STAY INSIDE

we live under lockdown
we can’t crowd the function
all other options
seem completely exhausted

we live under lockdown
masks cover our faces
movies in the evenings
cigarettes at dawn

we live under lockdown
the borders all in order
on the inside of the margin
we occupy these walls

the tins of beans
jump off the shelves
did they grow legs
and leave themselves?

we live under lockdown
we exist, therefore we think
we are under lockdown
we can’t tell the difference

YOU FALL HARD

you fall hard for lovers, brother.
you fall facedown on the pavement
so you bruise both for arraignment and for only you to bear.

you know you ought to wear a helmet,
nobody could ever tell you,
how many times must your teeth be kicked in by the police?

you fall so hard for hand-in-hand,
wake to sink your head in sand,
you forgot that nothing lasts forever.
you forgot that nothing lasts forever.

craters

i bite myself
because i miss being bitten,

i’m no longer smitten
with myself,

and this begs the question
how can i let anyone else in?

these scratches on my back
and craters on my psyche
are an elaborate ruse

i was taught
to not take things lightly,

the differences between us
are quantified in light-years,
time spent alone is just drifting,
frankly, it’s frightening

but i force it sometimes.

i don’t have the nerve
to give into this urge,

infinite angels surround me.

i feel blessed by their presence.
i can’t cause them pain.

hard truths — mental health, stigma and the transitionary nature of life

“have you ever stopped to consider how many people didn’t screw up for you to be sitting here tonight?”

mental health is a topic that is much more comfortable to avoid. it is a hard truth. as down as one may feel, i fully believe that the nature of the universe is an on/off system. everything is constantly in transition. even us. especially us. but yet, this is a topic we don’t want to address, and i get that to an extent. where i come from, we don’t talk about this. we are emotionally repressed. traditionally it has been more one-sided, with 8 out of 10 suicides in Ireland being men. recently however women have caught up in this tragic race to the end. Ireland now ranks among the highest rates of female suicide in the EU.

so in honour of Womens’ Day, i would like to express this: the tide is turning. somehow, we are becoming more repressed and unable to deal with the struggles of life. i love the bones of every single one of you. i am blessed to have you in my life. not everyone has this — as Terence says, there is only one true problem — “we are inappropriate to ourselves. we are ill with ego. we have a narcissism that we can’t put down. the thing that makes you happy eventually makes you unhappy. nothing lasts.” to all my brothers and sisters out there, please realise the transitional nature of life. our state can change very quickly, but never, ever lose faith. practice gratitude and appreciate what you do have, for we are truly lucky to be in the situation we’re in… looking at the bigger picture.

please don’t be ashamed or afraid to speak. there is no shame in feeling down and out. isolation can never be the answer. there’s already been too many promising young lives ended prematurely, for reasons that many of us will never be able to comprehend. please, know that you are appreciated, and know that you are loved, and the one thing we all have in common is that we suffer. suffering is relative so don’t compare yours to others — as Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy”, and this is a two way street. do what you need to do but please, don’t give up. you are valued and you are loved. stay strong. x

Instant Sound Therapy — Marconi Union’s ‘Weightless’

It appears to be a form of universal intuition that sound can deeply affect our physiological and emotional states. We see this in the meditative trance state induced by the chants of Buddhist monks. One could claim that far removed from spiritual practice, we can hear that one tune dropped in the club which instantly fills up the dance-floor and forces you to jack your body — although I would say the presence or lack of spirituality here is up for debate. The takeaway is that music is a universal language understood by all. Consider the tired mother singing her baby a lullaby or the high pitched whistle inserted by John Lennon to irritate dogs at the end of ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ – this effect of sound even extends from young to old and even beyond humans as a species. In my own experience I’ve always found a particular piece of music to find solace in while navigating the choppier waters of this life.

One group decided to take this idea to it’s logical extreme – and so it is my pleasure to introduce Marconi Union – a three-piece electronic outfit from Manchester, England. They decided to create music that could confirm our intuition and vindicate the knowledge already attained by experts in the field of sound healing. This desire manifested itself in the group’s 2011 track ‘Weightless’, created in collaboration with the British Academy of Sound Therapy.

 

weightless o

Listen to Weightless here. 🙂

When you first listen to ‘Weightless’, you may become conscious of an instant change in your mental and physiological state. This is no coincidence but a premeditated scientifically studied sum of causes. ‘Weightless’ is the result of a set of carefully composed rhythmic structures, non-repeating melody and field recordings engineered to create a lush, sprawling 8-minute musical voyage.

This thoughtful composition has been shown to slow the listener’s heart rate, reduce blood pressure and even lower our levels of cortisol (commonly referred to as the ‘stress hormone’). Leading expert Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson of Mindlab International, the institution which carried out the research, came to the conclusion that listening to ‘Weightless’ could reduce anxiety by up to 65%, in addition to a 35% reduction in the test subjects’ standard physiological resting rates.

When we hear chart hits, being able to predict the next note of a track is the rule rather than the exception. This creates engaging hooks that lodge in our brains and keep you up at night as ‘Baby Shark’ plays on repeat, having infiltrated your very psyche. A quick tip for those suffering from an endlessly looping track in their end is to listen to the song right through to the end… and voila, the glitch in your brain can be fixed: your life is no longer buffering.

You see: our brains are essentially lazy. Our mind is constantly looking for shortcuts and will eventually drift off when we can no longer predict what is coming next in a musical piece. Like the rain following the plough, our bodies react in accordance. Rhythms compel us to act: sometimes the physical urge will give way to the mental and vice-versa, but it stems from our mind’s interpretation of sound. Psychedelic pioneers Funkadelic hit the nail on the head all the way back in 1970 when they urged listeners to “Free your mind and your ass will follow”. So when study participants were listening to tracks such as Weightless, they were instructed to complete puzzles which would increase stress levels. The participants were connected to sensors to allow for measurement of stress indicators, and were played different compositions. ‘Weightless’ emerged as the clear winner — a testament to the power of sound and its mysterious ability to change our state of consciousness.

If you enjoyed this piece, I would recommend listening to Kelly Lee Owen’s eponymous debut LP. Kelly Lee Owen’s relaxed electronica draws from her own time spent working in a lung cancer ward — and her subsequent realisation of the healing power of music. If you do listen to ‘Weightless’, I would love to hear your thoughts! Read more about KLO here, and don’t forget support the artists! 😉