Nia with SwishNia Story: Dyslexia & Relaxed Support
By Diane S. Goodbar, Charlottesville, VA
December 2010

I began taking Nia in March of 2010 after having been encouraged for years by Kate Aust (Nia Brown Belt Instructor). I have severe right left dyslexia that actually extends to both directional and verbal confusion. I mix up opposites a lot…for instance I will say tomorrow when I mean yesterday, “in front of” when I mean “behind”, etc. Needless to say this can make for some challenging conversations.

Looking back I can see my dyslexia manifested in my infancy. I never crawled –just finally walked at 18 months. I first became aware of a difference in me in kindergarten when we learned the pledge of allegiance and I couldn’t figure out which hand was my right one. When we had lessons on telling time I realized I could not read a clock. All of this was very disconcerting since I knew I was smart and could learn all kinds of other things. I didn’t tell anyone because I was ashamed of not being able to do certain things that my classmates could.

Thankfully my father unknowingly gave me the gift of being able to read with dyslexia, even though he had no idea that I was dyslexic. When I was about 5 he noticed I was moving my lips while trying to read. He told me that if I did that I could only read as fast as I talked and that I should just “see the word and know it” without pronouncing it in my head. In the innocence of kids, that made sense to me. Then I asked him, “What do I do when the words are all jumbled?” Very casually he just said, “Oh, just quickly unscramble them like a game.” Thanks to him, I was able to do just that and could speed read 1800 words a minute by 2nd grade and still do that today. I read about a book a day and never have a problem. If there was ever a world championship for Word Jumbles I would win hands down, because scrambled words look normal to me and I’m a world-class unscrambler.

I didn’t realize I was dyslexic until I was 25 with a 4-year-old son. I happened to read an article about dyslexia and was blown away when I realized that’s what I was! I was also proud of the fact that I had learned so many “tricks” to function in the world. Even after I realized what I had, I didn’t tell my family for another 20 years. I guess “early onset shame” carries a lot of mental weight.

All of the above is to preface my beginning Nia with a fair amount of trepidation as to my ability to do it. [Susan was] so wonderful and accepting and gracious, though, that I stuck with it in spite of feeling pretty inept. I had to laugh, though, because one of the first steps in my first class was “right foot 12 o’clock. 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock which was totally Greek to me. Amazingly, I improved very quickly in my ability to follow directions in class and then realized after only about 1 month of Nia, once a week that I could read a clock for the first time in my life! There is so much “clock related stuff” in normal conversation, “clockwise, counter clockwise,” etc. and people use the face of a clock to orient and describe things. I was never able to understand any of if and now it makes sense. It still blows me away that Nia did that for me.

In the next 7 months of Nia I have definitely experienced an increase in relaxation, patience, and a general feeling of well-being all the time. I just don’t get stressed about anything and feel like I’m in a state of “restful alertness” most of the time.

It hit home to me how relaxed I am now when I had a car accident a month ago. I was rear-ended by an SUV traveling at 35 mph. I was stopped at a traffic light and glanced in my rear view mirror to see an SUV barreling towards me. In one of those split-second-slow-motion moments, I realized I couldn’t go to either side, that getting hit dead center in the back of the car was probably safest anyway, and remembered the previous day’s Nia class. [Susan] talked about how the strength of the body came from “behind” in the neck, shoulders, back, back of the legs, etc. and invited us to visualize a hand supporting us from behind. I pictured it like sitting in the hand of God or Mother Divine and being totally supported. As I “braced for impact” I just sat in my car totally relaxed, looking straight ahead, and feeling that hand supporting me. My car was hit really hard but I ended up with absolutely no injuries. In fact, I wasn’t even slightly sore and in less that 24 hours was back at the gym doing my normal workout. That was a “Nia miracle” to me that I still find hard to believe.

Do you have a Nia story? A story about how Nia has supported you either in or out of the studio? I’d love to hear it! Please email it to me at sjmnia@gmail.com or connect with me on the Focus Pocus blog!

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