are given medications, how will they learn skills to find their own well-being again using their internal resources? It is incongruent," acknowledges Dr. Roxanne. "Young children are very good candidates for guided imagery relaxation because their imagination is so vivid. When we capitalize on the use of metaphor, when we talk about going to your cave and recharging your battery to get your power back, we give a child an ideal they can imagine and work with. The body makes no distinction between real or imagined information. It will automatically relate the image to the feeling and calm the body down."

"From a parenting perspective, the idea of going to your cave to calm yourself is very different than the punitive time out. It is regrouping, but in a different and more empowering way. It's self-care. This allows children to become acquainted with their inner life and develop emotional intelligence. It quiets the fight or flight reaction."

For more information about Roxanne, see www.mindworksforchildren.com.

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 LSMHEART@aol.com

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.

We will be doing another Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop on Sunday, June 14 from 1 - 5 pm at Kim's house 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. Our March workshop was very poignant, so we are returning!

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 evenings. Contact LSMHEART@aol.com for more information.

On Sunday, May 17, 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.

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 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 13-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda... 

 Qualities of Grounded, Heartfull People

Joel and Michelle Levey send out some wonderful quotes periodically, and one they sent out recently called my attention. The piece is entitled "Five Ways to Recognize People Who Glow," drawing from a book by top business thinker Lynda Gratton.

While I find the label "people that glow," to be a bit over the top for me, when I read the actual list of five attributes, I really appreciated what was on the list. I have retitled it "Qualities of Grounded, Heartfull People." These are qualities of the people who are truly open, receptive, heartfull and down to earth, treating others with respect, and cultivating inspiration and cooperation in those they relate to.

I feel this list applies to people in ALL kinds of relationships, not just work relationships. Here's the list:

1. You will feel their good natured cooperation and their capacity to give you their time and attention...they truly practice the habits of cooperation.

2. They will surprise you by their breadth of experiences and the wide range and engaging stories they will tell..they have collected many ideas from the different people they know.

3. You remain engaged in meaningful conversation with them...they give you time and you enjoy their company.

4. You find yourself volunteering to work with them...they have a vision which really excites and intrigues you.

5. You find yourself drawn to them through the questions they ask...these resonate with you and you know them to be courageous and important.

I welcome your thoughts....