Updated: Jan 19
Many people remember their childhood with fond, happy memories of laughing, sleepovers, time spent with friends or just hanging out. Not so Daniel. Growing up, Daniel was anxious and isolated, feeling “less-than” and thinking he didn’t measure up to his peers or his family, particularly in school.
And it wasn’t because he didn’t make the effort.
One of his most memorable school experiences was when he spent hours studying for a spelling test. It wasn’t easy for him, but he tried as hard as he could to prepare. After reviewing the words over and over, he was confident that he had memorized the spelling of all the words correctly and that he was going to ace the test. He was excited as he imagined finally proving to his family that he wasn’t stupid, that he was smart as the rest of them. The next day he walked into the exam feeling self-assured and calm. “I got this,” he said. He went through the spelling test in record speed. A feeling of accomplishment spread throughout his body. He was convinced that this time he’d done it. He would get a 100% on his test! He was certain that if he scored high on this test, he could begin doing better in all his classes. He had such a sense of relief.
A couple of days later, the teacher handed out the tests saying, “Overall, you all did a good job.” Daniel was very excited knowing that he would now be recognized as one of the good students. The teacher handed the test sheet to Daniel, and he eagerly took it, looking forward to seeing a paper free of red marks. He couldn’t believe what he saw; every word was circled in red. He was devastated and tears sprang to his eyes. He had been so certain that everything he’d done was correct. What had happened?
Daniel is dyslexic.
Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects about one in ten people. Those with dyslexia have difficulties with reading, spelling, and in some cases mathematics, not because they are not intelligent, but because of a neurological glitch that causes their brain to mix up letters or numbers and results in poor reading, word decoding and spelling.
Being dyslexic is what caused Daniel extreme frustration and pain during his childhood. To make matters worse, he was the only one in his highly intellectual family with this difficulty, making it even more upsetting to him. He wanted to fit in with his school friends and his
family and not be ridiculed for his inability to get good grades. He hated being thought of as “not very bright.”
For years, he worked very hard to overcome dyslexia. He tried every approach and method available to improve his spelling skills. He spent a lot of time studying to try to achieve better results, but most of them ended in painful experiences and failure that stuck in his mind.
It wasn’t until many years later, after Daniel managed to transform his thinking that he started to understand the underlying reasons for his struggles in school and his failed grade on that spelling test so many years ago.
Daniel’s life began to change after he met a Taoist monk. Among many topics they discussed, Daniel shared his struggles in school and the pain of being labeled as stupid. The monk mentioned an approach that Daniel had never heard about in his search for a cure for his dyslexia. He was skeptical at first, but then he asked himself, what do I have to lose? Things would not change if he didn’t try. His desire to overcome dyslexia was immense; and he didn’t want to spend another day in pain and frustration.
Little did Daniel know that in the process of overcoming his dyslexia, he would have the opportunity to discover something completely unknown to many, the fundamental aspects of the thinking process. Daniel left his home and family to work with the monk, not knowing
where this would take him. His destination turned out to be a temple where the Taoist monks introduced him to the art of studying and practicing stringent forms of introspection and Tai Chi. It was a tough program involving many hours of training every day, but he persisted. Adding to the difficulty of the training, communication was almost non-existent, since his teachers spoke Korean and Daniel had to figure out not only the language but the reasons for most of the things they had him do.
Throughout the many years of his training, a fascinating new world opened up, fueling his motivation and desire to master the exercises. He learned that it was possible to access various levels of his mind that had previously been hidden to him and gained an understanding of what was causing his dyslexia. The training also revealed how to get in touch with fundamental aspects of his mental processes. His thinking, perception and experience fundamentally changed.
About the Author
Dr. Martina Wagner is the cofounder of ArtesHumanis – a boutique executive development firm that helps individuals and companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100 companies—succeed by enhancing performance and improving effectiveness of their leaders and teams.
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