Sri Research Institute of Holistic Health care and Self-development
Music Therapy- CONVERGENCE OF SCIENCE & SPIRITUALITY
“ Idam thu they guhyatham pravkshyaam anasooyave I
Gyanam vignyanasahitam yajgnyathva mokshayase ashubaath I”
(Chapter9,Shloka1, Bhagavat Gita)
The supreme personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, the one who is devoid of envy, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.
The knowledge Krishna speaks here if about a technique or Saadhana or spiritual practice.
Knowledge has to be practiced, experienced and realized, otherwise there is no use of learning. Science evolves as knowledge is converted to experience and realization.
Knowledge is primarily hypothetical. Spiritualism is about experiences and Science is largely of evidence.
But, there is an end to evidence. The authenticity of evidence is thoroughly dependent on accuracy and resolution to which diagnostic equipments are able to provide output. Still, there is no device in this world to define certain quantities. For example, can you measure how much happy someone is? Can you measure how brave someone is? Happiness, sadness, bravery, love and satisfaction, all these can be felt and not measured on a scale, or quantified using diagnostic equipments. Then how do we aspire to objectively quantify the effects of music which are nothing but emotions. Study of neurotransmitters and hormone secretions can provide some kind of evidence which can be put under the category of indirect evidences.
Music is one of the oldest subjects. Even if learnt procedurally it takes close to 20 years to master. Universities may well give degrees in music. But in practical scenario we experience that several qualified musicians are also not able to survive audience choice. Many people have been thinking that music therapy is a modern subject and taking the liberty of projecting the subject as per their whims and fancies. But, taking into account the fact that Indian scientists have always been leading in mathematics, astrology, aerodynamics and what not, how could one do the mistake of thinking that they have not explored this subject called music therapy. Going by the principle of Pathanjali, “Yoga” was supposedly the term being used in place of therapy. Yoga means union achieved by harmony of tatvaas[i]. Disharmony of tatwaas at universe level leads to natural calamities. Disharmony among the natural tatwaas in our body leads to disease. Overcoming this state and restoring our nature is called Yoga.
In the same lines Yoga achieved with the help of music can be called Swara samyoga. The proponent of this unique method must have been a yogi and musician both. But time and again we come across references that give ultimate credit of discovering this method to Lord Shiva himself. In Musicological texts, authentic description about such a method has been given by Sharngadeva in Sangeeth Ratnakar. There are several other references too. But Only Sharngadeva sounds like he has tried to put it to practice and then written it. Hence going by the available record of evidence we can assume Sharngadeva as the Guru or Acharya for Music therapy. Sharngadeva was a physician by himself and has acknowledged the existence of electromagnetic energy centers called the Chakras that respond to the vibration created by music or Naada.
How is Music Therapy different from concerts?
Now let me explain as how music therapy is significantly different from concert presentations. While we are cooking in our house we use black pepper for spicing up rasam.
While using black pepper in cooking, we can add any amount according to our taste and quantity required. But while using the same black pepper in medicines we need to follow a specific methodology, sequence and right quantity as per the requirements of the patient and severity of the disease. Also it needs to be administered in right quantity at the right time, periodically. The same rule applies to Music therapy also. Hence, the Time-Raaga Theory, that has been discarded by many performing musicians as impractical has greater applications in music therapy.
Music therapy and society
It is important to know the significance of music therapy in today’s society. Music, when used as a tool for entertainment, can provide solace to us for a small duration of time. But while being applied in therapeutic mode, by following a specific methodology, we intend to deliver long lasting relief from chronic conditions. In this way we use music to contribute to this society and in a way we also help music develop in a new perspective. For that matter any subject, to survive the test of time, has to contribute to the welfare of the society. Eventually Music therapy is the only way through which Classical music and all other types of music can make long lasting contributions towards society.
Now, coming to the systematic approach in music therapy, music therapy can be broadly classified into three types. It can also be called steps in therapy. They are
Preventive/ Holistic self development
Let us now discuss each type in brief with an example here.
The primary aim of palliative music therapy is to divert the patient from pain and stressful conditions arising during treatment. For example, during a minor surgery where the patient is given local anesthesia only, the patient’s anxiety can be managed well if music of their choice is played. During Chemotherapy also some music can be played. An entry level therapist also can follow this method and carry on palliative therapy provided their musical choices are wide and they have a vast collection. Meanwhile, I observed that majority of patients are not groomed to listen to Classical Music compositions. Classical compositions have been developed with special focus on bringing out talent of the singer. Such concert oriented songs do not create an impact in therapeutic applications. Here, the break through work in my research was to collect and compose customized compositions in various languages, adhering to the raaga format followed in Indian Classical Music. Based on our understanding and patient’s response for various traditions of music, raagas, musical forms etc., a Customised Music Panorama data (CMPD) of the patient is created at this step. Here someone might ask as why to adhere to raga? Why not let the music be free from this raga boundary? My experience says that if we adhere to raga format we will be able to objectively quantify the results for long term use.
Indian Classical Music is a treasure trove of raagas, which have scientific benefits, and have great scope for exploration. It will be sufficient to use this raagas in their simplest forms without getting into the complicated stylish embellishments that have been added to them to score among amidst competitive culture prevalent in performance.
If addressing a group therapy, it is advisable to do the palliative step first and then move to this step. But in case of individual sessions, depending on the situation and receiving ability of the patient, any one of these three methods can be applied directly. In curative procedure the patient is given certain raagas which mainly create changes in mind, thought and perspective. These raagas have a direct effect on the nervous system. Activation of Para-sympathetic nervous system helps inner healing ensue and the patient’s feeling, post therapy session is a drastic and surprising state of harmony.
Here, therapist’s role is to identify raagas that match with the therapy requirements. A music therapist, at this level needs to have a wide knowledge base in physiology, psychology and in depth knowledge in Classical music. In my experience, no single raaga can cure any specific disease. The patient must diligently follow the prescribed medication and use music, as a complementary healing only.
Even slight variations brought out by music in thought process of the patient, emanates as a positive force that leads the patient to make better choices. This will further help in accelerating the process of healing. To make this point more clearly, a patient with arthritis can stop the progress of disease by doing regular Yoga. But the patient may be lacking will power to follow the regime regularly. By selecting raagas and customizing music to keep the patient focused and motivated to stick to the regime the treatment becomes successful. By just sitting and listening to some raaga cure is not achieved. Hence cure must start at mind level. There are many raagas for a single disease condition. The best and most suitable raaga for the patient of concern is chosen by trials and study of patient’s CMPD. For example, if a patient is suffering from diabetes, it is important to find the cause as Thiruvalluvar has said
“Noai naadi noai mudal naadi adu thadukkum
vaai naadi vaaippach cheyal”
In case, anxiety has been the cause for malfunction of pancreas then appropriate raagas must be chosen and effect on the patient must be recorded by trial and feedback method. Every raaga produces some emotion and those emotions can be managed by those raagas. Emotions are the core cause behind many diseases and if we can manage these emotions, we can manage the disease too. All the seven chakras are connected to some emotions. Using this relationship between raagas, chakras and emotions, and the CMPD created by us during palliative step we can zero in on the most suitable raagas for the patient under concern. As we have derived the most suitable raaga, it can be recorded and given to the patient for regular listening. Following this, we make a note of observations and also take feedback from the patient and keep improving upon the musical collections that suits the patient.
There is a base less theory found circulating in social media saying “so and so raaga cures so and so disease”. This theory has not been established scientifically by conducting systematic research studies. One should never subscribe to this buzz and spoil their health by discontinuing medication and listening to unscientific music shared out of promotional interests.
The most appropriate method is to approach a genuine music therapist and seek their guidance and support for selecting your music. Never believe those quacks who hand out CDs labeled Music for diabetes and so on. Music therapy is like your spectacles, which have to be customized and adjusted to your requirements to bestow some real benefit. A relaxing or sleep inducing raaga is commonly accessible. The first step in curative treatment is to identify the most appropriate music that is capable of relaxing and inducing sleep, for the patient under concern.
Preventive music therapy helps the patient develop better tolerance for pain and stress that arises during treatment, reduces side-effects and prevents relapse. In Chronic conditions preventive music therapy reduces frequency of relapses initially and gradually leads to complete health. The process called Swara Samyoga which was being practiced by musicians several centuries before, to preserve their own health has been retrieved by me through, consultation with experts, my experiences and divine guidance. This practice comprises of certain techniques to invoke our inner healing energy with the help of nada, strengthen and channelize it for healing affected parts of body. This method which puts together music therapy and psychotherapy is helpful in prevention of disease, if practiced regularly. This can be administered as a guided meditation sequence with the help of a thirteen minutes MP3 track. For example if a cancer patient, practices this method regularly and in specific, before going for chemotherapy, they can experience that they are coping up well during Chemotherapy and are experiencing very less side effects post chemo. Prevention of relapse is also possible, provided the patient is highly motivated to continue the practice for long term.
Methodology for Music Therapy
Every therapeutic approach has a certain methodology for implementation, diagnosis, analysis and improvement. In case of Rehabilitation of Special children a therapeutic method which is a combination of Physiotherapy, Motor Skill Practices, Speech Therapy etc, is being used. In De-addiction, two models are used. They are Alcoholic anonymous and Therapeutic community model. TCM is a flexible model in which music therapy also can be included. Similarly, HSD model developed by me can be used to implement music therapy in a systematic manner. Yoga, physiotherapy and many other therapies can be integrated to Music therapy in this model. In Swara samyoga psychotherapy and music therapy has been integrated. Through this, a musician can carry out a completely authentic work, in this field.
HSD-methodology is a generic methodology for implementing Music therapy. It has been designed adhering to Quality Management System standards. This can be used to derive customized treatment model, as the case may be. For example Therapeutic Community Model is a widely followed treatment model in de-addiction. The generic methodology that has been designed in my research has been superimposed to this TCM and music therapy has been utilized to increase the effectiveness of de-addiction program.
Similarly, during my research and subsequent practice this methodology has been customized for
Self-development group of ladies, who are spouses of Air Force Officers
Special Children Rehabilitation Methodology
Improving EQ among institutionalised Children
De-addiction Patients Group
Stress management among Jailed Convicts
Normal Individuals aspiring improved holistic wellness
In every group there were different challenges and different requirements. The generic methodology has been suitably modified while applying to address different situations
While working with patients undergoing physiotherapy, it was inferred that their pain tolerance improved and eventually they cooperated well towards the treatment. In Cancer patients, the side-effects due to chemotherapy phenomenally reduced and the response to treatment was better. The MP3 track plays for 13 minutes and it is mandatory to practice, on the day of treatment to feel significant improvement.
Swara samyoga, the yogic method used in Preventive Music Therapy, is an intricate practice which can be learnt and mastered only under a trained teacher’s supervision. Hence only theoretical aspects have been shared here. Enthusiasts can get initiated directly or through online lessons followed by diligent counseling and guidance.
Effects of Swara samyoga
Swara samyoga has been able to correct breathing abnormalities and disturbed breath cycle there by increasing the oxygen levels in blood. Some of the observations shared by the practitioners are as under.
Fatigue reduces and person becomes active. A person who sleeps a lot during day time may become adequately active and resultantly have sound sleep during night.
Unknown fears are overcome by regular practice.
Clarity of thought process and ability to make clear decisions.
Ability to express oneself clearly without being aggressive or submissive.
Ability to think proactively and focus on long term objectives.
Overall improvement in physiological and psychological health.
Capability to be centered and remain equanimous even in face of adverse situations.
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All are welcome to the world of endless joy, health, happiness and divine bliss.
[i] tatwaas- Natural elements and forces which form the composition of our physical body and govern our existence. They are space, air, fire, earth and water