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

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On March 14, we kicked off a new EKP workshop, Keeping A Vital Heart, with a wonderful group of participants. Focusing on listening to and caring for our hearts was both nourishing and truly heart-warming. I will be scheduling this workshop again in the months to come.

Tammy Robert, a member of the EKP community, is looking to bring this work to RI. She is graciously willing to host a workshop in her Pawtucket home. If you are interested in attending a RI workshop, please let me know. Also, if you know good people for Tammy to network with, to get the word out so people who would want to attend know about the workshop, please let me know as well.

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.

At the Keeping A Vital Heart workshop, the idea of inviting EKP community members to be "helping hands" in our EKP Community Clinic at the Spirit of Change Natural Living Expo in September emerged. If you would like to be part of our team of "helping hands" at the Expo, please let me know.

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.

You can also become a fan of HealingHeartPower on Facebook. By signing up to be a fan, you will be notified whenever a new blog post is published.

The first article in this issue draws from the HealingHeartPower.blogspot.com menu, Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Goes Over the Edge, exploring what happens when you really do get too much of a "good thing."

"Coherence, Incoherence and the Heart," explores how the heart thrives on a sense life is purposeful, manageable and meaningful, and struggles when life is chaotic and spikey. There is a parallel between the language of "coherence" or "incoherent" when applied to speech and "coherent" or "incoherent" when applied to experiences of the heart.

The third article in this issue, Weight and Eating: When Life Is Hard to Swallow, draws from heart health expert, Dean Ornish's reflections that issues related to both weight loss and weight gain go deeper than just diet and exercise alone. Emotional stress is a significant factor in weight gain.

Reader feedback:

Thanks Linda. I always enjoy your newsletter; its a oasis of sanity in an insane world.


EKP community member, Diane Gaw sent in the following piece:

A Mother's Gift of Light

Six months after my son was born, I resumed my meditation practice, with the addition, near the end of each practice, of the visualization of a golden light. The light reached from my heart to my son's heart so that he would know how much he was loved, and so he would be protected and soothed by this energy. When he was five, he turned to me one day and said, "Mom, do you know what is my favorite thing to pretend? That I am the Master of Light. And I have a golden power cell here" - he pointed to the center of his chest - "and it's so powerful that it has the power to turn people good!" In practicing my meditative seva, I inadvertently taught him to value the good in himself! What greater blessing could have been bestowed upon me?

-Katie Tandon

Spirituality and Health Magazine (July/August 2008)

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Orthorexia: When Health Eating Goes Over the Edge

The adage "everything in moderation" maintains its wisdom these days, even when looking at supposedly "healthy" behavior. While healthy eating is important, if not essential, for cardiac health, vitality and overall well-being, when one becomes obsessively focused on only eating a narrow band of initially "healthy foods," one can suffer from a new member of the eating disorder family, orthorexia.

Orthorexia, a term coined in 1997 by Colorado physician Steven Bratman, has its origins in two Greek words, orthos, meaning "correct of right" and orexis, meaning "appetite." An orthorexia suffer may initially have "health-minded" goals in their eating plans, but may take these goals to an extreme, to the point their diet is so restricted or severe, malnutrition can result.

I remember, in college, one of my classmates was obsessed with eating carrots and carrot juice. While a healthy food, when eaten in mass quantity, carrots turn your skin orange and can make you sick. My classmate became more and more orange, and started to feel ill. It was an earth-shattering revelation for her to discover that you CAN get too much of a "good thing."

Raw food eating can become a breeding ground for orthorexia as well. When taken to the extreme, it can become a kind of anorexia, where the individual becomes emaciated and denies themselves the nutrition their body truly needs in pursuit of a rigid principle.

Likewise, avoiding food preservatives and additives is important in healthy eating, however, when one's definition of products that are "pure and healthy" (in contrast to industrial products and processed foods, which can be considered artificial and unhealthy), becomes too extreme, one's health can start to decline.

While the anorexic wants to be thin, and compulsively works to lose weight beyond what is tolerable for their well-being, the orthorexic wants to feel pure and natural to the point they lose sight of what is actually healthy.

Sadly, eating issues in one generation may translate into eating issues for another generation. A woman I know whose thoughts and habits are at least borderline orthorexic, is the mother of a young teenage daughter who has become anorexic. In some ways, the teenage daughter is in a power struggle for perfection with her mother. Since her mother is so focused on being healthy and pure, the daughter needed to find a trump card. Anorexia became her point of power.

Finding a way to a healthy middle ground is an emotional, spiritual and educational journey in a culture that too easily swings between extremes. With eating, the healthy middle ground is truly a balance point worth defining!

2010 Linda Marks

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 Coherence, Incoherence and the Heart

Coherence and Incoherence and the Heart This past Sunday, as I was leading a workshop on "Keeping A Vital Heart," I was showing the group a picture of the heart rhythms when a person is experiencing Frustration and when a person is experiencing Appreciation.

The difference in the images was very striking: while the amplitude between the high and low points in the "heart waves" was about the same, the patterns of the heart activity were very different. The heart pattern for frustration was very spikey, and irregular. The heart pattern for appreciation was much smoother and more regular.

Is it a surprise that we experience cortical inhibition and chaos when feeling frustrated, and cortical facilitation and coherence when feeling appreciative or appreciated?

The word "coherence" is very important in matters of the heart. Coherence means we experience life as purposeful, manageable and meaningful. The heart thrives on coherence and is stressed when our lives lack coherence.

I began to think about the word "incoherent," which is usually used in relationship to how someone speaks. Someone who is incoherent is hard to understand and may speak in a jarbled, chaotic and confusing style. We feel evoke more comfort in a listener when we speak coherently, and more discomfort when we speak incoherently. Interesting to see the parallel between our thoughts and words and the experience of the heart.

One of the workshop participants made a comment about an article she had read on how multi-tasking makes us stupid. As I reflected on this, it made a lot of sense. Multi-tasking can be chaotic, especially when taken to the extreme. The more chaotic, the more incoherent our thought patterns, actions, and most likely our feelings.

I would love to see the heart rhythm patterns of a person who is frantically multi-tasking as we so often feel pressured to do in our fast-paced world, and a person who is fully present and focusing deeply on one task.

Somehow, I suspect there would be parallels between the frustration and appreciation diagrams. Multi-tasking may make us "stupider" because we become incoherent, lose our grounding and no longer have a sense of what is most important. Multi-tasking surely is stressful, so our bodies generate cortisol, the long-term stress hormone. Focusing deeply on one thing is its own kind of meditation, and may release oxytocin, the love or bonding hormone that counteracts the effects of cortisol.

Perhaps we need to look for ways to be more coherent in all aspects of our life and reduce incoherence as well! This will bring us more focus, inner peace and healthier hearts!

2010 Linda Marks

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 Weight and Eating: When Life Is Hard to Swallow

Iraq Weedflower When looking at weight and eating, there's lots of information available about the importance of healthy food and exercise. What is less commonly voiced is the role emotional stress plays not only in eating behavior, but also, in weight gain.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a visionary physician who has spread the message that "heart disease can be reversed through comprehensive lifestyle change,"1 notes that to lose weight and maintain weight, we need to work more deeply than with just what we eat and how we behave.

In "Why A High Protein Diet May Make You Fatter" by Kathy Freeston (see 1 below), Ornish notes, "The real epidemic in our country is not only obesity, but also depression, isolation and loneliness. As one patient told me, 'When I feel lonely and depressed, I eat a lot of fat. It fills the void. Fat coats my nerves and numbs the pain.'"

In this sense, we can both overeat when life is hard to swallow. And we can choose unhealthy foods to offer emotional comfort and soothing, since it may not be readily available in other, non-food-based ways.

Ornish points out that emotional stress plays a big role in weight gain, even beyond eating or overeating foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

1. Ornish notes that "chronic emotional stress stimulates your brain to release hormones that cause you to gain weight, especially around your belly where it's most harmful and least attractive." Long-term stress (which is sadly, defined as stress lasting 15 minutes or more) causes the body to produce cortisol, which contributes to stress-related eating and weight gain.

2. "Chronic stress also causes stimulation of hormones such as cytokines that promote inflammation." He notes that obesity itself causes a low-grade inflammation, "which in turn, tends to promote more obesity in a vicious cycle."

3. Because chronic emotional stress causes you to gain weight, using stress management tools may be necessary to lose weight and keep it off. So often, we ignore our emotional and spiritual needs, including our need for connection with self, a higher power and others. And when we lack connection, we feel a void. Meditation, mind-body tools and reaching out to others can fill the void with emotional, physical and spiritual nutrients not available in food.

It is important we pay attention to our emotional, spiritual and relational diet when looking at health and weight management. As we nourishing ourselves emotionally, spiritually and relationally, our bodies will response by generating oxytocin, the love or bonding hormone, and we will experience a greater sense of peace and well-being at all levels.

There is a lot of truth that when life is hard to swallow, we might really need a hug, a shoulder to cry on or a hand to food--not a bag of chips!

1 = From "Why A High Protein Diet May Make You Fatter" by Kathy Freston, AlterNet, March 18, 2010

2010 Linda Marks

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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... 


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.