“Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” – Mozart
Love is a Choice
Did you know that giving and receiving of love can improve your health? That love is a choice, not something that happens to you? That by generating feelings of love throughout the day, we literally change our biochemical make-up for the better?
In Week 10 of our Einstein series, we talked about the role of spirituality in healing. An incredible body of evidence points to the power of prayer….click here to read more from last week. Note: This is the first of two Einstein’s posts that will focus on the incredible work of Dr. Eva Selhub. Stay tuned next week as well to learn more about the Love Response®.
We are thrilled to have recently met Dr. Eva Selhub, creator and author of The Love Response®, and the opportunity for us to partner and collaborate was made clear as our goals are so well-aligned towards health empowerment. Eva is a senior staff physician at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind/Body Medicine at Mass General Hospital. An integrative health specialist and the founder of Alight Medicine for Learning and Healing in Newton, Massachusetts, she is also a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. After a big welcome hug, she sat down and impressed us with her positive energy and commitment she has towards helping others with a better way of living.
She developed a new way of living through her book The Love Response®, based upon the fact that our bodies are simply different when we feel good about ourselves, our community and family and spiritually, or what she calls our Love Pyramid. There is a chain of bio-chemical processes that occur in the body when a person operates from love that ultimately results in health and well-being. Over 30 years of research has pointed to the benefits of eliciting the relaxation response, as coined by Dr. Herbert Benson. Now, Dr. Selhub has taken this work to the next level by incorporating love into the meditative experience.
It seems that experiencing love was something that I personally needed to focus on. I am on the constant look-out for areas that I can improve myself, my levels of happiness and life experience…monitoring my reactions, my thoughts, my choices. And the funny part is that this idea that LOVE can be transforming. And I don’t mean romantic love. That’s good too, but, I am talking about a more fundamental approach to life. Whether blog articles, or books – LOVE – kept screaming at me and it wanted my attention. And what I first noticed after reading her book and doing the exercises – many of which are visualization and journaling oriented – that experiencing love is something that we have the choice to feel at anytime we decide. When I meditate on love, I get this profound feeling of heaviness inside, like I am being filled up by the universe with energy. I feel warmer all over, and of course more at peace with my thoughts. Nothing can stand in the way of these feelings. Try it now: simply think love filling you up. It’s a wonerful feeling of balancing, of
The Physical Response of Lack of Love: Fear
Eva talks about the lack of love, or fear. When we are in the Fear Response, our bodies, minds and feelings of well-being are harder, more stressed, profoundly more complicated than when we are in the Love Response. Science shows that fear affects every aspect of your body and mind, including your brain function, immune system, mental and emotional states and propensity towards illness. What happens is a cascade of cause and effect inside the amygdala-hippocampus complex (AHC). Your emotional response center and the primitive part of the brain, often called the “lizard brain.” The lizard brain handles those actions for the body that ensure our survival, such as fear and aggression. It also stores the memory of any given negative experience or threat so that you can react to it faster in the future.
When our lizard brain is activated, there is a cascade of biochemical events that create stress and the production of hormones and peptides such as cortisol and adrenaline, that cause physical change in the body. At the same time, changes occur in the brain that prevent you from doing any complex problem solving. Studies have shown that brains over-exposed to cortisol, the stress hormone, actually have a smaller hippocampus than average – which is where our memory is stored. And this is just the start of the negative influences the fear response can have on the body. As Eva points out in her book, here are some of the symptoms of the fear response:
- Brain: you are hyper-alert, unable to sleep, anxious
- Muscles: You feel tense, especially in your neck, back, shoulders and jaw
- Reproduction: Your periods are irregular and you have problems conceiving
- Gastrointestinal tract: You are constipated or have loose stools, heartburn, or cramping
- Blood flow: You have cold hands and feet.
- Heart: Your heart races and pumps harder and your blood pressure rises.
- Lungs: You breathe faster and more shallowly.
- Immune system: Your white blood cells get ready for a possible attack, causing inflammation.
“The Fear Response is like a fire – beneficial when it cooks your food but harmful if it is not extinguished. If the Fear Response continues too long or unregulated, the body stays in a constant state of stress and pathological problems inevitably arise, including increases in blood pressure and thickening of and tears in blood vessel walls. Excess production of fatty acids and blood sugar may lead to deposits in these tears and formation of atherosclerotic plagues, eventually resulting in heart disease and stroke. The combination of excessive adrenaline and cortisol production and high levels of insulin released from the pancreas in response to elevated glucose levels may eventually lead to insulin-resistant diabetes and other metabolic disorders such as high cholesterol,” says Eva in the Love Response® book.
Stay tuned for next as we intend to cover Dr. Eva’s recommendations on how to counter-balance the negative physical effects (and emotional for that matter) of the Fear Response. We will also have Dr. Eva Selhub on as a special guest on our podcast, so please stay tuned!