What’s love got to do with it? Well, if the “it” you’re referring to is health, a lot! Just ask Dr. Sean Mackey.
Regular readers of my posts may recall my mentioning this guy before. He’s a Stanford researcher and a well-known expert on pain. Some time ago he conducted a study on a handful of Stanford undergrads and found that those focusing their attention on a photo of their beloved boyfriend or girlfriend while receiving pain stimuli from a hot probe reported feeling 44% less pain than when they looked at a photo of just another friend.
I can relate. (To the part about love, not the hot probe.)
I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, climbing out of the family’s station wagon. Just as I was pulling my arm past the doorjamb, someone pushed the door closed on my hand. As I recall, three thoughts came immediately to mind. First, that I couldn’t see my hand. Second, that my mom was there to comfort me. Third, that within a matter of moments I didn’t feel any pain.
How’d that happen? Looking back, I think the key factor was that I was able to focus on something I loved that I just knew was loving me right back. When I was a kid that “something” was, of course, my mom. As I’ve grown older, though, and similar things have happened, it’s felt like something much more spiritual, even divine. This leads me to believe that an awareness and acceptance of love is essential to maintaining my health.
Here’s another example…
The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), just up the road in Petaluma, found that the “positive intention” of one person can have a measurable impact on the physiology of another. How’d they figure that out? First they recruited a few dozen loving couples and put them (husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.) in separate rooms. After hooking everyone up to various contraptions to measure heart rate, temperature, and so on, they noticed that whenever one partner was prompted to think loving thoughts about the other, the other partner’s skin began to warm. Cool!
The folks at IONS call this quantum entanglement, a “phenomenon that indicates that at deep levels of reality, physical systems are interconnected beyond the ordinary constraints of distance in space or time.”
I call it love.
Bottom line: Love and health go hand in hand. I’m not talking romantic love here, but that deep down, through-thick-or-thin kind of love that I’m convinced embraces each and every one of us – the kind of love we should be celebrating, not just on Valentine’s, but every day and in every way throughout the year. Keeping our thought open to this kind of love will not only make us happier but – “as studies show” – healthier as well.