Healing with music

Fri, 07, 19

Music. How many times have you caught yourself humming a certain tune? Perhaps trying to replace it in your memory....


Music. How many times have you caught yourself humming a certain tune? Perhaps trying to replace it in your memory. Perhaps you heard it somewhere en route your work and caught the bug.

If I ask you to replay it in your mind, would you do that? Do you sense a connection between the music piece and your emotions at the moment? If you’re in a joyous mood right now, you’re probably thinking of an upbeat favourite.

Now let me tell you what I think of when I hear this word. It takes me back to my school years, back to the History period where the teacher was lamenting how we could memorise her lectures better if our notes were accompanied by music. It reminds me of a friend who suggested I listen to rain sounds to keep myself calm. And yes it stirs up all those emotions I felt listening to the instrumentals at my cousins’ weddings - the one I dubbed as halal way of celebrating. Back then I had no clue what I was experiencing was music therapy. It was only recently at an event, where Kaya the Band was also performing, that I came to know about music therapy.

Afsheen Hayat, singer/lead vocalist and founder member of Kaya the Band, talked to Us regarding her work in this field. Afsheen, whose practice is related to the Music and Healing branch, is a certified therapist.

Choosing music therapy as a career

"I always think about the effect or impact of music on listeners. Healing with music always attracted me because music has power to drive emotions. When a person is sad, then they relate to a sad song more powerfully. Or, in other words, sad songs make them more emotional; some will even start crying! The same can be said about a motivational song. Whatever the situation, there are songs that uplift your mood instantly. I wanted to use this force to balance human emotions and so I started healing music therapy."

What is music therapy?

"Music therapy has different branches and there are two main methods through which one can practice it: a) therapy through listening; and b) therapy through playing instruments. I've combined it with meditation. In a typical session, I make my audience aware of the main energy cycles in the human body, which can deliver and receive good and bad vibes, and then I explain how they can activate and balance them for a healthy living. We then proceed to listen to music produced specifically for the purpose of healing therapy.”

How does it work?

“Individuals have physical and/or mental pain and they don’t know that it is because of anxiety or other psychological reasons. Some may need to treat anxiety and stress. Some may want to boost energy level. The good thing is this can be done in group sessions. Someone with conditions that need particular attention such as body ache or migraine is treated separately. With different genres of music, one of which is healing, music can be a positive influence. As Bob Marley says ‘one good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain’. When you are happy, you don’t listen to sad songs, right? You look for songs which boost your happiness; songs that don’t lead to negative thoughts or cause depression.

When I say subjects get access to special kind of audio for meditation, I mean a specific music sample with special instructions, like duration of listening, volume level and daily timings to listen to it according to their respective condition.”

Who can benefit from it?

“That’s the most interesting part: everyone can benefit through this therapy! All of us listen to music of our choice. With healing music, they’ll be listening to relaxing (and positive) music, including verbal and non-verbal sounds.

“A friend of my bandmate, Emad Rahman (who is also producer/composer Kaya the Band and we work as a duo), was suffering from the last stage of cancer. She feels good when she is into music and also likes to sing. Last year, however, she was very ill and unable to work at all. Emad checked on her one day and she told him that she is in a bad shape. According to her, the chemo wasn’t working, either. Not able to do anything, she felt hopeless. He told her to talk to me and I gave her some meditation tips, including a healing music sample. A week later, she was able to rejoin work. I am not saying that music therapy can heal cancer, but it reduces the effect and the patient starts to feel better.”

Clearing misconceptions

"Unfortunately, when you talk about something new, people are sceptical and confused. To them, I would like to say that this therapy is not a myth. Work and research on this therapy started during Second World War! It's evident how crucial sound is in helping balance our mood changes and emotions. For instance, when you are constantly surrounded by negative energy, you feel anxious and depressed. When your mind is under negative influence, it makes you angry and frustrated, and this is often reflected in your actions. Healing music therapy plays an important role in controlling these emotions.

"On the other hand, it's great if people are asking the right questions to determine whether their music therapist really is a certified professional. A music therapist would not only have proper knowledge about music, musical instruments, and sound engineering, but also able to play musical instruments. And if he or she wants to heal people, then they would have proper qualification of this therapy along with other helping subjects from renowned institutions."