Get Well With Music

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Music can be used effectively to heal the sick, writes POOJA KHOSLA

The human body is made of trillions of cells. Each cell acts as an atom and is under constant vibration; this cell vibration can be affected by other vibrations like mechanical, electrical, electromagnetic and musical vibrations. Musical notes have a message which reaches the subconscious mind and has positive effects on patients suffering illnesses like cancer and its consequences like severe depression, cardiac, liver, kidney problems and severe pain, especially during the terminal stage. These patients typically also have co-morbidities like hypertension, hypothyroidism, diabetes, problems in their joints and malnutrition issues.

Music is a part of everyday life and research shows that music affects mental, physical and emotional states. The healing power of music makes it a valuable tool in helping us gain health and wellbeing.

Nadopasana — dedication to Nada Yoga — has spiritual dimension and brings comfort, hope and peace of mind to listeners, alleviating depression and pain. The traditional Indian concept of Nada Yoga — union with the Supreme through nada — and nada chikitsa, healing through nada, compared to the conventional western thought of music therapy is a more complex and comprehensive approach because it deals not just with the music but several allied traditional aspects and interventions.

Song, instrumental music and dance — the three are called sangeetam in Indic parlance which would mean that other forms of complementary therapies like art and dance therapies, are also included. Further, the traditional approach of Nada Yoga not only talks of external intervention by a therapist but also describes the internal energy phenomenon or the inner sound that continuously attempts to set right the equilibrium and also restore the delicate balance in Mother Nature and its complex laws of which we all form a part. Nada in all its forms is treated as energy and all rules pertaining to energy apply to nada, too.

According to Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swami, the benefits of music therapy include relief from pain and discomfort, reduction of stress, improved understanding of medical treatment, improved coping, strengthened immune system, continued developmental growth, improved patient satisfaction, and the most important of all, the experience of spiritual uplift.

There has to be a specific need-based approach and design of music sessions for individuals and groups based on their needs using ‘improvisation’. The various techniques adopted would include receptive listening, active singing, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance and learning through music. The therapy process comprises of individual therapy as well as group therapy; supervised sessions as well as home sessions; active therapy as well as passive therapy.

Swamiji emphatically states that the mountains, waterfalls, oceans, the five elements as well as the flora and fauna, in fact, everything around us, is full of nada — nada moolam idam jagat — the entire universe is full of nada. All animate as well as inanimate beings are manifestations of the energy principle and they do respond to and can be influenced by sound waves. All these subtle facets are amply illustrated in the unique approach of Swamiji’s healing concept. However, there are a large number of unexplored, unfathomed areas related to quantifying musical experiences.

Among the yet unexplored and unquantified aspects are those involving the subtle internal energy changes and their physical and biochemical correlates. This is due to the lack of proper instrumentation, expertise, and techniques of evaluation but research in these areas is an ongoing process.

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