Do We Love with the Brain or Heart? The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Love

Love. It’s a word that evokes countless emotions, memories, and dreams. But have you ever wondered what love really is? Where does it come from, and how do you experience it? Is it just a chemical reaction in your brain, a feeling in the heart, or is there something more to it?

In this article, you’ll discover that love is a multidimensional experience that spans the realms of body, mind, heart, and soul. By understanding how love operates on these different levels, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for this powerful force and learn how to cultivate more authentic, wholehearted love in your life.

The Body on Love: Exploring the Physical Dimension

Let’s start with the most tangible aspect of love: the physical dimension. When you hold hands with your partner or embrace them in a warm hug, your body releases oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that promotes bonding and attachment. And have you ever noticed how your senses seem to come alive when you’re in love? Colors are brighter, music is more beautiful, and food tastes more delicious.

When you fall in love, your brain is flooded with a cocktail of chemicals that create feelings of euphoria, obsession, and attachment. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin all play a role in this “love potion” that makes you feel like you’re walking on air.

But it’s important to recognize that your body doesn’t actually experience love itself. Rather, it generates a series of biochemicals and physical sensations that you interpret as love. These bio-physical aspects of love are just one piece of the larger puzzle.

The Mind on Love: Exploring the Mental Dimension

Moving beyond the physical, let’s explore how your thoughts and beliefs shape your experience of love. Have you ever had a fairy-tale vision of love that left you disappointed when reality didn’t match up? Or maybe you’ve believed that love is supposed to hurt, leading you to tolerate unhealthy relationships.

Your cognitive biases also come into play when it comes to love. You might idealize your partner, overlooking their flaws and magnifying their virtues. Or you might fall prey to the “halo effect,” assuming that because someone is attractive or charming, they must also be kind and trustworthy.

But just like the body, the mind doesn’t directly experience love. Instead, it processes a complex array of sensations, thoughts, and memories, which you then label as “love.” This mental construct of love is influenced by your unique experiences, beliefs, and expectations. It’s also influenced by culture, books, and is at the heart of Hollywood’s romanticism.

The Heart on Love: Exploring the Emotional Dimension

Throughout history, the heart has been seen as the seat of love and emotion. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart, not the brain, was the source of wisdom and feeling. And in traditional Chinese medicine, the heart is associated with joy, passion, and connection.

But did you know that your heart generates the strongest electromagnetic field in your body? Some researchers suggest that this field may play a role in your emotional connections with others, allowing you to “sync up” with your loved ones on a subtle energetic level.

However, the heart itself doesn’t experience love. Instead, it responds to the experience of love by expanding its electromagnetic field. This higher vibrational field then influences the body and mind, creating a feedback loop of positive thoughts, emotions and sensations.

There’s also the concept of “heart intelligence,” which according to the Institute of HeartMath, suggests that your heart has its own wisdom, distinct from the rational intelligence of your mind. When you learn to listen to and trust your heart’s guidance, you may find that it leads you to more authentic and fulfilling relationships.

The Soul on Love: Exploring the Spiritual Dimension

At the deepest level, love can be understood as a spiritual force that transcends the physical, mental, and emotional dimensions. From this perspective, love isn’t just a feeling or a biochemical reaction, but a way of being that is nurturing, caring, and supportive of all live It’s a state that connects you to something greater than yourself.

Many spiritual traditions teach that love is the fundamental nature of reality. The Christian Bible declares that “God is love,” while Buddhist philosophy sees love and compassion as the key to enlightenment. When you tap into this universal love, you experience a profound sense of peace, joy, and unity with all life.

From a spiritual perspective, the love you experience in relationships is a reflection of this higher love. Hence the Sufi phrase, “to God, lover, beloved, and love are one.” When you love another person unconditionally, without attachment or expectation, you are aligning yourself with the divine love that underlies all creation.

The Experience of Love: Beyond Body, Mind, and Heart

As we’ve seen, the body, mind, and heart all play important roles in our experience of love. But ultimately, love itself is a function of awareness and consciousness.

Science can measure the biochemical reactions in the brain, but it can’t capture the essence of love itself. Poets and artists can beautifully express the feelings of love, but their words and images are just pointers to a deeper reality. Spiritual teachers can guide us towards the divine love that permeates all existence, but even their teachings are just signposts on the path.

In the end, knowing about love is not the same as experiencing love. You can have a wealth of intellectual knowledge about love, but still struggle to give and receive love in your life. Or, you could let go of all your preconceived notions of what love should be, and simply be present, appreciative, and available to the experiences of love that life constantly provides.

Living from the heart means letting go of your preconceived notions about what love is supposed to look and feel like, and instead, living in the experience of love itself, engaged with each heartbeat of life. It means being present to the love that surrounds you in each moment, whether it comes in the form of a beautiful sunset, a child’s smile, your cat’s purr, passionate lovemaking, a kind word from a friend, or a warm embrace from a loved one.

My Experience of Love: Healing My Heart and Deprogramming My Mind

Growing up in Venezuela, I was immersed in a culture that celebrated romantic love through nightly soap operas. Watching these shows with my family, I absorbed idealized, highly romanticized notions of what love, romance, and relationships were supposed to look and feel like.

As I grew older and began to experience love for myself, I found that reality often fell short of these idealized expectations. I suffered disappointments and heartbreaks, not realizing that I was unconsciously trying to recreate the fairy-tale romances I had seen on screen.

My healing journey brought me to painful places that required me to let go and dismantle the emotional and mental programming that had taken over my mind. It was a challenging process, confronting me with the question: if this isn’t love, then what is?

Through this process of deprogramming, I began to recognize that I had been chasing love as if it were a drug, seeking the highs of romance and passion while avoiding the deeper work of building authentic connection. As I let go of these patterns, I started to see love everywhere, in different degrees and forms.

I came to understand love as the primordial force of life itself, with fear, anger, pride, and other negative emotions arising from its absence. This realization shifted my entire perspective. I saw that my job was not to seek love, but to remove the obstacles I had built against it, as the poet Rumi so wisely said.

You don’t have to teach a baby how to love – that is their natural state. The same is true for each of us. Our nature is ultimately loving. To grow spiritually and live from the heart, we must release the unloving thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we’ve learned along the way as protective mechanisms.

Once we make the decision to follow the path of the heart, the energy of love begins to illuminate all the areas within us that need healing. It’s a challenging but profoundly transformative journey, one that asks us to continuously let go and open ourselves to the love that is always available, in each moment.

Do you love with the brain or the heart?

Putting It All Together: Integrating the Dimensions of Love

So how can you integrate these different dimensions of love into your life so that you can have expanded awareness of love? Here are some practical tips:

  • Challenge your limiting beliefs about love. Notice when your thoughts create barriers to connection and intimacy, and practice reframing them in a more positive light.
  • Listen to your heart’s guidance. When faced with difficult decisions or relationship challenges, take time to quiet your mind and tune into your heart’s intuitive wisdom. My guided meditations, A Return to Love, or Seeing with the Heart, will help.
  • Cultivate spiritual practices that connect you with love. Whether through meditation, prayer, or time in nature, find ways to tap into the deeper love that permeates all life.
  • Practice loving-kindness towards yourself and others. Treat yourself with compassion and understanding, and extend that same love to everyone you encounter, even those who challenge you. My guided meditation, Radical Self-Love, will help.

Final Thoughts

Love isn’t a localized experience. Rather, it’s a multi-faceted jewel that shines through the body, mind, heart, and soul. When we love with the totality of our being, we tap into a transformative force that can nurture, heal, and inspire us and others. That’s the essence of wholeheartedness and living from the heart.

As you proceed on your journey of love, remember that the deepest experience of love comes from your own awareness and presence, not from knowledge acquired from movies or books. God, not people, is the source of love. By letting go of your preconceptions about love and being open to the love that surrounds you, you can tap into a wellspring of joy, connection, and meaning.

So let your light shine brightly, and let the love flowing from your heart inundate every aspect of your life. And remember, that love, true love, is closer than you imagine, for you were made in the image and likeness of love.

From my heart to yours, 


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