Two weeks ago I was asked to speak to an audience about “what love is”. This was one of those impromptu speeches that allows for very little time to prepare, so I found myself reaching out and connecting with the audience to see their reaction as I mouthed the words in my brain and heart. Love is such a loaded concept for many of us. It is ill-defined by human standards. The most positive response from the audience came when I said, “Love is a feeling.”
This is something I think we all recognize. It is a feeling in our body that can be evoked at different levels of intensity, from “I love this sandwich!” to the deep love between a parent and a child. Do you realize what is going on in your body when you feel that Love?
The first thing that happens is that your brain releases a slew of chemicals such as human growth hormone, dopamine, vasopressin and oxytocin. These chemicals flood your bloodstream and provide the optimal environment in which your cells live. As you feel those juicy feelings, you will also deactivate the stress response of the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which allows for the “rest and digest” functions that repair damaged cells.
This is may explain chemically and biologically what happens when we are feeling that “Love” within and around us. This concept of Love being healing is reflected in the relationships we have with others. When we have it inside, we share it with others. And those connections alone can improve overall longevity. “Caring involvement with others might be one of the easiest health strategies to access…it’s inexpensive, requires no special equipment or regimen, and we can engage in it in many ways,” according to a paper published by Harvard Medical School. The study suggests that good connections improve health, increase longevity and are “every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking.”
What does this mean to you? It means it is worthwhile to spend time on the people and things that bring you Love and joy, to honor that feeling inside of you as worthy of attention and respect. To cultivate habits that are coming from a place of Love and not fear.
It also means that when we do have symptoms in our bodies, the best thing we can do is to remain calm and come from a place of curiosity and gratitude for the reminder that things are “off,” rather than fear and reactivity. Thank goodness our bodies are so wise! Maybe your body is telling you to do more things that you love doing! Maybe it is telling you to take a vacation, leave a bad relationship, change your diet, breathe more, worry less, learn dance, detox from stressful situations…whatever it is, we have the choice to listen to the message and honor ourselves. Keep doing this and one day you might find that when your life is filled with as much Love as possible, you are completely symptom free. Oh, and happy, too! Then you can spread that healing out into the world. Love Based Medicine is a movement, a tool for healing that can create real change when we begin to recognize the truth and power of it.