Saturday 6 March 2010

Love and Intimacy

Who has not been befuddled by love and intimacy? Love and
intimacy inspire huge industries, perfume, dating,
publishing, movies, and marriage and family counselors have
been honing their skills for decades.

I can imagine the first shaman was hired to work up a love
spell or potion for a client, 40,000 years ago.

Love and intimacy are important parts of the human
experience, so the researchers are researching, and lucky
for us, there are now technologies available which allow for
the most refined look ever at what the human brain does when
it is in love and desiring intimacy. Is it possible to
manage love and intimacy?

The researcher most linked with research of that nature
currently is Helen Fisher,Ph.D. who has been working on that
experience for some 30 odd years, and she has put some just
in love brains, some just out of love brains, and some long
time in love brains through the unflinching eye of a
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, and
she has some ideas about what happens in the human brain,
which might give us a chance to direct the love and intimacy

Her most practical suggestion is that we have the best
chance for successful romantic love, that early stage of
love run by three reward systems in the brain, associated
with three powerful hormones, dopamine, oxytocin, and the
androgens, if we find a compatible personality type to have
'chemistry' with.

While the poets may argue against trying to bring some order
to the usually chaotic mating dance, I believe there is
something to be said for matching up with a compatible type.

Professor Fisher says that we can find out our type by
taking a personality quiz at Chemistry, and if you want to
meet some compatible types, then you need to join Chemistry.

Actually folks, the internet has changed how we do marriages
in this country anyway. A huge number of couples are now
meeting online, which leaves me wondering what the singles
bars will do to stay in business.

Professor Fisher's research has indicated to her that we
humans fall into four broad personality types, each
associated with a hormone, and we will have a better chance
for love and intimacy if we match up with a compatible type,
which brings us to the work of Robert Epstein,Ph.D. who has
written some interesting articles recently in Scientific
American Mind, about love and intimacy in arranged

Professor Epstein notes that arranged marriages in India,
arranged by parents and marriage brokers, with an eye to
compatibility and sustainability last and grow in intimacy
95% of the time, compared to our western model which lasts
50% of the time.

Professor Epstein says that love and intimacy can be
trained, that you need to do a love and intimacy

workout, if you will, and he offers a number of exercises
that couples can do to grow closeness.

So can you imagine doing some 'soul gazing', two minutes of
looking into your partners eyes, trying to see their soul?

Remember not to stare, which is a threatening non-verbal

Professor Epstein uses this exercise in his class room, and
the students participating report a stunning increase in the
feeling of closeness after participating.

Professor Epstein also talks about another exercise, where
couples work on synchronizing their heart beats, which I
have actually done with couples, using a computerized heart
rate variability biofeedback tool.

Using the heart rate variability biofeedback tool, it is
possible for couples to actually see that their relationship
has a heart beat and that heart beat is a very dynamic,
alive, and important rhythm to attend to.

That heart beat becomes coherent (cooperative and
affiliative) or incoherent (contest, winner and loser) in a
heart beat, and couples can become aware of those changes in
their love and intimacy heart beat and change back to
coherence quickly.

What we learn from using heart rate variability biofeedback
is that love and intimacy need to be tuned up heart beat by
heart beat.

Doesn't sound possible? Well, how about attending to love
and intimacy regularly, now that you know that your
physiology can be adjusted heart beat by heart beat?

Love and intimacy definitely can be worked on much more
often than just between fights, and if couples do that, they
put what John Gottman,Ph.D., calls emotional money in the

Gottman has studied couples for 30 years, teasing out what
it is that the Masters of Marriage do that puts emotional
money in the bank.

Turns out there are some parallels with what Epstein in
particular argues for.

Gottman has put together a workshop called The Art and
Science of Love, which consists of written and video
exercises that couples can do together, and can repeat when
needed, or maybe even like a workout.

So maybe you do not need to hire a shaman for a potion or a
pill or a spell, you just need to practice some of the
suggestions that Professors Epstein, Gottman, and Fisher
make, to make some sense of the love and intimacy process.

About the Author:

Michael S. Logan is a brain fitness expert, counselor, a
student of Chi Gong, and a licensed one on one HeartMath
provider. I enjoy the spiritual, the mythological, and
psychological, and I am a late life father to Shane, 10, and
Hannah Marie, 4, whose brains are so amazing.

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