Photo courtesy Wikipedia and Phil Konstantin
Here’s a life lesson that has been put in front of me a number of times, but a lesson for which I have no easy solution. Among the most memorable experience I had was with the famous psychologist, Dr. Wayne Dyer. Many people know Wayne from his numerous books (40!) and public television (PBS) shows. I first became acquainted with Wayne many years before I met him personally through his first bestselling book, The Erroneous Zone, that alone earned him worldwide fame with 35 million copies sold.
My brief relationship with Wayne began in 2014 when I was in Toronto, Canada. I had just arrived at a hotel, scheduled to speak at several events in the city. As soon as I arrived in my room, my cell phone rang, showing a phone number from Boca Raton, Florida. The only person I know from Boca who knew my cell phone number was my daughter, the professional tennis player. So I answered “Hi, Sweetie.” A deep, bass voice responded, “This is not sweetie. This is Dr. Wayne Dyer.”
Of course, I was caught off-guard and muttered some sort of response. Wayne then proceeded to tell me why he called. “I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to speak. I was having dinner with my speaking agent there (oddly, my speaking agent, also), Paul and his wife Anne. I hadn’t seen them in a few years and I noticed that they looked terrific: slender, younger, vibrant, much more so than the last time I saw them. So I asked them ‘What are you two doing that make you look so good?’ They said that they had hosted some public presentations by this doctor, William Davis, who authored the Wheat Belly books. So they went wheat – and grain-free and experienced life-transforming health effects. Wayne said that, at that moment, the waiter brought a basket of bread to their table and Wayne declared, ‘Take that bread away—everyone here is wheat-free.’ ”
Wayne, of course, was telling me this over the phone while I was standing in my hotel room. He then told me that, over the next few weeks of being wheat/grain-free, he lost 30 pounds, much of it from his waist. He told one of his daughters about this lifestyle and she proceeded to lose a phenomenal 17 pounds over 14 days (a pace that seems to only occur when extravagant inflammation is part of the picture, not just being overweight). He also said that his wife, Marcelene, who had been diagnosed with adult-onset grand mal seizures a few years back, had so far experienced complete relief and had stopped her seizure medication. He then said, “I’m convinced that your ideas work and I want to support the production of your PBS television show. I’d also like to invite you to join me in Baltimore for the filming of my latest PBS show. That way, we can also film a Q&A for your show.”
Very exciting—I get to work with an author with a worldwide reputation and champion of self-help psychological health. So I flew to Baltimore, watched him speak (Wayne was probably the best storyteller I have ever known—just watch some of the videos people have posted of him speaking. He is absolutely captivating.) After he delivered his talk, we retired backstage where we filmed our Q&A session about Wheat Belly, why it works, the rationale, etc. During our conversation, Wayne related to me that he had undergone stent implantation into two of his coronary arteries just a few years earlier. That, of course, is among the things I do: show people how to not have coronary disease. And, once you have it, it recurs over and over again as recurrent chest pain, heart attack, or death—heart disease does not stop with implantation of stents, a low-fat diet, or statin drug. He said that, in addition to such practices as yoga and meditation, he was taking a daily baby aspirin and a statin cholesterol drug. So I told him that there is so much more he could do to prevent any future cardiovascular events. At that moment, the usually outward calm, “Namaste” demeanor dissolved. He put up his hand and loudly proclaimed, “No, not now.” With that stern rebuke, I decided that, as friends, I would have more opportunities in future to advise him in all the other strategies that he could adopt that essentially put a stop to cardiovascular events beyond the useless pharmaceuticals he was taking.
About two months later, I was at my desk posting on Facebook and came upon a post reporting that Wayne Dyer was found dead in his Hawaii condo by one of his daughters, dead of a heart attack. It struck me like a brick thrown at my head: I had been poised to tell Wayne Dyer how to not have heart disease, he refused to hear it, and then he died of the disease that, I believe, we could have stopped. Numerous headlines followed: Yes, world-renowned self-help psychologist, Dr. Wayne Dyer, was found dead of a heart attack in his home.
I’d been here before: having the answers that people need to hear, but they don’t want to hear it for whatever reason—skepticism, overwhelm, fear, loss of control, etc. Rather than backing down when I raised the subject with Wayne, should I have instead said “Damn it, Wayne! Listen to me: this is literally a matter of life and death. You can have profound control over heart disease, but you won’t have it with the silly pharmaceutical and procedural ‘solutions’ your doctors gave you.”
I don’t know. If someone does not want to hear what you have to say, regardless of how accurate or profound, they are unlikely to take your advice to heart. The cost, in this sad case, was the sudden cardiac death of a friend, a champion of emotional health, a wonderful and breathtaking storyteller, a remarkable human being. The same thing happens to all of us on this journey of health: Anyone following my programs knows that vigor, youthfulness, slenderness, and spectacular health are readily achievable. And dramatic reduction of risk for heart disease is also achievable, but such results are not achievable by following conventional advice. In fact, following conventional dietary and health advice will bring you obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatigue, autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases, coronary disease, and a host of other life problems. Does this mean that we should therefore force our knowledge on others, even when they refuse to listen?
I don’t have an answer. But the memory of Wayne Dyer continues to haunt me to this day. I tell you all this in case you are on the fence for the strategies of this lifestyle. Consider the arguments I make and make your own decisions. But do it before it’s too late.