My name is Raj. I am a priest. I have stuttered since the age of about 6. I live in Idaho, but I grew up in Mumbai, India, stuttering had been a big factor due to which I held back myself from all activities in my life. In school I was a very good student academically but I held myself back from all activities that needed speaking and that needed communication with other people – my friends, school teachers and so on. Socially I was very awkward with very few social skills.
While in college and engineering my speech did get better because I let myself go. But still under pressure situations I would stutter and when under intense pressure like giving a presentation barely any words would come out.
Later on I became a priest, a monk, inspired by the teachings of Bhagavad Gita and a spiritual way of life. But my issues with speech remained and were significantly affecting my ability to preach to the congregation and carry out my responsibilities.
I tried many therapies. These offered some varying degrees of relief, but all were temporary. And some therapies made us speak so unnaturally that making it work in real life situations was almost impossible. About four years ago I did a speech therapy with a speech therapist whose approach was quite unconventional, at least compared to most of the mainstream speech language pathologists. This provided me some benefit. The focus was on speaking naturally, without thinking of any words which is what people who stutter do. She said that speech is automatic and any therapy that teaches one to teach unnaturally is not the correct approach. But I did not get much by way of practical guidance, a model of how to speak naturally or spontaneously, which I later found in Lee’s methods. So therefore again I was not able to implement it much in everyday situations.
Lee talks about this in his book, “How to Stop Stuttering & Love Speaking” – he says the question is how can the person who stutters speak spontaneously, without thinking? This is what natural fluent speech is all about. That is what so unique and helpful about coach Lee and the Lee Lovett Method. The 1-2-3 punch that he advocates for getting rid of stuttering and speaking in our natural voice and speech is unique and very effective if we follow it systematically and consistently.
As my coach Javier suggested I began systematically reading aloud for at least an hour a day and doing autosuggestions. I found that reading aloud for an hour or more helped continuously increase fluent memories and reduce the stutter memories. I have been able to speak in many situations where earlier I would not have been.
This is another very important contribution of Lee, in fact it is the main premise of the approach – that we need to flood our mind with positive speaking memories and reduce the stutter memories – gradually to zero. In fact we need to overwhelm our negative stutter memories with positive stutter memories in order to overcome stuttering. This is quite revolutionary in the field of stuttering treatment and is a game changer. I can say from my personal experience this is absolutely true – a bad stuttering incident creates quite a disturbance in the mind and sends us backward on the path to reach normal speech. Therefore we hear fluency to the maximum in our stutter free zones and at the same time gradually reduce stuttering incidents to as close to zero through the use of a systematic speech plan and crutches.
Personally I found that speaking in short increments and using crutches like tightly linking words, modulation and extreme pronunciation, and on occasions using a sing-song approach, has helped my speech become very smooth. Doing the autosuggestions regularly helped me change my inner negative self talk and the negative beliefs I have held throughout my life — that I was not capable of speaking in certain situations, I was incapable of doing certain things and so on. This is a crucial part of the healing process. In fact healing stuttering involves healing the whole person – not just the speech. And that is what the Lee Lovett Method does – it is based on neuroplasticity and mind training and changing not only the physical habit of stuttered speech but also changing our negative beliefs and emotions about our speech and ourselves.
I now look forward to gradually expanding my comfort zones while speaking and gradually teach myself to love speaking and then to apply my daily mind training treatments to my non-speech issues as well. When I do that I will have converted stuttering into a blessing in my life. I wish that all the world’s stutterers would embrace these methods. They simply work.
Raj, Idaho, July 2022