Music affects living beings. That is why we like it, whatever be the source. Music helps recover from an illness. A series of experiments on animals has shown that a stimulating and an enriching environment can significantly enhance recovery from a stroke though little data are available on humans.
The journal Brain quotes scientists from Finland and Canada reporting on the effect of music on patients recovering from stroke occurring in the left or right hemisphere middle cerebral artery region (causing paralysis and speaking difficulties). In the study 60 stroke patients were randomly assigned one of three groups: listening to music, listening to audio books of their choice and no listening. Each day for two months using a portable CD player, patients recovering music therapy, over six months their neurological recovery was monitored. The results were remarkable. Verbal memory (ability to recall a 10 word list) and focused attention (ability to stay alert for long durations) improved significantly in the music group compared to the others. Based on psychological testing, patients in the music group were less depressed and less confused compared with the patients in the no listening group.
There are several possible reasons for such a dramatic improvement. In a healthy person, music listening activates networks of neurons in the brain leading to an enhancement of attention, memory, motor function and emotion processing. While recovering from a stroke when the neuron are plastic and trying to repair themselves, listening to pleasant music enhances the interconnected networks of the sub-cortical and cortical brain regions resulting in improved long term recovery.
Most stroke patients spend over 70 percent of their recovery time in non-therapeutic activities. Adding music in the rehabilitation periods may provide significant improvement as well as pleasure to the recovery process. Music may also help all of us in our daily routine too. Music is a universal language. It influences all levels of human existence. It is a medium for communication, which can be both a pleasant and healing experience.
Modern science and medicine are now rediscovering the healing powers of music. And music therapy — the specialized use of music in treating persons with special needs in mental and physical health, rehabilitation and special education – is gaining ground. In the West it is now an accepted form of treatment even within orthodox medical practices.
From time immemorial, music has been a part of Indian culture. In the Vedas too, music has an important place. The ‘Samveda’ is full of music. The doshas like Vata, Pitta and Kapha can be controlled effectively by Music Therapy. Great composers of Indian classical music have attempted music therapy down the years.
It is believed that music stimulates the pituitary gland, whose secretions affect the nervous system and the flow of blood. It is believed that for healing with music, it is necessary to vibrate the cells of the body, for it is through these vibrations that the diseased person’s consciousness can be changed effectively to promote health. The right kind of music helps one relax and refresh. Even during the course of working, light music improves efficiency. Listening to music helps control negative aspects of our personalities like worry, bias and anger. In addition, it can help cure headache, abdominal pain and tension. Music therapy is one of the most effective ways of controlling emotions, blood pressure and restoring the functioning of the liver.
It is believed that classical Indian ragas can benefit a whole host of conditions ranging from insomnia, high and low blood pressure to schizophrenia and epilepsy. It is believed that there are other ragas that can help fight ageing and pain, too.
Music is capable of improving happiness, peace, health and concentration. It is however important to know the method and duration for which Music Therapy is to be administered. This knowledge can be obtained through regular experiments and experience. The first step towards this is the correct diagnosis of the disease and then the selection of the precise raga that will be helpful. Procedure, discipline and a systematic method will help achieve this goal.
Raga and Time
Indian music provides for the assignment of definite times of the day and night for performing Raga melodies. It is believed that only in this period the Raga appears to be at the height of its melodic beauty and majestic splendour. There are many Ragas which are very attractive in the early hours of the mornings; others which appeal in the evenings, yet others which spread their fragrance only near the midnight hour.
This connection of time of the day or night, with the Raga or Raginis is based on daily cycle of changes that occur in our own body and mind which are constantly undergoing subtle changes in that different moments of the day arouse and stimulate different moods and emotions.
Each Raga or Ragini is associated with a definite mood or sentiment that nature arouses in human beings. The ancient musicologists were particularly interested in the effects of musical notes, how it effected and enhanced human behavior. Music had the power to cure, to make you feel happy, sad, disgusted and so on. Extensive research was carried out to find out these effects. This formed the basis of time theory as we know it today.
It is believed that the human body is dominated by the three Doshas – Kaph , Pitta and Vata . These elements work in a cyclic order of rise and fall during the 24 hour period. Also, the reaction of these three elements differ with the seasons. Hence it is said that performing or listening to a raga at the proper allotted time can affect the health of human beings.
Raga and Seasons
There are Ragas associated with the rainy season,Varsha (Raga Megha and Raga Malhar), the autumn season,Basant (Raga Basant) and the spring season (Raga Bahar). Seasonal Ragas can be sung and played any time of the day and night during the season allotted to them. The obligation of time in case of such melodies is relaxed.
In this season, increased kapha is liquified by the heat of sun which causes diminished agni (digestive activity) causing diseases.
In this season, Sunrays become powerful. Kapha decreases vata increases day by day
Sudden exposed to sunlight after cold season aggravates pita.
Accordingly we should afford musical therapy under an expert’s advice.
Be Happy – Music Can Cure You.