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


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On June 8, Alex and I participated in the Bullying Prevention Conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Coalition of School-Based Health Centers. The conference took place at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and attracted over 300 participants from schools, law enforcement, universities, community service organizations and more.

Keynote Rick Phillips, founder of Community Matters and the Safe Schools Ambassadors Program, provided an on-target and inspirational kick-off to a very meaningful day, delivering the messages that cultures create bullying and cultures need to change to prevent bullying, and that this kind of change is an inside out process, not an outside in process.

Emotional literacy is key to the kind of cultural change we need to get to the root of the bullying epidemic. Articles in this issue address emotional literacy, what it means and why it matters:"Today's Emotional Education Movement" and Alternatives to Violence When Conflict Arises."

Overcoming Powerlessness: Taking Back Our Goodness, draws upon some key messages from a new book by Diet for a Small Planet author, Frances Moore Lappe.

Our May 23 EKP Community Clinic was well attended and meaningful. We are doing another EKP Community Clinic on Saturday, September 11 from 11 am - 5 pm in Newton. If you would like a session, contact LSMHEART@aol.com.

The 1/2 day EKP workshop, Healing and Nourishing Your Heart on Sunday, June 27 at Healing Moon in Norwood, MA was very meaningful. Thanks to Trish for her gracious hospitality.

Michella has invited me to do a special program at the Expo on Making Peace With Money. In our challenging economic climate, this workshop has particular meaning. The workshop will take place on Sunday, September 26 from 1 - 3 pm. I will also be doing a talk on "Healing and Nourishing the Heart" on Saturday, September 25.

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.

Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

Heartfully, Linda

 Today's "Emotional Education Movement"
 

In an "Ideas" section article in the Boston Sunday Globe on April 5, 2010, Drake Bennett wrote about "The Other Kind of Smart." Indeed, there is a growing "emotional education movement," suggesting that social and emotional skills need not just be learned by encounters on the streets of life, but can be broken down into skills and concepts that can be taught "in the same way math and critical thinking can be."

There are times I find it almost unthinkable that emotional literacy would be so overlooked or under the radar. Emotional intelligence not only impacts the quality of our relationships and lives, but also our intellectual development. Neurologist Antonion Damasio showed how "people rendered emotionless by brain damage became not more, but less rational in many ways."

While the heart is a very central and important organ in Chinese medicine, the brain has been the "highest power" in both Western medicine and psychology. I find it fascinating that while many other organs are important in Chinese medicine (including the lungs, the liver and the kidneys), the brain is not nearly as central.

The Western bias towards the brain and away from the heart and other body systems has impacted the very fabric of our lives. How is it we have built a society focusing so singularly on the brain and brain development, overlooking other essential parts of being a human being? And is it a surprise that a culture that has overlooked emotional factors in both individual and collective living is riddled with threats to sustainability and overrun with bullying behaviors from the schoolyard to the boardroom?

Bennett notes that the emotional research field arose in the early 1990's with the work of psychologist John Mayer of UNH and Peter Salovey of Yale. Mayer and Salovey were the folks who brought "emotional intelligence" to light, evensuggesting that our ability to process new emotional information and to work with emotionally rich situations contributed to emotional IQ (EQ).

Daniel Goleman's 1995 bestseller, Emotional Intelligence, written for a popular audience, brought the notion of emotional literacy into the public eye. Because we have not valued emotional literacy or emotional experience, the skills needed to be an emotionally healthy human being have neither been articulated nor taught in our educational process.

Is it a surprise that kids behave in primal ways when they feel upset, insecure, unsure of who they are, threatened, angry or ostracized? If we are not given tools, concepts and language to understand our human emotional responses, then we will respond in crude and often less than useful ways. Likewise, when emotions and emotional reality are judged, suppressed, considered to be "weak," and "unmanly" or even "signs of mental illness," it is unsafe to plumb the depths of this rich and essential territory and gain mastery of what it really means to be a human being.

Introspective skills are at least as important as analytical skills. Self-awareness is essential for being able to have empathy and connection with other human beings. Being aware of bodily feelings and sensations and being able to translate them into meaningful terms is fundamental to knowing who we are, what we need and how to communicate our needs to others in the moment and over time. Learning to listen, hear and reflect back what another person is saying is critical for healthy and mutually respectful relationships.

Emotional literacy skills are now being packaged in the framework called "emotional and social knowledge." And because we are becoming more aware of the intensity and insidiousness of the current bullying epidemic, emotional and social knowledge is gaining more visibility as an essential ingredient in solving the bullying problem.

I do believe that emotional illiteracy is at the root of the bullying epidemic, and emotional literacy is at the heart of unraveling the problem and changing the cultural and environmental context in which we think and live. My hope is that the emerging emotional education movement is not seen as a passing fad or a temporary trend, but part of an on-going, evolutionary groundswell, that in time, we recognize as a critical, transformative and positive step forward in human history.

If we can learn to define, articulate and work with the power of the heart, we can, together, create a more sustainable and liveable society. Hearts can hear heads, but heads cannot always hear hearts. While differences in thought can divide us, most any problem can be solved through committed, respectful and heartfelt communication.

I look forward to the day when instead of doing therapy and personal growth workshops outside the primary chambers of worldly life, I can proudly step into the classroom, the courtroom and the boardroom, as a recognized and valued player, helping people tune and enhance their introspective, self-management, empathy, self-care and communication skills, the same way that today I might edit their writing or critique their business plan.

2010 Linda Marks

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 Alternatives to Violence When Conflict Arises
 

Both Alex and I had the privilege to participate in a SCORE teen mediation training conducted by Chandra Banks for students in the Cambridge Public Schools.

On the first day of the training, Chandra made some very striking points:

1. People often don't think ahead about the consequences of violence, and end up doing needless damage to themselves and/or others.

2. While violence is a human phenomenon, the United States is a very violent place. In the US, people resolve their conflicts with violence. Countries with acts of war taking place have fewer people going to the emergency room on a Saturday night than in the US.

3. Homicide has become so prevalent in the United States, the Center for Disease Control now tracks it. Homicide is considered a "preventable illness."

4. While a lot of talk is circulating about bullying at school, school is actually the safest place for youth ages 10 - 24. School-associated violent deaths account for 1% of violent deaths for youth in this age group.

What do these messages say about the emotional climate we live in? While conflict is inevitable because of human differences, be they differences in values, experience, beliefs, cultures or feelings, why do we need to escalate to the point of hurting one another, often in such deep and traumatic ways?

The lack of emotional and social education received by Americans seems to be at the root of our violent responses to conflict. While we highly prize a well-developed intellect, emotional illiteracy in this country is very high, even amongst the rich, the educated and the materially "successful."

When kids are raised in homes where their parents yell at them, judge them, hit them, punish them without just cause, and treat them as "underlings" in a power struggle, how do we develop any capacity for mutual respect, understanding, and non-violent conflict resolution skills?

The following are key tools and experiences that can help provide non-violent alternatives to conflict resolution:

1. Creating emotionally safe environments.Emotional safety is critical for understanding the roots of any conflict, including each party's most essential needs. When we don't feel safe, our defenses lead, and our deeper needs may stay protected and far from the conversation. Emotional safety allows us to slowly test the waters, and participate more fully in a collaborative conflict-resolution process.

2. Learning to see more than one side of a story.

When we are in a conflict, it is too easy to become polarized, and think you are right and the other is wrong. Every story has more than one side, and until we can look at a conflict from multiple points of view, we are operating with incomplete information.

3. Participating in mediation.

Mediation is a voluntary, self-directed, confidential, non-judgmental process that is future-oriented, focusing on solving the problem in a mutually agreeable way. Mediation provides a contained space to work on having both parties' needs identified and considered, and a clearly articulated document drawn up once an agreement is reached. Mediators hear both sides of a story and help the parties generate a resolution that each can live with.

4. Speaking and listening from the heart.

This practice creates emotional safety in any relationship. "While our minds' arguments can divide us, most anything can be solved through heartfelt communication," says author Jacqueline Small.

5. Finding some common ground with another person, rather than making them an "other."

When we "other" another person, we make them separate from us, disconnected from us, and at times can forget their humanity. With the anonymity the internet creates, it is easy to feel a distance between ourselves and other people. Finding tangible, meaningful ways that we share common ground can help take down the barrier of "other."

6. Learning to work with anger in a responsible way, rather than "acting out" in anger.

When our boundaries are threatened, when people break important agreements, when we are treated unkindly or even inhumanely, becoming angry is a natural reaction. What is key, however, is how we manage our anger. If we learn to become more grounded, and have the space inside our hearts and minds to recognize anger, and consciously manage anger energy, our anger can give us the power to take healthy steps forward. If we are unconscious about our feelings, and reactive when angry, we can act out, hurt self and/or other.

7. Having models of healthy conflict resolution.

Sadly, many of the models that are most familiar when conflict arises are not healthy and do not resolve the conflict in any kind of mutually respectful way. If we act out in anger, leave abruptly, push the conflict underground, or engage in a power struggle, conflict will lead to hurt and defensive behavior. If we learn to recognize conflict as it arises, and develop tools to slow down, manage our energy, emotions and thoughts, choose conscious and constructive behavior and seek containment from a third-party when needed, we can experience conflict as a breakthrough point, rather than a breakdown.

2010 Linda Marks

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 Overcoming Powerlessness: Taking Back Our Goodness

Iraq Weedflower In her newest book, Getting A Grip2: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Really Want, Frances Moore Lappe, provides a very powerful guide to taking back our power in a time where many of us feel overwhelmed and powerless by the larger social forces that impact us all.

"We know that no human being actually gets up in the morning vowing, 'Yeah, today I'm going to make sure another child dies needlessly of hunger,' or muttering, 'Sure, I'll do my part to heat the planet and obliterate the species,'" begins Lappe, yet tens of thousands of young children die of hunger each day, and we are besieged with a litany of global crises.

Lappe notes that until we can answer the question of WHY we are creating a world that no one wants, we cannot take the steps forward to create a better world.

Powerlessness is at the root of our current crises, and with powerlessness comes depression, despair and fear. Lappe notes that the World Health Organization identifes depression as the fourth leading cause of "lost productive life worldwide," and soon it is expected to jump to second place.

How did we get here? Lappe shares her insights:

1. In our minds, we blame our current problems on "the bad other."

2. While we may not feel that we are bad people, we can believe that basic human nature is bad: "we're essentially selfish, competitive and materialistic."

3. We are operating from assumptions that don't embrace the truths of the human heart. If we did, we would focus on positive attributes, not negative ones.

4. As Marshall Sahlins, a biologist, notes in a quote offered by Lappe, "Westerners are the only society on earth that thinks of itself as having arisen from savagery, identified with a ruthless nature. Everyone else believes they are descended from the Gods."

So, with this in mind, if we are going to reclaim our power and create a society that is most fair, just and happy, we need to reclaim our goodness as well.

Lappe notes:

1. Human beings are empathetic cooperators. "Soft-wired empathy is well-documented." When we answer the question "how are you feeling," the same part of the brain lights up as when we ask, "how is she feeling." The relationship between giver and receiver, and the helper and the helped is much more closely wired than we may have thought.

2. A sense of fairness lives within most of us.Lappe cites a psychology experiment that illustrates, "at least half of us will walk away with nothing before letting the other guy get away with treating us unfairly."

3. Human beings are problem solvers. Lappe notes that the human species could not have grown to nearly seven billion if we weren't doers.

4. Human beings are creatures of meaning. From my own work with the human heart, I can vouch for this point. The human heart thrives on coherence: a sense that life is purposeful, manageable and meaningful. Remove the sense of purposefulness, manageability and meaning, and both our emotional and physical heart health decline.

Some of our challenges, however, are that human beings have a dark shadow, and without conscious attention, can be cold, cruel and even destructive. If we are going to tap into our goodness, and overcome our unconscious shadow parts, we need to consciously work on our thoughts, ideas and actions.

Lappe includes a powerful quote from Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of "Why We Believe What We Believe,":

"Each person has the biological power to interrupt detrimental, derrogatory beliefs and generate new ideas. These new ideas, in turn, can alter the neural circuitry that governs how we behave and what we believe."

To the degree that we become aware of, embrace and cultivate what I call "the power of the heart," we can shape our neural circuitry and strengthen the goodness in our human nature. To the degree that we banish, suppress, and invalidate the human heart, we fall prey to our own shadow qualities.

Our times ask us to recognize and draw upon the power of the heart, so we can create not only a just world, but also a sustainable one.

Getting a Grip2 by Francis Moore Lappe is published by Small Planet Media.

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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.

The Thursday night EKP Therapy Group has room for another member. If you would like to be part of a committed long-term group using EKP, this is a very special group. An interview and one EKP session are required to apply. Contact Linda if you are interested at LSMHEART@aol.com

Saturday, September 11 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 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.

Saturday, September 25 is the EKP Community Clinic at the Spirit of Change Expo in Sturbridge, MA. Linda will also do a workshop on "Healing and Nourishing Your Heart."

On Sunday, September 26, Linda will be giving a special workshop on Making Peace With Money from 1 - 3 pm at the Spirit of Change Expo in Sturbridge.

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
  • 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,