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


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Whenever we do EKP Community Clinics, everyone leaves enriched and nourished! On February 20, a team of 5, four EKP apprentices and I, offered a clinic day, and a meaningful time was had by all!

We are doing another EKP Community Clinic on Sunday, May 23 from 11 am - 5 pm in Newton. If you would like to book a session, please let me know.

I greatly enjoy the opportunity to teach about The Power of the Heart in Body Psychotherapy in Jan Wall's Holistic Studies class at Lesley University. Jan's students are always conscious, receptive, engaged and vibrant. My February 16 class was a real joy, and Alex got to come along too, since it was school vacation.

The class I teach at UMass Boston focuses on how to create mutually empowering relationships in personal and professional life. My students are "adult learners," who bring "real world" experience to their studies. One part of our class looks at the history of relationships since the founding of the United States. Each time we cover this material, I find myself reflecting more deeply into the nature of gender roles, love, intimacy and relationships, and the limitations our culture has placed on us as men, women and human beings.

In an effort to create more ways to connect with community members, dialogue and share ideas, I have created a new blog at HealingHeartPower.blogspot.com. Sign up for new posts and please add your thoughts to discussion threads.

The first article in this issues reflects on some of these themes: Do We Really Need Relationships Anymore?: An Historical Look at Love, Intimacy and Gender Roles.

On the other hand, at a time where job prospects are scarce or hopeless for too many Americans, and the economy continues to offer few opportunities for the middle class American to build a secure financial future, investing in one another over time may provide one of the few avenues for a "return" on the investment.

Investing in One Another: The Human Investment Alternative," explores this theme.

The third article in this issue,

In response to articles in the last issue, several people wrote with appreciation about the article on relationships and the movies.

Several readers also wrote in with thoughts about Doug Wilson's article:

Reader Robin Daiell wrote:

"Referring to President Obama, Wanda Sykes said on her show last night, 'People are upset he hasn't solved all our problems in one year. The man went to Harvard, not Hogwarts!.'"

Sunny Davidson wrote:

"I've been to Rowe twice, thought I've been enhanced by reading their publications for years. Thanks for sending Doug Wilson's thoughtful piece."

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

 Do We Need Relationships Anymore?
 An Historical Look at Love, Intimacy and Gender Roles

I teach a class at UMass Boston that looks at how to create mutually empowering relationships in our personal and professional lives. I feel very fortunate that my students are "adult learners," people who have worked and continue to work in the "real world," mostly in human service roles.

One part of the class that has become more and more interesting for reflection over time is the study of the evolution of relationships since the founding of the United States. We look at male roles, female roles, relationships between men and women, intimacy, marriage, and child-rearing practices in the Colonial (through 1700's), Jeffersonian (early 1800's), Progressive (1860's - 1920's), Modern (1920's - 1950's) and Post-Modern (1960's) eras.

Some very striking messages emerge from this study:

1. Emotional intimacy between men and women was not a consideration or possibility during much of American history. True intimacy requires equality, and the gap between men and women in regard to power, social roles and social regard was tremendous and insurmountable prior to the 1920's. Men found their companionship and intimacy with their male colleagues and companions, at work or in the local bar.

2. Love as a basis of a primary relationship or marriage is a contemporary notion. For most of the history of our country, relationships between men and women were based on gender roles, social class, and practical need. Men provided. Women tended to home matters. Marriage was a feather in one's social respectability cap, and a two way exchange of services. As Tina Turner sang, "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

3. Sexual relationships between men and women were primal and functional, not loving and intimate, for most of American history. In the Colonial era, both men and women were perceived as sexual , raw and raunchy. In the Jacksonian era, passionless sex became the social convention in marriage, integrating religious "morality" and a need for primitive birth control. In the Progressive era, eroticism was re-invented, but other than during the newly minted "dating period," men and women had little reason to spend time with one another as companions. AND, men had extra-marital sex with prostitutes through all of these eras, however discretely.

Without the "grease" of emotional intimacy, marriages, on the one hand offered socially endorsed structures for functioning and surviving in society, and on the other hand were hotbeds of domestic violence and often, prisons of responsibility and survival. Gender roles gave men and women a place in society and a purpose for partnering. Gender roles also perpetuated a power differential that made men dominant and women a lesser class.

Neither men nor women had it easy. Societally endorsed images exerted both pressure and control on individual identity and freedom. "Real men," as defined in the progressive era, were strong, tough and competitive. The world was a war zone, and the home was supposed to be a haven. Yet, how could a man wear his armor day in and day out, and then suddenly offer a soft underbelly when he came home from work?

Women had to be hardy in the Colonial era to survive the elements, and strong disciplinarians in the Jacksonian era to be sure their children would be achievers. In the Progressive era, the notion of employment before marriage began to emerge, and the thought that being a good mother and a good homemaker might not be enough began to take root.

As we have come into our current era, threads of earlier gender roles and pressures for men and women still live on, but amidst a simultaneous rejection and clouding of these very gender roles and pressures. Women now have to put on their armor and do battle in the competitive world of work, as much as their male counterparts. I read a statistic that there are actually more women in the workforce today than men. Yet, these women make 74% of what their male counterparts do in comparable jobs. So, women have inherited some of the downside of the male gender role while maintaining some of the downside of the female gender role.

Add in a 20% unemployment rate (10% reported as currently unemployed and another 10% beyond the point of reporting their unemployment), a significant percentage of under-employed people and people holding multiple low-paying jobs trying to survive, and you see current day economic pressures impacting all people, regardless of gender. With a rate of technological change that may soon exceed our rate of learning about and adapting to change, the world of work still wields tremendous power, but without the personal or economic security that used to come to those who worked.

These conditions do not lend themselves to men and women coming home and gently relaxing into vulnerability and connection. Even in an era where emotional intimacy and companionship might be envisioned or even desired in a primary partnership or marriage, fewer people have the emotional space or practical time to cultivate emotional intimacy and shared company.

Women can become well-educated, attain well-paying jobs and pursue career paths almost as easily as men. So, many women do not need a man for economic survival. With women's energy in the workplace, men are more likely to fend for themselves domestically, or contribute to household tasks or even purchase domestic services, be it cleaning help or take out dinners.

Men and women simply don't "need" each other the way they did in the early days of our country's founding, because they are more independent of traditional gender roles. Given that the tools, skills, models and competencies of connecting emotionally, integrating sex and love, and nurturing and sustaining an emotionally fulfilling primary partnership have never been provided in our schools, in our homes or our workplaces, those who aspire to bond with "their soul mate" often come up short. Four years ago, when I was on the Montel Williams show, one of the staff researchers cited the divorce rate at 62%. And many people chose to never marry at all. What's the point?

This past month, I noticed women around me--clients, students, colleagues, friends asking the question, "do I really even NEED a relationship?" Lots of hassle. Not much reward. Why bother? The pattern was very striking.

I have heard men around me express the same concerns. How much of romance is a media-created fantasy, and not a reality-based form of relating? If we look at the roots of male-female relationships in this country, the answer becomes clear. While love, companionship, intimacy and integrated sexuality could indeed be nourishing and sustaining forces for both men and women, no matter their orientation or lifestyle, in reality, being able to give and receive freely and skillfully with a partner is a rare model and a rare experience.

With all the confusion about masculinity and femininity and what is needed for personal and collective survival, the foundation for successful relationships is riddled with holes. The simultaneous ability to reach out and dialogue with strangers while living in increasing isolation that our internet era brings only adds to the emotional chaos and numbness.

Both individually and collectively, we need to find ways to become secure in our maleness and femaleness, and most fundamentally our humanness, separate from our work identities and economic struggles. We need to reclaim the power of our hearts, or perhaps discover this essential internal and collective resource for the very first time. We are not meant to be islands. But sadly, both men and women have suffered as islands, perhaps in different ways in different eras, but fairly consistently over time. We need to find ways to build bridges across our personal and social divides, and work together to create a more connective, supportive and humane world in which everyone can win. Wanna play? If so, join me!

2010 Linda Marks

Please share your thoughts... 


 Investing in One Another:
 The Human Investment Alternative

Investing our resources in places that will give back something worthy of what we have put in makes both emotional and intellectual sense. We breathe in, we breathe out--being nourished by the oxygen in the air, and giving back carbon dioxide to nourish the plants. There are lots of models of this circle of life in nature.

But human society has often forgotten about balance that comes with this circle. Investing in financial vehicles was supposed to assure a secure future for middle class Americans. But with so many abuses of the financial markets, led by greedy, consciousnessless individuals like Madoff and those like him, a small percentage of people took all of what a large percentage have "invested" in good faith. And middle class Americans have been left with empty coffers, less than they started with, and no vehicles to build a secure financial future.

In a culture that has made work such a primary part of life and one's identity, the jobs crisis has also broken the circle of give and take. Once, one could count on becoming educated, and pursuing a career path in a related field. By working hard, and contributing to one's organization, one could be assured job security and remuneration for one's contribution. Today, with unemployment and underemployment at high levels, and 6 potential candidates for every available job, there is often no way to step into the circle, too many ways to be booted out, and too many organizations that suck up resources without giving back in kind.

And then, of course, is there are the systems designed to take care of us in our old age. While social security should be a birthright after a lifetime's contribution to the works of society, we are more likely to encounter the "social insecurity" system. There are not enough funds in this government-built structure to provide for even babyboomers going forward, never mind the generations after them. Pensions have vanished. If we look to fall into a catchment net, we will fall out the holes in the web!

So, what do we invest in, when money is hard to come by and even harder to grow, and work, while a central institution in our culture, is not providing an open door, stable seat or a protected future?

What we have left to invest in that might provide a real "return on investment," is our relationships with one another. While at one time, investing in our relationships with our partners, our children, our famiies and our communities would have been a given, today it is actually less common, and in some cases, off the radar. If people focus primaily on their job security and economic survival, investing time, care and thought in other people falls to the bottom of the priority list. Sadly, self-care--including in very basic ways like sleep, healthy food, downtime and exercise, also get lost in the shuffle.

While we don't have control of the government, the workplace and the stock market, if we neglect to invest in our self-care and our relationships with loved ones, we are dying at our own hand.

When we are struggling with the larger world's challenges, it is in our personal worlds that we could find refuge, company and comfort. But to have this safe, nurturing, protective haven, we need to invest our time, energy and hearts into important relationships in an on-going way. If we neglect relationships with family, community and loved ones day to day, when we need to fall back on these relationships, there will be major holes in this net!

An article by Sue Johnson published on www.psychologytoday.com, notes that we are not built to face stress and anxiety alone.

Johnson writes, "Our most basic instinct, which is to reach for someone we love when things get rough, is our most powerful survival skill. The touch of someone we love literally calms the jittery neurons in our brain."

Johnson cites a study where women lying in an MRI machine, about to receive an electric shock, used the touch of their husbands "to calm the stress centers in their brains and lessen the pain of the shock." The power of another person's love, touch and presence can be the best insurance policy around!

But to have these resources, we need to consciously seek them, cultivate them and sustain them. Relationships take face time, in regular and consistent intervals over time. Being available to listen, to hear, to hold, to reflect, to just BE with another must be a priority in the competing list of items that demand our daily attention.

Learning how to let loved ones in, and keep them close is a very important capability. In our often overly self-reliant world, where most of us believe "we need to do it all alone," it is not easy to build and maintain a sense of interdependency and interconnectedness.

Learning how to ask for help and finding ways to define what we need is important to let a loved one give at the times we are in need. If we can ask, and receive, and be asked and give, the circle of life falls back into balance and sustains us.

Healthy relationships do require a sense of equality, fairness and mutuality, so that resources can flow both ways. And it does take two, if not a village, to sustain human relationships over time.

Perhaps, if we would slow down, get grounded and truly come to our senses, we would remember or discover for the very first time, that investing in one another mutually and consistently will give a favorable ROI tomorrow and maybe even today!

2010 Linda Marks

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 A Revised Definition of Insanity
 

Iraq Weedflower Many years ago, I was told that the definition of "insanity" was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. For many years, that seemed to make good enough sense, and I could see plenty of real world situations where that definition applied.

In today's world, as our infrastructures break down, I think it is time to redefine what "insanity" is. Now, "insanity" is trying to reconcile a seemingly simple problem using the rational, clear and definited channels made available to you, and expecting to actually reach a resolution.

Here's just one example. My parents are in their 80's. My father is dying of colon cancer and my mother is taking care of him. Many decades ago, my father purchased bearer bonds from the US Government, which have coupons that can be redeemed twice a year, paying interest on the bonds. The interest from the bonds has helped pay for my parents' living expenses since my father retired from his job. And my mother would go into Boston to a bank that could redeem the coupons.

Today, bearer bonds are no longer issued. And many people have never heard of them. However, this is only backstory.

On Saturday, I received a notice from the local bank my parents use with a "bounced check" from the Boston bank who redeem the bond coupons for my mother. I was surprised to see a "bounced check" since I would expect there to be funds in a big bank's account to pay a small coupon redemption fee. The reason for the bounce listed was "refer to maker." I had no clue what this meant.

I had to wait until Monday to call my parent's local bank to inquire what this meant and what to do to get my parents their money. The local bank had no clue what "refer to maker" meant and said I had to call the Boston bank to find out.

I called the Boston bank, and they told me they could not help me, because the check was issued by their corporate office in Minnesota. I called the corporate office in Minnesota, and got a very nice man named Greg, who truly wanted to help reconcile the problem. He did research on why the check might have bounced and could not come up with a reason. There was money in their account. There had been no stop payment issued on the check. He said I needed to speak with the local bank again, and that they could call him to discuss the problem.

I called the local bank again, and spent 45 minutes on successive holds, as the issue was escalated up the customer service center supervisory chain. No one there had the authority to speak with Greg at the other bank. I was told I had to walk into a local office of the local bank and someone there could call Greg and solve the problem.

I went into the local branch of the local bank and met with the branch manager to solve the problem. I spent 40 minutes with her as she escalated the issue through her support chain, and was told they could not figure out the problem and no one had the authority to call Greg. She told me I had to physically bring in the facsimile of the returned check to the originator and get it reissued. I explained it came from Minnesota, and I was NOT going to hand carry the facsimile to Minnesota.

She said I could not redeposit the facsimile because the processing people had made a technical error on the original check and had double printed a set of numbers, so the facsimile would be rejected. I asked her to remove the $10 service fee issued to my parents' account, since they should not have to pay for an error that had nothing to do with them or even the Minnesota bank. I was told this was not possible. There was no procedure to do this.

I pushed back and said this was not fair. Why should 80 somethings have to pay a fee for something that had nothing to do with their actions. She said she would file a claim to try to get the fee removed, but the process was cumbersome and unlikely to bring a positive outcome.

Now, having invested 3 hours of my day trying to solve the problem, in addition to working with clients and checking in with Alex, my son, after school, I called the Boston office of the check issuing bank and told them the dilemma. They reaffirmed they could not do anything and I needed to talk to Greg in Minnesota again.

I reached Greg, and he said this was insane. He said the banking industry is totally dysfunctional, because people are not in jobs long enough to know what is going on or how to solve problems. They receive no training, and get frustrated and turn over, and leave customers in the lurch with serious issues that are not able to be reconciled.

I asked Greg how long he had been in his job, and he said 10 years. He said that was unusual. He said his bank required people who were going to handle customer calls like mine to have 6 weeks of traning before they answered one customer phone call.

Greg instructed me that I could mail in the bounce slip and the facsimile check, but that I had to write a letter and get my mother's signature and state the the local bank had a processing error and we needed to get the check reissued. There were certain conditions that would require a notary to sign and seal her signature and mine. But we were able to define a set of circumstances that would allow me to just bring the letter to my mother and have her sign it and have me send off the paperwork and hope for the best.

Now, 4 1/2 hours of my day into trying to solve this problem on behalf of my parents, I still don't have it solved. And I cannot imagine my 82 year old mother who is trying to care for my 84 year old father who is in the last stages of dying from colon cancer having to go through what I went through today to reconcile a seemingly simple problem.

In fact, I can't imagine my mother even understanding my attempt to explain what happened, what it means and what we need to do to solve the problem. Should an 80 something be subject to this kind of wild goose chase when tending to a dying spouse? Should ANYONE be subject to this kind of wild goose chase?

And how many people would have the tenacity and wherewithall to keep pushing for resolution when one pathway leads to another dead end and it all comes back in a circle to where you started?

How many stories are there like this of people trying to reconcile issues that impact their daily survival--be it with banks, insurance companies, hospitals and other social institutions? And how did we get here?

Somehow, we need to gather together from the bottom up and rebuild models of commerce so that transactions are more grounded, and the complexities of overcompartmentalization and reliance on technology to the point that humans are unable to solve seemingly simple problems can be eliminated.

On the upside, it is much harder to do the same thing over and over again, at all, never mind expect different results. Following a pathway is likely to lead to a random, chaotic or circular trajectory that could probably not be repeated, because different characters will pick up the phone or e-mail as jobs turn over or are handled by multiple people, all sharing the same function.

I will see this through til my parents get their check reissued and successfully deposited into their checking account. But how many more times will this kind of craziness or worse knock at the door?

Perhaps another definition of insanity is "the resulting condition of trying to solve a human scale problem in a chaotic, dysfunctional world."

2010 Linda Marks

Add your thoughts on: HealingHeartPower.blogspot.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.

If you would like to apprentice in EKP and get involved before September, you may want to consider participating in a half-day EKP workshop or a special seminar for current apprentices.

On Sunday, April 11 from 2 - 5 pm, we will be doing an apprentice seminar looking at the DSM, which is the insurance company's bible, and something any apprentice should be familiar with, since that is where diagnoses are defined. The will be in Newton. Contact Linda for more information or to register.

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.

Sunday May 23 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... 


 HealingHeartPower.blogspot.com
 

My first blog at www.heartspacecafe.com/blog will still be active, but it is built in forum software, which many people find more cumbersome to use than official "blog" software.

In an effort to cultivate more dialogue in more contemporarily relevant ways, my new blog at HealingHeartPower.blogspot.com is user friendly, and even something you can subscribe to.

Please let me know what you think of this new blog.

 


Heartfully,