May 29 2011
I’ve been getting high on the hug drug, the cuddle cure, the happy hormone called Oxytocin. This week I’ve had an upsurge of this potent love potion since I found a crying, starving, trembling, abandoned feral kitten about 6 weeks old living under the bushes near my house. Seeing her so tiny and helpless and all alone in the world made my heart melt and I was aflood with oxytocin. She wouldn’t let me near her, but fueled by this powerful ‘tend and befriend’ hormone, I was determined to help her.
Off and on over the course of three days I sat with her, absorbed in a meditative stillness, talking to her sweetly, patiently luring her nearer to me by moving the food I brought for her closer and closer. Eventually, she came up to me, brushed her head against my hand and started purring! I was beside myself with oxytocin momma love!
I took her home with me and we have been passionately engaged in cuddle storms of mutual love! What a feeling! It’s no wonder they call it the happy hormone. I feel this same feeling for my other cats as well – I am awash in warm fuzzy feelings for my warm fuzzy felines! That includes my Tom cat, my husband Tom, the warm fuzzy fella I cuddle with every day.
I love oxytocin! It is a natural high that creates feelings of peace, calm, wellbeing, compassion, trust, and altruism. Starting from infancy with the mother-child connection, it is the glue that bonds us to loved ones and makes them appear more appealing to us. Just thinking about people we love evokes this love hormone (which is produced in our brain AND our hearts).
Studies have found that when we have increased levels of oxytocin in our system, we are like a tuning fork for those around us, and they start resonating with our peaceful vibe and their oxytocin levels increase as well. That’s why we like to be around loving people, because we feel more loving in their presence. Oxytocin is contagious!
It is often called the ‘cuddle cure’ because it has tremendous health benefits, which include lowering our blood pressure, raising our pain threshold, boosting our immune system and reducing stress (the precursor and aggravator of most illnesses). Due to Oxytocin, people with pets often heal from illness more quickly, and people in cancer support groups have a tendency to live longer — tend and befriend equals mend.
For that reason, the cuddle cure is a big part of my healing regimen. Stress exacerbates cancer by turning off healing genes, while love and serenity turn on healing genes. Therefore, I’m motivated to steep myself like a tea bag in the healing elixir of oxytocin as often as I can!
There are many ways to stimulate oxytocin production. It is activated in response to touch, massage, sex, kisses, appreciation, gratitude, loving relationships, compassion and caring for others. Hugging for at least 20 seconds increases oxytocin. Even just visualizing hugging others activates it. You can give imaginary hugs to people all day, people you don’t even know, and you will reap the benefits. I’ve been practicing sending love from my heart to the heart of others, and I am flooded with the warm, peaceful love energy that I’m sending.
Self-compassion is another way to generate oxytocin. Lady Gaga, a champion of self-love, practices self-compassion 5 minutes each morning. Imagine the feel-good fun of having a verbal cuddle fest with yourself every day!
Meditation is a powerful stimulator of this healing hormone. Years ago, when I lived alone, I meditated each morning and was blissfully bathed in oxytocin. I got high on the feeling of being deeply connected and loved by the higher energy that held me in a warm spiritual hug. When I began living with Tom I didn’t meditate as much, but now, ever since my cancer diagnosis, I am back to deeply connecting and cuddling with spirit on a regular basis.
When I hold my new little bitty kitty and reassure her that she is loved and cared for and her hard-knock life is a thing of the past, I imagine that my higher power is reassuring me in the same way. I am comforted in the faith that my higher self is watching over me, flooding me with love, telling me, “You are safe, you are loved, all is well, you have found your way to a friendly place.” My higher self and I luxuriate in rapturous oxytocin love fests! What a feeling! Can you hear me purring?
Have you been getting high on the love drug, oxytocin? Are there ways that you can increase this powerful love potion in your life even more? I’m sending you a cyber hug and sharing some of my ‘stash’ with you!