Touch plays such a vital and important role in our emotional state. While certainly not all touch is positive, the health benefits of being kindly touched has been proven time and time again.
During a hug we release oxytocin, which is also known as the love hormone. Oxytocin relaxes us, lowers anxiety, stress levels and blood pressure, and enhances our well-being. Depression, loneliness, anger and anxiety are sometimes rooted in being touch deprived. Furthermore, being hugged and kindly touched as a child is directly connected to our ability to self-soothe as adults. The bottom line is that we feel better when we hug and touch those we care about.
My thoughts were mulling over this topic during my meditation this morning when suddenly, my cat Rumi seemingly appeared out of nowhere and jumped on my lap. The timing was of no coincidence. He laid down and quite intentionally, to prove his point, put all four paws on my open hand as if saying, “I’ve gotcha covered. It’s all good.”
My heart immediately responded, and I could feel the release of the love hormone. Yes of course, I thought, animals to the rescue... again. Animals have always played a significant role in the emotional well-being of humanity. They are walking oxytocin, consistently gifting humans the loving power of touch at just the right time.
Our animal companions are instinctively aware of the essential need for touch. They are masters at providing loving touch and most are not shy about asking for it in return. You see, all mammals are sentient beings and have a version of oxytocin that is released during loving encounters.
During this unprecedented time of social distancing, the animal kingdom steps up to the plate and are willing participants to serve us. They have the ability to help us navigate our isolation feeling loved and connected to other beings. For they are experts on both subjects and model a way of being we humans can strive to emulate.