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

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The month of September ended with a lot of great energy and excitement. Having the opportunity to talk about the connection between emotional heart health and physical heart health on the FOX 25 morning show with Kim Carrigan, was a wonderful experience. And perhaps, it was part of what led to an overflow crowd at the "Healing the Traumatized Heart" workshop at the Spirit of Change Natural Living Expo.

The EKP Community Clinic at the Expo was very popular, and we are considering doing a Clinic day in Newton in the near future, to provide an opportunity for the many people who did not get to have a turn at the Expo to have a session.

Many people from the Worcester area, Sturbridge area and from CT were interested in bringing EKP into their home terrain. We are looking into the possibility of doing at least one remote EKP Community Clinic day.

If you would like to host an EKP Community Clinic day where you live, please let me know. To bring EKP to a new geography requires a space to do the work. Either a healing center/professional space or a home could work.

Alex is part of the "Coming of Age" program at our UU church this year, in addition to playing travel soccer, which means lots of weekend activities for me to drive him to and even participate in. So, after much thought, I decided it made the most sense to start the next apprentice training session in September 2010.

We are going to work hard to grow a large and serious new group of apprentices, so that we can build a strong and enriching training environment.

If you are interested in studying EKP, and want to get started before September 2010, please let me know. We may be able to put together a pre-apprenticeship training group.

Articles in this issue include: "Domestic Violence as a 'Pre-existing Condition': Heartlessness in the Insurance Industry," a shocking piece of information I read about this past month, and "The Medicalization of Sexuality," exploring how human sexual relations is being examined under the pharmaceutical lens for both genders.

I have included a link to watch my interview with Kim Carrigan on FOX 25 tv in this newsletter.

I am also grateful to Linda Jorgensen, Director of Health Education and Wellness at UMass Boston, for the opportunity to bring EKP work to the UMass Boston community through two seminars and a health and wellness fair this fall.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Domestic Violence As a "Pre-existing Condition:"
 Heartlessness in the Insurance Industry

The more deeply I look into technicalities in today's health insurance industry, the more my head starts to spin. In my line of work, the purpose of health care is to promote and maintain health, and to get to the root of both emotional and physical illness (which are often inter-related) to help restore health.

The medical industry is built around treating illness, but industry executives have their eye on a very different target than the one I have just described. Business in this country uses a profit-maximizing business model, and promoting health, preventing illness, and even "curing" illness do not contribute to maximum profits. Medical industry executives, who keep their eye on the bottom line, prefer expensive tests using new technologies and medications that treat symptoms, and require monthly refills or procedures that require follow-up visits to methods that keep people well enough to save their money for other than medical pursuits.

The notion of "pre-existing conditions," is one I have always found troubling. While health insurance, theoretically, is something you pay into when you are healthy, so you can have access to medical care when you need it, health insurance companies make a profit only when the medical resources you use are less than the premium you pay.

>From this logic, a person with a "pre-existing condition," is a bad business risk, because if they had a medical condition in the past or currently have a medical condition, they are likely to cost money to the medical system, because they are more likely to need medical care. Therefore, an insurance company can turn away a person who really needs care, because they are a bad business risk or can charge an exorbitant premium that a person with serious health issues is less likely to be able to afford, in the face of high medical expenses from past care.

From a medical ethics point of view, this reasoning is troubling to me. Would it not make sense that people who have medical conditions should be first in line to receive medical care, just because medical care is supposed to be for people who need it? And given how expensive even an overnight hospitalization may be (someone I know fainted this summer, and the ambulance ride to the hospital plus an overnight stay cost more than $20K), if a person has serious health issues, they are very likely financially challenged as they try to obtain on-going care.

A particularly heartless piece of information I discovered regarding the definition of "pre-existing conditions," is that in eight states plus the District of Columbia, domestic violence is considered a "pre-existing condition." Therefore, people who have been beaten by their spouses find it harder to get insurance and have to pay a premium in order to receive medical care.

One can say this punishes domestic violence victims for the crimes of their abusers. It is hard enough for a woman or man who is living in a household with domestic violence to take the risk of "exposing" their experience and seeking medical care, without being financially penalized for their experience or even rejected by the very system that is supposed to help them.

I often speak of how emotionally unsafe our culture is, and this particular wrinkle promotes a climate of unthinkable emotional unsafety for those who are already vulnerable and emotionally unsafe. Human ethics and profit-maximization in business, sadly, do not overlap, but really need to.

Heartlessness is not only painful, but also can become a kind of covert violence. A person who has already been beaten, needs compassion, protection and shelter, not rejection or a financial penalty for their vulnerability. Otherwise, one gets beaten at home, and then beaten again in the larger world. Too often, one way or another, too many of us do get beaten mentally, emotionally and financially with today's short-sighted and heartless business thinking. Compassion, protection and shelter are rare experiences when we are vulnerable and in need of care.

I realize many individual people feel very disempowered in relationship to the large organizations and systems that impact their daily lives. Yet, somehow, we need to find ways to join together to change the way services are provided to those who need them most.

There is an effort underway in the senate to end discrimination against domestic violence victims in health care coverage. However, I feel that we need to go much deeper into the hearts and minds of those in both the political and business arenas, so that the thinking that even allowed domestic abuse survivors to be considered people with "pre-existing conditions" can change.

We can certainly act locally and help people in our neighborhoods and communities who need care. Perhaps, if we do help those within our reach, in time, we can create a different model that can gain momentum and shape a larger wave.

It is really clear, that larger wave of care and compassion is sorely missing and deeply needed.

©2009 Linda Marks

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 The Medicalization of Sexuality

I subscribe to a publication called "Alternet," which sends me a wide variety of articles on all kinds of contemporary subjects. An article by JoAnn Wypijewski for "The Nation," on September 21 caught my attention. Her subject, "Why Is Big Pharma Trying to Tell You How to Have Sex?" got me reflecting about the "medicalization" of the human condition. Any body part might be the target of a new pharmaceutical product, if we are uncomfortable with what it does naturally, we want to enhance it or we are afraid it isn't "performing" as it "should be."

I remember learning in graduate school that "the sinus headache," was not originally a medical condition, but instead a marketing opportunity seized upon by the manufacturers of a product looking for a market. Today, "sinus headache," is common language, and people associate it with the cluster of symptoms for which they buy the product.

Wypijewski notes, "Sex has been missing from the healthcare debate. A shame, because sexual health, and disputes over its meaning, reveals most nakedly the problem at the core of a medical system that requires profit, huge profit, hence sickness, or people who can come to believe they are sick or deformed or lacking and therefore, in need of a pill, a procedure or device."

We are all familiar with the initials ED, which aren't just an abbreviation for the graduate school of education one might have attended or consider attending. Now that my 13 year old son is participating in the OWL (an acronym for Our Whole Lives) program, which is part of the Coming of Age program developed and offered by Unitarian churches, I wonder whether "erectile dysfunction" will be part of the dialogue in exploring Love, Intimacy, Sexuality and Relationships. Since Viagra, Levitra and Cialis advertise fervently during football games, and how many football games might a 13 year old boy have watched in his lifetime.....is ED not a part of the teenage vernacular long before a young boy or girl has experienced their first kiss?

"Female sexual dysfunction" or FSD to give it an acronym, is said to afflict at least 43 percent of the female population, 70 percent according to some others says Wypijewski. Might this "epidemic" not suggest new pharmaceutical products to boost bedroom experience?

What I find sad, is that in our culture of medicalization and pharmaceuticals, we lose touch with the fact that many human processes and experiences are natural, sacred, and matters of the mind and heart. Our emotions impact our biochemistry. And the human body is a natural pharmacy all by itself. The heart secretes its own hormone. If we reduce our long-term stress, and produce less of the long-term stress or fear hormone, cortisol, we start to counter many of today's common ills.

If we relax, meditate, share our true feelings with a safe and respectful listener, hug our loved ones, pet our dog or cat, go to the gym, and try to live a life aligned with our values, our bodies produce more of the love or bonding hormone, oxytocin, which counters the negative health effects of cortisol and delivers a whole laundry list of health benefits, including better heart health and increased sexual receptivity.

Being sexually open, energized and receptive for both women and men, does require at least a degree of emotional safety and connection with one's partner, if sexuality is going to be anything more than a primal urge fulfilled through the contemporary "hook up." Knowing how to touch ourselves and a loved one takes time, which we often don't have, space, which is often impinged upon by multiple competing needs and experimentation to learn what feels good where and how we are each uniquely wired

I have always felt that sexuality is soul energy exchange, and which suggests a depth of connection with one's own heart and body, and the heart and body of one's partner. Might emotional safety, spiritual connection with self and one's partner, and comfort and opportunity to see what feels genuinely good contribute to both male and female sexual "function" if we must medicalize the language we use to describe what is also called "making love?"

Mind you, for those circumstances where health issues are indeed the predominant challenge, and all the emotional safety, loving touch and spiritual connection in the world can only "open the door" to sexual union, but not allow complete communion, some of today's pharmaceutical options are indeed valuable.

However, I think the danger is that we forget that "little blue pills," or their brothers and perhaps even sisters, are "tools" to add to the very human and relational sexual cauldron, rather than supermarket essentials like milk, bread and broccoli. Sexuality can be a vast expanse of meaningful and enriching human experience, and as my mentor Stan Dale used to say, "more than just wiggle, wiggle pop."

We have barely scratched the surface of our sexual-spiritual potential. May we not get lost in the trend of medicalization and dysfunction identification, so that we deepen our comfort with our bodies and the dance of life energy in our bodies, which is with us from the moment we are born to the moment we die.

©2009 Linda Marks

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 Link to See Linda on FOX 25 News
 Healing Your Heart

Iraq Weedflower Many people have asked if the interview I did with Kim Carrigan on FOX 25 news was available for others to view.

The folks at FOX 25 were good enough to send me the link to view this interview on their website.

You can view the interview by going to http://www.myfoxboston.com/dpp/morning/healing_your_heart_092409

This link is also posted on my website at www.healingheartpower.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 beginning in September 2010. 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

The next Healing the Traumatized Heart Workshop, is on Sunday, October 25 from 2 - 5 pm, in Newton.

Join us for an experience of heartfull healing and community.

To enroll, send an e-mail to LSMHEART@aol.com, and a check for $50 to Linda Marks, 3 Central Avenue, Newton, MA 02460. Please include your name, phone number, address and e-mail.

The Institute for EKP will return to the Natural Living Expo sponsored by Spirit of Change magazine next September. Michella and Carol Bedrosian continue to grow this show into an incrediby rich resource for healthy living!

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.

Linda will be part of the Health and Wellness Fair at UMass Boston on October 14.

If you are interested in being part of an on-going EKP group that meets once a month, let me know. We had run a Sunday EKP Process group for many years, and could consider forming another one, if there is interest. Whether your schedule is too busy for a weekly group, or you live far enough away that a monthly session is more sustainable, if a monthly group would best meet your needs, we can try to put one together.

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)
  • 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...