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Freedom From Stress Through Music - Music For Healthy Life and Lifestyle ....

Vanita Thakkar is an accomplished singer-composer-poetess-author; a performer since childhood; teaches music; is life-long student of music.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Last year, around this time, i.e. in the end of May, 2021, Swami Nikhileswaranada, the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Memorial, Rajkot, asked me to send an article in Gujarati on music as a means of overcoming mental stress and disorders, for a forthcoming special edition of the Gujarati journal - Shree Ramakrishna Jyot - published by the Mission, dedicated to articles on stress management.

This article is the English translation of the Gujarati article I wrote thus, and was published in December, 2021 edition of Shree Ramakrishna Jyot.

I have added quotes, pictures and links to the original content here, to enhance and elaborate its contextual value, utilizing one of the many unique advantages of writing on HubPages.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Introduction

Human life is a current of Existence in the continuously flowing steam of Time, like a wave of Existence. Every life is embodied consciousness. Human life attains happiness and success through a unified, harmonious and balanced integration of body, mind, intelligence and soul (consciousness).

What is Disease ?

We sense, feel and recognize any disturbance in this integration of body, mind, intelligence and soul as “disease”.

Body, mind, intelligence and soul are the gross to subtle .... to subtlest manifestations of the very same, single existence.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Body And Mind Interdependence ....

Human mind is a storehouse of inexhaustible energy.

The health of body and mind are interdependent. A weak body recovers and heals fast with the help of a strong mind. There are several examples that authenticate two very important facts, viz.

  • A strong mind keeps the body healthy and fit.
  • A healthy mind resides in a healthy body.

In Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta, there is a description of Arjuna’s despondence borne of attachment towards kinsmen who are there against him in the battlefield, due to which he feels physically exhausted and complains that he is unable to hold his mighty bow – the Gaandiva.

Physical ailment(s) and weakness sometimes lead to an unwell mind. Conversely, a weak, fear-laden and rueful mind causes dwindling of body immunity. Several examples that bring into light this fact came to notice during the recent (ongoing, when the article was written) Covid pandemic.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

A Healthy Mind and How It Gets Unwell ....

A healthy mind is happy and peaceful. Afflictions like fear, illusion, suspicion and so on do not adversely affect a healthy mind.

Thoughts, imagination and desires are spontaneous yields of mind. At the same time, mind is an inexhaustible and continuously filling storehouse of memories. Pleasure and sorrow are the spontaneous reactions / responses of mind towards situation(s) or memory(ies).

When does mind get unwell ?

When the longing for pleasure or the fear of sorrow turns distorted, mind gets unwell.

The disparities of life as a social being and the discrepancies of modern lifestyle appear to be continuously forcing human mind towards distress and despondency.

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freedom-from-stress-through-music

Treatments for distress / disorders ....

When pleasures-displeasures or blows / shocks become unbearable, certain mental disorders arise, for which along with medicines, and in some cases, even without medicines, some alternative treatments to heal and strengthen the mind prove to be beneficial. Yoga, Acupressure, Sujok Therapy, Aroma Therapy, Music Therapy and therapies involving other art forms are the examples of such treatments.

Counselling ....

In the western world, various types are counselling are prevalent. When family, friends / friend circle, well-wishers and such near ones are unable to help get rid of the troubles of mind or when unfortunately, those near and dear to a person or those influencing the well-being and progress of a person in his field of work become a cause of trouble to the person’s mind, the advice and help of a neutral and expert counsellor can be very useful.

When is Music Therapy Especially Useful ?

However, when the afflicted person / sufferer is unable to express his distress, such as someone suffering from amnesia, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Autism or such neurological disorders, music therapy can be useful.

Also, for patients suffering from anxiety, which includes, panic, phobia, post-trauma stress, etc., music can be very helpful in pacifying their minds and nerves.

In western countries like USA, there is a special health care system called Hospice Care in which music therapy and other such alternative therapies are used. Hospice care is meant for terminally ill patients of incurable diseases like advanced stages of cancer, etc., who are unlikely to survive more than six months, to help them pass the final stage of their lives peacefully and as less painfully as possible. Such efforts to comfort the deathwards physically, mentally and spiritually are truly appreciable.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Indian Culture - Music Is Inherent In Lifestyle ....

Indian culture beams with the brilliance of research-works on making human life accomplished, fulfilled and meaningful.

The philosophy of life that realizes and makes life a wonderful and unique celebration of Karma (deed), Bhakti (devotion) and Gyaan (knowledge, wisdom) flourished and developed to its fullest in India.

The principle – Prevention is better than cure – is engrained in the fundamental philosophy of Yoga as well as Ayurveda. So, a lifestyle that harmonizes in tune with nature, having a beautiful blend of science and art, evolved here.

If we talk about music, then in every part of India, various folk, light and classical music compositions are prevalent, that express every aspect, phase and stage of human life, with reference to their social and spiritual contexts, emotions, joys and sorrows, bliss, knowledge-wisdom-lessons-remarks and so on …. right from love to marriage to family life, familial and social relations to the joy of upcoming arrival of child in the family, birth, childhood, youth, patriotism, emotions and ideals towards society, middle-age, old age, asceticism, renunciation, death, every season, festivals and celebrations and so on ….

Music was (and to quite an extent, still is) so naturally and beautifully inherent a part of life that it led to evolution and development of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

The implemented vision / philosophy of prevalence of art forms in the society that nurture purity and health of mind and consciousness leads to a healthy and progressive society, which is capable of duly solving problems related to such matters.

The implemented vision / philosophy of prevalence of art forms in the society that nurture purity and health of mind and consciousness leads to a healthy and progressive society, which is capable of duly solving problems related to such matters.

- Vanita Thakkar (19th June, 2021)

Music - The Original Language of Mankind ....

We know and enjoy music as the art of sound. But, that is a very limited information and understanding about music. In fact, music is the original language of creation, the original language of mankind.

Research has proved that in the process of evolution and development of civilization, the role of music was that of the first and original language of creation – as the predecessor of speech.

Researchers have found that 2/3rd of the inner ear’s Cilia – thousands of tiny hair that lie on a flat plane like piano keys – resonate only at higher musical frequencies (3000 to 20000 Hz.), which points to the conclusion that at one time, human beings communicated primarily through song or tone.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Tonal Aspects of Languages - Musical Connections ....

The tonal aspects of languages also relate to their musical connections. There are Tone Languages or Tonal Languages, like Mandarin Chinese or simply Mandarin - the language of government and education of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan; Vietnamese; Thai and Punjabi, in which words can differ in tones (like pitches in music) in addition to consonants and vowels.

Even in today’s advanced era of information and technology, there are some tribes in the foothills of the Himalayas that still don’t have a language of words. They communicate through tones.

The cranial nerves, that form the network of nerves located above the throat / neck in a human body, are all connected to ears. Music activates these nerves and helps in solving related neurological problems.

freedom-from-stress-through-music

Some Illustrations Highlighting The Benefits of Music Therapy ....

Let us understand these facts with the help of some illustrations ….

Treating Corona-based Disorders ....

In the recent Corona pandemic, Tulsidasbhai, aged 80 years and a resident of Rajkot (Gujarat, India), was found to be COVID infected on 15th April, 2021, with 50% of his lungs affected and a complete loss of memory. He could not even recognize his family members. His daughter, Bhanuben cured him by playing songs of Mohammad Rafi for him, many of which he used to perform as a young man (From the Gujarati newspaper – Divya Bhaskar – dated 31-05-2021).

News capsule in the Gujarati newspaper - Divya Bhaskar - describing the recovery of Corona patient, 80 years old Tulsidasbhai of Rajkot, from memory loss through Music Therapy ....

News capsule in the Gujarati newspaper - Divya Bhaskar - describing the recovery of Corona patient, 80 years old Tulsidasbhai of Rajkot, from memory loss through Music Therapy ....

freedom-from-stress-through-music

For Dementia Patients ....

  • Rose, in her eighties, lived in a nursing home due to her diagnosis of Probable SDAT - Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type. She was able to speak only in one-word syllables, unaware of her surroundings and unable to take care of her bodily needs. However, when she would be visited by the music therapist, while singing "You are my Sunshine," her words became clearly understood, her singing would manifest recognizable pitch and melody, and she would sing with emotional expression, with a brightened face and making eye contact with the therapist. She also happily participated in group music activities in which the members of her drum circle group learned how to start and stop together, to change their playing from loud to soft and to play a variety of rhythmic patterns. They would stay seated and pay attention to the therapist’s directions for the entire thirty-minute session. The nursing staff on the unit noticed that for several hours following the group session, the participants would seem to have a better mood and were less agitated and more relaxed. This was a great consolation and relief for the family members of these patients, who experienced grief and helplessness at their condition.
  • A WW II Navy Seal, Joe Altman was struck by dementia due to diabetes, and his daughter consulted music therapist Alessandro Ricciarelli. For the rest of his life, Alessandro and their music sessions were the only connections between the old man and the outer world. The family valued the joy of being audience to their music sessions. They still cherish the memories preserved in the recordings of the sessions after he passed away.

For Treating Autism ....

Autism is a mental disorder in which owing to underdevelopment, kids find it difficult to interact with others or communicate verbally. It causes the affected person to be unaware of reacting in ways that others do not commonly react in society. Kids with autism find it difficult to play with other children and study with them in regular schools. Such children become expressive, confident and self-reliant with the help of music therapy. They get individualized as well as group training to be able to learn to lead as well as work as a supportive team member. A testimonial to American Music Therapy Association described that William, four-year-old son of Tamera Norris, who was suffering from autism, could become confident and self-reliant enough to be able lead a normal life as a result of his music therapy sessions.

Indian Classical Music in Music Therapy ....

Various popular Raagas in the Uttar Hindustani (North Indian) Music as well as Karnatik (South Indian) Music traditions are found to be useful in treating various types of diseases / disorders.

Illustrations from Uttar Hindustani Music ….

  • Raaga Bageshree inspires steady, deep and peaceful state of mind. It helps in comforting and healing patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension.
  • Raaga Darbari Kanada is said to be useful in curing stress. It is said that Tansen had composed this Raaga to help Akbar overcome stresses of life as an emperor.
  • Raaga Todi and Raaga Ahir Bhairav also have wonderful ability to ease stress.

Illustration from Karnatik Music ….

  • Raaga Bhairavi provides relief in anxiety, blood pressure, skin disorders and allergies.
  • Raaga Hansadhwani is called “Sarvarogahari”, meaning the remover of all diseases. It emanates energy and consciousness.
  • Raaga Kokilam cures / prevents growth of kidney stones. It is useful in flashes, insomnia and anxiety.
  • Raaga Neelambari cures insomnia.

Conclusion ....

Art is the food of mind and soul. In India, there are traditions of pursuit of art as a means of reaching the ultimate goal of Life – Moksha – Enlightenment / Salvation. Pursuing music for fulfilling this aim is called – Naada Yoga.

Sweet-sounding sound waves dissolve in the ears and resonate in the infinite expanses of mind and soul. Music leads to a deep, extensive and magnificent experience of existence.

A healthy society is that in which people are physically, mentally and spiritually healthy, strong and capable. To build such a society, maintaining good health and speedy curing of diseases / disorders, both aspects are significant. It can be stated with absolute confidence that the divine art of music has a strong and essential role to play in catering to both these requirements.

The link to the original Gujarati article is here ....

Music An Infinite Ocean Of Eternal Sound - Exploring Its Background And Role - there are several references in this article, which are very useful and relevant to this topic.

Some links are also included in the different sections of this article for ready reference and elaboration.

© 2022 Vanita Thakkar

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