The impact Dr. Wayne Dyer has had on me, so far…
My first encounter with Wayne Dyer was while recovering from a corneal transplant. I was listening to a lecture by Dr. Christiane Northrup and Dr. Dyer. The draw was Dr. Northrup, as I’m a “dire” fan. Wayne — whom I had heard good things about — was icing.
Impressed upon hearing him speak, I thought, “wow, he’s really, really good. I should read one of his books.” Then he alluded to his age, which I quickly calculated to be 72 or 73. I thought, “Oh crap, I need to see this guy speak before he dies or something.” Ironic? Nah, Wayne Dyer would just chuckle and say something about how there’s a divine plan behind everything.
The positive effects of the corneal transplant didn’t last very long. In a few short months, my vision declined, and I was starting to have difficulty getting around.
My doctor said that we may have run out of options, and this might be as good as it gets, and it could even get worse. Shocked, I didn’t tell a soul, and a week later, I headed to Maui to attend a weekend workshop with Wayne Dyer, which I had scheduled two months earlier.
While I was open to all he had to teach, I was distracted that first day by the weight of my new reality. While I had been legally blind for over 30 years, I always had enough vision to function “fairly normally.” I was groping in the dark as I tried to picture a future in which I was “more legally blind.”
Then, Dr. Dyer introduced Ram Dass and paused as an American man with a white beard, seated in a wheelchair, came up on stage. Dr. Dyer explained that Ram Dass was one of the first teachers to introduce the Western world to Eastern philosophy back in the 60s and 70s. In the late 90s he suffered from a stroke and now spoke very slowly. Dr. Dyer advised us to be patient and “listen to the spaces.”
I was moved by the silence and the riveted by the measured words of Ram Dass. That night, I listened to his past lectures and was mesmerized by the wisdom, humor and humanity of this brilliant man and compassionate soul. But I was baffled and saddened that a higher power took away from the very gift this talented orator had. His sudden disability would surely impact his “career,” and this hit the most tender of nerves connected to my own fears of my future. Yet, Ram Dass — despite a limited speaking ability — seemed completely at peace.
I had gone to Maui to see Wayne Dyer, but Dr. Dyer opened my eyes to facing a disability with grace, through the example of Ram Dass. Over the next few years, Ram Dass and his teachings — past and present — would play a critical role in my rocky road ahead.
After returning from Maui, life changed fundamentally and I decided to quit my demanding, full-time job. I worried this decision would result in an unexpected halt to a successful career as a communications professional. Unsure if and how I’d make a decent living, I figured that I could do what everyone was telling me to do, write a book. Incidentally, the Hay House publishing company was offering a Writer’s Workshop which caught my eye since Wayne Dyer was the keynote speaker. There was an option to attend via videocast, which suited me perfectly since I had reached a stage in which I barely left the house because my vision was so poor.
I attended, and as expected, Dr. Dyer was fantastic, funny and full of quotes and anecdotes. But the surprise was Reid Tracy, publisher of Hay House. I gathered up his pearls of practical wisdom about publishing and realized that the community and business Louise Hay and Reid had built was one that I wanted to join if I ever did write a book.
The book was never written, because all my energy in the next 18 months was focused on adjusting to a whole new way of living, working, getting around and socializing. Everything changed for the worse, but my perspective and priorities changed for the better. In the words of Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Maui called again and Wayne Dyer was on the line. I registered for his weekend workshop and created much anxiety for family members and friends. They worried about whether I was ready to go it alone and be an ocean away from the people who knew me and had been taking extra special care of me during this recent and challenging chapter. Many even offered to accompany me. I reassured them that I wasn’t alone; I had my new companion, my white cane. I didn’t know why, but it was imperative that I attended this workshop. I also didn’t know that it would be Dr. Dyer’s last January workshop.
The workshop itself was predictably enjoyable, kind of a spiritual refresher, reinforcing much of what I already knew. After more than a year and a half of feeling like I’d never be quite independent again, I had traveled across the vast Pacific and was “vacationing” by myself; nobody to catch me if I fall, but the entire world — and the many angels who walk it — to help me if I needed them. I was surrounded by love and filled with gratitude. I could now see that I was going to be more than okay, not just on this trip, but in life. Dr. Dyer drew me to Maui to teach me that very powerful lesson.
I have only read one of Dr. Dyer’s books and there are other spiritual teachers who I follow more closely. But in the span of two short years Wayne Dyer impacted one of my life’s toughest turns in a profound and poetic way, with his home island of Maui serving as bookends for the dramatic transformation that unfolded within me.
A teacher isn’t just someone who shares knowledge. A teacher is also someone who is a catalyst for self-awareness, the ripple effect of which continues for a lifetime. Thank you Wayne Dyer, for being that kind of teacher.
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