Ananda Bhairavi ragam after breakfast and lunch, and Kalyani ragam after dinner. That's how your medical prescription would read if you were to attend a music therapy class by Rajam Shanker, an independent classical music therapist, researcher and instructor based in Sainikpuri, Secunderabad in Telangana.
An example to drive home Shanker's point is that musical notes are substantially therapeutic. Appropriate scale, note, pitch and beat form the components of music as a therapeutic tool. She explains the process in her book The Healing Power of Indian Ragas Personal Experiences of Ragas Applied in Music Therapy, into its second print edition this June.
"The music therapist uses Indian classical music and its spiritual connect as a means of establishing communication with the human body’s main and subsidiary energy centres. Between 'Sa', the base note, and ‘Ni’, at the apex, the whole edifice of music is built and the human body's rhythmic balance and functional harmony corrected and maintained," Shanker elaborates.
Kids with autism and neurological problems, and those suffering from depression are usually her patients. Associated with classical music for over 20 years, Shanker uses music therapy interventions in wellness, healing and also curative education of children and adults with developmental disabilities.
With multilingual capabilities - English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu - she has conducted national and international workshops, including EMTC-2010 European Music Therapy Congress at Cadiz, Spain, and WFMT-2011 World Congress of Music Therapy at Seoul, South Korea. The participants in her workshops are typically graduates/postgraduates in music, researchers, primary caregivers, psychologists, doctors, rehab professionals, special educators, yoga teachers and other alternative therapy practitioners.
"There is enough literature that talks of the energy body (Pranamaya Kosha) that surrounds the physical body (Annamaya Kosha), with nadis (Meridians or Energy Channels), and chakras (or Whirling Energy Centres) that control the functions of the body. The concept of seven chakras is similar to that of endocrine glands which control the major functions of the body.
So, one can certainly look at the function of the endocrine glands and associate swaras that activate the endocrine glands. At an even simpler level, when we understand where the organs in the body are located, a person may look at the diagrams of the chakras and see which physical organ is located near that chakra and experiment to see the effect of a note on that organ," she adds.
What it takes
Love and appreciation for any music (but not heavy and death metal)
An open mind and a positive receptive attitude
Faith and patience