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
goals, your money fears and take concrete
may want to participate in the the Money
Class which will meet on Monday evenings
7:30 - 9:30 pm in Newton.
Heart of the Matter Discussion Session
I am gathering together a small group of
all live with heart issues: atrial
arrhythmia, atrial tachycardia, past heart
other heart conditions, for a discussion
people's experiences with conventional medical
treatment (medications, procedures), mind-body
approaches for heart issues and observations
the relationship between emotional states,
their heart health. This group will set up
If you or anyone you know is interested, e-mail
Articles in this issue include: "Kindness
Survival," which acknowledges goodness and
kindness may be biologically wired into our
to ensure our survival,
"Lower Standard of Living, Higher Quality of
Life" reflects on reader feedback to one
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
"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!
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
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
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
response to my article in the March newsletter on
Traumatized Heart in a Traumatizing Economic
"I read your newsletter about the looming changes
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
"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
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
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
©2009 Linda Marks
Share your thoughts on this article...
Alternatives to Medicating Our Children
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
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
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
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
For more information about Roxanne, see
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.
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
We will be doing another Healing the
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
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
your circumstances are. I am looking to
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
Integenerational Heartworkshop. This
Hellinger Family Constellations work with EKP to
provide an incredibly powerful opportunity to
integenerational enegy doing soul work and
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....
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
I welcome your thoughts....