Prose

Noughties Pop and Neuroscience

Today has been deeply healing in a most unexpected way.

Struggling for a soundtrack to my day, I hit a little cynically on a “00’s pop” (say noughties, it feels good) playlist and let it roll.

My God.

I wept, I danced, I travelled through time to the most tender and terrible places of my teens and twenties. Songs I didn’t even like at the time hit me straight in the heartsy-chords and vibrated through my being. Justin Timberlake? Really? Celine Dion??? Mortifying.

I was pretty taken aback but the waves were strong and I was soon taken under again – free diving through forgotten emotional backwaters. After each big release my heart felt warm and alive – pumping love and feeling so much more connected to – me.

It felt as if there were corners of my heart with dusted over debris waiting to be cleared, and this slightly cringey pop playlist was blasting through them like a jet wash.

I reckon most of you reading have been there, or somewhere quite like it. Maybe for you it was 80s glam rock or early 90s skate punk (reckon I’ve got some work to do there to) that hit the spot.

The reason I am sharing this is not that it is a unique or totally remarkable experience but as an excuse to tell you something I’ve learned about neuroscience.

You weren’t expecting that at all from the title right… Just bear with.

So those bubbles of random emotion, thoughts, images that surface when you hear a song – these are what is known as implicit memories. They are sensory and perceptual experiences in the moment that appear as if out of nowhere. These feel like live, here and now sensations – with no sense of coming from a specific past event.

As we stay with the feeling, following the crumb trail of thoughts, images and associations that unfolds as we do, we will come eventually to an explicit memory.

This is a tangible past event recollection which we can pinpoint to a time and place. An encounter, a holiday, an argument, a bereavement, a surprise.

As this explicit memory comes into focus, we are able to make conscious links with the implicit memories – the emotions, felt sensations, thought and images that were arising at random -and neurologically staple them together.

This is referred to in psychology and neuroscience as ‘integration’.

Integration means, in short, that next time you hear Eminem playing and your palms get sweaty etc you will be able to access that explicit memory of falling over at the high school disco while pulling your best moves. You will know that the rising shame and anxiety you are feeling in the moment, belongs to some moment in the past. Realising this you are able to pause, reflect, calm yourself in whatever way you need to and not be swept along in this unattributable emotion and ruin your day.

This is an actual physical process in your brain where new neuronal connections are being formed and coated in Myelin which is like super lube for brain activity and makes everything slicker and quicker. Your brain is building new bits that help you to be more balanced and chill.

So if you feel like doing some neurological fitness activities to get yo’ mind right – bouncing round your room to cheesy tunes and bawler ballads from your youth (or death metal or happy hardcore or whatever it was) comes recommended from me.

You’re welcome.

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Meh. Break Up Poems.

1.
Straight off the train and it’s hanging in the air.
Scanning everywhere
For a glimpse of a moment gone by.
I feel his hand on my thigh.
Your name in lights, literally, above the night.
Your name in lights, literally, above the night.
It’s that time again
When we began.
The air feels just right.
Such a waste and such wide-eyed delight…
Fireworks
Featured heavily
Inside and out.
I watched through the lens of love
And you were next to me
Seeing clearly
What was in front of you.
Seeing only that.

2.
I’m too finely tuned to tango.

I serve up my heart raw
Like a high delicacy
When I open
To dance.

You smell the iron sweetness
Emanating from my neck
And the hairs stand up
On the back of yours.

However far afield
I feel your radar find me
When I open and emit
My full embodied pulse.

It is safe and sad to be shut up tight,
My body sluggish and sorry
Headed for hibernation,
Hiding from hurt.

It is ravenous and mighty
To let all the feeling
Frozen deep in tight musculature
Throb and release
In salty dissolution.

It is all my beauty and power
Bound up
Packed away
Pushed away
Kept at bay.
Kept quiet.
Lest you hear its call and turn your head.

And it would be nothing to you
To undo me completely,
Surfing and swirling in salty, scarlet waves
To invigorate yourself
And leave me there in pieces.

So I dance alone far away
Safe without postcode
And just feel the pulsing sonar
Of your attention
Through my body
Like a drum.
Like a warning.
3.
If you just want
To pick at me
Like the lukewarm remains
Of a meal you weren’t really hungry for
At the time.
Do not.
4.
I am furious
That I let you touch me
So deeply.

I am outraged
That it meant
So little to you.

I am sad
That we do not know
How to love each other.

When you touch the heart
Of a woman
Whose love is an ocean.

Be ready
To feel the waves
When you dip in your toe.

Or stay on the beach and watch.
Perhaps I am too terrific to touch.
5.
All the things I love
That you love too:
When I celebrate them
I celebrate you.
Why is my face always leaking when I do?

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Dancing queen

I go
deep into flow.
The wild wolf woman
throwing back my head to howl
delight and raw power of soul.

The day dances along
new partners on  the floor
come bearing gifts
laying destiny at my feet
and looking on with
worshipful awe.

A newly born queen
wings moist but unfurling

a sleek lady fox
tail brightly uncurling

a dervish in heart
a deep inner whirling

love is my light
to love is my calling