Power of music and the mind explored and celebrated

Many traditions and cultures have subconsciously aided the wellbeing of one’s mind through music and sound.

A neurologist and music psychotherapist tackled the maze of the mind together on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at the Wits Origins Centre through a mental wellness and brain health seminar on International Museum Day.

Human brains have a potential that is unfathomable, and whilst people think we only use 10% of our brains at a time, they are mistaken.

Most of our brain is being used most of the time, even while sleeping, and over 85 billion neurons in our brains are always firing some sort of signal.

However, with all this brain power comes the largest emotional intelligence amongst all mammals. This EQ of humans is the area studied by neurologist and brain health specialist, Dr Kirti Ranchod, and music psychotherapist, Nsamu Moonga.

Music is all around us — at birthdays, funerals, weddings, political rallies — and each scene sounds very different from the next, which is a subconscious understanding, Dr Ranchod explained.

Dr Ranchod said music is linked to both memory and emotion. When a person hears a specific song, they relive a specific experience, which leads to them feeling a specific emotion.

This is the basis from which Moonga bases his therapy techniques. He explained how humans forget things as a survival technique yet create rituals to ensure they do not forget what is important — the earth rotating completely around the sun, a human life ending, a life of two people beginning for instance.

Yet, Dr Ranchod said how music is exceptionally personal where one type of tune will relax someone whilst it will trigger another. .

To pay homage to International Museum Day, Dr Ranchod spoke about the San Trance Dance which is one of the earliest rituals known to date that used music to bind a group together.

The Trance Dance is a permanent feature at the Origins Centre — which traces human life back nearly two million years — because it sees the beginning of humans living in communities and activating their energies to connect with the spirit world.

With sound, rhythm, movement, and dance used to alter reality, shift consciousness, and change perception, this was the start of music therapy in practice.

Museums document the history we all share and allows for the interception of the past, present, and future. They allow us to understand who we are, where we come from and are the physical pallbearers of memory.

FEATURED IMAGE: Modern-day rock art as appearing in the Origins Centre to showcase how the past is still very much in the present. Photo: Victoria Hill


EDITORIAL: Settings boundaries is self-preservation

My journey to setting boundaries began with a simple realisation: I was suffocating under the weight of others’ expectations. Now I know it’s the most radical act of self-love one will ever commit.  

As I navigate the complexities of life, I have come to realize that setting boundaries is not just a necessity, but a superpower. Being intentional about my time, energy, and relationships has improved my well-being. 

Setting boundaries is not selfish, but essential for our survival. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that people who set boundaries, and prioritise self-care have higher self-esteem and better mental health. By taking care of ourselves, we can show up more fully and be more present in our relationships and lives.  

Spiritual boundaries include being mindful of the company I keep and the beliefs with which I engage with, which are Christian beliefs. As Emmanuel James Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  

Engaging with like-minded communities has also provided a supportive environment where I can share my thoughts, learn from others, and deepen my understanding of my faith. This has ultimately strengthened my relationship with God and myself, enabling me to navigate life’s challenges with greater clarity and purpose.  

Academically, setting boundaries means dedicating time to my studies and prioritizing my education. As Mpoomy Ledwaba an international speaker and founder of Wisdom & Wellness once said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” For me, this means setting aside dedicated time for studying and avoiding distractions.  

I allocate specific hours each day for studying, ensuring I minimise social media and phone usage during that time, I also create a conducive study environment by using a quiet and organised study space.   

My friends joke that my brand and personality have become “Miss Journalist”, because I have become so locked in and it occupies my mind most of the time. Whilst it is true that I am currently struggling to find the balance between a social life and my studies, I can maintain a sense of accomplishment and take pride in my academic journey. 

Much like a gardener tends to their garden, nurturing the soil and pruning the weeds to allow the flowers to bloom, one can tend to a person or situation with similar care and attention, to ensure growth.   

Financial boundaries include being disciplined and avoiding activities that would stretch one too thin. It is essential to create a budget and stick to it, while avoiding impulsive purchases. 

But let’s be real, I struggle with this one the most. Who can resist the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the glazed baked treats on display in a coffee shop? Certainly not me, every day I have to fight against my senses when I walk into the Es’kia Mpahlele building, which has a Vida e Cafe at its entrance. Their Strawberry Supresa smoothie, banana loaf, and spicy chicken mayo are to die for.  

But in all seriousness, it’s a work in progress and I am trying to be more mindful of my spending habits. Maybe I will be able to resist the temptation of that coffee shop…but no promises! 

Lastly, the most important boundaries are the ones I set in my relationships. As Jerry Flowers, a motivational speaker and priest for the Time of Celebration Ministries Church says “Boundaries are not meant to keep people out, but to keep yourself in.”  

It is all easier said than done, and life is a continuous process of self-reflection, growth, and improvement. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so you need to take care of yourself first, boundaries are the tool that makes that possible. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Katlego Mtshali, 2024 Wits Vuvuzela Journalist. Photo: File/Leon Sadiki


Health and wellness for Wits

WORK IT: First year BSc student Neo Khokhone stretches her work out partner during bootcamp. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

WORK IT: First year BSc student Neo Khokhone stretches her work out
partner during bootcamp. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

Wits SRC campus wellness officer Jamie Mighti has challenged Witsies to “get fit” with the SRC’s fitness campaign.

The campaign, which launched on Monday in conjunction with Virgin Active aims to combat obesity and unhealthy lifestyles amongst students, and features a three-week fitness progam.

“We are trying to save lives and create long term longevity of Witsies,” Mighti said.

He encouraged Witsies to join the three-week exercise program as a way of enriching their lives and to create discipline.

“Gyming consistently creates a discipline that will trickle down into both your academic and social life,” he said.

Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that students are careless about their health and fitness.

“It’s in our twenties when we mold our bodies. We pick up bad habits like smoking, drinking and reckless sex which can affect us for the rest of our lives.”

Mighti encouraged all students both fit and unfit to join because “something is better than nothing”.

“So far we’ve seen around 50 students attend the fitness training but we want to push this to at least 300 students.”

 “It’s in our twenties when we mold our bodies. We pick up bad habits like smoking, drinking and reckless sex which can affect us for the rest of our lives.”

His vision together with the SRC is to see Wits becoming the “healthiest university in the world.”

Promoting healthy eating and engagement with physical, emotional and social wellness are on the agenda for this year.

“Wellness is going to be a massive criteria for the university. We want happy and healthy students on our campus.”

Mighti is  also working on a “shared bicycle” initiative, which sees students being able to ride bikes around campus to different lecture halls especially when they are far from each other.

By the beginning of the second quarter, Mighti hopes that there will be at least 50 bikes on campus available for students to share-ride and use around campus.

Healthy eating on campus is also a major concern for Mighti. “We need to create a conscious awareness about healthy food especially at the vendors and the food halls at residence.”

“The university hasn’t been serious about health issues and it is time they walk-the-walk. They must take initiatives to improve health on our campus,” he said.

The fitness program will be taking place for the next two weeks on Monday and Friday from 6.30 am to 7.30 am on the Library Lawns.