My relationship with Dr. Wayne Dyer began on June 4, 2011. My wife introduced me to some of his interviews and, for my birthday, I bought his book, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.
The Tao Te Ching (Tao for short) is a spiritual text of 81 verses that is attributed to Lao Tzu, a philosopher of ancient China. Dr. Dyer introduces one verse of at a time, reflecting on its meaning with a short essay about applying Lao Tzu’s wisdom in our modern world.
I read one verse and essay each day for eighty-one days. I was both inspired and confused… but I was hooked. Feeling like I needed to learn more, I immediately started over.
The second time through, I read the same verse every day for a week. This practice helped me learn deeper and reflect on how I could apply its wisdom to my life.
More than four years later, I am on my fourth pass through the book and on verse 50 this week.
Reading and reflecting on the wisdom of Lao Tzu and Wayne Dyer has created a profound shift within me.
Look within. I have become more aware of the inner-spirit that dwells within me. I quiet my mind and listen to my soul. I’m learning to trust myself enough to follow my heart wherever it leads me because it knows where my happiness lies.
Stop fighting. Competitive athletics and business taught me that I had to fight to become better than the next guy. Instead of forcing life to fit my desires, I am working to respond to life as it is.
Shift focus. I’m shifting my focus from striving for outward success (money, trophies, accolades, celebrity) to inward contentment of doing my work well and helping others. As Dr. Dyer teaches, “To touch someone’s life is more valuable than any amount of money.”
For my entire life I have had a mindset of conquering the world. Thanks to Lao Tzu and Dr. Dyer, I am learning to conquer my need to conquer the world.
Dr. Dyer’s Shift
Two days after Dr. Dyer’s death, I received an email from the Hay House, Inc. that said,
“If you have met Wayne in person at an airport, at a hotel or in Maui he probably gave you a copy of his movie The Shift. Wayne loved this film and wanted as many people as possible to see it and get the benefits of learning to go from Ambition to Meaning in their life.”
In the movie Dr. Dyer describes the first stages of life as “the morning,” where one’s focus is on ambition. The later stages of life, “the afternoon,” can be dramatically enriched with a shift of focus from ambition to meaning.
Describing his own experience of the shift, he said, “There was an inner feeling that I had something greater to give.” He felt as if he was being guided by something larger than himself. He describes a shift from a sense of entitlement to a sense of humility.
Power of the Heart
One scene in the movie shows a mom at the beach with her husband and two young boys. She’s beginning to reflect on how much she used to love painting. At one point, she says she wants to just sit there and paint this beautiful ocean scene. To which, one of her boys scoffs, “You don’t paint, Mom.”
She realized in that moment, the magic that was born inside her had died, and her children didn’t even know it had once existed. This makes me think of one of my favorite passages about the magic within all of us…
The Golden Pool of Magic by Robert McCammon from Boy’s Life
“We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are all able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we are told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves1.
The Shift is about rediscovering the magic within you. Dr. Dyer calls it the music you were meant to play. Towards the end of the movie, the mom reconnected with her magic. Trying to explain how amazing she feels, she tells her husband, “When I paint… I go somewhere… I feel connected.”
The Pursuit of Significance
Dr. Dyer says the messages of “the morning” are about what you can and can’t do. That time in life is about how society defines you. “The morning” is when the magic is educated out of our souls.
He says “the afternoon” is about reconnecting to the energy that takes care of everything. In studying Dr. Dyer’s work, I have learned this energy comes from within. It is the whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside of us that we knew in our youth. It’s the magic the mom re-discovered when she started painting again.
In The Shift, Dr. Dyer teaches us that “ambition combined with meaning equals purpose.” He explains the afternoon of life is the time to shift your thoughts from what can I get to what purpose can I serve?
A Tribute to Dr. Wayne Dyer
I recently wrote about my Philosophy of Significance.
Soon thereafter, while watching The Shift, I realized just how much Dr. Dyer’s wisdom has shaped my thoughts and influenced my writing. I define “significance” as being immersed in work I love, creating something connected to who I am, and bringing value to others. That sounds a lot like “playing the music I was meant to play” and serving a purpose greater than my own.
Rest in peace Wayne W. Dyer, thank you for sharing your music so generously.
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