By nature, we are social creatures. In order to thrive in this world, we need to give and receive love. Love helps to deepen our connection with one another and it gives us a sense of community and purpose. But is love really all we need?
Over the past two decades the “science of love” has become quite a hot topic within the medical and scientific communities. One of the biggest discoveries to come out of this research is that 60% of the cells in the heart are neural cells. Since over half of the cells in our heart function in a similar fashion to the neural cells in our brain, does that mean our hearts actually have a brain? Some researchers believe that it does.
In addition to having its own brain, the heart also has its own nervous system. This means the heart can process information independently or in conjunction with our brain. Our hearts can learn, remember, sense and feel emotions and it can transmit these feelings to our brain. Pretty amazing!
Another interesting discovery is that the electro-magnetic field of the heart is 5000 times stronger than the field produced by the brain. Research that has been done at the University of Arizona shows that when a person is feeling love and kindness, they emit “heart waves” which have been measured by an EKG. People in close proximity can instinctively tune into these heart waves and become synchronized to you. When you behave lovingly toward someone, that person can actually feel this in their heart and you are able to connect on a much deeper level. I guess it’s true what they say……love really is the most powerful healing energy.
With everything that is happening in our world these days, there seems to be more stress than ever before. As a result, cortisol, our stress hormone, can end up working overtime to help us combat our daily stress. Although we need cortisol in times of danger, if it’s “on” all the time it can begin to damage our bodies. Chronic high levels of cortisol can lead to rapid aging, depression, loneliness, fatigue and eventually we burn out.
The good news is we have oxytocin, the hormone of love! Oxytocin is the hormone we release in abundance when we laugh, play, hug, kiss and give lovingly to one another. Oxytocin is our anti-aging hormone so we LOVE oxytocin!!
Since oxytocin and cortisol oppose each other, when we experience positive emotions like love, appreciation and kindness it changes the patterns of activity in our nervous system. These emotions automatically reduce the production of cortisol and raise the production of oxytocin. This in turn brings greater health and well being into our lives.
Thankfully, there is no limit to the ways we can raise our oxytocin levels every single day. Laugh, play, smile, give thanks, volunteer, tell people you love them and if you’re really an overachiever, have a baby! Seriously….that burst of oxytocin when you see your baby for the first time is like no other.
So, as you begin your day, connect to the energy of your heart. Fill your words, your thoughts and your actions with love and notice the difference in yourself and everyone that you encounter. Love really is all you need!
If you are curious about how much oxytocin you are cultivating in your life, take a few minutes to check out this questionnaire. It’s quick and easy and the results may surprise you.