5. Watching your thoughts

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 (The inner game)

As we mentioned earlier in the discussion on breathing and pausing –
communication like all other activities has two components- the
external act of talking & listening- and the inner consciousness
of it. Most of the problems begin at the level of inner consciousness
and only then manifest in the external world. Unless we dont learn to
deal with this inner game efficiently, becoming good communicator
will be difficult.

We all have noticed that before we actually
stammer, there is a sudden thought (“what will it be like if I
stammered NOW?”), a sudden fear and a sudden obsession not to
stammer at that point at any cost; A determination to resist and
struggle against the coming moment of difficulty; Yes, it is a game,
to be played and won at the level of inner awareness. Like any other
game, you master it by constant practice.

Let us first understand a few basic facts about our brain. First, it
does not hear (-fails to register-) negative commands and finds it
difficult to obey them. If you say to your mind: you must not
stammer in this interview
, chances are your mind hears: you
must stammer in this interview!
(“Not” is simply dropped,
ignored). This is why most therapies which directly or indirectly ask
you not to stammer in pursuit of fluency, fail sooner or later. You
suffer a relapse within weeks or months.

On the other hand, it is easier to get the brain to focus on a
positive idea: In the above example, if you said to yourself couple
of times- I must look in to the eyes of the interviewer and smile,
Chances are high that you might
actually do so and improve your over all communication. But
being “positive” does not mean saying: “Who, me? No, I dont
stammer. It is nothing. It is no issue at all- not for me.”
gap between being positive and running away from the problem through
fear is rather fine. Living in denial and hoping that the interview
will go fine is not being Positive. It is being unrealistic and

But practicing a positive affirmation in such a situation may not be
easy at times if we have made a habit of approaching interviews with
a long face and a thumping heart, as if we were going to face the
death squad! This brings us to the second important fact about brain:
Good habits are made the same way as the bad habits: through
repetition over a period of time.

The third important fact in this connection is: you can change only
what you are aware of. So developing awareness in the act of talking,
listening, relating to upcoming presentation etc. is critical for
success. But this can not be an isolated exercise once in a while.
You will succeed only if there is a round the clock awareness at
maintenance level through out the day much before the interview in
question. In other words, being more conscious of our thoughts and
actions, should actually work like an anti-virus scanner, resident in
the computer memory and ALWAYS active in the background.

This brings in the need of reviewing our life style and bringing
daily practice of some form of calmness and awareness in our life –
meditation, prayer, breathing exercises (Brahmavidya, Vipassana
etc.). If you have studied round the year, a crash review of a day or
two might be enough to prepare you for exams. But if you have not
studied at all, what chances a one day crash course has, to help you
score 90% in the exam? So, some kind of background “awareness”,
running at maintenance level round the clock, is very much needed to
help you during the crisis.

Such a life style will help you summon heightened level of awareness
during a formal presentation in class, to help you relax, smile, take
a deep breath, maintain eye contact, start gently, pause frequently
and use all those techniques which have helped you in a clinic or in
your self help group. If you dont chat in English in your day to day
life, can you suddenly start talking in English during a high
pressure interview? So, are you willing to review and modify your
lifestyle? Here are some small adjustments which have worked for

  1. Go to bed early and read some inspiring book to sleep. Ensure that
    you get 7-8 hours sleep per day. Early morning hours are best time
    to meditate or to write your personal journal.

  2. Begin and end the day with 40-50 minutes (or more) of deep
    meditation or any activity which internalizes your attention,
    develops intense awareness and helps you to relax deeply. Even being
    totally quiet will be good. Put everything-TV, computer, music etc.-
    off for these 40-50 minutes.

  3. Once a week or ten days take a complete day off for the above
    purpose- silence, meditation, Vipassana, prayer etc.

  4. These activities become easy if you do it with a group. Find such a
    group and formally join it. Or start one.

  5. Your friends and family can help your efforts, if you tell them what
    you are trying to do and why, in advance.

  6. Keep a journal- write down your experiences with stammering and your
    reactions and thoughts. It can be private or it can be in the form
    of a public blog. Once in a while read the old entries. It will help
    you realize the progress you have made.

  7. Once in a while challenge yourself by taking up the activity which
    you fear most.

  8. Develop a long term relationship with a life-coach. Share your
    thoughts and listen to his interpretations seriously. A good coach
    will act as a mirror, provide feedback and challenge you, when
    needed. Our thoughts are so close to us that we can not see them.
    This is why we need help from a friend, or a coach or a counselor.
    Talking to them, helps us to understand our fears and deal with

  9. If you consistently practice these (especially meditation), a time
    might come when you may experience separation of Awareness
    and Thinking. You will be able to see your reactions to your
    stammering as something separate from YOU. From this point onwards,
    you can truly start healing yourself. One of the signs of this stage
    is: you will be much less over powered by moods, criticism, sadness,
    anger, disappointment etc. Your recovery from such negative emotions
    will be much faster. Read more on this theme:

A few words about why many people who start on this path, dont

  1. PWS start with the idea that by practicing Vipassana etc. they will
    become fluent like Mr XYZ. It is like learning Java only to be able
    to play Solitaire on your computer! Your idea should be to learn to
    deal with your mind, rather than becoming fluent etc.

  2. Many people dont thoroughly plan the required changes in life style.
    They dont turn family and friends into ally. OR they attempt too
    many changes suddenly.

  3. Few people are ready for the long haul. They stop after a few weeks
    on some pretext or the other. Dealing with mind is a long term
    effort than letting status quo persist.

  4. The structured experience over a long time needs a supportive
    atmosphere: few people have it or try to set it up consciously.
    Those who are part of a meditation / faith network fare better in
    the long run.

In our
experience, Vipassana (or consistent practice of any meditation
practice) can help you develop Awareness. In other cultural
traditions, going in long silence, spiritual retreats or solitude can
serve the same purpose. When there is nothing to distract the mind-
no external stimuli – it collapses on itself, turns inward
automatically and we develop inner awareness over a period of time.
(More diuscussion:

summarize, communication is a “sport” and like every sport, it
has two components – the external and internal. Unless we dont get
the hang of the inner workings of this sport, we cant hope to excel
at it. To understand how a thought forms within, is shaped up by our
beliefs and fears, converted into nerve impulses and finally
converted into audible sound- we need to turn our attention with in.
We need to become more AWARE of our thoughts. For this, we need to be
silent, our bodies still and our attention turned with in. A
supportive atmosphere and life style can be a great help.

Comments are closed.

  1. admin 8 years ago

    Took a long time to finish but give a nice knowledge about inner conscious thoughts. Thanks for sharing sir!

  2. Sachin 8 years ago

    Thanks a lot Umesh! Yes, it takes time, but in the process my own thoughts get clarified, refreshed.. In any case, I enjoy writing as a creative expression..

  3. Ajit chaurasia 8 years ago

    thanks a lot sir for giving valuable information….
    its helps me a lot in my coming soon interviews……:)

  4. Sachin 8 years ago

    Dear Ajit- Okay you enjoyed reading it. Now try out some of the activities described and then get back and share your experience with us..


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