Sunday, February 20, 2011

Music and Stress Management

Introduction:

In this era of rapid growth and nail-biting competition, life is getting full of tension. This tension leads to different diseases like the hypertension, heart problems, and insomnia and so on. In psychological terms this tension is called 'stress'. Many ailments occur due to the lack of physical exercises. Our life-styles have become so comfortable and relaxing, thanks to the science and technology, that most of our day-to-day activities are performed automatically by different machines. For example, we have remote control devices for TV, air conditioners, fans etc and therefore need not trouble our legs in order to use them. Outdoor games have been replaced by very meticulously designed video games. Hence, most of us need not go out and play. Mobile phones have made it possible to sit at home and replace important meetings with the video conferencing. There is just no scope for physical activities. This physical inaction leads to hypertention, and other psychological disorders which generate stress. In this article, we'd see as to how we can manage stress through the use of music.

What is stress?

There are many definitions given to the mental stress. Some are as under:

1 Stress is the body's reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. It can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

2 Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or "stressor."

3 Stress is a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.

Considering these definitions, we can conclude that the stress is the result of our mental fatigue which may occur due to a variety of reasons. Your co-workers do not behave your way and you get tensed; you are waiting for someone but he/she gets late and you get frustrated; you do not succeed in the mission undertaken by you and your blood pressure shoots. There are numerous excuses for stress but in fact it is in your mind. In the same unfavourable situation, some get stress and some other do not. This shows that stress is not something that comes from outside; it is within our own mind.

The stress begins with frustration. We do not like someone's actions or something and we get frustrated. This frustration, if suppressed, generates anxiety which, in turn, gets transformed in anger. We try to suppress this anger as most of the time we cannot express it. That leads to more mental imbalances and finally we fall prey to the stress. If the situation prevails for a long time, this state of mind can lead to mental depression which can cause more psychological problems.

The solution:

There are many simple actions which can curtail our stress and we can get rid of it. Psychologists have devised means and methods whereby one can cope up with these kinds of situations. However, fine arts in general and music specifically can be of great help in controlling the mental stress.

Stress-management through music:

The basic cause of the mental stress is that our mind sometimes does not accept, or does not wish to accept the reality of circumstances. For example, you are watching your favourite show on TV and suddenly the the electric supply is off. If you accept the situation and keep cool, it is well. However, many of us take it very sentimentally and think that the power fails only when they are watching TV and they are not very lucky and so on. These types of feelings generate stress. If our attitude towards life is negative, we are stressed. If the attitude is positive, the situation changes rapidly to our favour.

Music makes positive. We feel relaxed and comfortable. As we listen soothing and sweet music, all our frustrations, tentions and other mental imbalances keep on evaporating and we feel very light and free of all stress. If one happens to be a musician, he/she can cure the ailment of mental stress very easily. The Swara Sadhana, which is essential to Indian music, is very helpful in controlling the stress. As we listen to the rich drone sound of Tanpura, we feel a kind of peace in our mind. When we mingle our voice in tune with Tanpura, our mind gets concentrated on Shadja, the key note of Indian music. As we tune the instrument, we need too much of concentration of mind towards the basic note. All these activities lead us to the state of meditation. In terms of Yoga, this meditation is the basic prerequisite for attaining the state of Samadhi. But the musicians have the privilege to get this state of mind without Yogic practices. Music in itself is a kind of Yoga. It can cure many mental illnesses including the mental stress.

In the fourth Chapter of Sangeet Ratnakar, the author has elaborated upon the characterstics of a good Vaggeyakara, i.e. the good musical composer. One of the characteristics mentioned herein is 'Avadhana' which means the concentration of mind. Thus, we see that the composers of Indian music need the concentration of mind in order to create music. It applies to any kind of music. If we can practice to concentration of mind, we can strengthen our will power. If our will power is strong, we can easily can overpower the mental stress.

Not only musicians, but the listeners of music can also benefit from the positive qualities of Indian music. Here, let us make a distinction between the quality music and the popular music. It is not that the popular or the mainstream music cannot fall in the category of the quality music. But more often than not, the popular music is different from the quality music. Music which is meant for generating excitement and action, fails to give relaxation. Those who wish to use music to suppress the original mental feelings, have to face the consequences. This is the reason, that disco jockeys are able to make us dance but their kind of music is far from the peace of mind. It can generate excitement but cannot create pleasing effects. Therefore, one should choose soothing and relaxing music if he/she wants to get rid of the mental stress.

Indian classical music has the capacity to shun the negative feelings and create the positive attitude. Therefore, it is recommended that one should develop the habit of listening to the Indian classical music if the mental stress is to be curtailed.

Conclusion:

There is a very famous saying: "caution is always better than cure." Therefore, it is advisable that before it is too late, before we fall prey to the mental stress, let us develop the liking towards the Indian classical music. All of us try to learn a bit of Indian music. If it is not possible, at least we can listen to the good music. We should try to keep away from the loud amplified kind of music which is amply available on the electronic media. We should rather be inclined to the real classical music. This will surely make our lives more fruitful and productive in all respects.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Effect of music on plants

These days, potentials of music, other than its entertaining value, are being tapped vigorously not only in India but the world over. The therapeutic powers of music are very hotly discussed presently. In the West more scientific and logical research has been taken up than here in India. It is during such research that some new facts have emerged which indicating that music can be beneficial to the growth of plants. This article shows how music affects plants in a positive manner and how it helps them grow faster.

Although music is a universal language yet we would restrict our article to the Indian conditions only as we are more adapted to Indian circumstances. Moreover, we cannot forget that it was Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose who initiated an elaborate research on plants. He was probably the first scientist of the modern age who had an inkling that the sound of music does wonders for plant growth. He performed some experiments which show how music affects plant growth. Scientists from all over the world have researched on the question "how does music affect plants". So, does music affect plant growth? Well, yes, it could be said that music does affect plant growth. It is just like what music therapy is for human beings

Living systems show sensitivity to specific radiant energies – be it acoustical, magnetic or electro-magnetic. As the impact of music could be easily gauged on emotions and thereby on mind, it can be used as a tool to control the physiological, psychological and even social activities of the patients. My understanding is that if music can affect our mind, it can also influence the growth of the plants. I begin my assumption with a simple experiment. Indian classical music can be classified into two forms: A. kalpita sangita or composition, which is previously conceived, memorized, practiced and rendered, B. manodharma sangita or the music extemporized and performed. The latter can be equated to the honeymooner’s first night as it conceives both spontaneity and improvisation. It is fresh and natural as it is created almost on the spot and rendered instantly on the spur of the moment. Both kinds can be used to perform an experiment on plants; however, the pre-recorded music would be better as the same experiment may be repeated again and again.



The experiment:



The experiment which I am talking about was originally done by Dave Williams, faculty, Anne Arundel Community College, New York, USA, on Saturday, March 22, 1997.

Does music help or hinder the plants growth?

Many studies have been done and it has become a very interesting subject. This experiment will give us an understanding on whether or not music effects plant growth. In our experiment, we will use rock music and classical music to test the plant growth.

Hypothesis:

We think that the classical music will help the plant growth and that the rock music will hinder its growth since studies have showed that classical music even concentrates the human brain and is good for you.

Material:

1. Three of the same type of plants,

2. 2 small stereos or boom boxes with CD players,

3. A rock CD,

4. A Classical CD,

Procedure:

Take the three plants and label them, one with classical, one with rock, and one with no music. Put all them in separate rooms and put the rock music by the rock plant, put the classical CD by the classical plant and leave the other plant in a quiet room with no exposure to music. Water them daily and after a week, record your results on how each plant is doing.

Record And Analyze Data:

After one week of experimenting, the following were the results. The one that was in the best condition was the plant that was in the room with classical music. The second best plant was the one in the room with no music and the one that didn't do so good was the one in the room with rock music.

This experiment needs more attention. It should be done again and again to ascertain the results obtained and also to make more authentic. Although many more experiments have proved that the musical tones effect the growth of plants in a very positive manner, yet in the world of science there is still uncertainty over the issue. Here I am presenting some more:

Dorothy Retallack published a small book on vegetation with melody, in 1973, which was based on her experiments of the music effects on plants, in a Colorado College, in Denver. She found out that, out of the plants in three different chambers, with different conditions, those exposed to soothing music grew better than the others. In one case, the plants had bent towards the music playing device. These plants were lush green with healthy stems.

However, it is note-worthy that if there is a constant monotone that is being played, then it does not significantly affect plant growth. But if it is mild, classical music, definite change of rate can be observed, in the growth of plants. It is a lengthy process, though. How music affects plant growth, cannot be observed within days of the plant being exposed to music. It takes weeks to identify the effects of music on plants.



Classical Music and Plant Growth



Classical music, for that matter has had a prominent effect on plant growth. The Ragas (a formation with a group of notations) in Indian classical music are believed to have worked wonders for plant growth. In addition to that, the occident has also been a witness to experiments on how does music affect plants. The vibrations of the music created are responsible for plant growth.



Another dimension:



But everything said and done, even if music is believed to affect plant growth, it is somewhat controversial. The naysayers hold that there are no sensory devices in plants, like the ears or the brain. Music is all about vibrations, but then, they may not be so powerful that they can initiate an improved growth in plants.

So, does music affect plant growth? This is still a question mark in the fraternity of scientists. But there is no problem in believing that music does affect plants. Who knows our belief will give such an incredible power to the music we play, that it will compel the plants to flourish. How beautiful it would be! Even when the sun leaves them, melodies will always be there to cheer our green friends up.

Medha Godbole, who has written extensively on the topic, suggests that plants do like noise. Plants exposed to a set frequency of sound tend to germinate more quickly, grow taller and weigh more than those kept in silence. Both 50,000 Hz ultrasound (above the human hearing range) and 5,000 Hz sound seem to work. Therefore, there's a good chance that plants like any sound you might play for them, including music. Plants also like good, attentive care. If you are playing music you like for a plant, it may lead you to take better care of it. You will be more likely to carefully water and feed the plant and make sure it has good light. It might look like the music helps the plant grow, when you are actually taking better care of it. Plants like carbon dioxide. If you are standing by a plant, singing to it, it is going to absorb some carbon dioxide from your breath.



Conclusion:



Although there is no conclusive evidence to show as to how music helps plants to grow, yet there is ample reason to believe that music helps them in their growth. How music is helpful in the growth of plants, is different matter. Our focus of attention is that music surely benefits the plants in their growth. Therefore, the persons who are connected to farming Industry, are advised to experiment with their plants listening to good quality music, preferably the Indian classical music and observe the result. We are sure; in no way it will harm them.




Why does music chill and thrill some people?

Most people feel chills and shivers in response to music that thrills them, but some people hardly feel them at all. People who are particularly open to new experiences are most likely to have chills in response to music, according to a new study. Researchers Emily Nusbaum and Paul Silvia of the University of North Carolina in the US asked students about how often they felt chills down their spine, got goose bumps, or felt like their hair was standing on end while listening to music, reports the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

They also measured their experience with music, and five main dimensions of personality: extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience, according to a North Carolina statement. People high in openness are creative, curious about many things, have active imaginations and like to play with ideas, and they much more frequently feel chills in response to music.
People with a lot of openness to experience were more likely to play a musical instrument themselves and they rated music as more important in their lives than people low in openness. Not surprisingly, people high in openness also spent more time listening to music.
"There are a lot of ways in which people are basically alike, but the experience of chills isn't one of them," said the authors.
"Some people seem to have never experienced chills while listening to music - around eight percent of people in our study - but other people experience chills basically every day."