The Healing Power Of Ragas In Music Therapy

The awareness of Raga Therapy is growing in society. Research has embarked to re-discover the therapeutic ragas on a trial and error basis which is already providing promising results. Simple interaction to musical rhythms in bhajans and kirtans is capable of relaxing the mind which can also provide positive hormonal changes in the system. We all suffer from stress due to our hectic lifestyle and music is a safe solution to take some time off. And this time, a certain raga will help you out, for sure.

Coming to my own experience, I witnessed it on my own. I am a classical singer, sometimes, I sing other forms of Indian music like Rabindrasangeet, Nazrulgeeti, Folk Songs also. But, the intense feeling I can perceive while listening to a Raga, that is incredible. 
One day, I was listening to Darbari Kanara, an important raga, and felt so relaxed and devoted. It helps me to meditate deeply. On the other hand, while listening to Raga Hamsadhwani, I feel like dancing in happiness. It makes you feel like life is a celebration, not to worry about anything. This way, it helps you to recover from stress and anxiety. Some ragas will help you to think deeply, some ragas will help you to empower you from within. They are the bearer of positive vibes.

Astrophysicist and accomplished classical vocalist Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University listens to music as she tackles some of the most complex problems in cosmology, it is not to get into a “mood”.

“It is beyond that — it is to get into a mode of thinking.”

Bengaluru-based triathlete Anu Vaidyanathan, who finished sixth in the punishing Ultraman Canada Triathlon in 2013, has learnt Carnatic vocal and violin. She says music taught her to negate performance-inhibiting feelings like fear and fatigue, and create discipline in the way “we frame our day and our problems”.

In Music Therapy, music increases the metabolic activities within the human body. It accelerates the respiration , influence the internal secretion, improves the muscular activities and as such affects the “Central Nervous System ” and Circulatory System of the listener and the performer.

Ragas of the Indian classical music (Shastric Music) are created according to the deep knowledge of harmonious consonance between the seven swaras and chakras. This is why shastric musical compositions are found to have significant positive effect on the mind-body system and also have the potential to awaken the otherwise dormant faculties.

For many who may think music therapy as something to do with how “this raga is good for this and that raga is good for that”, the cognitive or neuroscientific vocabulary in which the above feelings are expressed should come as a revelation.

Carnatic musician and neuroscientist Dr Deepti Navaratna, executive director (southern region) of the Indira Gandhi National Council for the Arts (IGNCA), and a former Harvard University professor, says that in the Indian tradition a considerable  amount of empirical musicology has gone into studying the cognitive impact of swara (notes), sruti (pitch) and laya (rhythm), in their different forms and variations. 

In my coming blogs, I will tell you about the ragas and their impact in Raga Therapy as well as in Music Therapy. Stay tuned with me.

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