Healing power of music

Nagina Bains feels that music has phenomenal therapeutic qualities

MUSIC, the path to nirvana, the route to bliss, in all its forms, is the creation of emotionally pleasing effects by means of sound. A medium of expressing thought and feeling through tone and time. That music has some therapeutic value is fairly obvious to anyone driving a car through nerve-jangling traffic jams, dusting the house, or indulging in other dreary chores. Most people take this for granted.

Our ancient sages realised this long before medical doctors found out that the influence of music makes a person more productive, and that it has phenomenal therapeutic qualities. Music is now being utilised, consciously and unconsciously, around the world for healing purposes. There are several clinics and hospitals in India which are using music to minimise the trauma of painful treatments, or just to put patients at ease.

At Chandigarh’s Inscol Hospital, for instance, doctors play music in the operation theatre. They find the procedure gets demystified, the staff is relaxed, the patient goes into a deeper state of sedation, and the recovery is faster. Similarly, music played during childbirth allows the mother to respond to relaxation techniques more easily, the physical pain is a lot less, and the time taken to recover through the post-delivery stage is much faster.

Says Dr Mohan, a stress management consultant: "During exercises, we have music playing in all the rooms, simply as it helps me to relax, making me receptive to the clients’ problems. Also, while others wait, they get rid of their anxiety burden, and slip into a positive frame of mind. Also, 30 per cent of my clients undergoing various stress- related symptoms are given dedicational music tapes, which help them relax."

Says Dr Mohan: "Music actually gives positive self esteem to individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. It clears the emotional blocks. In fact, individuals suffering from any one of these diseases, who take to creating music, provide themselves with a very effective opportunity for treatment. Words like Om, Anantam, Narayanam, Hari are prescribed for alleviating distress and disorders connected with respiration."

Dr Palash Sen is an orthopaedic and leading vocalist for the rock group Euphoria. He says: "Music has a definite therapeutic value. It is a case of different music for different folks. The young may consider classical music the perfect cure for insomnia, while elders find it relaxing. There has to be something basically wrong with an individual’s personality if he or she does not respond to music. In today’s stress-infused world, music can go a long way in preventing illness because when you relax, you push that disease much further away."

Geeta Sharma, a lecturer in psychology, explains it with a simple but convincing logic: "Everything around us is made up of atoms and molecules, which are in turn made up of vibrations. We, too, are made up of vibrations, and when the vibrations sent forth by music blend exactly with the vibrations emanating from us, we feel good."

In a study by Australian physiological psychologist Manfried Klien, passages of Bach were played to a group of volunteers, and their hand-muscle responses were measured. Regardless of their cultural backgrounds, they all responded in the same way, and the effects of the notes of Bach had an extremely soothing effect on all the volunteers. The curative power of music emanates from the resonance of certain ragas on hormonal and glandular functions, which produce secretions that keep the body balanced and infection free.

Professor Manas Chatterjee claims that the following ragas can cure diseases: Mian ka Malhar and Darbari Kanada — chronic asthma; Bhairavi — sinusitis; Todi and Poorvi — headache and anxiety; Kafi and Khamaj — sleep disorders.

As William Congreve said: "Music has charms to soothe the savage beast." Since it has been declared as the food of love, use it as a perfect substitute for those chemical pills burgeoning in your sideboard.