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The Art of Healing: The Body, Mind & Soul – Part 1

By Thiyagarajan Velayutham, Founder, IHHC| January 12th, 2018

The magic of music

That often-quoted adage that “a healthy mind starts with a healthy body”, is really based on fact. It has long been known that healing the body takes more than medicines, doctor’s visits and physiotherapy. Starting with Freud and Jung, people have realized the value of not just conventional therapy but the value of alternative treatments, through art, music, writing, spiritual explorations, books…and more. In this space, we would like to touch upon the healing powers of art, music and the magic of letting your mind delve into the realms of the imagination through books.

Music transcends your physical space

We are all aware of the magical power music has on the human mind and body. It’s almost instinctive if not primeval. Scientists dealing with evolutionary studies are convinced that music aided the human species to endure because it helped to synchronize emotions, aided communications, brought people together as a group and motivated each one to support others belonging to the same group.

How music can heal the human mind and body

Learning to communicate through music: We often hear stories of how people in semi-vegetative  states are brought back to consciousness through a familiar melody or piece of music.  Or people who have mislaid or supressed certain memories are encouraged to remember them because music from their forgotten past is played back to them.

To quote Dr Gottfried Schlaug (M.D. Ph.D. Director, Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Stroke Recovery Laboratory, and Division Chief, Cerebrovascular Diseases Associate Professor of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre and Harvard Medical School) says that a stroke in the left brain where the speech centre is positioned in most of us, “wipes out a major part of communication.” But if the stroke leaves the right brain intact, where much of the music we hear is dealt with, stroke patients can communicate by using what is called “melodic intonation therapy.” This involves singing by utilizing two tones (quite similar in pitch) to communicate.

Learning to walk through music: Director Michael Thaut (Director, Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory (MARC), University of Toronto) has proven that partially paralyzed people can be by retrained to walk faster, in a more coordinated manner, by cueing their walking to a piece of music or a metronome. This treatment is even more effective it it’s combined with physical therapy.

Music as a pain reducer: There have been many studies that have shown how music therapy can reduce pain. 16 years ago, in 2001, research on burn patients revealed that music therapy significantly reduced the pain of burnt skin being scraped off. Further studies, carried out at Glasgow Caledonian University, showed that people felt less pain, and could withstand it for a longer period,  if they listened to their favourite music.

Music makes you feel better about yourself and the world

There’s no doubt about the uplifting, mood-enhancing power of music. We have all experienced it. When you feel lonely, down, depressed and lethargic – play your favourite piece and your outlook changes. For the better! If you are feeling happy, revelling in some good news or just wanting to celebrate a lovely day – put on some music! When you get together with friends and family, a lively number will get people up and dancing. A get-together of like-minded people will often turn into a sing-along. A concert, a recital, a mega sporting event, a solo singer at party – the music played unites the audience in a bond, that at that moment, seems like it will last forever. Many friendships have been forged at such events and venues.

Let the music play on..

You are never to old to learn something new. Like learning to play the guitar or the piano. Taking singing lessons. Going to music appreciation classes. Enrolling in classes to learn about music. In the process you will also make new friends, go to new places, absorb new ways of thinking. You can come alive. Music has that effect on people. Nowadays, there are classes on every conceivable subject. Learning music or about music is definitely one of them.

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