Music and Mental Health

It was the summer of 2015. A breeze swept across, wrinkling the blue-green hues of the lake water and my heartbeat synced with the ebbs and flows of the ripples on the surface. Nature was weaving a tale of love for me as I found rhythm is every breath I took. They say music is present in every living moment if we just render an ear to it. It was on this day, in the rugged terrains of Ladakh on the lake of Pangong, I experienced a deep sense of rhythm and the feeling of oneness with the nature. It is moments like these which introduce you to the music that you are and this existence is.

Yet, this experience could not be sustained and I kept it treasured in the bank of my memory. The mundane took over soon enough and I let myself loose in the daily rut which consumed every moment of my life thereafter. The overwhelming pace of life left me feeling more disconnected than ever. It was clear to me that the music was missing and I chose to seek it in all things external to me. I began my journey on the path dictated by the social norms hoping to find my way back. Little did I know that I had strayed far away from home and the very act of chasing and grasping, which I thought would be my remedy, had pushed me far in a dark place. There came a point where I felt a physical void so deep, I just could not fathom the source of it. It felt like a bottom less pit and I knew I was sinking. I could desperately claw at the water and shoot myself up to the surface or I could let it all go and sink. In the midst of such chaos, a dear friend introduced me to some beautiful compositions. The music had me at its first note. It reminded me of that evening on the lake and gave me a sense of solace which had been missing from my life for years. It was the rope that initiated the journey of pulling me out of water and stop me from drowning any further.

Music has such immense power to move you at the very core of your being. It provided me with an opportunity to express. I experienced a great sense of safety, peace and comfort. It was the calming agent that I needed. It assisted me in processing my emotions, thoughts and experiences which I had avoided doing for a very long time. Soon I took to learning an instrument and the process of learning to play spoke to something deeper in me. I found myself enjoying every moment of playing it and it helped me to find that joy again.  

Role of music has been pivotal in treating mental health issues. Music therapy has been a proven method to treat various mental health issues. One often experiences flow states, peaks and chills while listening to music which enables them to transcend or escape. The music-induced chills produced while listening to music are known to reduce activity in brain structures associated with anxiety. It also enhances the cognitive performance of an individual. It alters brain waves and induces various states based on the pace of the beats. It also affects our breathing and heart rate. It has been found that music can bring various other health benefits such as lowering of blood pressure, reduced risk of stroke, boosting of immunity, easing of muscle tension etc.

Music therapy engages various methods to treat mental health issues. One such method is lyrics analysis. We all connect to and appreciate certain song lyrics. Identifying lyrics that may correlate to their experience can help mental health patients to process their emotions, thoughts and traumas. Playing instruments encourages emotional expression and socialization. Music is known to engage the neocortex of our brain, which calms us and reduces impulsivity. We can regulate our emotions and moods by indulging in the right kind of music. Songwriting provides an opportunity to people to express themselves in a more positive and rewarding way. One can put down thoughts and emotions in the form of lyrics and choose an instrument deemed to fit best to convey the emotion behind the lyrics. This is a self-validating exercise which can boost self-worth and confidence in an individual.

Therefore, I find music to be the one-stop destination for our holistic well-being. Music is a happy pill that we all must consume everyday for our well-being. Above all, we must never loose the perspective of life and forget the music that makes us one with the existence. Live joyfully and don’t forget to take your pill today! 😉

Blog Writer – Payal Sakhare

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