‘Collective Cries’: A Bangladeshi Peace Song

A Bangladeshi devotional song for peace, written by Rabindranth Tagore will be performed on 17.6.17, 7.30pm at the Human Rights Action Centre, Shoreditch  in memory of Jo Cox, who was murdered in 2016. This FREE Change of Arts Festival organised by Hope not Hate, aims to bring together members of the community who would not otherwise meet. Jo Cox’s maiden speech to parliament was “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”. This performance by Sidrah Muntaha aims to spread messages of peace and highlight how we collectively hope for a more humane world.

This performance will be accompanied by a slideshow of emotive and personally symbolic photography taken and forwarded by members of the Bangladeshi community. These include the following:  Salam Jones, a Carpenter, Writer and Critical Thinker with a passion for photography and charitable causes, Pushpita Gupta, who is actively involved in supporting different faith communities that are victims of sectarian violence in Bangladesh, Dr. Sakti Das, a Professor of Urology who has carried out exceptional humanitarian work in different parts of the world including surgical procedures in Haiti and Afghanistan, Dilawar Hussain who has participated in charitable work in Palestine, Hena Ahmed, a Social Worker, involved in helping a charity that has developed a Mental Health Support Centre in Sylhet, Bangladesh which is being supported by mental health professionals & finally Dr. Muhammad Ahmedullah, a researcher and historian who has travelled extensively and immersed himself with numerous communities around the world.

This performance will be part of an evening of other short acts, entertainment and plays by various artistes. For details, please see  Change of Art festival.

The Introverted Artiste and his God

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Music as an ‘Object’ of Attachment 

Musicians and artistes differ in their approaches and passion for music. However, most who I have observed appear to receive some sort of cathartic release through their art. With the exception of those who enter the music industry for popularity and glamour, artistes tend to be interesting in terms of their relationships with music. Their attachment to their art seems to be almost like an attachment with a person. In Psychology we often refer to ‘object relations’ theory, which essentially describes how individuals relate to others in relationships as linked with their initial early attachments with primary caregivers. But I wonder how this may be linked with artistes whose art itself may become an ‘object’ to which they attach their needs, their hopes, their aspirations and their dreams.

Spiritual Connection Through Music 

So when I met Mr. Mehboob Nadeem during his Indian Classical Summer School course at SOAS University, which I eagerly enrolled for a few years ago, I wasn’t surprised by his passion and dedication for music. However, what did surprise me then and in subsequent courses with him was his attachment to God. I experienced him to be incredibly spiritual, and when I first heard him sing a Sufi song (“Yah Gharib Nawaz”) I was taken aback by his spiritual connection with Islamic mysticism.

It is interesting how little we know of the internal world of such artistes who appear to be somewhat introverted. Those who have their needs met through their attachment to God and their art perhaps have little need for worldly interests. Perhaps there is something ultimately divine in Indian Raga. It is said that such music represents sounds of nature and in Hindu scriptures, Indian Raga is believed  to represent Ultimate Truth. Each note (Sa Re Ga etc) is considered to correspond to the different chakras, and thereby each note is thought to activate different energy channels which have a direct effect on the mind and body.

Divine Faith Vs Logical Reasoning 

I am not sure how much I believe or understand the above. There is no clinical evidence for it, but somehow listening to Mr. Nadeem singing  a Sufi song and now listening to this sitar recital makes me wonder. What is it that we don’t understand in the West about music and its spiritual source? What is it we don’t understand about the internal workings of such introverted artistes? Perhaps they themselves don’t know  and are simply gifted with talent and an innate connection which ‘logical’ people like myself will never truly comprehend.

I often search for suitable music to use in relaxation exercises and I find Indian Raga both soothing and energising. There is a lot more to learn about this, and perhaps genuinely gifted artistes like Mr. Nadeem can help us clinicians and students of music to try and understand in order to make Indian Raga more accessible for the mainstream public.

Women as ‘Wounded Healers’

I have heard this song countless times, and each time I listen to it, I hear it differently. In this song (Film, Shagoon, 1964), a beautiful woman whilst playing a piano watches a man drinking at a bar. The lyrics of the song are undoubtedly beautiful. The singer tells the man through her music to “give me your pain”. She asks him to give her whatever hurt and anger he is experiencing, and she will take responsibility for his care. She adds that she will see how the world hurts him once she takes him into her wings. She asks him to let her support him through his loneliness and whatever defeat he has experienced in life. Although my heart has often softened at the ‘selfless’ lyrics, today I am associating it with the concept of the ‘wounded healer’.

Healing Our Wounds Through Attending To Others 

In reality, we all experience defeat in life. For every one success, we will experience multiple disappointments. But what makes one person more likely than another to extend their hand of support to those who are in pain? The wounded healer is often used to describe those who enter the caring profession, those who do charity work or those who somehow dedicate their lives to others (e.g doctors, nurses, missionaries, NGO workers). These professions require public service, personal sacrifice and a focus on the needs of others over oneself. So what drives someone to put aside their own hurt? The ‘wounded healer’ (Carl Jung) supports others  because they themselves have experienced despair and can bear the pain of another.  However altruistic it may appear, there is a personal benefit for the healer, which is that their pain also eases through healing others.

Women As Healers 

But what interests me is why there are more women in the helping profession than men. Are women more compassionate by nature or are women taught by society to be ‘selfless’? This song often reminds me of the way a mother speaks to her child. The nurturing approach of taking care of the man, taking away his sadness, shielding him from the worries of the world….women are often socially conditioned to be ‘selfless’ and conditioned to consider the needs of others over themselves. First as daughters, (particularly in certain communities), women are taught to obey social norms in order to keep the ‘honour’ of their families. As wives, women are taught to be the ‘sanctuary’ of the husband, and as mothers, women are given social messages that the welfare of children lie in a mothers’ capacity to make personal sacrifices and put the needs of her children over her own.

Capacity for Altruistic Love 

Someone very wisely once said to me that I sing with the sombreness of carrying out a post mortem examination! Today, I think I have dissected this song enough, so I will just let you enjoy listening to it. All analysis aside, it’s simply beautiful and I love it. Maybe that’s what love is really about. It’s the capacity to love something or someone unconditionally and without effort, irrespective of whether this love is for ones beloved, parent, spouse or child. Real love may be natural, and naturally loving another may mean not requiring anything in return from them. Maybe women have a greater capacity to love altruistically. Or perhaps there is no true altruistic love at all, except between a mother and her child. Perhaps we will never understand, but this song’s selflessness will soften even the hardened of hearts.

The Real ‘Umrao Jaan’

The Real ‘Umrao Jaan’: An Experimental Performance on Shame & Sexual Exploitation

A brief experimental vocal performance for charity using several images of sex workers in the Indian sub-continent. Based on a Hindi song from the film Umrao Jaan (1981), this performance highlights issues of shame experienced by girls/women who are sold to brothels, and the discrimination that they face when attempting to re-integrate back into mainstream society. This was performed on 24.2.17 at Hope n Mic, Kazi Nazrul Centre, Brick Lane, London.

Raga Therapy: An Experiential Workshop on Indian Classical Singing

Raga Therapy: A Half-Day Experiential Workshop,  28 October 2017

What is Raga Therapy?

Raga Therapy is essentially the practice of using Indian Classical Music for enhancing physical and emotional wellbeing. Singing specific notes is believed to activate specific energy channels around the body which can have a positive effect on your overall wellbeing.

Who will be facilitating this Workshop?

Mehboob Nadeem is a British sitarist with international recognition as an artist of great repute. He teaches Indian classical singing at the School Of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and performs both as a sitarist and vocalist. Mr. Nadeem will be taking a lead for teaching the basics of Indian Classical singing and Dr. Sidrah Muntaha, Clinical Psychologist will facilitate the overall workshop including discussions around mental health and the emotional impact of specific music.

What will be covered in the Workshop?

This will be an experiential workshop so although Sidrah will provide a background to the therapeutic benefits of music and singing, the focus will be for participants to experience this for themselves. The following areas will be covered:

1. Breathing techniques (linked with behavioural relaxation exercises)

2. Vocal warm up exercises using Indian notes.

3. Learning a specific Raga (set of notes) which is believed to reduce stress and promote emotional well-being.

4. Learning to sing a semi-classical song (depending on progress).

5. Discussion about how Indian Raga can be applied to every day life to promote wellbeing and help with stress management.

Who can take part in this Workshop?

This workshop is suitable for anyone with an interest in alternative healing and music/arts. Anyone aged 18 and above is welcome to attend. Prior singing experience is not a requirement although any musical background would be an advantage.

What is the fee for this Workshop?

There will an advanced non-refundable fee of £45 for each participant. However, if you have a medical or psychological condition and on low income, you may be offered a reduced fee although a supporting letter from your health practitioner will be required.

Who do I contact for further information?

If you would like to book your place, or for further information, please contact info@dynamic-therapy.co.uk or 07949 268 017.

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