The Biology of Love: When experiencing a micro-moment of love with any person, things happen: Mimicking, Oxytocin is secreted, and vagal tone strengthens:
A. Mimicking: Mirror neurons in our brain allow us to mimic others, get in sync with them. This was discovered when Italian scientists watched a wired up monkey’s mind repeat a neural activity of a scientist. This “brain coupling” is literally how we connect with each other. This shared action and emotion moves people toward mutual caring and ultimately love.
B. Oxytocin is the opposite of adrenalin or cortisol, which stimulate our fight-flight response. Rather, oxytocin is called the “cuddle hormone” and plays a major part in social bonding. And while oxytocin flows during sexual encounters, with breastfeeding mothers, and in big emotional moments, it also flows in a much more subtle way in daily activities like talking to a friend, working with a trusted business partner, or playing with a child. Oxytocin mutes the fight-flight response of the amygdala and increases receptivity in the brain. Kind behaviors increase oxytocin, which curbs stress, anxiety, and depression. It produces a “calm-and-connect” response in contrast to fight-flight of the amygdala.
C. Vagal Tone: Originating in the brain stem, the vagus cranial nerve is like the brain’s thermostat for various organs in your body, most notably your heart. It’s the vagus, with help from oxytocin, that ultimately calms a racing, fearful heart. As such, the vagus nerve gets intimately involved with love. A quickening heart takes in necessary oxygen and a slower exhale slows down the heart—creating vagal tone. And love and health are connected at the hip. Controlling your racing heart makes you more physically, mentally and socially adept and able to experience more loving moments—micro-moments of positive resonance.