In this day of scientific scrutiny, even love can be examined in the lab.
The brain hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine create an emotional chemical stew. This complicated chemical mixture influences our functions that involve memories of care givers, sight, smell and, yes, love. All work together to ultimately decide how we play the mating game.
In the 1970s, Paul MacLean M.D., a research scientist, discovered that the brain has three distinct parts: the reptile brain, the limbic brain and the neocortex.
The reptilian brain is approximately 200 million years old, the limbic 100 million years old and the neocortex several hundred thousand years old.
Each brain has its own competing agenda. The limbic is a repository for our emotions, instincts and hormones. The reptilian brain influences bodily functions, heart beat and flow of blood. The neocortex enables us to think, write, speak and plan.
Guess who holds the most sway when it comes to the matter of love? The limbic and reptilian.
Our earliest care from parents and guardians are also factored into the mix. These are referred to as “emotional memories” that become encoded into our system affecting our choices for mates later on in life. Even when the memories are not healthy or are painful, we can become attracted to energies that resonate with these early childhood memories.
Sexual attraction is visual, auditory and olfactory. In other words, the nose knows. Does that mean love is just a chemical cocktail combined with our social mores? Is our biology our destiny? How can a Yoga practice affect our love life?
Rodney Yee maintains that Yoga has been crucial to his marriage “by promoting listening and knowing your true self.
“The study of yamas and niyamas creates reflection and observation in your life. Clear communication is based on clear observation.”
We can see with new eyes. In Yoga it can be done physically through the asanas; energetically through pranayama and pragmatically through such observances as nonviolence, truthfulness and non-hoarding. Yoga puts you in a “listening state … learning to respond and not react.”
Yoga is seen as a “metaphor for relationships since, after all, Yoga means union,” says Peter and Tara Gruber, another committed couple.
Jenni Fox’s and Paul Gould’s focal point are not children, but Yoga: “Any deep connection with another will inevitably push us against our edges.”
What is the antidote? A willingness to surrender to what is present enabling us to be with the conflict whether in relationship or on the mat. In this way we can return to the harmony within ourselves and with each other.
The fruit of such a path is a spiritual transformation, one that draws us to be mindful and compassionate of our own essential Being and that of our partners.
In that awareness space is created, enough to hold all of our human imperfections. The relationship becomes a spiritual practice. The conditions that can sever a relationship can be a catalyst for communion.
I’m personally not in a relationship, but I can practice on or off the mat. And the good news is that every encounter is an opportunity for awakening my mind and heart.
Please forgo the flowers, just send love.
Lillian Strauss is a Yoga practitioner, reflexologist, Thai massage therapist, movement and music teacher at Energy Works. For information on her classes, contact her at 393-4541 or [email protected]