The world knew Wayne Dyer as a spiritual teacher, self-help author and motivational speaker.
At home, he was a “profound yet goofy dad” — a father of eight kids who felt his love even when they screwed up, his youngest daughters write in a new book inspired by his teachings.
Saje Dyer and Serena Dyer Pisoni were 25 and 30 respectively when Dyer suddenly passed away in 2015.
“We're both mothers of little kids and so often, I find myself wanting to embody the joy and the fun that my dad brought to our experience as children because that might be something that people don't really know about him. He was really, genuinely like a big kid,” Serena told TODAY.
“He made laughter and joking and silliness such a major focus in our lives.”
The sisters weren’t aware of Dyer’s fame as children, knowing simply that he wrote books and spoke to audiences for a living, but they gradually realized not everybody grows up with an “uncle Deepak” (Chopra) or Buddhist monks as family friends.
There were gentle lessons at home as well. Choose to be kind rather than right, Dyer told Serena after she complained about a teacher. You become what you think about all day long, he instructed Saje when she kept calling herself a bad speller. Laughter is just another form of meditation, he and family friends would say when the girls giggled during chants of Om.
The sisters share some of their father’s wisdom and how they apply it in their lives in their book, “The Knowing: Eleven Lessons to Understand the Quiet Urges of Your Soul.”
Here are four examples:
Take the path of least resistance
Saje recalled driving with her dad when the Lee Ann Womack song “I Hope You Dance” came on the radio. As they listened to the lyrics, Dyer said he agreed with every line except the one urging people to “never settle for the path of least resistance.”
“Because you should always take the path of least resistance. If the universe is offering you resistance, it's there for a reason,” he told her. “If you're finding yourself fighting and fighting for something and you just keep getting no’s, you should ask: Why is this not working out for me? Is this not meant to be?”
The lesson: Let go of the way you think things should be, Saje said. It’s surrendering to the situation you're in in your life, but not giving up. It's saying yes to the universe and staying in the flow of things.
Remember the stars in daylight
The sisters were raised to believe death is a transition, a shift in energy — you shed your physical body, but the soul goes on. Still, when their father died, his physical absence made it difficult to reconcile how he could still be here.
That’s when they thought about the stars during the day: Just because people can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
The lesson: There are always things that we can’t experience with our five senses — stars still exist in the daylight and your loved ones are still here even though you can't see them, Serena said. She still feels her father guiding and encouraging her.
“Our experience as humans is limited by our bodies,” she noted. “Your mind is telling you your experience is only real if you can see it. But we were raised on the opposite idea, which is that you have to believe it and then you will see it.”
Dyer used to tell the story of a man who went out dancing the night after finding out his soldier son had died in war. When asked how he could do it, the man said, “At some point, I’m going to have to move on from my sorrow or it’s going to kill me. I’m just choosing sooner.”
The lesson: Have permission to feel joy even in hard times and live your life, Saje said.
“There's no set prescription for how long you have to stay stuck in any problem. You can just choose sooner at any given point,” she said. “You can choose right now to let it go. It's taking your power back — you have a choice in how you feel, the thoughts you’re thinking and how your life unfolds.”
Fill yourself with love
During his talks, Dyer would sometimes hold up an orange and ask the audience what would come out if he squeezed it. The answer, of course, was orange juice. He would then ask, “If someone squeezed you, what would come out?”
The lesson: When somebody “squeezes you” — puts pressure on you, or upsets or offends you — what's going to come out? What are you filling yourself up with? “It’s your choice and it starts with your thoughts, your practices and how you take care of your mental health,” Saje said. “If you choose love, life responds with love.”
It doesn't matter who is doing the squeezing, Serena added.
“If you bring love, kindness, generosity, peacefulness into your mind, that is what you will give away when you are squeezed,” she noted. “There's so much power and freedom knowing that you get to decide what you bring to each situation.”