Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Musical Healing

After a late breakfast, we packed up our bags one last time and headed out for our last day "on the road."  We started out at the Sultan II. Beyazid Kulliyesi ve Saglik Muzesi.  This complex, built by the Sultan Beyazid II, was designed to be a teaching hospital.  I didn't know quite what to expect out of a hospital museum.  It turned out to be fascinating for a number of reasons.

The first thing I noticed was the beauty of the surroundings.  All the buildings were of a pale cream stone that glowed in the morning light.  Gardens of roses and lavender scented the cool air.  The only sounds were birdsong, falling water from two fountains, and soft simple music.

The former hospital now has lifesize dummies posed in diorama that depict what day-to-day life was like there during the Ottoman Empire.  I am usually not a fan of mannequins, but these were well-done.  They detailed the types of treatments one could receive at the complex as well as what the various people - patients, physicians, student doctors - had and did.

So many of the things they were doing then are things we've only just now started to experiment with in the West.  Cataract surgery was already being performed in the Middle Ages as were C-section births and other things we didn't adopt until much later.  In a time when most of the people with mental health issues were being locked away and treated like wayward animals, the Ottomans sought a cure and dignity for each.  Why did it take the West so long to catch up to these ideas?

The thing I found most interesting was the concept of musical healing. One of their major forms of treatment for physical and psychological disorders both was exposure to different kinds of music.  At all times, the fountain kept beautiful sound echoing off the in-patient housing wing.  Patients would attend performances of all the different types of music depending on what they needed to help with their specific issues.  See the picture below for a description of what each type did and for whom.

There is a logic to this.  Think about how many times we use music casually to lift ourselves out of a bad mood.  Think about the research done on the possibility for damage or even death caused by excessive exposure to loud, low bass.  We even had the cliche about music soothing the savage soul.  Everything around us seems to be telling us that this is a good idea.  It's just taken us about 400 years to get back to it in our part of the world.

I bought two CDs, one of Rast and one of Rehavi.  The Rast, supposedly good for scholars, is something to try in my classroom.  I personally am going to try the Rehavi next time I get a migraine.  Who knows whether it will work or not?  I have tried everything else under the sun, including some medicines that have made me very, very ill in their own right.  Maybe it's time I took a leaf from the Ottoman Physician Desk Reference and let something I already enjoy become something that can heal me.

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