The Power Behind a Kiss: The Quick Breakdown
Welcome spring with a kiss and embrace the power, science and history behind it.
"Kisses are a better fate than wisdom." ~ E.E. Cummings
Days are becoming balmy, daylight lasts into evening, and the flowering trees are now awash in color. If ever there was a moment that the kiss was invented, somehow I feel sure it was when the world awoke to springtime.
In fact, the earliest recorded kisses date back to India in 1500 BC where early Vedic scriptures describe lovers "setting mouth to mouth." But other historians date the origin of kissing to the biological drive of survival and reproduction, which is why the earliest forms of kissing, with the practice of brushing noses to smell potential mate’s makes so much sense.
There are solid biological reasons that you can’t imagine kissing someone who smells offensive to you. How our unique scent blends with a potential mate speaks volumes about our genetic compatibility or lack of it. Our sexual attraction that comes through our nose may be our most primitive, but it is also the most reliable for identifying our worthy partners. You can make things sexier by adding an aphrodisiac scent to your kissing experience.
The kiss is, in fact, where sexual intimacy begins. Scent attraction aside, it is in the act of kissing that we know for sure whether we want to know more or not. And this knowing is rooted in our deepest neurological response. The moment our lips meet, a cascade of neural messages and chemicals are released that transmit messages of intimate connection, sexual potential and even euphoria. Indeed, when we kiss, our hearts beat faster and our breath deepens and irregular, mimicking the response of intense exercise. While a little smooch only requires two facial muscles, when we truly engage in kissing it is a full-on acrobatic workout for your face that requires significant muscular coordination; a total of 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles are used while we kiss.
In addition, of the 12 or 13 cranial nerves that affect cerebral function, five are at work when we kiss, shuttling messages from our lips, tongue, cheeks and nose to a brain that snatches information about the temperature, taste, smell and movements of the entire affair. In fact, human lips enjoy the slimmest layer of skin on the human body, and the lips are among the most densely populated with sensory neurons of any region. Some of the neurological information arrives in the somatosensory cortex, a swath of tissue on the surface of the brain that represents tactile information in the map of the body. In that map, the lips loom large because the size of each represented body region is proportional to the density of its nerve endings.
Kissing is one of the most healing activities we can engage in because it unleashes a cocktail of chemicals that govern human stress, motivation, social bonding and sexual stimulation. Kissing both boosts oxycontin levels, a primary hormone involved in social bonding; and reducing cortisol levels, which plays a role in stress reduction. So do as the birds and bees as spring rolls in, re-discover the joys of a kiss and notice how we are hardwired to the renewing power of loving.
Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, "Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy," she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13-23 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can follow her on Google+