The Healing Power of Love
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
- Johann Wolfgang
The heart that loves is always young.
- Greek Proverb
Love seems to be a mystery to all of us. Those in an intimate committed relationship are touched by the healing power of love in a special way. Your life partner, family, friendships, or community can give you an opportunity to develop patience, understanding, courage, compassion, forgiveness and fulfill your deepest desires and purpose in life.
Human relationships seem to be a great importance to your level of happiness, health and longevity. In some cultures where people live well into their 100's, success is not determined by the size of their bank accounts or assets, they are considered highly successful if they have a large social network of friends, family and community who they are connected to. Having people look after you, offer great affection and friendliness that is reciprocated makes it possible to be healthier and live longer.
Most people in today's society become so busy that they don't take the time to appreciate the gratitude and receive the love and blessings from relationships. People fill their lives with many activities that they don't leave room for the important people that matter. They prefer possessions to humans. Traditional cultures are not woken up every morning by alarm clocks. Instead, they are woken up to sound of singing. Instead of going shopping, they go visit their loved ones. They have very little belongings, as they belong to each other. Having this kind of appreciation for love does wonders for the body, mind and soul.
Modern science is recognizing that being in an intimate loving relationship has great benefits to your health. It's been known that mortality rates for all causes of death in the United States are much higher for single, divorced or widowed individuals for all ages and genders. This is why insurance companies recognize how long people are likely to live by their mortality status.
Did you know that loneliness can kill you faster than smoking cigarettes?
The Hammond report was a study that followed half a million American smokers. It concluded that premature death for non smokers who are divorced is almost equal to that of married smokers. For men, being separated from a loved one in a marriage seemed to be as lethal as a lifelong smoking habit. This study led to the warnings printed on every cigarette package that smoking is hazardous to your health.
There was another study done by Dr. Lisa Berkman, an epidemiologist about the effects of love and connection to others in 1965. She studied seven thousand men and women living in California. During her nine year study, she found that people who were disconnected from others were roughly three times more likely to die compared to those with strong social connections. It appeared that the type of social connection didn't really matter. It could be a marriage, volunteering, going to church, family or friends. Age, gender and health practices also didn't matter.
Those with close social ties and unhealthy life-styles such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise) actually lived longer than those with poor social ties but more healthful living habits.
Lisa Berkman and S. L. Syme. American Journal of Epidemiology 1979.
The Healing Power of Touch
Your senses of being touched has tremendous positive implications for your health and longevity. Many studies have been done to prove that having close, positive, intimate, loving connections with people in your life can prevent depression, anxiety and stress related diseases that can contribute to the quality of your life.
The act of touching is something that everyone craves. The skin to skin contact is very beneficial to us. This is why babies cling to their mothers and love to be touched.
Certain hormones (cortisol, which is also called adrenaline) are produced when your body is under stress. When these hormones are secreted throughout your body, your immune function decreases and you are more susceptible to diseases. Stress is the root to illness and if it continues, it can be a matter of life and death. The healing power of love and touch in your life can neutralize the effects of stress by lowering the production of the stress hormones.
Ways To Include Touch In Your Life
- Hugging is a great way to greet someone and say goodbye. You can start including hugs in your daily life.
- Massaging your partner for 30 minutes, then switching turns can have long lasting benefits. This can be your nightly ritual.
- Walking arm in arm with a friend as you talk to them is a good way to connect with someone.
- Holding hands with your partner everywhere you go is a good habit to maintain.
- Playing with children, holding them and touching them can raise your spirits and mood.
- Partner yoga is a great way to connect with someone and enjoy the benefits of yoga and the healing power of touch. See partner yoga video.
John Robbins, "Healthy at 100," 2006, pp. 230-234
Harold Morowitz, "Hiding in the Hammond Report," Hospital Practice August 1975, pp. 35-39.
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