February 16, 2017

So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because I, too, am fluent in silence. –R. Arnold

My name is Sunil Kumar. I am 23 years old male PWS. I am from Sikar, Rajasthan. I completed my B.tech in Bio-technology from National Institute of Technology Durgapur, West Bengal in 2015. Currently, I am preparing for SSC CGl examination. I have been stuttering since I could remember. I am the only one among three generations of my family and all the near relatives of my family who stutter. My parents tell that I suffered from severe Pneumonia (A respiratory disease characterized by inflammation of the lung parenchyma (excluding the bronchi) with congestion caused by viruses, bacteria or irritants), when I was one or two years old. That time I became very weak. They think this is the reason behind my stuttering. I also believe my parents because Pneumonia is a respiratory illness and stuttering has got everything to do with our respiratory system. Sometimes I find difficulty in speaking because my lungs are out of air. Many a time words doesn’t come out of my mouth.
I did my initial schooling in my village. My childhood was like any other normal child in village. I used to give speech in school on occasions like Children’s Day, Gandhi Jayanti etc till 8thclass. During my speech, I used to stutter a lot; still my teachers encouraged me to speak. Slowly, I started feeling that I am not like everybody else and I became shy and I was losing my confidence. Owing to lack of knowledge and awareness then, my grandmother used to think it was because of a curse from some Devi-Devta.
In 10th class, I was 3rd topper of my school. My parents has always considered me a bright kid therefore they admitted me to an IIT-JEE coaching institute in Sikar. There, I stopped caring about my stuttering still, I hesitated to ask my doubts and talk about my problems to the teachers. As a result, I couldn’t get selected in IIT-JEE with 12th class. My parents sent me Kota, Rajasthan so I could get admitted to a better coaching institute. I worked very hard. There, they reshuffle students on the basis of the performance in monthly tests. There were total 25 batches. Initially, I was in RH5 batch. In the first test, I did very well and I was promoted to RH1 batch. I was very happy. I was feeling myself closer to my dream of getting into an IIT. But unfortunately, it was not my destiny. After 3-4 months, I started to have constant severe headaches and those headaches continued till my IIT-JEE exam. I couldn’t concentrate in my studies. Therefore, I couldn’t make to an IIT. In AIEEE, I got a rank just good enough to get me a seat in an NIT.
I was allotted biotechnology in NIT Durgapur. I did not get to choose what I wanted to study because my rank in AIEEE was not good. Still, I was happy because NITs are institutes of national importance and I got admission in one of them. NIT Durgapur is infamous for ragging. In initial days, I couldn’t talk to anybody. Most of the times, I remained silent, I couldn’t tell even my name when seniors asked me. I found it very difficult to respond on my roll calls for attendance in the class. Many times I used to skip attendance. Deep inside I was feared that I would not be able to make new friends. I did not know if I would be able to survive there but, I did. Gradually, I started adapting myself to the new environment. Things started to change, I made some new friends and seniors also started being co-operative and friendly. Till then, I was running away from stuttering and hoping that one day some miracle would happen and my stuttering would just vanish and I would speak with fluency. But that was a false and mistaken belief.
 I realised one thing that I can‘t always run away from situations where I have to speak and express myself. There was nothing I knew that I could do about my speech. I have a friend (6-7 years older than me) who was pursuing his MBBS that time. I called him, we discussed about stuttering and how I was feeling. He told me to visit a speech therapist. After 3 months in college, I came home for vacations. I discussed about stuttering with my father and told him about speech therapy. He took me to a speech therapist in Jaipur the very next day. She suggested me some exercises for my mouth and tongue and asked me if I can visit her regularly for next 15-20 days. It was not possible for me, since my college was starting next week. I practiced, what she advised me for few days, but I didn’t find those exercises of any help.
When I was returning to college, I saw a sticker of another speech therapist in the toilet of the train. I searched about him on internet and I thought he could help me. After my 1st year in college, I went to him. He claims that he is a recovered PWS and he can cure stuttering. I was taken by his words and the fact that I desperately needed any help to cure my stuttering. I joined his course for 20 days .There were 30-40 other PWS. He doesn’t have any degree like MBBS or any other speech disorder specialisation. He taught us a distorted version of prolongation technique (that we practice in SHG meetings). He told us to speak every letter of each word in prolonged manner like mmmmyyyyy nnnnnnaaammmee iiiissss ssssssuuuuunnnnniiillllll. He told us to speak by singing. Following his methods, I felt embarrassment.  According to him, we should speak less and avoid stuttering at any cost. I practiced his techniques for 2-3 months. By using his techniques, I got little fluency, but his methods made me more conscious about my stuttering. Sometimes my efforts to avoid stuttering made situation worse and I ended up stuttering very badly. I tried to follow his methods for almost one year. But instead of controlling my stuttering his methods brought more stress to me. I used to think, I was not practicing enough and properly.
These are my two failed attempts with speech therapy. Next one year (my third year in college), I again ignored my stuttering. One day, I was attending a class of my HOD (head of the department). He asked me a question, which I tried to answer but I stuttered very badly and couldn’t complete my answer. He told us that he also used to stutter till 10th class in school and his stuttering was worse than mine. He also said that stuttering may be a result of gene mutation (it was a genetics class).  He asked me to visit him in his office after the class. I went to him. He told me about his encounter with stuttering and that his stuttering was cured by homeopathic medicines. He suggested me to visit a homeopathic doctor. I tried homeopathy for 3-4 months but I did not get any positive results.
 There was a personality development class in 6th semester, where we had group discussions, debate and mock interviews. I never attended those classes because I was afraid of stuttering in front of whole class. In my entire engineering course, in all laboratory subjects in which we had a viva, I got either C or D grade. I never participated in any extracurricular activity and kept myself aloof from girls in my entire college life, which I regret now.
Final year of college started, many companies were visiting our campus for placement. Other students were preparing what they would speak in interview and I was worrying about how I would speak. One day, I was searching on internet about interview tips for PWS. This is when I came to know about TISA. I read 30-40 articles from TISA blog that day. I downloaded self help book (Apna Hath Jagganath) and read the whole book the same day. I was feeling some hope. I joined Google hangout, there I met Nenad, Alok, Vishal and others. I sat in 5 companies for placement. I cleared written examination of 3 companies, but I couldn’t clear even 1st round of personal interview of all three companies. I thought, it was because I stutter. Later after some analysis and discussion with friends, I realised it wasn’t completely because of stuttering but it was due to lack of preparation. I joined Vipassana meditation, 10 Days course. I felt good and a bit relaxed after that course. After vipassana course, I went to college. It was last semester of college life, so I chose enjoying college life over practicing vipassana.

After completing college I came to Jaipur. I called Ravikant Sharma, who was co-ordinator of Jaipur SHG group that time. Now, he is excise inspector in Banglore. I joined Jaipur SHG and met some amazing people Chandar Prakash Goyal, Anurag choudhary, Soumya Saxena and Ravi Bhaiya. By attending SHG meetings I realised one thing that we shouldn’t run after fluency instead we should focus on improving our overall communication skills. I always wanted to meet Sachin Sir and attend NCs and other communication workshops, but, owing to lack of time, distance and financial constraints, I was never able to do so. I hope to attend communication workshop in Jaipur on 18-19 March and meet Sachin Sir there.

Communication Workshop at Bangalore on March 4, 5 and 6 2017

Hi All,

As you are aware that Sachin is visiting Bangalore between March 4 to 7. Please find below agenda for communication workshop.

General


  • Workshop timing will be from 9:30 AM to 5 PM on each day
  • Each day 6 PM to 8 PM will be for 1-1 with Sachin, we will share the google calendar accordingly
  • We all will be having dinner with Sachin on 5th at the venue itself.
  • Lunch and Snacks will be at venue on each day

February 13, 2017

Acting sessions - Bengaluru SHG - 12/02/2017

(I am adding some bits of  4th Feb session also in it. We did almost similar on 4th as well. I couldnt write it because of time constraints)
Note: - The lines you find below that are within quotes are copied from a book on acting by Lee Strasberg

Attendees:
Mansi

Pramod
Nishil
Naman
Animesh

1) The session started at 8:15. Our routine exercises:
  • Warm-up: Warming up your body by doing short and small exercises.
  • Voice exercises:We started with the diaphragm exercises. Spoke vowels with pushing the breath from diaphragm instead of throat. 
2) "The heads and tails of the coin of acting are relaxing and concentrating. You relax in order to show that you have control of yourself. Then you concentrate to have control of the imaginary objects you wish to create. To truthfully convey the ideas that the scene demands, we need the ability to relax at will and to apply inner concentration and awareness"
       So we added two most important exercises - Relaxation and concentration

Relaxation: 
  •  "The purpose of the relaxation exercises is to eliminate fear, tension, and unnecessary energy, and to awaken every area of the body. When the body is relaxed, it's able to move much more easily and with much less expenditure of effort; only then can you command each area of the body to do what you want it to do" .
  • For relaxation we just sat on the benches of hut. This can be done lying too but best is to sit on a chair and do it. We did this with lying on our backs on 4th Feb. However, this day we just sat comfortably on bench. Sit so comfortably that you could, if you had to, go to sleep. 
  • Start breathing normally. Don't move or fiddle around. Remain in control of your energy and efforts.
  • The actor should be aware of every muscle in the body, so start to check each area separately by moving one specific muscle at a time. 
  • A tightness in the muscles may mean there is some tension
  • Go inch by inch and very slowly. The purpose of the movement is to draw your attention to muscles that are tense to make sure they respond
  • Four important areas that need to be relaxed
    • The sides of the temples where the nerves go to the head
    • Bridge of the nose leading into the eyes. Watch your eyebrow, move your eyelids, move cheek muscles
    • Your mouth area, chin, tongue, jaw
    • The back of the neck. Move the neck slowly. As you rotate try to feel different muscles, and relax and losen them, particularly when they are extended all the way back. The neck muscles connect to our head and that is a key area to relax
  • Normally, the duration of this exercise could be 15-20 minutes.
Sense Memory(Concentration):
       We move to sense memory exercise. "The senses hold the key to life and experience. Sense memory exercises train the actor to utilize all five sense and to respond as fully and as vividly to imaginary objects on the stage as he's capable of doing with real objects in life."
1) To start with we chose any imaginary situation to awaken the mind and stimulate the imagination in order to make contact with sensory memory
  • On 4th Feb, Pramod chose eating Omlette. Closing his eyes, he started to recreate that instance in his mind. Through that he made use of all the senses and relived it truthfully.
  • Similary, Tarunidhar chose drinking coffee. 
  • Tarak chose shaving. His recreation was wonderful and so very convincing.
  • This day, Naman chose drinking coffee. 
  • We did a little tougher sense memory exercise and that was to experience pain. Pramod shared an incident where he had a body ache and he was able to recreate the pain in his body.
  • Naman chose an incident where he hit his head on a glass pane there by hurting it badly.
  • Mansi chose her experience of thigh pain. The pain was very fresh in her memory and we could see that convincing effort from her.
For an actor to grow, the relaxation and concentration are exercises that has to be done every day. Both sense memory and relaxation should be done 15 minutes each day.
 
Animal exercise
"The animal exercise is our basic foundation for characterizing a role physically. Using this exercise, one can talk, think, move, and feel more naturally and humanly with an inner content, rather than arriving at the character with only an external mask"
These were animals ascribed to each one:
1) Nishil: Crocodile
2) Pramod: bear
3) Mansi - Lion
4) Naman - Rat
Each one of us discussed about their assigned animal. It was interesting to hear from them what the animal is and its characteristics. However, all agreed that it can be further explored.
As a first step,
1) All of them got on their limbs and started imitating the animal they were assigned to
2) They just moved around and i added some situations which they needed to react to


As an exercise, we decided to do this every week, adding layers of characteristics every week. After 3-4 weeks, we will be the same animal but then not portraying any external attributes, rather internal. By being a human and behaving as an animal will add characteristics to our personality.

Play reading
As the last part of the meeting, we started reading the play Taramandal. Through this reading,
  • got to know what an act, scene is. 
  • got to know what happens before starting the scene, or after sending the scene
  • explored the objective and purpose of each character in the scene
  • Discussed on preparing character sketches for the character that we are going to play.

As of now, plan is to perform some bits of Taramandal in front of SHG members. It could be possible on 5th March or 12th March. To be discussed and explored further.

Thank you for reading. Feel free to provide any feedback or comment on any topic.

Are you Raees or Kabil?

12 Feb 2017: Ahmedabad 

On a chilly winter morning, vastrapur lake was more than beautiful today. With the birds chirping and leaves shaking, we kick-started our SHG with a cup of tea and round of introduction. Five people attended the SHG today including myself, Vipul, Roshan, Anil and Vivek . Vivek Puri, one of the active participant and the co-ordinator for today’s SHG, had come fully prepared with notes. He explained about the famous ‘bouncing technique’, how to do it and what its practical benefits are. We made it a point to converse while use bouncing technique only and guess what; we did it and found it immensely useful. 

The sessions started including a psychology session with the aim to find the real meaning of life which we as stammerers often forget in all our hustle-bustle around our stammer. We did self-analysis and remembered the things which we are proud of and the happiest moment of our lives. Then we discussed about what friendship means to us and how it feels to help somebody in need. 

We spoke about the things which hold us back and how we can correct it. We discussed about one of our bad habits and how it has affected us. The common bad habit which I and Vipul shared was procrastination. We discussed our examples (with bouncing technique) and made it through. Then, we discussed how we would upgrade ourselves, if given the opportunity. The different aspects of life were touched upon which came out quite fruitful. 

Then, a story telling session was executed where Anil initiated with a word ‘Pizza’ and we concluded the story blaming Shilpa that she didn’t have enough vegetables to invite everybody over pizza party, bizarre right? We had a great laugh. Vivek’s final session was a light one with cinema driven questions. He asked us to tell briefly about the last movie we watched and one dialogue from the movie. The top answers were Raees and Kaabil, ofcourse.

February 7, 2017

Voice workshop 05th Feb 2017, Bengaluru

Voice workshop was conducted for Bengaluru SHG members on 5th of Feb 2017. Thanks to all the members who came forward. It was a great session with a lot of exercises and practicals.

The workshop was more on awareness of your voice and several exercises that free you and open up the voice.

Attendees:
Mansi
Anita
Nishil
Tarak
Subrat
Rajkumar
Tarunidhar
Tapan
Naman
Bharat

My session was organized with teachings and exercises acquired from two main sources:
1) Mr. Anmol Vellani: Anmol is an ex-president of IFA(India Foundation of Arts), one of the very renowned artists in Bengaluru. He conducts voice workshop almost twice in a year in Bengaluru. Next time it happens I shall inform all SHG members.
2) "Voice And The Actor" - Cicely Berry Obe. She is the Voice Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and world-famous voice teacher. You can find this book in Amazon and I have downloaded it in Kindle which i referred to in the session.


The texts below are not my own and i am just reproducing whatever i have read or learned and found it to be useful after my own practice.

Little theory

"Tensions and limitations always come from a lack of trust in yourself, either you communicate over-anxiously, or you want to convince an audience."

"All unnecessary tension is wasted energy. If you do not use enough energy you fail to reach your audience, but if you use too much you disperse it using too much breath, bursting out on consonants"

"The basic feeling of fear puts all the defence mechanism into action, and the result is tension, particularly in the upper part of the body, the neck and the shoulders"

"When pushing out from the throat, you cut out all the interesting undertones of your voice. Throat is one place, you should feel no effort"

Analogy of the voice and the violin
Violin - has a bow, quality of string and their tautness, and how well the box is made determines its sound
Human voice: breath hits the vocal chords, resonating areas in the body amplifies the sound. How well the resonating areas open up, the voice is much rooted and effortless.

Remember the key is "Unnecessary tension is wasted energy"

Exercises
The warming up exercises here are:
1) for relaxation, breathing - Macro environment
2) for the increased muscularity of the lip and tongue - Micro environment

These exercises:
1) Free up your voice
2) Find more power(or more volume) with less effort
3) More flexibility and freedom in your voice

The thumb rule : Breathing in with the diaphragm expanding. Breathing out with the Diaphragm contracting. Diaphragm is an area below the rib cage and just above the stomach. You shall know a great deal below in some exercises. 

The vocal exercises you learn from this blog is of no use if you don't practice this way of diaphragm breathing.

Warming up Macro environment exercises:
1) Torso Turn - Turn your torso(upper part of body) right and left with the free movement of hands when turning

2) Full body stretch - do some body stretch exercises. A few of it we did the other day. Can't mention exact detail of it.

3) Body wrap and shoulder roll - wrap your body with the hands and roll the shoulders front clockwise and then anti-clockwise.

4) Elbow pointing - point the elbow in the front, breath in and then release the elbow by breathing out

5) Wings - Just make wings out of the elbow and rotate your body

6) Drop down: We got introduced to drop down a little later, but i mention it here as part of warm -up. To do the drop down, you need to drop yourself completely down while continuing breathing with the diaphragm expanding. Feel the breath reaching to your lower back, behind the rib cage.

7) Swinging your arms from one side to another. Standing up, put your arms as high as you can to one side and swing right down, letting your head and neck go completely, and swing up to the other side. The important thing is to feel as much weight as possible when you swing down, which impels the movement up to the other side, and to let your head and neck go completely lose. Next time breathe in as you take your hands up, and as you swing down let the breath out. If possible, add the vowels to come out when breathing out.

8) Relaxation on the floor with hissing sound.
Lie on the floor on your back with your buttocks flat. Feel the back as spread as possible. Pull up your knees up a little apart, aware of them pointing to the ceiling. The should help to get your back flat. Do not push it down by tensing, however, just get it as flat as you can. Try to be aware of your back spreading over the floor. Let the shoulders too spread, the shoulder joints easing out, and not cramped in.
Wrists free
Elbows free
Neck free, and lengthening out of the back

Now put the hands on the bottom of your rib cage, where the ribs bulge most, in fact, because that is where you will find most movement.

Breathe in through the nose, feeling, feeling the ribs opening out along the floor at the back. Sigh out through an open mouth and throat, pushing all the air out of the lungs, down to the last bit. Repeat this a few times (5 times lets say).
Now do these along with this exercise:
  • When taking out the breath, make a hissing sound. Hissssssss. Its like air leak. This ensures that you feel the breath is coming out and diaphragm contracting. Do this for 5 times.
  • When taking out the breath, read a poem and again experience the belly breathing technique.
(This is also present in chapter 6 of the book "Apna Hath Jagannath")

9) Finding firm, unforced tone by throwing vowels. Make a circle with the people. Now have a ball and hold it. Now you are going to throw this ball to someone else. As you release the ball, you should release sound by signing a vowel. Lets say "AY" or "OO", "EE" etc. This exercise makes your voice firm and clear. Infact, it is not that you need to do this exercise with group of people, imagine a ball and perform the action of throwing it.

Warming-up Micro environment exercises
The micro environment deals with your face muscles.

1) Lips: A) RUB B) TRILL
2) Tongue and mouth - rotate tongue inside
3) Face muscles and bones:
  • Roll cheek bones
  • Extend Jaw
  • Look at ceiling and bite an apple
4) Open mouth wide/ puff out cheeks

5) Pushing Adam's Apple down:
    To introduce Adam apple, we first uttered the words "ge" , "ge" , "ge"... when we do this you can notice a small cartilage just bulging out of our neck and moving slight up and down movement. When the Adam's apple is moving down, you can also observe the soft palate, area above in the mouth cavity which our tongue touches to utter some consonants like "n", "t",  "l", etc., is also released. So the point is that the throat feels more open and mouth cavity gets more breath to pass, contributing to a richer sound.

     This needs practice and cannot be observed in one day, However, everyone can easily get to this state. Now, with the Adam's apple down, you utter the words out of the poem or sing a song. Do you see any difference?

6) Releasing soft palate: A) voiceless yawn B) Swallow c) "KUH-GUH'; "NGUH-GUH' sound

7) Relax the larynx: Silent giggle

Experience the soft palate

Try gegege - with the palate and the tongue tensed at the back.
 gegege - with the palate and tongue dropped

Hear the difference in sound:

gegege - tense
gegege - relaxed
AH - dropped and open

Utilizing the exercises
Now keeping in mind the exercises that we did, here is a practice on some words. Stand upright, ensure breathing from the diaphragm, push adam's apple down and then repeat the words below in each row.

HOE               | |        OH
HIGH             | |        EYE
HEAT             | |        EAT
HILL              | |        ILL
HIS                | |         IS
HAT               | |         AT
HEEL            | |         EEL
HAD             | |         ADD
HAIL            | |         AIL
HEART        | |          ART
HARM         | |          ARM
HANDY      | |          ANDY
HEDGE       | |         EDGE
HEAR          | |        EAR

You can recite any poem as well.

Resonators
As explained above, our body has several resonator points. The chest, the nasal cavity, oral cavity, head. Only when all of these are active you can feel the richness of your voice. To experience the resonators, try Kazoo buzz. "The kazoo is a musical instrument that adds a "buzzing" timbral quality to a player's voice when the player vocalizes into it" - Source: Wikipedia. To understand how its done, here you go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJY2rHdXM0k

Consonants and Vowels:
"This exercise gives awareness of movement of the jaw, the lips and tongue, and the soft palate, which are the muscles we use to make vowels and consonants. Whatever the text, the actor has to find the specific measure of the words he is using and relay with clarity and accuracy in whatever space he/she is in, so that they can be heard without strain. "

"A consonant is a sound in which the passage of air or sound is stopped or partially stopped by either the lips or parts of the tongue. For some consonants, the soft palate is involved and position of the jaw is always important."

"A vowel is different in that it always has a free passage of sound through the mouth. It does also include the correct placement of tongue, lips, freedom of jaw and the mobility of soft palate"


Try speaking these, using whatever you have learned above:

La            lah          lah         lah
lala          lala          lala        lala
lalalala    lalalala    lalalala   lalala

The rhythm should be precise and the movement accurate with the tongue-tip going right down each time.

Now similarly, a different sound using tongue and tip differently,

tah             tah          tah          tah
tetete         tetete       tetete      tah

dedede       dedede         dedede       dah
nenene       nenene       nenene        nah

Now back of tongue
kekeke     kekeke       kekeke      gegege   kah    gah

Now lips,
 pepepe        pepepe          pepepe     pah
bebebe         bebebe          bebebe     bah
mememe      mememe       mememe   mah

 Now, in the below exercise, press the tongue and lip muscles hard so you become aware of them.

AH     OO
AH     AW       OO  
AH     AW       OO     OW
MAH  MAW  MOO     MOW
BAH   BAW    BOO   BOW

 Feel the front of the tongue arching upwards.

EAR       AIR
LEAR     LAIR
TEAR     TAIR
DEAR     DAIR
NEAR     NAIR

In the workshop, we didn't do all the exercises above but i choose a few and with variations. Here, you will see a more detailed explanation. All of it is in Cecile Berry book,

Concluding the workshop
We concluded this workshop by singing the song "hum honge kamyab" and starting with a low volume and then making it go high but without putting much effort on our throat. I am not sure if everyone could do because this has to be in your subconscious mind. All of us have been ingrained with lots of habits since our childhood and one of which is pushing voice from the throat. To change this, you need to put efforts consciously everyday so that it becomes part of our subconscious.

My two cents
1) For those who couldn't attend, i understand reading this blog may not make you understand all the exercises. I am willing to conduct another session next month if i have people interested. I am ok to do this with even 1 person if he/she is interested.

2)  "Apna Hath Jagannath" Chapter 6 of this book is key. Every exercise starts from that, so don't miss this chapter.

3) Without a daily disciplined practice, don't expect any changes. If you practice some exercises for only 15 mins daily and for a month or two, you will start seeing some nice improvements.

4) Here are some exercises you can definitely do at home:
    a) The hiss sound while lying down
    b) Stand and keep your hands on diaphragm to observe its movement
    c) Release your soft palate, push adam's apple down without tensing it.
    d) Read newspaper everyday this way

That's all. Thanks for reading. I am open for any feedback or comments you have. Please direct to me in email or a personal message on my phone.

Thanks. Wish you good luck.

February 6, 2017

A Small Beginning in Kerala!


(Received Winter 2015, from Shanawas Gaffar)

Dear TISA
 
Warm greetings…
 
I would like to introduce myself as a 33 years old PWS from Kerala presently working at Qatar as a travel agent.
 
I had been struggling with my speaking difficulties throughout my child-teen hood and adolescence as well. Rather than repetitions or bobulating, my problem was the huge blocks coming from nowhere. I was very much haunted with the emotional and environmental consequences of my speech as all the PWSs who live in our society where vocal communication is essential to connect with our social surroundings. Stuttering affected my education, my relations with others and it could almost demolish my career dreams where I fortunately found my rhythm later.
 
I also had gone through all the pitfalls and turmoil one PWS would meet on his/her ways of life. For me, stuttering wasn’t a big concern until I left India to middle east for a better living. My first migration was to Saudi Arabia there I was completely out of my comfort zones. New languages and new speaking situations made my speech worst and it became the main hindrance to get a Job. Attending interviews were bitter experiences as it is for all the PWSs.
 
When I left my Job in KSA after 2.5 years and came back to India, had attained a better level of fluency because of my struggles and striving as a counter staff in the busiest travel agency located in the busiest street in Riyadh Batha. Having multi lingual communication skill was the main part of game. Successfully passing through this phase of challenges, I  learnt some techniques to cope with my stammering.
 
After two years of break, I came back to GCC again. This time it was Qatar. New environment brought new challenges.  To get a Job was my first concern and I attended many interviews and performed almost well. The only difficulty was the tele-phone conversations where I became more anxious and conscious so the speech became more effortful . Anyway, Within a month itself I got many opportunities and chose a Job of my dream in a well reputed travel company. The new working environment was friendlier and my boss was very kind and generous it made the things easier.
 
Its almost 3 years I have been working in this company. During this time, I had had gone many situations where my speech really became a matter. All I could do was surfing internet for a permanent solution. Me too was looking for a magic cure. I was always keen on reading from my childhood. Here, stuttering became my only subject. I was fully indulged surfing the scholarly articles on stuttering and psychology as well. It lead me to some insights seemed helpful to change my prospect towards myself and the world.

My constant explorations nurtured my spiritual quest what I had lost somewhere in the past. When I was a teenager I was active in a Kerate Dojo and my teacher was a Hindu saint who was fully dedicated on martial arts and Zen way of living. By his studentship, I was blessed with the enthusiasm on Hindu-Buddhist spirituality and traditions. His teachings were enough powerful to touch the students hearts. He inspired us with his wisdom. It was a wonderful time where I turned towards myself.
 
From the martial arts classes, I realized the power of mindfulness and its positive impacts on one’s own spiritual well-being. The practice of observing our own thoughts and physical sensations and how it guides a person to the art of self-mastery. I gradually became aware of the subtle ways of my own mind and its functions those were sustaining my stuttering mentality. I found my holding back behaviors and my unassertive nature. I found the extreme perfectionist within me who was more keen on others impressions and constantly judging my speech and detained me from my being myself . Who kept me unhappy with my own voice and personality and destroyed my self-esteem. My chattering mind and its thinking patterns were of a reckless critic who was reluctant to allow myself to accept the facts. 

I was always pretending as if I am a fluent person and was trying to hide my stuttering persona. And I found the resistance I was creating and how it works against the flow of my true self. I got some glimpse on my spontaneous self and stuttering self. I found, how my wrong perceptions and beliefs on communication affected my connectivity with the world. I found my wrong world view what ruined my social existence. I found my wrong intentions those made my speech as the performances. My speech was mostly on ‘how’ than 'what' to say.
 
My searching, taken me to TISA website. I remembered you who messaged me on ‘Orkut’ before years to invite me to the first national conference of TISA. I wondered how similar our findings are and felt very happy to see someone who has a clear vision on how to help the stuttering community in India. I have read many of TISA articles and can agree with the way it is leading this movement. TISA is the voice of many voiceless.
 
I also want to activate a Kerala chapter where I personally know many persons who stutters. 

'Shah' 
00974 77216459

February 5, 2017

Ahmedabad SHG Meeting Report of 05th Feb 2017



Today meeting was held indoor at Mr Shailesh shop. We were five members Mrs Shilpa, Mr Anil, Mr Shailesh, Mr Ketul and me (Mr Vivek). Today we held a debate in which we were divided into the sections of favour and unfavour. All of five members shared their views and expressed their thoughts very well. It is well said by Karl Popper "I may be wrong and you may be right and, by an effort, we may get nearer the truth."





At the end we all decided to use more and more techniques and do some outdoor activity in the next SHG meeting. Mr Anil hosted today SHG meeting in a proper manner and we all are thankful to Mr Shailesh for the space provided for the successful meeting.

Regards


February 1, 2017

Exploring the voice - workshop on 5th and 6th Feb

Voice is essential for communication. It is through the voice that you convey your feelings, thoughts. Unless the voice is used in a way that it conveys the true sense of what we want to say, it can be easily misunderstood. Most of us are not aware what apparatus we have in our body and how to use it to get the voice out. Most of us tense our larynx making the voice shrill and not reaching the listener. Through this workshop i will share some learning on how to give the voice - its wholeness. The exercises which we will deal with, if performed daily, can benefit a lot in public speaking and also give you a better confidence.
Having said that, in this session i wont touch stammering blocks. But if exercises are followed regularly, you can definitely observe some gradual improvement in your style of speaking thereby reducing the fear of stammering which is quite essential for us.

It will happen over the coming weekend. I have divided the two days in a way that on Saturday, i will mostly cover voice modulation and Sunday will be the main day on understanding voice.
Please find the agenda below:

Saturday 5th Feb (9 AM - 12 PM), @small hut, Cubbon park:1) Acting exercises
3) Voice modulation & Presentation skills

Sunday 6th Feb(10 AM - 2 PM(max)) @small hut, Cubbon park:
1) Understanding voice and body as the apparatus
2) Exercises:
   Macro - ribs, back widening
   Micro - lips, tongue
3) Using soft palate, pushing adam's apple down
4) Lying on the floor exercise
5) Drop down and other similar exercises
6) Understanding Resonance and resonators in our body.
I will forward some texts, poems in whatsapp or some other medium and we will use in our  exercise.
I would like if possible for all of you to attend both the days. Saturday is focused on actors but its also about presentation skills - "how to make one listen to what you are saying".
On Sunday, please come in comfortable dressing, water bottle, and eat well before coming. Get a mat if you don't like lying on the grass.
Don't hesitate to ask questions if you have a doubt.
Regards,
Animesh

January 29, 2017

Acting sessions - Bengaluru SHG - 29/01/2017

(We couldnt meet on 28th because of my personal engagement somewhere else)
Attendees:
Mansi
Rajukmar
Pramod
Nishil
Animesh

1) The session started at 8:30. Initially only three of us were there and soon we were joined by the other two. The first four routine exercises:
  • Warm-up: Warming up your body by doing short and small exercises.
  • Voice exercises: As Nishil was new to this exercise, i reiterated about importance of breathing from diaphragm. To start with i added the "kapal bhaati" from Baba Ramdev's yoga exercise. But there was a difference. While pushing the breath out, i decided on adding "ha" sound. All of us tried it. Other than that, "hhhhaaaaa", "hhhheee".. was tried out too.
  • Meditation: We sat down for a few minutes, listening to the chant "OM" played from Mansi's phone.
  • Played a game, "Frog in the pond". Again, a focus game and you can search on internet more about it. It was fun.
2)  First thing we did was to continue the "Yayati" exercise. Some of us didn't do it last time. It started with Rajkumar. Rajkumar, in a senile appearance, added the circumstance of a situation where he is talking to his wife and complaining about the curse of Shukracharya. It was done well but had to be tuned at several place. We tried various ways to get that senile age be portrayed correctly. The same circumstance was also chosen by Nishil. i again added some fine tuning to it. Mansi was next and she had to play Sharmistha. She chose a spot where she is filling the bucket from the well and complaining about her life to her friends. Again there we did some refinements to live that scene truthfully, used gibberish so that lines don't interfere with the performance. After this i brought the exercise to a halt.

3) One of the very important attributes of an actor is using his/her whole body to convey the lines. In the team that we have here, i can see some of us are not opening up so well. It has to come eventually but we need to try it often if we want to become actors. One of the exercise that all of tried was to do something close to "war cry". We chose a spot and placed an imaginary enemy(external or internal) who we need to kill by shouting. All of us tried together, it came out well but still we have some inhibitions that need to be managed. I would continue this one again in some other class just for everyone to be free and not bound by imaginary chains.

4) We started off with "Repetition with concentration" exercise.
  • As a first i started with Rajukmar fine-tuning his Guitar. The circumstance he chose was that he has to give a performance in office within 2 hours. and he is not prepared yet. So he starts off with fine-tuning the guitar. While he is 100% involved, i start to talk to him which he would "listen" and repeat. This starts on. It goes for a few to and fro repetitions but then i had to stop as i could see Rajkumar was not 100% involved. For this exercise to be successful, the person needs to be involved 100%.
  • We moved on to Nishil, to who i gave a kannada book to translate. This made him involve completely 100%. As usual process is, Nishil gave us a situation on why is he doing this and what is the circumstance. I loved the circumstance that he gave because he imagined something which was completely unique. For an actor imagination is the key. With the imagination, Actor gets a lot of inputs on how a scene can be played. Anyway, after that i started this exercise by giving an opinion. I think it went on well and i was happy to see some output of it.
  • Next i moved on to Pramod, who got busy with building a house with lego blocks. Similar to everyone he too had a nice circumstance and purpose chosen. He too had the same task, to listen and respond instinctively, not to bring intellect. I think this too was done well.
  • Next was Mansi, who repeated the task what Pramod was doing. Again we had a circumstance and purpose chosen. I asked Rajkumar to start the exercise. It went on well and then we stopped.
        We continued with almost all sorts of permutation and combination. What i felt was i could see a gradual improvement and interest in doing this exercise. Some of the members liked the exercise. The whole gist of this exercise is to live truthfully. By involved in something 100% and then someone coming and speaking to you, makes your reactions look very truthful. I admit though we have still not achieved that wholly, but soon we will be after re-doing this exercise.

5) The last exercise that we did was about levels and status. Every actor in a play are in a different level. Level 1 meaning extremely submissive and level 10 meaning extremely commanding.
  • We took the famous practical of "Interviewer" and "Interviewee". One of the guys became an interviewer and one became interviewee. I started this one by choosing a specific circumstance and purpose. Then we decided on the level. 
  • All of us took rounds one by one and completed this exercise.
 6) To end the day, we just did an interesting observation exercise which was to portray a dog. All of became dogs, on four legs, and started behaving the like a dog. Mansi, Pramod and Rajkumar figured out their territory and other two dogs(nishil and i) entered into their territory. We did some behavioral imitations. The exercise was good and we will do it again some day.

Finally, for next weeks here is what we have planned:
1) 4th and 5th Feb Voice exercises - Saturday and sunday
2) 11th and 12th Feb - redo some exercises and perform a short piece which i will pick out.

January 27, 2017

On Republic Day in Surat!

Surat SHG met on the Indian Republic Day (26th January 2017) in
the premises of Centre for Social Studies. The meeting was attended by Akash, Akshay, Kalpesh, Shubham and Chetan. Some of them were meeting for the first time so there was a round of introduction and free talk about stammering, therapies, difficult situation, managing negative emotions, medical information on stammering etc. The discussion went for more than two hours and it was de
cided to meet again, this time with some topic on which each SHG member will give a speech! 

(ED: Congrats, Surat Group! Keep meeting! and sharing)



January 24, 2017

Bangalore SHG January 22, 2017 meeting report



“Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.”

Sometimes what keeps us from getting what we want in life is our reluctance to change our routines and habits. We want to minimize the stress and risk that breaking the routine may cause. However, we may know in our heart that the job we are doing now is not right for us. We endure them because we fear what is next, or we are stuck in a neurotic pattern based on our experiences. At the same time, we are also brave enough to break out of these patterns and create positive change.

January 23, 2017

Ahmedabad SHG Meeting Report of 22/01/2017 (08 am to 10 am)


Topic : CHILDHOOD MEMORIES


भुलाये नहीं भूलते वो बचपन के दिन,

बागों में झूले झुलाने के वो प्यारे से दिन,

सुहाने सपने वो लड़कपन के, बचपन के,

जब जी चाहता था उड़ने का आसमान में,

और कभी चाहत थी के, ले तारो को गिन,

भुलाये नहीं भूलते वो बचपन के दिन,

बारिशों के मौसम में कीचड से खेलना,

या कभी नाव चलाना कागज की गली में,

कितने सुहाने थे वो बचपन के दिन!!!


Today meeting was held indoor at Mr Shailesh shop. We seven members attended meeting Mr Vipul, Mr Shailesh, Mr Smit, Mr Anil, Mr Roshan, Mr Harshil and including me (Mr Vivek) We all are thankful to Mr Shailesh for the space provided with the help of which today meeting took place.

Firstly we all gave introduction to each other and came to know little bit of each other .

Then we shared ours childhood memories and dreams,what we wanted to become in life and what we have achieved till now. All the seven members heard each other and came to know how we have struggled from the obstacles and overcome them in life and achieved the goal. For the shorter period of time we became child again and enjoyed the childhood memories.


We all are thankful to co-ordinator Mr Vipul who organised the meeting. It was my first SHG meeting in Ahmedabad and I am very thankful to all the members who participated in today SHG meeting.

Regards,
Vivek Puri.

January 22, 2017

Acting sessions - Bengaluru SHG - 22/01/2017

Attendees:
Mansi
Bharat
Pramod

Rajkumar
Tarunidhar
Animesh

1) The session started 8:15 AM and with the first three activities that will be our routine exercises for all the next sessions:
  1. Warm-up: Warming up your body by doing short and small exercises. The reason being opening up the body points and joints that are generally constricted because of our lifestyle. Taruni(a yoga preacher) also supported and help me get through all the needed exercises. For an actor body is very important and unless body is fully warmed-up or fully active, the acting won't come by so well.
  2. Voice exercises: We explored today about breathing from diaphragm(area below the chest), breathing in and out. All of us tried it out, for some it was new and some already knew it. So as an exercise we started to get the hhhh sound when breathing out. And, along with hhh sound we started getting the vowels out. So it would be like "hhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaa", "hhhheeeeeeeee"....so on and forth.
  3. Played a game, zip, zap, zopp. Focus game and you can search on internet more about it. It was fun and i was the first person to lose focus and so was out of the game :) but otherwise we all had a good time. The game will change from one session to another.

2) We started out with the first assignment that was given yesterday. All of them were told to come prepared with
  1. reading of the short story "Yayati"
  2. Remember one of the lines from the play. Yayati(by all boys) and Sharmistha(by Manasi)
  3. Recite those lines but with adding a purpose and imaginary circumstance
For everyone's benefit, we again went through the story of Yayati as given here:
https://www.shortstories.co.in/yayati/
Also, not everyone was clear what was the assignment, so reiterated and everyone took 5 minutes to remember the lines and come up with imaginary circumstance and adding a purpose. There was a feedback on those who tried, for some it was postponed to next week as they needed time to think. Overall i believe it was a good exercise and if done properly helps great in understanding texts of a play. It will be done again the next week by those who couldnt try.
Pramod remembering the lines of Yayati
Tarunidhar immersed in Yayati

Rajkumar remembering the lines of Yayati
Bharat trying to remember the lines
Mansi engrossed in Shamristha
3) Then we started with the "repetition" exercise. Repetition is an exercise that works on your impulses. For an actor, impulses are the key. The better you react, the more truthful your act looks like. The exercise was quite simple, repeat what the other person says. I did this exercise with everyone. Everytime i gave an opinion about the person and the person had to repeat exactly the same but make it true. For eg. when i did with Tarun:
I said " I like your T-Shirt"
Tarun repeated: "You like my T-Shirt?"
So it went on until the pile-up and then it could be any other line and repetition must continue. We all tried with each other.

4) Before leaving, we tried finding expressions through gibberish. It was tried by everyone and each one had to display an emotion by talking gibberish. Gibberish helps us to focus on emotion rather than lines. It was done well but lot of us need to open up still. Some of us are still shy and haven't really come out of our own mental cage. It will take time but will happen some day.

Next week when we meet there will be three assignments everyone need to come prepared with:
1) Observation: Choose anyone who you know and imitiate that person's behavior, their walk, their talk, any habit of theirs. I would be asking some questions on that person/animal and it will help you improve internalization and externalization of any character.
2) King Yayati's lines - come prepared with purpose and imaginary circumstances for those who couldn't try today.
3) Repetition will be added with concentration - for this we discussed on the things we do that make us get engrossed. For some its watching movies etc.. However we decided on trying out several things. I will also check what all someone can get and then we redo this repetition exercise but adding something interesting to it. I haven't tried myself before, so will be interesting to try and observe.

Regards,
Animesh