by Jion Sommer, Living Proof Naturally, Whole Food Plant-based Health Coach, Reiki Practitioner & Meditation Teacher
Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and released into the bloodstream by the pituitary gland. It often is referred to as the love hormone, cuddle hormone and the bonding hormone.
Hugging, kissing, cuddling and sexual intimacy can all generate its production, which can strengthen bonds.
This is the hormone that makes your heart melt when you see kittens, puppies and babies. Researchers administered oxytocin to 16 different breeds of adult dogs and watched their “bonding” behavior increase like sniffing, nudging, licking and playing. This may someday be useful in helping abused dogs trust their new, loving owners.
Simple ways to increase oxytocin:
Music: Listening to music improves your mood, focus and motivation. It also improves the ability to create social bonds. You can feel the connection when everyone sings their favorite song together at a concert or when we are belting out our favorite tunes on a good road trip with family or friends.
Cooking, eating healthy food together: Research on chimpanzees suggests sharing food can increase oxytocin. Preparing a meal with friends or a partner provides enjoyment in addition to nourishment. The act of eating itself can produce pleasure and trigger oxytocin release.
Meditation: Metta (loving kindness) meditation involves directing thoughts of love, kindness and compassion toward someone in your life and sending thoughts of peace and wellness toward them. When focusing on someone we love and generating loving kindness we increase our own oxytocin.
Hugging or cuddling: Hugs, hand-holding and cuddling all increase your love hormone. So take a few moments for a good, long hug with your partner, child or your pet.
Thich Nhat Hanh taught a beautiful hugging meditation where while hugging, you breathe consciously (I suggest 3 breath cycles) and hug with all your heart, body and spirit. While you hold the other person, you both become present with the breath, they become real and you also become real.
You can say silently something like this:
Breathing in, my loved one is in my arms. Breathing out, I am so happy.
Breathing in, they are alive. Breathing out, it is so precious to be alive together.
Breathing in, it is so wonderful to have them in my arms. Breathing out, I am very happy.