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Tallahassee, FL – What happens to our brains when we’re in love? Studies have shown when we feel connected to another person, we secrete dopamine and oxytocin, the chemicals associated with joy and bonding. When we’re in a negative state, however, we experience a surge of cortisol and adrenaline, leading to agitation and anxiety. Indeed, love is truly chemistry, but if you’re not careful, it can wreak havoc on both you and your partner emotionally and physically.
According to Dr. Linda Miles, we can positively affect our chemistry through the practice of “Mindful Living.” Dr. Miles is a marriage and family therapist and expert in the science of relationships. For 35 years, she’s helped couples learn to be more present in their lives and relationships.
“We’re bonding animals,” says Dr. Miles. “So we need to choose our partner as though our lives depend on it. In many ways, it really does.”
In a study conducted by Dr. Helen Fisher, brain scans of couples that had been married for decades revealed that the parts of the brain associated with dopamine would light up, but not those associated with anxiety.
“When you love someone over time you learn to reduce anxiety,” says Dr. Miles. “These couples have learned to manage the forces of love. That’s a journey. I’m trying to help people on that journey know what steps to take to enjoy the good chemicals, not the bad ones.”
Mindful Living teaches couples to aspire to a state of loving kindness. If you don’t have ways to live in the present moment, your anxiety will drive your behavior. It’s like living in a bad neighborhood in your mind.
“We all have a shadow,” says Dr. Miles. “Mindfulness is the path to learning to accept your shadow. If you’re not aware, you can’t repair.”
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