“Couple in love” | Photo by pedrosimoes7 via Flickr/Creative Commons BY 2.0
My college professor in psychology once told us in class that the expression, “I love you with all my heart” is inaccurate. She told us that the seat of love is the “hypothalamus,” the part of the human brain that “organizes and controls many complex emotions, feelings and moods, as well as all motivational states such as hunger, appetite and food intake, and everything to do with the concept of pleasure including satisfaction, comfort, and creative activities.” She said that the appropriate expression should be “I love you with all my hypothalamus.” It may be accurate but it sounds very unromantic, if not plain incomprehensible.
“It is easy to understand why we think that love emanates from the heart and not the brain. When we first experience the stirrings of love, we feel our hearts quiver. The mere thought of the beloved is enough to transform how we feel, and the anticipation of being with the beloved makes our hearts jump.”
It is easy to understand why we think that love emanates from the heart and not the brain. When we first experience the stirrings of love, we feel our hearts quiver. The mere thought of the beloved is enough to transform how we feel, and the anticipation of being with the beloved makes our hearts jump. The sight of our beloved pumps so much blood in our heart that we drown in ecstasy and sometimes renders us tongue-tied. This is how we “fall in love,” we feel it in our heart, eclipsing our reason. However, when the novelty of “feeling in love” subsides, that’s when we feel it in our head. We call it “headache.” Beware when you feel romantic, and your lover complains of a headache. She or he may be falling out of love.
Notwithstanding the physiological confusion as to where love arises, it is indeed a magical experience. It is perhaps one of the few instances in our waking consciousness when we summon our complete attention and get absorbed with a person as if nothing else matters at that moment. That sense of presence at the moment is a true communion with someone. In the state of “being in love” the experience is complete, an experience so rare that we chase and hunger for it. It’s like a drug that soaks our brain, not our heart. The brain chemicals that falling in love elicits eventually lose their potency, the “high” goes away and all that is left is its wonderful memories.
“That sense of presence at the moment is a true communion with someone. In the state of “being in love” the experience is complete, an experience so rare that we chase and hunger for it. It’s like a drug that soaks our brain, not our heart.”
This presence and complete absorption are an intimation of how this state of being may be possible for someone who has mastered the ability to love all beings unconditionally, without judgment or discrimination. We attribute this capacity only to saints and sages who have achieved purity of heart and mind to contain and express the highest form of love by their spiritual practice or way of life.
We wish that if only we could summon that experience at will, command our brain to “fall in love,” we would always be in a state of bliss. Do you ever wonder why we “fall in love” and not “walk in love?” The very word “fall” leaves me imagining that when we let go of whatever it is that’s holding us back, it’s like falling into an abyss — limitless. It’s a state of surrender to a power that’s taking over our being, “we fall in love.” This capacity is in all of us, and we experience it, though briefly when we truly fall in love with someone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at email@example.com.