HYDERABAD: Most of us have been touched by the magic of music. It is the portal that can transport us to different universes in a matter of seconds. But can it heal us? Ahead of World Music Day on June 21, we talk to a few experts on the therapeutic power of music.
Harshika Gudi, a psychologist and singer, says: “Studies have shown that music can take us to altered states of consciousness. It is used to calm patients who are undergoing surgery and during childbirth. Music activates the limbic system in the brain which deals with emotions. There are some songs that give you a sense of nostalgia and bring back good memories. This can be helpful in curbing anxiety and regularising our breathing.”
“Music therapy is a more structured format in which the therapist tries to understand the requirements of the clients. For example, if a cancer patient needs music therapy, we will first examine what kind of personality and attitude the person has. The kind of therapy provided also depends on whether the person has an internal or external locus of control.”
Music therapist and carnatic vocalist Dr Meenakshi Ravi runs the Nadamaya Centre in Hyderabad which was established to offer Carnatic music as a means to achieve holistic health. With a masters degree in social work and a doctorate in counselling, she has worked as a psychosocial consultant for 15 years. “I come from a family of musicians and realised the therapeutic power of music from an early age. In fact, singing cured my asthma. When I sing, the entire lung system is involved.
It involves pranayama, concentration and meditation — all of which can improve mental and physical health.”After working in the field for a few years, Dr Meenakshi wanted to see if she could share the gift of music with people who were living with depression, anxiety, ADHD and more serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia. In her own words, the results were astounding.
“I started out with teaching them short compositions that talked about simple values. I also encouraged them to write music and sing. Soon, they started venting out their feelings and discussing them within a group. They started looking at their problems in an objective way and developed confidence. I have done therapy for children with special needs too.”
- Improve mood
- Improve memory, concentration
- Enhance self esteem, self confidence
- Enhance creativity, communication skills
Develop positive thinking and optimism