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

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The month of June seemed like spring in Seattle, not summer in Boston. Nonetheless, Alex completed 7th grade, and he and I are excited about a trip to Greece July 16 - 25 with his wonderful Social Studies teacher, Jack O'Connor.

I will be setting a date for the next Healing the Traumatized Heart workshop once a program Alex is part of that begins in September has provided me with its program dates. For those of you who are waiting for the date, know it will be a Sunday in September from 1- 5 pm.

In June, I enjoyed giving a wonderful presentation to the Boston Law of Attraction Group on "Reclaiming the Power of the Heart." Chew-Hoong Koh and Dave Buck do a fabulous job leading this group and building a very rich community of interesting people!

If you are interested in Apprenticing in EKP, I am starting to take applications for the next apprenticeship group beginning in January 2010. For more information, read the programs section in this month's newsletter.

Articles in this issue include: "Love and Touch" exploring how love and touch are really two sides of the same coin and fundamentally interconnected, "Reflections on Love, Joy and Life's Treasures," and "I Hear Your Cry: Women In Prison", about the inspirational work Ronnie Shaffer has done with women in prison. There final reflection is on the topic of"Emotional Maturity," which is something our culture would greatly benefit from having more of!

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Love and Touch

Love and touch seem to be intrinsically intertwined in very fundamental life and happiness-promoting ways. Anthropologist Ashley Montagu, whose book Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin is a classic, noted "I know very clearly as a scientist that love and touching are two facets of the same thing."

How true! Touch is a very direct and unencumbered language, straight from the heart. Our arms and our hands are our heart's ambassadors. What we feel in our heart moves direct through our arms and hands to our love one--part of the energy of the cardiac electromagnetic field.

The impulses and energy generated by the heart transmit a message our loved ones' hearts will recognize and receive. A message of love, comfort and cherishing can move from heart to heart through touch in the blink of an eye. Or the beat of a heart!

Phyllis Davis, author of The Power of Touch writes, "Touch is a language that can communicate more love in five seconds than words can in five minutes."

In this light, I find it particularly sad that we live in a touch phobic, touch illiterate culture. By becoming untouchable, we also become unlovable. And we starve.

Touch and love are soul food--a non-verbal way to provide emotional, physical and spiritual nourishment and sustenance. Soul-to-soul communication provides nourishment that permeates our entire being--like a gentle wave that cradles and relaxes us. We bathe in a sea of oxytocin, the love or bonding hormone, and counteract the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone, which underlies much of the stress-related illness people experience today.

An article in the Boston Globe by Judy Foreman, cites a study published in Biological Psychiatry supporting the idea that oxytocin, generated by cuddling and touch, may help human couples get along better. While dopamine is key for the excitement of love, "oxytocin is key for the calmer experience of attachment." Loving touch, snuggling and orgasm all generate oxytocin, which help couples continue to love one another and maintain a deep sense of connection with one another over time.

When we hold back loving touch, our hearts feel tense. When we are deprived of loving touch, our hearts feel the pain, the yearning and the emptiness for the connection that loving touch brings. We feel an emotional, spiritual and soul-deep hunger for the love and touch we both crave and need. And if this hunger goes unfulfilled for too long, we may numb out and forget that we even needed the sensation of loving touch in the first place. Consider it a survival mechanism.

When a young baby is deprived of love and touch, it collapses around its unmet need. When a slightly older baby (9 months - 1 1/2 years) goes too long with its love, connection and touch needs unmet, it becomes overly self-reliant, concluding through its bodily experience, "I have to do it all alone." While we CAN try to do it all alone, it is at a psychic and emotional price. We are meant to be interconnected, to touch one another.

Just as it takes loving patience over time to earn the trust of a feral animal, it takes loving, gentle and patient work with touch--including knowing when it is not okay to touch--to melt through the numbness touch and love deprivation generates over time.

I notice when I have an abundance of loving touch in my lie, I am happier, healtheir, more energetic and more at peace. May we all have abundant helpings of "vitamin T" each day, and may we shower the people we love with safe, respectful loving touch, with permission, from the depths and the lightness of our hearts and souls!

©2009 Linda Marks

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 Reflections on Love, Joy and Life's Treasures
 From the journal of Diana Metsisto

In May a very special woman who I first came to know at least 10 years ago died of complications of breast cancer. Diana was an extraordinary woman, who recorded some incredibly poignant pearls of love and wisdom in her journal during her final days.

The following reflections are shared here with the permission of her daughter, Nicole.

I feel real grief, real sadness that I won't have the years with you that I had hoped. I believe that we are all connected: to each other, to all that is alive, and to those parts that are not alive--on this earth and in the beautiful universe.

Sharing love, with parents, children, other family and friends, is what gives our lives meaning. Loving the beautiful being that lives inside each of us is most important of all. If we can't marvel at the wonder that is ourselves, it will be hard to have the compassion and love for others that brings us close, intimate relationships, which are the pure gold of life.

All of life's treasures are already yours. Take time to become still, to go inside, to watch your breath, to watch your thoughts as just clouds passing by--not to be grasped and held onto--we really cannot hold onto anything really. It's funny to watch your thoughts: sit still, focus on your breath in and out--then notice--your thought has drifted away from your breath, notice the thought, then let it go--come back to the breath--then another thought comes and you notice it.

To live with this sort of awareness all the time is to recognize the transitory nature of things, to truly accept what it is to live life at its higheset. It's a path I've been on; it's the way I'm learning each day to fall into. I am fine just the way I am as are you and all of us.

Your value is already there--just in being. You don't acquire more value by doing anything special. The joy lies in accepting ourselves as we and they are.

--From the journal of Diana Metsisto

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 I Hear Your Cry: Women in Prison

Iraq Weedflower Veronica (Ronnie) Shaffer had a medical background. She was an MRI and CAT scan technologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Years of lifting patients and moving the portable X-ray machine through the hospital had weakened her back and neck. Medications weren't working, so she sought yoga as a way to build a healthy body. Pleased with the results, she became a certified yoga teacher, knowing others would also benefit from her training. For this reason, she began wondering what type of volunteer service she could perform in the community, really wanting to work with women who were incarcerated.

Ronnie discovered that it was not easy to work in a prison, even as a volunteer. She brought her proposal for a women's yoga program to the program director at Framingham. She thought the idea was great, but then said, "What will the taxpayers think?" Ronnie responded, "They're not paying anything." Dead end.

There were many dead ends over many years, but Ronnie persisted. Eventually, she made contact with the women's program director at a minimum-security prison for men and women.

Sadly, when something is unfamiliar, there is often fear about trying it. When Ronnie presented her program write up, she was asked, "Can you take the words 'yoga' and 'meditation' out of your write up?" So, Ronnie called her program "Fit and Wellness: Guided Imagery and Stretching." At least the title allowed her to build a bridge.

"I felt like a pioneer," reflects Ronnie. "We started the program without using the word 'yoga." Then, people get to know you, see the results and realize it is not a religious cult." Ronnie developed a 6 week program.

One thing lacking among the prisoners she worked with was the word "commitment." Ronnie decided her class could provide an opportunity to embrace a commitment, another facet of self-care, in addition to learning yoga. Upon completion of the class, Ronnie would give out a certificate. This was a motivational tool. Class members would need to attend all classes to receive the certificate. At the end of the program, Ronnie would ask the women to write about what the program did for them, as a way of planting seeds to continue to use what they had learned as a means of support when they were paroled or released.

Comfort in one's own body was a big issue for many of the women prisoners. Because prison life can be quite sedentary, many women were quite large. "The first day, I saw a 300 lb woman, a woman who was close to 400 lbs, and some average weight women too. How am I going to make large women feel comfortable in their bodies?" Ronnie pondered. "And how I am going to have regular women say, 'Aw, this is nothing?'" She found a way to connect with both groups of women. They said to her, "Are you coming back next week?"

Over time, it was very clear that what Ronnie was doing was reaching the women in a very deep way. The women were feeling moved, not just physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. When they turned in their papers at the end of the class, they wrote things like, "you touched my soul," "this was so empowering," "I don't get angry," and "the relaxation you do at the end helps me feel my body, which I haven't ever done."

These comments were very moving to Ronnie, so she started to come home from the prison and write on her computer. She reflections led to a book entitled, I Hear Your Cry: Women in Prison.

What perhaps is most moving when working with people is the opportunity to see how we are all interconnected and how we are truly mirrors for each other. Ronnie writes, "I may not have been incarcerated, but I had periods in my life when I felt I was imprisoned. Being married to an alcoholic with three young children, no money and no support system, led Ronnie to feel powerless and desperate. Working two jobs as a single mom was a struggle to survive.

Ronnie writes, "I identified with their struggles to get out of prison, only to be drawn back into prison. I drew on the strength from my soul, my spirit. The will to succeed. It was one step at a time, one moment, one minute, and slowly the tide began to change."

The stories of many of the individual women resonated with experiences Ronnie had lived through. She writes, "Like Luvell, who was pregnant while in jail, I felt trapped when I became pregnant with my third child while in a suffocating marriage. Like Cecily, who wanted to be loved and feel safe, I longed to be genuinely loved as a child and a wife. Like Sui, who explored the world of drugs with a questionable boyfriend, I, too, kissed a lot of frogs before I found my prince."

Life is often humbling, and what separates us from those in prison can be a very thin line. We are all human. And through finding our deeper human connection, we can find liberation from powerlessness and pain.

Yoga became a medium for Ronnie to connect with and empower women to connect with themselves. Some women changed as a result of the program. Some did not. But the journey was profound.

What I take away from the story is the power of mind-body healing in all kinds of settings, and the importance of bringing tools for well-being to those who may be have the least access to them. I also take away the power of the vision and care of a pioneering woman, Ronnie Shaffer, and the profound transformations she facilitated through her commitment and love.

For more information on Ronnie's book, visit her website www.veronicashaffer.com.

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 HealingHeartPower Calendar

Would you like to learn how to do EKP? Applications are being accepted for the 2010 EKP Apprenticeship Program. The apprenticeship group meets once a month for a weekend training session. For more information, contact LSMHEART@aol.com or call Linda at (617)965-7846.

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

I will announce a Sunday September date for the next Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop, from 1 - 5 pm in Newton. Stay tuned! Join us for an afternoon of heartful healing and community.

On Tuesday, September 29, I will be presenting as part of Jan Wall's Holistic Psychology class at Lesley University onThe Power of the Heart in Body Psychotherapy.

And on Tuesday, October 6, Linda Marks and Alan Krentzel will be leading a Stress Management for Peak Performance event for the Sloan School of Management Alumni Association at MIT.

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)
  • Apprenticing in EKP

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... 

 "Emotionally Mature" Love

Michelle and Joel Levy send out wonderful quotes most days. I particularly love this one. Perhaps it helps define what "emotional maturity" really means!

"Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Love is the roots that grow towards each other underground, slowly and determined. And when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, you find you are no longer two, but one. One root, One tree, One Love."

- By Louis de Bernieres, from Captain Corelli's Mandolin

I welcome your thoughts....