Therapeutic Music – A Gentle Reminder

Those who know me personally are very well aware of my love for music. I inherited this love from my parents. Growing up, I had the honor to spend a few years learning Hindustani Classical music – the tabla, the shehnai, the santoor and the sitar – all these instruments and more hold a very special place in my heart.

To me, music has always been therapeutic. I have turned to music in personal moments of deepest despair as well as overflowing joy. My favorite genres continue to be folk music, Hindustani classical music, Hindi music and so on. Ever since I started working at the hospital, I got to experience a new dimension of music that is played in the background for those, but not limited to,  near end of life with the intention of having a calming effect. This explanation is very basic.

There are many sites that go into a lot of detail about music therapy and therapeutic music.The following definition is from the site MusicTherapy.org, 

“Therapeutic music is music that helps the process of healing and supports movement towards health. The World Health Organization defines health as: “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Therapeutic music supports health and the process of healing primarily through the principles of resonance and entrainment, in which the individual is supported by the elements of music: rhythm, harmony, melody and tonal color.”

I’ve experienced the wonders music creates in multiple patients and family encounters. It got extremely personal when my grandfather was in critical care recently. I was sitting in the patient room with my grandmother who was completely stressed out with granddad’s hospitalization. We sat in silence for most of the time except for the constant beeping of machines – something that I’ve gotten used to through working at the hospital. Suddenly, my grandma remarked, “Shama, where is that music coming from?” I turned around to notice the TV was on in the room and was playing calming therapeutic music. After I explained the source and the purpose, she smiled and said, “That’s such a wonderful thing to do.”

I was amazed at how, despite of the stress on her mind, my grandma noticed the soft music in the background and how it brought a smile to her face. In that moment, I felt that something beyond what I could see or hear was manifesting. I will never forget that moment. Maybe that is why I am writing about it –  I do not want to forget that moment.

Music has an ethereal quality about it. I feel bad that I am not able to play any instrument well enough. Maybe I’ll add that to my bucket list.

Until next time,

Namaste

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!” ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 1997

Celebrating The Month of Shravan

It is that time of the year – the auspicious month of Shravan when Lord Shiva is worshipped in all His glory. Those who have been following my blog for a while, especially those who know me personally, are well aware of the significance of Shiva in my life.

I have been fasting during the month of Shravan for 20 years now. This is my 20th year!! Many Hindus fast during this month and for multiple reasons. I have never really paid attention to why I fast. I guess I feel more grounded when I fast weekly on Mondays and especially so during the month of Shravan. It brings personal and mental comfort to me. It enhances my sense of belonging to the Divine.

As Monday dawned, I woke up in the morning with multiple topics on my mind and some intentions. I am hoping to be more disciplined in the study of Hindu scriptures. That is my goal for this month. I am hoping to make lifestyle changes to be more fit, to be more disciplined and to be more goal-oriented – both personal and professional.  I am also looking to volunteer more. BCC

Having said that, Shivji definitely had an awesome plan for me on Day 1 of Shravan 2017. After 10 months of clearing my interview I finally finally finally received my Certificate attesting to me being a Board Certified Chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. I am aware that I talk about becoming Board Certified a lot but that is because I am still so much in awe of how life unfolds.

What an incredible sign from The Universe – once again reiterating that the ultimate purpose of my life continues to be through walking the path of Clinical Chaplaincy.

I am not completely sure what the future holds, but for now – at this very moment – it feels fantastic.

May you and yours have a fabulous month of Shravan! May you all always be surrounded in Ishwara Kripa!!

Until next time,

Namaste

The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens. – Rainer Maria Rilke

Shubh Guru Purnima!!

Guru Purnima – The full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadh – is designated to honor one’s Guru, Spiritual Teacher. While I am not formally initiated into any Guru-Shishya tradition, Pujya Swami Dayanand Saraswatiji (Arsha Vidya Gurukulam), Swamini Svatmavidyanandaji (Asha Vijnana Gurukulam), Pujya Swami Chinmayanandaji (Chinmaya Mission) and their teachings continue to inform my spiritual formation.

I do think it makes a huge difference in having found a spiritual alignment. What is even more important, in my opinion, is allowing for that alignment to happen organically. We seek and seek, but the alignment happens when it is meant to and with a path that may or may not have been on the path we had initially been seeking. Personally, it all came together for me when I was introduced to the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi by my dad.  Bhagavan Maharshi did not have any initiated disciples.

In his article on Guru Purnima, Dr. David Frawley writes: “The true guru is a position of spiritual guidance, the illuminating presence of a higher awareness. The guru is not limited to any physical person, however exalted he or she may be.

The guru is an inner institution, an authority rooted in an experiential wisdom, not in any mere human convention. The guru works to awaken us to our own Divine potential beyond the limitations of time and space, fear or desire.

Great souls who hold the position of the guru have a special honour and immense responsibility that can only be served in a selfless manner. The true guru is not conscious of being a guru to others, but of simply sharing the light of truth to dispel the darkness of ignorance.

The guru is a powerful conduit to the universal flow of knowledge. As such, there is only one true guru in all gurus. The guru is the guiding intelligence of the universal and eternal dharma that assumes many names and forms.

The importance of having a guru resides in being able to connect with the transcendent realm through a human representative. We should emphasise the guru’s teachings, rather focusing on outer appearances.

It is the ability to surrender the human mind and its opinions that makes for a true guru. The true guru teaches a path of self-realisation, giving us back our own true nature, not making us weak or dependent.” 

All of this and more, I continue to encounter on this spiritual journey – the opportunity to visit Tiruvannamalai, to witness the Arunachala Hill, to feel the powerful presence of Divinity in Sri Ramanasramam – all coming a full circle back to the starting point of my spiritual journey in my current physical birth. How incredibly amazing is that?

I continue to be in awe of Sri Ramana Maharshi – a mere glance at his image has an immediate calming effect on my mental noise. On this Guru Purnima, I continue to seek his guidance and Divine Krupa in everything I am.

To Shiva, The Adi Guru ; To Sri Ramana Maharshi ; To Arunachala ; To every single person who has been a Guru to me (willingly or otherwise) ; To Life 

May the Grace of The Guru continue to bless your being…
|| Shubh Guru Purnima ||

Until next time,

Namaste

अज्ञानतिमिरान्धस्य ज्ञानाञ्जनशालाकया ।
चक्षुरुन्मीलितं येन तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नम:

Agyan timir-andhasya Gyananjan Shalakaya.
Chakshur-oonmeelitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who opened my eyes, by applying the divine collyrium of self-knowledge in my eyes, which had been blinded by the cataract of ignorance. 

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