I am an American living in India and residing in an ashram since 2002. The place where I live is an inter-religious community composed of spiritual aspirants from around the world who come to do their sadhana in the presence of the great enlightened sage Chandra Swami Udasin. I am a brahmachari and have chosen to live a life devoted to meditation, prayer, service and other spiritual practices in order to progress towards the direct realization of the Divine.
Dr. Srivastava and I became friends about 3-4 years ago during one of his visits to the ashram for satsang. Chandra Swamiji introduced us indirectly by giving me a copy of Sachin’s little booklet on stammering which Sachin had recently presented to Swamiji after also dedicating to him.
I have had a stutter for as long as I can remember and in fact have no childhood memories without it. The severity of my speech impediment has fluctuated over the course of my life, as it does for most stutters I have learned. Fortunately I have always had plenty of understanding and patient friends who stood by me regardless of my impediment but also have nearly always had quite a lot of anxiety as the backdrop of my life experiences due to interactions where I failed to be understood properly or because of the subtle rejection from others I experienced when stuttering and the accompanying pain that this caused.
My friendship with Sachin has been a great blessing and I do not doubt that it is and has been a form of divine intervention to help me heal the ‘old wounds.’ He has freely shared so many resources with me and has been a stable and enthusiastic support in rediscovering my voice.
So early one morning at Sachin’s invitation we headed for the mountains, just the two of us, with a few litres of water and a couple boxes of sweets and namkeens for nourishment. Our destination: the Badraraj Temple not too far from Mussorie. What a hike! The views from the very beginning were spectacular. Winding stone paths, steep ascents, pine trees, cool breezes and sprinkling raindrops now and again. We made our way to the isolated temple at a very peaceful pace. Once arriving we enjoyed even more majestic views of the surrounding valley and rivers and took a little time to meditate before heading back down the other side of the mountain.
It was my first hike in India and was a real treat to finally get the opportunity to wander along the mountain trails instead of just admiring their beauty from a distance within the ashram confines. During the hike I attempted to be more aware of my speech habits, the one’s that I knew needed to be investigated more closely.
One of the things I became more aware from Sachin’s assistance was that I still often avoided eye contact when I blocked. Over the last few years I had made improvement with this old habit and had seen that it only reinforced negative feelings about myself and was a form of fear of other’s reactions as well as non-acceptance of myself. So, I have been learning to try to be more courageous. To remain concentrated on my listener’s eyes during my stuttering and to also not to anticipate being rejected and project that on myself, from them, and also to have more compassion for my listeners. All in all it was a very enjoyable day and I would highly recommend it to all who get the chance.