February 1, 2010 
 HealingHeartPower Newsletter
 Reclaiming the Power of the Heart
In This Issue

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During school vacation weeks, my son Alex and I engage in a wonderful ritual one could call a "movie marathon." We seek to view all the good movies that are playing at that point in time. Christmas vacation is often a very rich time for movie-going, since many of the year's best are saved for release just before Oscar time.

In our last "movie marathon" period, we saw "Precious," "An Education," "Sherlock Holmes," "Up in the Air," "It's Complicated," "A Single Man," and "Crazy Heart." In addition to applauding some fine acting performances by Jeff Bridges, George Clooney and Colin Firth, to note just a few, I realized the movies provide a very interesting window into the psyche of our culture. And this batch of movies offered a chilling portrayal of the nature of human relationships in our modern day world.

The first article in this newsletter, "Is It Really That Complicated or Simple: Relationships and the Movies" reflects on what I saw and what this might mean.

"What DO We Really Need," the January 23 daylong workshop offered a rich and provocative look into our basic needs as human beings, and 7 key developmental stages from conception through about age 6 which shape who we are and who we become. I realized how important this information is for parents and those who work with children.

So, I am very happy to announce that I will be doing programs on this very subject in April and September, first with the North Shore Holistic Moms Network, and then with the Worcester Holistic Moms Network. "Creating a Village to Support Our Children: Meeting Our Basic Human Needs," reflects on this very important topic.

Our third article this issue is written by the Reverend Douglas Wilson, who is the Director of my very favorite place to lead workshops, the Rowe Camp and Conference Center. Besides watching over the hearts and minds of the wonderful people who journey to this beautiful bucolic location for growth, renewal and healing, Doug is a savvy political analyst, who provides the best "current events e-clipping service" I have ever seen.

I know it may be considered "politically incorrect" to include an article even touching upon politics in a newsletter focused on the heart and healing. However, the current state of our government and economy puts stress and strain on the hearts of most of us, and surely working and middle class Americans. I thought Doug's essay, "Obama Needs to Be More FDR, Less JFK" was very insightful and well worth sharing. So, I've included it here.

No matter what political persuasion you identify with or shun, I hope you can appreciate the big picture thinking Doug brings.

In response to "Hoarding, Paperless Offices, Attachment and Detachment, " reader James Cavenaugh wrote the following:

"Thank you for your insightful writing. Hoarding and positive thinking strike me as issues affecting us all the more for their acceptance as normal, even progressive, behavior. What keeps us human is at once crucial and newsless, without crime or scandal. You make it interesting. I like that."

Reader Emily Konstan noted:

"An article in the Utne Reader ties in well with your newsletter. It is about consumerism and the need to replace it with other community-minded pursuits."


Saturday, February 20, is our EKP Community Clinic Day. Thanks to everyone who has signed up for a free EKP session with our apprentice team.

Sunday, March 14 will be a Keeping A Vital Heart workshop from 2 - 5 pm in Newton, MA. Come spend an afternoon listening to and learning more about caring for your heart.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Is It Really That Complicated or Simple?
 Relationships and the Movies

My son Alex and I love going to the movies. Movies not only provide provocative windows into our times, our lives and our past, but also can paint rich emotional landscapes, tragic portraits of human frailty and side-slapping humor that just won't quit.

If our movies provide a mirror of the psyche of our times, what does one say when the relationships at the center of some of the most spell-binding movies are an abused teenage girl with a brutal mother and father who has impregnated her with two children, a married man masquerading as a rich single art collector who pursues and seduces a bright 16 year old girl, a divorced couple who are drawn into an affair as the ex-husband grows uncontent with his 2nd marriage to a woman more than 20 years his junior, and a very talented, but very alcoholic traveling singer who falls in love with a single mom nearly 30 years his junior, but loses her young son in a drunken haze?

Add to the list a closeted gay male professor during the 1960's, whose grief upon the death of his partner must be kept hidden, even as he unravels emotionally, and a non-committal, always traveling businessman whose specialty is firing people methodically and seamlessly, whose heart strings are stirred by his seemingly similar female counterpart, who breaks his heart as her dual life, as a married woman with young children is uncovered.

If this is what today's relationships are like, is there any hope for commitment, continuity, emotional stability and anything longer lasting than the number of months you can count on your hands?

Things seem both inordinately complicated and inordinately simple at the same time. Battle worn hearts yearn for love, but cannot deliver anything trustworthy or sustainable. Young hearts, innocent and naive, are broken and perhaps rendered battle worn, by those named in the sentence above.

Lives on the road allow space for secret liasons and dual identities or short-term affairs you can drive or fly away from. Incomplete emotional break-ups from the past leave lasting trails of tears and unavailable futures. And somehow, all the players, young and old, male and female, are mostly oblivious to the impact of relational complexities and baggage on any children who through no fault of their own, find themselves in the middle of a parent or parents' confused wanderings along the relational path.

I was both sad and aghast as I watched the three young adult children of the Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin characters in "It's Complicated," huddle under the covers together as their inner children freaked out at the thought of their mom and dad having a post-divorce affair behind their backs. At least Maggie Gyllenhaal's character in "Crazy Heart," draws a line with Jeff Bridges' character after he loses her young son while charged with watching him.

It need not be so complicated or simple. But what it would take for things to be different in all of these movie scenarios would be emotionally mature and grounded adults, who let their skeletons out of the closet, and recognize the need to work through the relational baggage before meeting or engaging with "whoever is next."

The Jeff Bridges character does hit bottom after seeing what his alcoholism has done not only to the Maggie Gyllenhaal character's love, but also his entire life. He does entire rehab, and actually chooses to change his longstanding but unsustainable ways. It is too late for his relationship with the Maggie Gyllenhaal character, but not too late for his relationship with himself.

The Meryl Streep character wakes up, or perhaps, grows up a little, by the movie's end, realizing that she and the Alec Baldwin character had never completed things, but there was a reason their marriage ended when it did. She recognizes the value of the more emotionally stable, yet still vulnerable Steve Martin character, who has been trying to take time to heal from his recent divorce. Small inklings of emotional maturity shine throw in some of his dialogues, and his actions.

Do we make movies ripe with characters in complicated or tragic relationships because these characters portray an accurate picture of too many of our lives? Do we take comfort when we see other people struggling with life's and love's complexities, realizing it really IS hard and we are not alone? Do these kinds of characters live more exciting lives than those of us who are fortunate enough to have seemingly simpler lives? Or do these images represent our struggle to find connection, with ourselves and others, to sustain love over time and to deal with life's heartbreaks?

I would really enjoy a movie where the relationships between all the characters were mature, healthy, sustainable and real. But, might this be too unreal for the mass markets? Or too deep? Or too heady? Or too hearty?

The movies offer a powerful tool for creating cultural imagery. And if healthy, sustainable relationships are truly a goal many of us aspire too, perhaps this medium could provide a useful sampling of what they might look like and how they might operate.

We'll see what comes out next Christmas vacation!

©2010 Linda Marks

Please share your thoughts... 

 Creating A Village to Support Our Children:
 Meeting Our Basic Human Needs

In a world where MacMansions have replaced the ranch and Cape houses that many baby boomers called home as children, handheld devices continue to evolve, making paper and perhaps one day, even desk-based computers, stories for an ancient history class, and media messages tell us who we should be and what will make us attractive and successful, many of us have lost touch with or perhaps have never even reflected on what we REALLY need.

Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or more recently, the earthquake in Haiti, wake us up from the distractions of daily life momentarily. As long as the grim images are there on the screen, Maslow's hierarchy of food, clothing and shelter DOES seem more real. However, when the media moves on to whatever is next, even though those who have survived the disaster remain in crisis, it is too easy to worry about putting another tank of gas into the SUV or making sure one's middle school aged daughter has the "in" kind of jeans.

After food, clothing and shelter, Maslow reminds us that emotional and spiritual needs are also important. Has our culture, overall, forgotten this part of the model? Most of what we need to be a human being, and the experiences that define who we become take place between conception and age 6. And getting our basic needs met is a relational dance, not a Wall Street deal.

Nowhere in our educational system are we taught emotional literacy. So, it is the rare parent or parents operating in isolation or in a small, self-gathered group of peers, who delves into the depths of human development.

Meeting our basic human needs DOES involve the "village," be it our families, the doctors and other health care professionals who care for us, the hospitals we predominantly give birth in, the schools our children go to and the neighborhoods we live in.

How DO we bring more emotional, developmental and human awareness to ourselves, our loved ones and our villages?

I wonder if our overfocus on materialism, economics, career success and wealth loses some of its staying power, as we see our children being diagnosed with adult mental health disorders and physical health disorders.

Every child deserves to begin life feeling the right to exist and a sense of welcome into the world. We deserve to feel safe, loved and nurtured for who we are as a ground of being. Having a sense of emotional and relational stability is just as important as having food and shelter. Having mentors who help us learn the boundaries of appropriate independence and interdependence is essential for self-esteem, a sense of personal power and the ability to define one's life as one's own.

We need to do our own emotional and spiritual healing and deepening work to be able to provide spaces to others in their journeys. If we feel purposeful, grounded and at peace in who we are, we can really listen to and hear another explore the inner workings of their mind and heart. Our children need this to grow into healthy, happy, connected people. So do our friends, our neighbors and our adult family members.

Having ways to express ourselves creatively and productively help us feel purposeful and fulfilled. Being patient with ourselves and others when things are unclear, chaotic, difficult and unknown creates far more peace and security than impatience, judgment or angry criticism.

If we learn how to become quiet and peaceful enough in ourselves to sit with another person, create a safe enough space where they can share their deeper thoughts and feelings and feel heard and respected, we are going a long way towards creating connection, health and world peace. Restoring a safety-creating, nurturing and even nourishing connotation to touch, rather than its current fear-invoking, boundary-crossing, hurt-inducing current imagery would take us miles along the road to feeling comfortable in our own skins, as well as being physically connected to others.

For many years, I have taught a body-centered model of developmental psychology that provides real, practical, experiential tools to help people meet their most basic needs and heal from wounds of deprivation, neglect and trauma. I would love to turn this course into something I could offer to both aspiring and practicing counselors and psychologists at universities, teachers, doctors, and other service providers, whose work shapes and holds children and adults.

If future parents were given the opportunity to learn this model when they discovered they were expecting, or better still, young men and women had the chance to explore this model prior to making the decision to become parents, we would improve our social capacity to consciously welcome, nurture, presence and respond to other human beings from birth through all the stages of life's journey. We could more presently and compassionately care for our elders. We would more likely value intergenerational contact, and be less isolated from others at other life stages.

I hope in the next several decades, the social lens can shift its focus from trying to move or change old, clumsy and inadequate political and institutional structures to building human-scale, community-based, emotionally-informed bodies that allow us to feel the world IS our oyster, a world where we share a common understanding of our basic human needs.

©2010 Linda Marks

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 More FDR, Less JFK
 An Essay by the Reverend Douglas Wilson

Iraq Weedflower One year ago most of my friends were euphoric as Barack Obama came into office on the winds of change. The economic system had collapsed and needed to be fixed and the people expected the change they had voted for. One question being asked was, "Will Obama be an FDR or a JFK?" FDR really changed things; JFK put a smart and sophisticated face on more of the same. (To be fair, he was in office less than three years.) We need an FDR, but one year in, we've got a JFK.

A lot has changed since FDR took the side of the people against the corporations and Wall Street. The Republicans sided with the bankers, so the people who lost their jobs and their farms knew who was on their side. FDR created inventive organizations, some that failed, others that were works of genius, but most designed to make jobs for people out of work.

With the rise of campaign contributions (which is bribery, pure and simple), the Democrats also learned to sell out to the bankers and corporate contributors. While some Democrats still spout populist rhetoric, many are hypocrites, dancing to the tunes the owners and donors are playing. Now, with the recent disastrous Supreme Court decision, corporate rule is even more assured.

Looking back a year, the first step Obama should have taken was to fix the banking laws. There was enough anti-Wall Street sentiment to push through real reform. We should have concentrated on helping homeowners instead of the giant banks, stopped allowing 20-30% interest rates, stopped investment banks from becoming commercial banks, and stopped Wall Street from creating phony schemes for repackaging debts. Even Alan Greenspan admitted that greed had exceeded the restraint and sanity he expected from his friends the bankers. Obama would have greatly increased his political capital by showing he sided with the common people and used that capital to reform the health care system. Now the opportunity has passed; Wall Street is too powerful to be checked.

Meanwhile, climate change is going to ruin the delicate balance necessary to maintain our beautiful planet, but the oil and coal industries have been injecting enough misinformation into the discussion so that people are confused. It doesn't take much to muddy the waters, as big pharma and the health insurance giants have shown.

In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, John Perkins explained how it was his job to go to Third World countries and bribe their elites to get their countries to take on massive debts they could not pay back, so they would become compliant clients of our economic interests. Haiti is just one stark example. Seeing how well this worked, our bankers decided to do the same, on an individual basis, with American citizens. That explains why we continue to get innumerable credit card offers inviting us to get loans without any security to back them up. If you lose your job, or you develop a health problem, or you just aren't paying enough attention, you could quickly get into hock, where you might stay for the rest of your life.

On the military front, we're running a world empire, the iron fist in the glove of international corporate capitalism. G. W. Bush and Dick Cheney financed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as if they were unlimited ATM machines for their friends and donors. They didn't care that Hamid Karzai was corrupt; so what, that's normal. When Gen. David Petraeus finally got them to implement counterinsurgency policies in Iraq in 2007, it was too late. Unbelievably, we still know almost nothing about either country's cultures. The Afghans and the Iraqis will never accept our armies. What we are bringing them is death. At least five per cent of the Iraqi people have died since our invasion. If this had been our country, 15 million Americans would be dead -- it's highly doubtful we would look upon our invaders with kindness.

On the financial front, Bush and Cheney allowed the looting of the treasury. Remember it was W. who wanted to "privatize" social security. Great idea, if you're Wall Street. We have no idea what the bankers are doing and to hear their testimony before Congress last week, neither do the heads of the big banks, though I believe they were lying, under oath. They want what is sometimes called casino capitalism to continue. "Too big to fail" really means they can gamble and win big, but when they lose, the taxpayers pay. Until the bankers become responsible for their losses, the system will not work.

The Republican responses to Obama's programs are like temper tantrums of two-year olds: "No! No! and No!" Obama is being blamed for Bush's failure to restrain casino capitalism and when it brings down the banking system again, Obama will take the blame. It's too bad he didn't start fixing the banking system on his first day in office.

With Scott Brown on his way to Washington, perhaps President Obama will decide it is time to emulate FDR, but I fear he missed his big chance.

Doug Wilson is Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Rowe Camp and Conference Center

To explore their excellent programs, go to www.rowecenter.org

To offer opinions about the essay, contact dougw@rowecenter.org

Rowe Camp and Conference Center 

 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 is currently full. If you would like to be part of a committed long-term group using EKP, we are putting together a waiting list, should openings occur in time An interview and one EKP session are required to apply. Contact Linda if you are interested at LSMHEART@aol.com

Keeping A Vital Heart,a new EKP workshop, will take place on Sunday, March 14 from 2 - 5 pm in Newton. Taking care of your heart is an important practice that will deepen happiness and fulfillment, as well as help to heal trauma and pain.

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.

Saturday, February 20 will be an EKP Clinic Day featuring free 60 minute EKP sessions facilitated by EKP apprentices. To sign up for a session, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.

On Monday, April 12, Linda will be giving a presentation for the North Shore Holistic Mom's Network. The topic will be "Creating A Village to Support Our Children: Meeting Our Basic Human Needs." For more information, contact holisticmomsnetwork@gmail.com.

On Wednesday, September 1, Linda will be giving a presentation for the Worcester Holistic Moms Network. The topic will be "What DO We Really Need?" For more information, contact egardner@charter.net.

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 a waiting list for 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 14-year-old son.

To find out more about Linda...