Dear Fellow Stammerers,
Five of us met today at the YMCA Ghatkopar, Nikhil Iyer, Vishal Mishra, Rakesh Prasad, Narendra Bhandava, and Dhruv Gupta. We started off by breaking up into pairs and doing an introductory activity. Then, we came back as a group and talked about TISA, what we do and what we can hope to gain by being regular at SHG - overcoming the stammering mindset (more on this in next line). We talked about answering the questions: Do you stammer? And are you ready to Overcome stammering? These questions are outlined on Page 2 in Apna Hath Jagannath, self help manual, and I have included them here:
1. Do you stammer? You can be sure of this if you can speak normally under some conditions (like when alone, talking to younger children, whispering, shouting etc.) or when you can sing well but have a lot of difficulties in talking, in some situations particularly - in class, in market, during interviews, on telephone etc.
2. Secondly and more importantly- do you really want to overcome your stammering? Here, answer may not be simple and straightforward. Many of us feel pain & discomfort on a daily basis due to stammering- but it goes away as quickly as it comes. Kam chalta rehta hai (life goes on).. and therefore we dont feel committed to long hard work needed to deal with stammering.
Then, we played BUM BOL or as many of us know it "The Bum Game". 1, 2, 3, BUM (All multiples of 4 are replaced with BUM and numbers with 4 in it like 14 you say "One Bum"). The motive behind this activity is to help all members become PRESENT. Often, we are stuck in our past memories/experiences, even when we come to a new place.
We then talked about the importance of working on Fear in Stammering recovery. We discussed Voluntary Stammering. And then decided, let's make phone calls! We decided to call Just Dial and be Video Recorded by our partner. This is one of the best activities for facing the fear, and having the opportunity to watch the way in which you communicated and stammered, and digging deep into reliving that moment through video to analyze the thoughts passing thru your mind. Often thoughts are, "let me try not to stammer, let me change this word, they will hang up if they hear me stammer". These thoughts require COURAGE to move past, and realize that these thoughts are making you mentally struggle and stammer more. If we can stop playing this mental gymnastics, put our focus in the present moment, and not struggle with stammering when it comes but emotionally move past it as fast as it comes, we can become present-minded great communicators who speak in a forward flowing manner, actively listen and care about our communication partners. Sorry for the advice, this may or may not work for you, but it's something I am trying to work on.
We then came back in a group to share our experiences on the phone. This concluded the SHG with most discussion about the importance of facing fears, focusing on communication, and embracing stammering. We gave Rakesh and Narendra copies of Apna Haat Jaganath, and added them to the Whats app group.
A personal entry: I felt like I had not asked myself in a very long time, do I really want to overcome stammering? Since my deep dive into my "pain body" a few weeks ago in two consecutive SHGs, one when Dr. Sachin was here, when we talked about the core of stammering being shameful memories generated as a child, childhood shame. Fellow SHG members and I talked about childhood memories where we were hurt, and we learned to move past them. You can read this blog post on that.
Since then, I've not thought or talked about those feelings. And I can't really say I've move passed them. I think I've suppressed them very well. And in the past few days, those feelings have come back during "high pressure" social gatherings and work meetings (only high pressure because I was worried about stammering). These "high pressure" events were great though, because they made me realize that there is a part of me that is still NOT OK with stammering. I am still afraid of unleashing all of those emotions from the past, from those childhood and young adult memories...unleashing that pain. Perhaps, what is required, is to revisit that pain, reopen those wounds, talk about them, share more about them, ACKNOWLEDGE they happened, ACCEPT that it was ok, and FORGIVE myself and others. This is the process of healing, and I must not leave it incomplete. I'm looking forward to pushing myself, with COURAGE and PRESENT-MINDEDNESS.
Hope to see more Mumbaikars at the next SHG Meeting #110 at YMCA Ghatkopar, Behind the Pantnagar Police Station, Next to Municipal School #3,. Ghatkopar East, Mumbai at 2 - 4 pm on Sunday January 17. Please send me a msg on Whatsapp if you are coming: +91 9930693364; we are trying to limit our SHG meeting to maximum of 10 people, so everyone has a fair chance to contribute, learn and grow.