For many years, oxytocin has been dubbed the “love hormone”, the “cuddle hormone” and many other names due to its association with interpersonal contact. The hormone is released when people engage in physical or social contact, and according to a 2009 study in Hormones journal, it could even be secreted when people play with their pets. However, recent research by Duke University suggests that the hormone could in fact also play a significant role in how we experience life spiritually.
Patty Van Cappellen, lead author of the study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, says, “oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs”, affecting “how we perceive the world and what we believe.” Although she acknowledges that the process of spiritual awakening is complex and involves numerous factors, it would appear that the presence of oxytocin can lead individuals to place a higher value on their spiritual lives.
The study involved a test of 83 middle-aged men who were separated into two groups, one of which was administered oxytocin via a nasal spray, and the other of which was given a placebo.
Those who received the oxytocin were found to be more likely to agree with statements such as “all life is interconnected” and “there is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people”. As Popular Science reports, they were also more likely to feel “awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, love and serenity” after a guided meditation, and even a week later the effects remained.
The emotional uses of Oxytocin
Oxytocin has recently been given to patients for a variety of conditions, such as helping children with autism to understand the emotions of others, and, in a 2013 experiment, in assisting with the functioning of modern-day romantic relationships.
Although experts emphasise that oxytocin “may exert a variety of different effects, at different dosages, on different people, under different circumstances” in the words of Olga A. Wudarczyk, these developments are very interesting for those of us who seek to increase our spiritual and interpersonal awareness.
What could this mean for spiritual readings and growth?
These findings may mean that engaging in spiritual growth in social situations may be particularly fruitful. Perhaps this means that couples, families and friends could engage in social bonding before a spiritual activity such as meditation to stimulate the release of oxytocin and therefore improve their psychological engagement with spiritual emotions. This could also suggest that the interpersonal connection brought about during spiritual readings with an expert psychic may be more successful in leading you to true spiritual insight.
Whatever the answers to these questions, what is sure is that those of us seeking spiritual enlightenment should be sure to nurture our personal relationships in order to reach these goals.