Healing through Music

Recent years have witnessed an explosion of information relating to the effects of various forms of sound and music on body and mind and on their beneficial impact on various ailments ranging from autism to hypertension, arthritis to depression.

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Sophisticated gadgets such as biomagnesonic transducers, vibroacoustic and vibrotacticle platforms, couches and other myriads of gadgets and tools are increasingly being advertised, promising relief from various conditions and symptoms.

Although the exact mechanism of healing is still a mystery, it is often speculated that entrainment or synchronization of vibrations could be the reason.

Music is a special form of flexible abstract thinking. It enables us to move along with it in all kinds of situations that we face in life – happiness or sorrow, eerie or enjoyable

Rhythm is the first organizing structure in the infant’s experience. Modern science acknowledges that pulse and rhythmic patterns found in our heartbeat, in our breathing and in our body movements are just a few indicators of rhythms with which all our life-processes are intrinsically linked. There is an rhythm inherent everywhere – in and around us. With a little focused attention, we can get in touch with our body rhythms. We can then recognize how our breathing cycles, heart beats and our bio-receptor feedback loops are made of resonance and rhythms, which simply go on and on, till death deprives us of them.

Melody is in-build in our laughter, cries, screams or songs – and they all follow a fixed, rhythmic pattern. A whole range of emotions can be captured and communicated through a wide range of rhythms, tones and melodies drawn from diverse cultural milieux and musical styles, schools and systems.

As in the case of any biological system, Nature too, is made of cycles and rhythms. Seasons change in cyclic manner and life functions in a cycle of births, growth and death. A cycle without a start or an end. Within the human body itself, life-processes are carried out in a purely rhythmic fashion. Various kinds of rhythms viz., endogenous rhythm, muscular rhythm, pain wave rhythm, pulse-breath frequency, rhythms involved in the processes relating to blood circulation, digestion, respiration, sleep etc., are well known to the world of Science and Medicine.

It has been an age-old practice in all primitive societies, to induce a Shamanic state of consciousness, by drumming at the rte of 4 ½ beats per second. Recent researchers like Landereth (1974), Harrer (1977) have confirmed that slow beats modify the heart rate and breathing cycles in a significant way.

A musical-harmonic order called ‘rhythmic functional order in humans’ responds by intensifying, even when a person is sleepy. It has been experimentally found by this author in a workshop conducted at Delhi on the 22nd December, 2001 before an enlightened audience, comprising of diplomats, civil servants, yoga teachers and music lovers that, manipulation of the rhythmic pace of a tabla or a manjira could lead one to a relaxed state. The literature on music therapy is fast building up, confirming that long-term musical involvement reaps cognitive rewards – in terms of linguistic skills, reasoning and creativity for enhancing social adjustments love and peace.

Music exercises the brain and playing the instruments for instance, involves vision, hearing, touch, motor planning, emotion, symbol-interpretation – all of which go to activate different areas of brain-functioning. It has been observed that some Alzheimer patients could display music even long after they had forgotten their near and dear.

Every one of us responds to music from the new born, to patients on their deathbeds; from the physically or mentally strong to those who are the weak or impaired.

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