Self- Music Therapy For Emotional Healing

by - Dr. T V Sairam

Emotional healing sessions are known to control the outbursts of emotions in people affected by failures in life, discrimination in competitions, physical or psychological handicaps, traumatic events caused by racism, loss and accidents, nature's fury such tsunami, floods, drought, hurricanes etc.

The Table appended herewith summarizes the areas which cause emotional imbalance, particularly when people suppress such feelings for long, without finding an outlet to address them. In ancient yogic traditions, suppression of any kind of emotions was never recommended. What was recommended was sublimation or transformation through activities such as music, dance, drama and other art forms such as drawing, painting, poetry etc. While all of them help towards transformation and sublimation, music particularly plays a key-role in achieving such results.

Various Emotional Problems & Typical Musical Selection :

Problem Cause for the Problem Solution for the Problem A Typical Musical Selection, which can be of help (depending on the individual response by the Listeners)
Nurturing Grudge against people Caused by the perception that others have wronged the subject in the past. By creating a positive outlook with music All musical forms (be it rock, pop, classical, folk, film) are made of positive patterns and harmony. Since all musical forms are positively and pleasantly oriented by cultivating a listening habit or start training in music or singing (to divert the mind) one could fill up his mindscape with positive vibrations. Whenever negative thoughts occur, it is the time for music and music to be switched on and contemplated upon.
Irritation and Lack of Patience When a person is impatient and wants the desired event to take place without delay Practising patience and acceptance of the fact that everything takes time and everybody is in his or her own rhythm. For slowing down the mental velocity, one needs to be administered slow but steady music, simple, plain, iterative and without twist or turn or dramatic changes. These are the so-called satvic music varieties which help in building patience over a period. The best examples are the slow-paced sloka-rendering or bhajan or kirtan, preferably without percussion. . Such music is characterized by very simple melodic structures, iterative tones and words (like mantras) and very, very slow pace (tempo) of rendering. It is found that there is initial opposition for such music by people prone to be impatient. But music therapist has to be patient to treat such patients and slowly makes them like and listen to such 'boring' repetitive, slow-paced music!
Resentment Caused by the feelings of getting insulted by others; it also occurs as one feels jealous In order to overcome jealousy one has to look more inwards and one should never compare themselves with others. Meditative exercises such as Pranayama or Breathing exercises, in combination with very soft, low-decibel tones with full of harmnics or overtones such as didigeridoo, Tibetan singing bowl, ek tara, flute etc can be of great use in overcoming these negative feelings and thought processes. While listening to such music, one has to visualize the opponents in a positive framework with lots of affection and love emanating from positively-charged rich ragas such as Kanada, Malayamarutham, Bilahari, Purvikalyani, Bihag etc.
Contempt Arises when other's action is deeply disapproved by a person. In order to overcome such feelings one should separate the person from his action and remember that the other's action because of his karma, belief or situation. As the judgments over others needs to be suspended, intuitive music which stops the thinking processes is the best. One should be ready to receive such intuitive music full of emotional outbursts and non-sense sounds (that is, therapeutic but need not be aesthetic). In many cases simply drumming violently, people are able to overcome their thiking processes, besides developing certain camaraderie with the fellow-drummers. In the united states of America, the current craze seems to be forming what is called a drumming circle with a co-ordinator drummer to initiate musical dialogue and debate through sounds!
Frustration Caused by sudden events which are not expected, causing great disappointments and mental agony. By accepting the events as “God-sent” and responding them to pro-actively with selected music Rajasic music with powerful and assertive tones (as in Ragas Mohanam, Bilahari or Shankarabharanam) or such tunes which have definite drum-beats, seeming to assert or uplift one can be useful. Such music can be evolved by trial and error by music therapists over a period of time in order to ensure their efficacy on individuals. It may also be necessary to have inspirational words (such as “I welcome everything and everybody with a smile “ , “I am strong enough to face all troubles” , “I have great will-power” etc etc) intertwined with such musical phrases in order to make the treatment more effective.
Rage , the build up of anger As one finds fault with others, one develops a tendency to feel angry which snowballs over a time into sudden explosions. One has to aim at releasing the anger by engaging in physical action including exercises, karate, boxing, dancing etc depending on one's interest. Meditation also helps to a great extent, if performed regularly in overcoming anger. Singing and listening to Rajasic music or songs which convey anger or threat as in western classical numbers such as those of Bach, Beethoven, Tchikovsky, Vivaldi etc can – like a thorn removing another thorn- help the listener to address his or her deeply-embedded anger. Violent drum beats can also help one transforming feelings of anger that corrode one's health.


  • Bagchi, K. Ed. (2002) 'Music Therapy: An Alternative Medicine' Society for Gerontological Research, New Delhi

  • Sairam, T. V. (2004) 'Raga Therapy', Nada Centre for Music Therapy, Chennai

  • Sairam, T. V.(2007) 'Self-Music Therapy', Nada Centre for Music Therapy, Chennai

Dr T V Sairam, A serving bureaucrat and a writer, is from F/48B, Hari Nagar New Delhi 110064. For any doubts you can contact him at - tvsairam @ gmail. com