Therapeutic music

How does music heal? Though it is still a mystery, there is belief that music stimulates the pituitary glands whose secretions affect the nervous system and blood flow. Music therapy can be applied at all ages—from an unborn child to the terminally ill. The first sense that develops in the foetus is the auditory sense. And the last to leave the body is also the hearing sense. Audio-analgesia can even be a substitute for analgesics. This has been tested in dentistry, surgery and childbirth. Like massaging the muscles, music can massage the mind and make the inflexible mind more pliant.

Indian classical music contains emotional raga and intellectual tala. Western classical music is made up of intellectual melody with emotional rhythms. Emotion and intelligence should be balanced to acquire equanimity. In music, as one balances the other simultaneously, balancing of the mind and heart is achieved, thereby bringing peace and tranquility. (This was demonstrated by playing a tape of low pitched, slow paced and iterative OM). It was an age-old practice in most primitive societies where drumming at the rate of 4 ½ beats per second would induce a shamanic state of consciousness. Researchers have confirmed that slow beats modify heart rate and breathing cycles. surgery, yoga etc., music has been found to be greatly efficacious. Listening to complex music (like Bach) stimulates

the mind, enhances complex neuronal patterns and creates orderliness High frequencies are fully exploited in Western classical music. At the wavelength of 5000-8000 hertz the unborn child hears its mother's sounds. It has been found that Mozart's music has therapeutic effects. Harmonics and steady tempo are important to achieve healing. For example, Yanni's music gives a sense of expanded time and space, blown up consciousness, and a sense of "relaxed alertness". The Romantic genre of music like that of Chopin, Wagner, Weber is emotional and picturesque, with a precedence of emotion, giving a sense of love and compassion. In twentieth century Impressionist music of the French school, moods mattered more than structure, inducing a dreamlike state, akin to the healing state.

Dr. Sairam named several Carnatic raga-s and listed their specific therapeutic benefits, although he did not give any statistical information about experiments conducted. For example, Sama—restores mental peace; Bhoopalam and Malayamarutam—for waking up; Bilahari—to deal with depression; Dwijavanti—for treating paralysis; Nadanamakriya—to soften the mind; Neelambari—to treat sleep disorders; Sree—aids digestion; Kalyani and Yaman—to reduce blood pressure; Hindolam and Malkauns—to treat low blood pressure patients. A music therapy programme will have to be custom-made to suit the needs and preferences of each patient. The duration and frequency of the therapy sessions also will have to be determined specifically for each patient. Several gadgets such as vibrating platforms, chairs, beds are commercially available in Western countries whereby even people with hearing impairment can physically experience (as vibration through their bodies) the middle to low frequency content of music. Several experiments conducted with Mozart's sonatas have resulted in increased joie de vivre and quality of life regardless of one's age or health conditions. Neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks acknowledges the role of music in dealing with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease because of its unique capacity to organise and re-organise cerebral functions when they have been greatly damaged. Thus in combination with other healing methods such as acupuncture, anesthesia, medication surgery, yoga etc., music has been found to be greatly efficacious.

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