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In conversation with Nithya Rajendran: Score Short Reads

Nithya Rajendran is a dual Indian Classical vocalist in Hindustani and Carnatic music with over 3 decades training. She is founder and curator of Music Vruksh, an initiative to spread awareness and appreciation of Indian Classical music for its aesthetic, spiritual, wellness and transformative potential.

What drew you towards wellness through music?

Having been a vocalist for over 3 decades, classical music and singing were more than familiar. But how the wellness dimension got added was through intense personal experience. As life’s travails took me through some pretty serious bumps, I discovered meditation, yoga and actively got on a path towards spiritual wellness.

While on this path, which I continue to be on, I stumbled upon an amazing synergy between spiritual and holistic wellness and Indian Classical Music. I realised how symbiotic both were. About 6 years ago, I started noticing the inadvertent yet powerfully transformative impact music was having on many people I was performing for or those that I taught. I started formally structuring wellness for music and now I impart this structured set of techniques as wellness lessons.

Who did you learn from and what were your biggest learnings?

Sometimes life and your responses to it are some of the best teachers. Much as is true with most spiritual realizations, my learnings about wellness, spirituality and music came like a secret book revealing itself to me while going through those tough life patches. It’s amazing how much we think answers lie in books or intellectual learning while all answers actually are already available hidden within yourself.

A powerful push from circumstances followed by submission with humility and patience to the sometimes painful process of self discovery, rewards one with precious gifts. One of the many gifts I have received in this spiritual pursuit is the discovery of how music and wellness are so symbiotic. I hope to continue discovering new truths and continue to impart as much as I can for people out there who need to make spirituality and wellness a much more pleasant process .

Nithya Rajendran

What methods do you use for the process of wellness through music?

I am particular that one distinguishes music therapy from wellness through music. In countries like the UK and the United states, extensive research has backed the use of Western Classical music for various ailments and is a certified and structured field of therapy. In India we still do not have specific research backing for music as a means to physiological healing even though the potential is still enormous and research is underway.

Where I believe I can contribute is music’s ability to serve as an aid to spiritual practice, emotional wellness and holistic mental and physical health, much like yoga or meditation. We can agree that if we are spiritually and emotionally well, physical wellness is only a natural by product. I teach people music and help them set it in the context of spiritual practices like meditation and mindfulness, and emotional wellness making the latter pursuits easier.

Could you take us through some of the common problems you see amongst people you work with?

The most common issues I come across are anxiety, depression and sense of emotional chaos and turbulence. Most of these people also exhibit physiology that mirrors these mental states like hypertension, diabetes, eating disorders, addictions and phobias. What music has helped them in is to enable meditation more easily, become more disarmed and vulnerable with themselves and with their emotions and build a sense of connectedness with something outside of themselves. I have also seen people becoming more forgiving, less territorial and calmer, as music penetrated deeper into their lives.

Your message to youngsters of this generation.

This message goes out to parents and children. Allow Indian Classical music to enter your lives.  It could be in small ways initially. You could just have some raagas playing in the background while working or while doing homework. Allow music to penetrate your lives and slowly observe that your mental and emotional states become a lot more stable. You will see yourselves and your children happier and more at peace. You will see that practices of mindfulness and meditation become easier pursuits. You will see yourselves and your children bond with other human beings with more compassion and with a greater sense of unity when music is around, since music is a great leveller.

Allow classical music to enter your lives and the magic of happiness and wellness will unfold by itself.

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