We started the meeting just after 1:40. Jagdish stepped up to take the role of Facilitator of the Meeting at the last moment. Kaushal also stepped in as Timer and I took the role of Technique counter. The word of the day, as mentioned by Grammarian, Ramesh, was assiduous. We learned that this means to show great care and perseverance/determined/hard-working/judicious - like Ramesh says “He’s working assiduously on his stammering.”
We then started out the learning session. We started with voluntary stuttering. We all said “My nuh-nuh-nuh name is …..”. We tried to bring out our real stutters on ‘nuh-nuh nuh’. We learned that it’s really hard to bring out a real stutter. But we tried over and over again on this on several other lines like “I like puh-puh-puh play ….”. Everyone was able to bring out a real stutter. Being able to create a real stutter helps you learn what you do when you stutter. And the more we hide our stuttering the more it comes - by voluntary stuttering we are facing that which has caused us shame, and this is a way to accept it.
We then did some tension-free voluntary stuttering (bouncing) on the same sentences.
We then talked about how we feel tension and breathlessness when we block. We shared about the valsalva reflex that comes when we lift heavy boxes or (are in the bathroom!). Our brains have been trained to believe that speaking is a very tough activity and therefore it calls upon the valsalva reflex when it believes it needs a lot of energy/stamina to speak.
We practiced the valsalva reflex by sitting on an imaginary chair, and trying to pull our inter-locked fingers apart. Everyone felt their chest, abdomen and throat tighten. We then tried to say our names while doing this activity. We found it difficult. This felt similar to blocking.
Now, how can we retrain our brains so that it doesn’t go into the vasalva reflex when we encounter a “difficult” speaking situation? We have to begin to look at speaking as a beautiful thing - something that brings about a comfortable emotion. Easier said then done! This is where belly breathing comes in and many other techniques like visualization & autosuggestion (mentioned by Jagdish) and affirmations (mentioned by Srinivas).
First, belly breathing is when you breathe and your stomach comes out. This is also called diaphragmatic breathing. It’s useful because it helps you feel more calm. In a situation where you sense your abdomen, chest or throat muscles tightening, you can try to become aware of your breathing and do belly breathing. This will help calm you down and then you can go into the speaking situation and use the tools that you’ve been practicing. Some physical tools like bouncing or gentle onset prolongation could be used. This is mentioned in-depth in Chapter 6 of Apna Haath Jagannath.
Visualization & auto-suggestion (also called affirmations) were mentioned. Visualization is basically to see situations in a positive light. So you positively visualize your interview going well, you shake the interviewers hand and they are happy to see you, you see yourself sharing good content during the interview. This can work in all situations like socializing - you visualize yourself hanging out with people. In some ways, we all visualize everyday, but many of us visualize negatively - this will go wrong, I won’t be able to say, etc. However, Jagdish shared that it’s better to visualize positively and he has been doing this for awhile now.
We also shared the importance of positive affirmations like “I can speak well” and to view this affirmation every morning. You could make 10 positive affirmations, things you believe about yourself, and view these every morning before a meditation session. This will bring positive feelings and peace of mind.
We also discussed a mental tool called Self-advertising. Telling people that you are someone stutters. We all agreed this was a great way to show your conversational partner that you are comfortable with your stutter (and if you’re not, this might make you more comfortable now that you don’t have to hide it).
We shared a nice activity to further our desensitization work. The activity involves calling up 10 places and using advertising and voluntary stuttering, like “Hi, my name is Jayesh. I’m someone who s-s-stammers so please be patient. What time does your restaurant close?”
This was the end of the learning session. We went on to prepared speeches where Ramesh gave his P1 speech. He drew his stammer in school/university days and after joining TISA - and found that his stammering has increased after joining TISA. He believed this was because he was talking more and not hiding it. He also shared his ice-berg for us. It was a well thought out speech and we congratulate him for starting the prepared speech journey! Aditya gave his P2 speech “A fish-bone analysis of stammering”. He shared the cause and symptom of stammering. For example, one cause was fear of rejection and the symptom was the irregular breathing (forgive me if I didn’t use the same words). We can all relate to this one. Srinivas gave his P4 speech on pausing and shared lots of content on when pausing can be used. Dhruv did an activity for this P4 speech where all members sat in a circle, one asked a question to another and the answerer had to eat one peanut before answering. This helped us implement the pausing techniques Srinivas was talking about! Everyone felt very relaxed after this activity. We realized that we often feel time pressure. By taking our time with pauses, it helped us to be more present in the moment and feel relaxed without worrying about time pressure. Surprisingly, all of our speech improved during this time without our conscious realization. There something to be said about taking your time to speak… :)
You can watch these speeches on the TISA Mumbai Googe Plus page: https://plus.google.com/110611031527870420385/posts. However they are privately shared only with TISA Mumbai members. If you would like access, please contact the speaker to request to see the video of their speech. Then, Gaurav Dubey can allow you into group to view this video.
We then had evaluator reports, facilitator reports and role booking for the next meeting.
The agenda for May 4 meeting will be shared by tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who helped organize today’s meeting primarily Srinivas, the meeting manager!
Till next time,