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 experience.
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 marriages.
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 communication.
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 bank.
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.
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Article Added on Friday, July 9, 2010
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