Mary Ann (Wallace) Iyer, M.D. is a licensed physician, whose awakening led her to understand that the way to health involves waking up to our True Purpose. Full wellbeing includes attending to both our outer and inner selves.

Dr. Mary leads workshops which invite individuals into deeper awareness of their path in life. Her gentle, astute Presence leads participants into the safety of their own precious Hearts, where answers to perplexing problems lie.

Under the name, Mary Ann Wallace, MD, she has published several books and CDS. Visit http://www.maryanniyer.com/ for more details.

To bring Dr. Mary to your area, email: DrMA@maryanniyer.com

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Toxic People

As I’ve moved ever deeper into my calling, place and voice there are those I’m ditching for the sake of my wellbeing. I won’t be, for instance, giving my bile-belching siblings my forwarding address when we relocate to our new home. I’ve finally realized that some people are genetically programmed to discount me (I’m being gentle, here), and it doesn’t matter if they were born to the same parents as me. I had a dear friend and counselor ask me once, “Are you sure these are your siblings?”


This leads directly to the point I want to make here. Don’t be confused by names, titles, relationship or pedigree lines. Anyone – and I mean anyone – who leaves you feeling crushed like last year’s fallen leaves in the compost bin is not good for you.

They might have their own best friends and they might even tie their friends' shoe laces for them when their backs are gimped up. It doesn’t matter. If you feel like yesterday’s chewed gum when they’re around, then they’re bad for you. And that is the litmus test for deciding if somebody belongs in your own personal portfolio of friends-you-want-to-share-the-room with. Or the phone line. Or maybe even the same planet or at least continent.

Perhaps you are tortured by an idea of spiritual acceptance that renders your life as sacrificial fodder for the sadistic twists of others. I struggled for years under that delusional umbrella. But, no more.

Just think what your glorious life can do to bless the earth if it’s not all twisted up and crumpled like fallen gum wrappers?

Don’t sell yourself out like that. It’s a form of collusion with the devil to maim your own gentle spirit in the name of serving another, who – frankly – sees you as sticky goo under their sole.

Here’s what I know: When you’ve discovered someone is toxic to your soul, you really do need to stop inviting them to your dinner parties. Because they will always – and always – bring along a side of rat poison, sometimes cleverly dressed up as the most beautiful cranberry relish, made “just for yeuuw”.

When you’ve gagged this stuff down as many times as I have and been green-sick for days after, you come to realize that the potion they carefully custom fit “just for you” was taken from a book of Ill-Will.

Drop them.

Come back alive. We really, really want you that way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Constriction and the fight mentality

Excerpt from The Heart of Healing, by Mary Ann Wallace, MD*

True emotional wellness comes when you allow every single flavor of energy movement in the body, which means that every emotion must find its natural voice. When you begin to pay attention to your mental patterns, you will begin to notice a relationship between the thoughts you are thinking and the emotions you are carrying. Then you will begin to notice an interrelationship among your thoughts, your emotions, and your physical structure. For example, if you experience chronic fear or anger, your body will begin to reflect constriction, and the sensations associated with that constriction sooner or later can become pain. If you pay attention, your emotions can provide clues through your body to what is getting in the way of your free and authentic interaction with life. In fact, you possess the best biofeedback mechanism on the planet!

The quality of emotion or bodily sensation you experience in response to different life situations depends on your belief system. Problems arise when beliefs, and the resulting constriction, take over. Whatever your beliefs are, they typically reflect a recurring theme, and the storyline can be recognized in our cultural archetypes and myths. A first step in moving beyond the storyline is recognizing that you hold different elements of it within the physical structure of your body.

Find The Heart of Healing at www.amazon.com/author/mawallace or any bookstore on request.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Contentment has become a throw-away word, nearly synonymous with complacent. After decades of mind-altering advertising designed explicitly to keep us discontent for the sake of provoking consumption, we need to stop and look at this.

Joanna Macy points out that we need a “ -- great turning of human consciousness. We are going to have to want different things, seek different pleasures, pursue different goals than those that have been driving us and our global economy.”

Imagine ---- being content. How would that be? Just – rest with that for a while.

I’ve noticed that gratitude is such a close cousin to contentment that any time I’ve ever sat at the kitchen table in Contentment’s house for very long, gratitude has come knocking. And when she comes bursting in through the door, the whole house rolicks!

All kinds of zany things start happening. Joy. Inspiration, even! Jumping up to call someone just to tell them how much I appreciate them in my life!

And – a sense of having so much. Abundance.

More than anything, we need a cultural attitude shift.
Let contentment come sit with you awhile.
It’s bad for consumerism.

And really, really good for our world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Change from Peace

I hear from you: so many who are feeling the stress of deep change in and on our planet right now. Many familiar systems that are in place are simply not sustainable. And – what can we really do to make a difference? The feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming; the despair crippling.

I suggest what may seem radical in the face of this despair.


Surrendering into the suchness of this moment does not mean resignation to the circumstances. Finding legitimate gratitude and joy where we are does not mean disowning, suppressing or repressing aspects of our situation we find painful. Staying astutely honest with ourselves about all the facets of our experience most aptly enables us to make the changes we need for our well-being.

Being at peace where we are does not mean it will not and cannot change. In fact, it is safe to say it will. All things do. To stay awake to the opportunities for active choices and decisions that are kind to us and our planet in the face of the continual flux that life is – is precisely what steers us where we next need to be, to do that which we most need to do. The circumstance of the moment is our truing tool.

The present moment we most need to accept is that moment which is our-self. Our experience in this moment – right now. Wrapping around our experience with compassionate acceptance gives us the space we need, to live through that which is in us to be.

Stay with your sensations. Embrace them. Be curious about them. Inquire, “Yes, what am I to know here?”

Only by developing a kind inner space will we ever effect lasting change for good on the planet. It is the only way we can make choices based on peace. Agitation begets agitation. Action that arises from a center of peace is on the mark. Always.

Allow the healing of the pain within you in this moment. In every moment in which it appears. Accept. Embrace. Allow space. FEAD1 it differently. Create a safe space in which you can live in peace with yourself.

Be the center of Peace we all need. It is such an important thing you can do. For all of us.

1 http://www.maryanniyer.com/articlesbydr.iye.html. FEAD Yourself a Different Way.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


It has become nearly common knowledge that when a caterpillar hides itself in a chrysalis to metamorph into a butterfly, it decomposes completely. From this soup of apparently random cells come progenitor cells, called imaginal cells, which find one another in such a way that a new cohesive pattern is formed. A butterfly. In the cosmos is contained the plan – the blue print – for this new form to take shape.

In like fashion, every decomposing leaf, trunk and body can be seen to be returning to the chrysalis womb of the great Mother, Earth, to be reshaped into the cellular pattern of that which is waiting to be formed from those particular cells. All matter is imaginal. Transforming yet again and again into new forms of the Cosmos’ imagining.

What is seldom mentioned in the butterfly story is that the original caterpillar cells put up a fight. There is some initial struggle when the newly christened imaginal cells reach out to find one another in that soup. Some are killed in this battle. Eventually, they do coalesce, and that which is to be does emerge, but beneath the hardened shell of that chrysalis the newly created butterfly had to ward off the efforts of the dying caterpillar to maintain itself before it could successfully find its own new form.

I imagine personal and societal change must surely follow this same pattern. If you are experiencing discord and turmoil in your life; if you know change needs to happen but you feel yourself clinging to some outmoded past, give your imaginal cells a boost.

Imagine yourself as that butterfly you are longing to be. Imagine the world as that place where you want to be. And see how you fit into that new pattern.

Then – live it. It is what you are here to do.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


We’ve come a long way in our practice of psychology. Our understanding has traversed the field of Freudian analysis, based on the premise of the psyche’s neuroses, and through Skinner’s behaviorism, nested in the notion that we all function as instinct-driven animals. Trainable but dumb. Jung, a protégé of Freud, introduced mysticism by way of archetypal characterizations. All of this was pretty heady stuff, though – oriented to and for the intellect and the intellectual.

Emotive-based therapies – think the primal scream – landed us squarely into the realm of the emotions, themselves, as that with which we need to deal. The notion was that by “releasing” emotions by “expressing” them we could empty the tank of the toxin. Now we understand, via such fields as psychoneuroimmunology and neuroplasticity, that neurons that fire together fuse in their synergy. Parts of the brain, such as the amygdala, map to certain high octane emotions of a negative nature, and the more of a workout they get, the more robust they become.

Enter meditation and mindfulness – the stuff of the ancient mystical traditions – and we finally have a formula that blends all of the above bodies of wisdom. By recognizing our thoughts and emotions, and observing them as passing phenomena, we employ the wisdom gleaned from Freud’s day when the inner landscape first became palpable as a place to work. We embrace the archetypal energy patterns unveiled and elucidated by Jung. We acknowledge and allow for the full panoply of the emotional field uncovered and portrayed by the emotives – without burning them into ever more deeply etched grooves in our neuronal systems by continually expressing that which we least want, as recent scientific explorations have discovered to be relevant.

We allow. We admit. We become curious as to the inner self and the possibilities there. We embrace what we find. We repress nothing, suppress nothing, and give expression to that which we wish to grow.

It is the wisdom of the time. For a practical method that uses this wisdom in day-to-day life, see: http://www.maryanniyer.com/articlesbydr.wal.html, and scroll down to the FEAD Yourself a Different Way article.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blissful Moment

I’m having a blissful moment just now. It involves basil. Yet, even as I have that thought I realize it is not the basil giving me this moment – beyond its heady fragrance holding me hostage and making me stand still.

Involving myself completely and totally in the awareness of this basil is the real trigger to the geyser of Joy I suddenly feel. Holding it in my hand enroute to its destination of the pesto blender, I am drawn right into its magical life.

Which, when done completely, explodes into the awareness of all life.

There is no distinction in that sublime state, between this life or that. Full awareness of any life opens itself into all manners of gratitude. This channel, when tapped, keeps on going and giving.

So it is – standing here making pesto – that I have tasted the herb of Grace. All is well in my world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sometimes Spaciousness Calls

If you’ve been feeling out of sorts lately – wanting “time-out” from frenzy and busyness – you’re not alone. In the increasingly frenetic pace of modern times, we who stroll to a slower drummer find ourselves longing for a simpler time. It may be fantasia. It may be our lives never were all that simple.

But we long for it just the same.

We long for lingering conversations that take the time to circle ‘round to a depth of feeling in which we know our souls have touched. We wonder, some days, what we’ve “accomplished”, though we’re sure we feel exhausted by the labor if it.

We yearn for the caress of a soft breeze on our cheek and a smiling sun that we pause to feel in our heart.

And we know there is something missing when we’re just plain busy.

How can this be? That when our time slots are the most crammed we can feel the most empty? We recognize that our nurturance and sustenance come from something other than “things”, including “things on our calendar to do”.

There’s a different math involved here. That which seems empty is full. The deep quiet is brimming with life. In us abides a secret longing to awaken to that quiet space – the Source of all the “things of form”. When we notice the lack of fulfillment in the clutter of busyness, we often gain the necessary motivation to commit to the arduous task of this awakening.

It is not that there is an absence of life in the things of this world. Rather, we can hardly notice the burgeoning life of “here” when we scurry along with the primary focus of trying to get to the next thing “on time”. Sinking into the depth needed to notice the fullness of the moment needs a pause. Enough time for the breath to get in before we shove it out and on to the next item on the list.

Some may have perfected the art of “being in the moment” so adroitly that they can fully fathom every pin’s head of experience. But, for most of us, we need enough time to gather all of ourself into the experience of the moment in order to plumb its potential juice.

Sometimes we want to stand still long enough to savor. This moment. This dialogue. This taste. This experience.

Because – sometimes Spaciousness is calling us Home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Your Body Does not Lie

Your Body Does not Lie

This phrase has been bandied around a lot in recent years. What does it mean, exactly? There are so many layers of “truth”. Here’s how I think about it.

“Your Body Does not Lie” refers to a certain strata of experience. I believe that at the deepest level of Truth we are shining Light, free of ill-will. But covering this shimmering core is a layer of the muck laid down by decades of beliefs we have developed. Beliefs such as: “I am not good enough.”, or “The world is a scary place, not safe.” become like concrete over time.

Because our sense of self clamors to insist we are good enough, and we long to feel secure, there is often a superimposed layer on top of this murky place. The image we try to convey – and try even harder to believe in – is one that portrays us as “good”, “secure”, “with-it”, and maybe even “cool”.

This is akin to cosmetic surgery, covering only the surface, but it suffices for much of our lives to seduce ourselves and others into a complacency born of not “rocking the boat”. So long as enough people agree with the image, we can glide along as if it were true. Invariably, though, something happens to strip away our self-image. Loss of a job, a relationship, aging, disease. And we scramble to patch things up – at least for a while.

Then the inevitable happens. That underlying murk starts to rumble, and rather like a bad case of indigestion insists itself into our awareness. Mid-life is fraught with all sorts of self-doubt never visited on those of youthful all-knowing minds. For the first time we start to question the mask. The mask has often grown saggy for one thing. Our scramble slows to a shuffle until we, if we are lucky, stop full halt to stare right at the mess. What do we believe about ourselves in that subterranean territory?

It is here, at this level – the subterranean belief system – that our “body does not lie”. Once we awaken to the messages given to us by our ongoing bodily responses to life’s situations, we can start to question the underlying beliefs with greater clarity.

If we feel tension – there is a reason. There is always a reason. The body does not tense in preparation for something unless it thinks that something is going to happen! So, if there is no freight train (metaphorically speaking) in sight, yet the body is poised to leap out of harm’s way, we need to poke around inside of our thinking to discover what we think is surely going to happen. It is here we begin to strike the rich minefield of all the inner characterizations (of ourselves, others and the world in general) that set us up for these warrior or victim or whatever stances.

“The Body Doesn’t Lie” – is about this amazing body being the most perfect barometer available to find, unearth and debunk the myths that drive us.

Or drive us crazy – as the case may be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

“Spending Our Time”

Let’s presume your lifespan is finite. Limited. In other words, you only have a certain number of minutes to your name. What if you considered the days and minutes of your life as currency worth – say - $1 per minute? And, how you spend these minutes is how you spend your life. Minutes are the dollars you spend. What you do with and in each minute defines how you are spending your finite resources.

If this were true – and so far our “presumptions” are well-grounded in fact – it would give pause for greater awareness of how we spend our time.

It often gets dicey, though. Because we complicate things with ideas about saving, borrowing and interest. “I’ll work at this job that I hate for 50 years of my life so that I can afford to live the life I want when I’m 70.” Using basic math skills we can see that for this basic (well known) formula to work, the payoff at age 70 will need to be mighty hefty to be worth the price of 50 years of life. And, one could argue, would need to include “interest” to compensate for the suffering of the soul during that time.

This does not mean we shouldn’t work. But, what if we redefine “work” to mean aligning ourselves with what we can most aptly do that is true to our spirit in the service of contributing to others? If we feel like we need to check our true self in at the door when we enter our workplace, we are enforcing a heavy fine on our very life just for the privilege of doing that work. Asking ourselves whether we are contributing in the ways that also make us happy (the sure definition of being on track with how we “spend our time”) is a sane question.

There are many, many opportunities to apply ourselves in the world today – for good. Please do not restrict yourself only along the lines of what is familiar to you. If your heart is unhappy with the way you spend your time, open to the possibility of doing something different.

Because, in the end, what we have done each minute of each day is how we will have spent this one precious life that is ours.

Friday, March 30, 2012


If you’ve ever felt the stress of running late to an appointment, you’ve experienced the visceral impact of the mindbody connection.

There are several layers in which our thoughts influence our wellbeing. The first is related to our behavior based on our cultural beliefs. When I was a state epidemiologist, I helped with an outbreak of tuberculosis that was centered in an Asian community. It turned out that the color of the TB medication was inconsistent with the correct treatment that needed to be given for this illness according to this belief system.

When I began doing primary care, I realized that no matter how much education goes into nutrition, exercise, smoking/not smoking, etc, that there was a disconnect between the cognitive awareness and the behavior. We estimate that roughly 80% of what ails us has to do with lifestyle choices. And the decisive factor in our behavior? Our very personal beliefs – which is the second layer of influence of mindbody.1

A third layer of the influence of beliefs on wellbeing has to do with the direct chemical responses of the body to what we are thinking. My opening statement reflects this dynamic. Workshop attendees have said, in response to my question of “What is your body doing while you’re just sitting there in that car?” “My heart is racing.” “Body is tensing” Clearly there is something other than a physical cause for this. The mental pictures create a situation to which your body responds.

A fourth layer of the influence of our beliefs reflects our particular nuances of response to our internal messages. Some individuals tell me they would get angry if stopped at a train. Another person might get afraid. So, here we’re starting to bore down into our unique responses to the same stimulus. Human beings have the amazing capacity to create perceived danger based upon our history. We each have our own unique way of reacting when we feel anxious. We usually make decisions before we’ve gotten all the current facts.

I am often asked if it is possible to change this internal wiring.

The simple answer is, “Yes, it CAN be changed”–but not with just talk therapy. Once we find the history we still need to dismantle its grip on our actions. Mindbody methods help us gain awareness to the sensations that we have associated with certain belief structures.

Science continues to catch up to our common wisdom: the way we think, what we believe, and our fears and anxieties affect our wellbeing. Our sense of wellbeing and the entire internal chemical milieu of our bodies are modulated by our response to perceived stress. We have the enormous capacity for self-reflection – with all its nuances of bringing in the past and embellishing the stories of our lives – for better or for worse.

1Excerpted from the article, “Mindbody” by Mary Ann Iyer, MD. The full article, with examples of these layers of influence, can be found at: http://www.maryanniyer.com/articlesbydr.wal.html, for free download.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Changing the Patterns

Those who take my Mindful Eating class know that I insist that we not talk about weight loss. We focus, instead, on the roots of what we’re carrying around – whether it’s weight or something else – that is not something that we want. The first– and sometimes difficult - part of that is to love ourselves as we are. When we really get a good handle on that, when we can look at ourselves and where we’ve been and see it with great compassion, we are on our way home. “I know how I got here; I see what my experience has been –“. Not just as a neutral statement, but with heart bursting with compassion. As if we could see that earlier self, right now, enduring, doing all (s)he can just to survive. We aren’t focusing on “fixing” our weight, but rather on letting that scared, hurt part of us experience safety and what it feels like to be cared about.

We need to be extraordinarily gentle with ourselves when we feel afraid. And not have an expectation of self that is not realistic as well. Sometimes we can’t come back to inner balance until we get out into the car, or get home, or sit with our diary, or go for a long walk, or overeat - or whatever we need to do to get to a place where we can sit down with ourselves and say, “OK, let me get down to the root here and what do I need to do for me? What am I going to do to take care of me? ” And – not selling ourselves out as fodder to buy permission to exist.

As soon as we wake up to the pattern, itself, it starts to shift. We need to allow for the possibility that it can be different – especially if we’ve had a long-term condition. This can be one of the biggest challenges for us in making the necessary changes to authentically get out of the mire. To allow room for whatever it is – overweight, a chronic ailment, an ailing relationship - to be different. Whatever it is where we feel like “that’s the story of my life.”

Click here: http://www.maryanniyer.com/articlehome.html for the full article, which includes a meditation for integration: “Finding Your Innocence”.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Good Enough

I don’t know anybody who is free of the feeling that they are never quite enough — and it’s such a source of suffering. I don’t think anything can be more painful than living every day with the scorching thoughts of: “I’m somehow not OK. There is something wrong with me. I can’t quite figure it out, but I’m sure I need to fix something about me to make me OK.” That’s torture.

This topic has loomed especially large in my mind recently because my mother died last month. Most of us don’t feel perfectly mothered. But a very interesting thing happened when my mother died. She had increasingly lived her life as the martyr that the faith in her religion encouraged her to be. It became quite gruesome, and she died the way she had lived —suffering horribly.

Throughout my last two months with her, I focused on trying to release the chains of the patriarchal religion which had so convinced her of her unworthiness. I wanted her to taste what it was like to be mothered in a loving way as she became more and more dependent. At the very end — in the last two days — I held her and rocked her, as her breath became more labored and she could no longer resist. I reminded her: “Right here, God loves you. The Angels are holding you. You did nothing wrong. You are innocent.” She finally began to lighten in the last hour, tears streaming down her face (and mine).

Two nights after that, I bolted straight up in bed. I was feeling the most intense loving, divine Presence. It was my mother! I felt then, and it has been absolutely there ever since, “This is what it is like without all the --.” -- garbage of condemnation. “This is what it’s like to just feel loved!”

What so many of us are dealing with, I’m convinced, is all that garbage wrapped like barnacles around the skin of the feminine. I believe this is true for both men and women. By female energy I mean the soft, receptive, gentle quality of nurturance. I see this deprivation as the real starvation behind so many addictions and pains.

Often, our entrance into the awareness of this Divine Space comes unbidden. It is always there – always available, when we stop agitating against it, believing we have to “do something” to earn it, to deserve it, to find it.

Being loved has as its only prerequisite that we exist.

This is an excerpt from a longer article, found at: http://www.maryanniyer.com/articlehome.html