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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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Original Sin

It was a shock to discover my mother disliked me. I had blamed myself for all our mutual shortcomings from the beginning of time as I knew it. Of course. It was what she taught me was true.

When my mother had her stroke, I was the one who took care of her, mending her as best I could – both as a dutiful daughter and as her physician. It was all I could do to hold myself together – in pieces sewn in the fabric of “never-good-enough”. My efforts to teach her to talk, with the help of the best therapists I knew of, were in vain. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was her effort lacking. Not mine.

How does this happen? This tendency, especially in women, to denigrate their very own being – and then to pass it on? I think of the Original sin as that time when we first turned against ourselves. When we began to believe – in some part of our psyche – that we were not O.K. When we, in effect, turned against ourselves and therefore against that life we represent.

This begins a war with ourselves that is long-ranging. Brother against brother (Cain and Abel). Mother against daughter. And, most especially, against our selves. We have found fault, because the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” represents our capacity to judge. To decide, in our minds, that some things are good and some bad (“evil”). Ever since that fateful day – and what did that really represent? – we have been in trouble within ourselves. Suffering.

Because the things we judge most represent our very own selves. We decide upfront, based on some external standard, what parts of us are “good” and which “bad”, and then turn against ourselves for those things we wish were not true about us. We designate part of us as off-limits. Unacceptable. Repugnant. To be eliminated. And the flagellation we endure in the name of this judgment can be harsh, indeed.

Many of the so-called self improvement programs on which we embark are really studies in self-punishment. Continually trying to rid ourselves of one thing or another. One characteristic or another. Trying to “better ourselves”.

Buddhist psychology describes this is another way; we crave or hate. The dual functions of wanting what we don’t have and not wanting what we do show up in every religion as the bane of our existence. The cause of all suffering.

When my mother died, I was with her. Rocking 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). As I felt her relax in my arms, I felt a huge chunk of resistance to letting myself be loved melt away, too.

The flash of her exit was also a flash of recognition for me. I know – absolutely know - that coming to a place of self-acceptance is the road back home. It may be arduous getting there, but is instantly easier when that first step is taken. I am also certain that it is not me that my mother hated, but the lot in life in general that she found herself conscripted to. I was but a bit player in that schema.

Amazingly, accepting her more deeply has also expanded my heart in acceptance of myself. Firmly and surely, I know that I am my mother’s daughter. And that is a real fine thing to be.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Being heard is one of the things we most want. It seems though, perhaps because most of us are more eager to be listened TO than to actually listen, we don’t do a very good job at it. Our craving is that big. It is not unusual in relationships for one or both persons to feel “not heard”. This may represent a failure at any of several levels. Beyond just not listening at all, one finds:

- Shallow listening: hearing at the basic level what was just said. The information may or may not be actually retained because, although the words were heard, it may not have “sunk in”. This is often associated with multi-tasking or having one’s attention elsewhere, whether on a project or one’s own thinking.
- Actually hearing what is said. The concepts sink in. If questioned half an hour later, we may remember what was said. Not much reflection happens, but we did hear what was said.
- Absorbing the deeper meaning. “Getting it.” Knowing what the spoken word means in translation into daily behavior and action. Feeling and understanding the consequences and ramification of the message delivered.
- Deep listening. Actually feeling/sensing the person speaking in their emotional tones and nuances as well as the blatant message they are delivering. Not just got their message – but got them. Understood them.
- Active listening. Deep listening with the added bonus of letting the person who is speaking know you “got them”. Giving feedback to the speaker re: both their message and the undercurrents you notice in their tone of voice. Expressing reasonable empathy to both the message and their tone. Asking for confirmation of understanding – both the message and the emotion you might be presuming to be present. If you’re really good at this, you even go so far as to affirm their sanity in re: to their reality. This is the most fulfilling thing we can do for another person. It shows respect, deep regard, caring – and is what many of us are craving in our lives.

I’ve noticed that couples who are close and feel bonded do make the extra effort to be attentive to one another in the nuances of language. And for those who are committed to this process, it doesn’t seem to be difficult. There is a naturalness to it that comes from and evolves out of a deep caring and sense of goodwill for the other. When we care, we make the effort to understand.

Going through each of the layers of listening with an eye to improvement, I offer the following. If you tend to hang out at:

- Shallow listening: take the time to ask yourself, when your partner begins to talk with you, do you actually want to listen to her/him at this moment? Is the project or thought that you are currently involved in more important to you right now? If so, say so. And let her/him know when you can truly listen. This is key. When that time comes, follow through with respect and intention to hear what the other has to say.

- Superficially hearing what is said: see if you can build in a little pause after hearing what the other person has said. Feel the sensation of the MEANING of the words actually sinking in. Are there ramifications for you in the message? Is there a request for behavior that you need to address? Do you notice a “tone of voice” that implies an emotion?

- Absorbing the deeper meaning: Kudos to you for respecting your partner enough to pay attention to her/his messages. You understand the gist and can reflect on its impact on you. Be sure to give feedback as to your understanding, and whether you agree or not. Not as an argument, but as a reality check for where YOU are. To carry this deeper, ask yourself what emotion seems to be at play here, as well.

- Deep listening: Wow, are your partner and friends lucky to have you in their lives! To be understood by another who takes the time to deeply listen is one of the greatest gifts of humankind. Be sure to let her/him know what you heard/understood. Using language that reflects not only the content of the message, but noting the undertones of emotion transforms your wonderful ability into the crème de la crème of communication.

- Active listening: It doesn’t get better. One thing to keep in mind is, in regards to emotional over or undertones, be sure to frame your comments as a “reality check”. Something like: “I notice our shoulders are slumped when you say that, and I wonder if you’re feeling depressed?” Not: “I see you are depressed.” In the realm of emotions, the tendency to form our own opinions of another’s inner reality is rife for conflict. Whereas, if we demonstrate an ability to notice, and maintain curiosity about what is true for the other person, it opens the door to more true communication. It may be, for instance, in the example given, that your partner is just really tired. But, given the opportunity to express that may be a relief!

Good communication is at the center of good relationships. No matter how deep our intimacy may be with another, when we have the sense of being heard and understood, it forms bonds of a nature designed to foster even more goodwill. Deep and active listening are the centerpieces of this central feature of good relations, and if employed on a more consistent basis, would resolve – or even better avoid – conflicts of a wide variety.

Try it: active listening. It’s good for the heart, the soul and all your relations.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


There is some confusion, I think, about the definition of “ego”. Psychology, as a field, has stressed for some time the need to develop a strong ego – a sense of self identification – as a major component for a healthy psyche. The ability to define self as separate from others is seen as essential to keep from falling into abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships in which our ability to make healthy choices for ourselves is deficient.

In apparent contrast, spiritual circles of all stripes tend to urge their followers to reduce the demands of ego, to think of others before oneself, or even instead of oneself.

How to sort all of this out?

I’ve come to see the topic of “ego” as less important than the awareness of how one sees oneself in relation to others and the world. This may be more a topic of self image, as it were. If we embrace the notion that we are all interconnected with one another and with a common origin of Life Itself (by whatever name we call it), we glimpse the truest meaning of being free of ego. Meaning, we realize that no action or thought we have is devoid of impact of/on the whole, because we are never really separate.

Having said that, we do have some square inches of territory we call the “self” over which we seem to have some unique control and choice. This, by definition, we could call “ego”. That sense of ourselves as separate enough from the whole that we can exert some choice and direction.

Herein we begin to run into the arena of how we deal with this “self-who-is-separate”. Do we berate her? Support her? Make healthy or unhealthy choices for her? And, all these decision points seem to revolve around those aforementioned messages we’ve absorbed about “self” in the first place.

To the extent that we extend kindness, compassion and gentle regard for the one we call self, we give ourselves a chance to succeed in a good way on this planet, Earth. If, instead, we feel it our obligation to “keep ourselves in line”, to punish ourselves for every little perceived transgression (as defined, usually, by some outside authority), we will be running scared and deficient from every opportunity as victims of our own minds. We are often taught to do this in the name of helping us be “better” people.

When we think about it, it is a form of hypocrisy to treat others better than we treat ourselves. It is just as odious as thinking of ourselves as the ONLY ones who matter. If we, in contrasting notion, think of ourselves as the only one who doesn’t matter – we’ve committed the same “crime” against humanity.

What one person can we consider as “less than” in our regard for health and wellbeing? If we make our one being that exception, we have still harmed a part of life.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I’ve discovered that shame is the base and core of almost every non-kind thing I do. There is the first layer of recognition —of loneliness or fear or anger or feeling slighted or whatever. Then, there is the shame. When it oozes up from whatever dark depth it comes from and starts to adhere to all the other layers of thinking revolving around point ‘A’, it muddies the entire complexion of the game.

Like sticky glue, shame adheres to our soul and thinking. Thoughts goes awry in deep, cavernous places and ways such that we feel ourselves unable to attend to the most basic of wants, needs, desires. Having rendered our initial impulses as “not O.K”, we also have rendered ourselves incapable of fulfilling whatever the original need was! Hampered and hamstrung by our own thinking, magnetically pulled along the track of shame leads us ever and again into frustrated, angry silence and unfulfilled dreams and longings.

How can we ever, ever get what we want if the first utterance of telling ourselves the truth about what that might be is scuttled into the deep shame of “Forget it!”? Impossible. To tell the truth in any way is a step toward freedom, but especially as it involves ourselves. To just tell the truth upfront about original impulses as they arise – without shame – is indeed a form of liberation!

I see that to deal with the shame very directly – as the thing that most needs to heal – is the answer to many other unfulfilled dreams and desires. The first step is to recognize the falseness of early-learned messages that have burnt their way into our subconscious, telling us that the “perfection” for which we must strive is to be devoid of need, fear or longing. Giving ourselves permission to BE exactly as we are – the whole package of self – is indeed a comforting place to dwell!

Many religious doctrines and their perpetrators would shudder at this idea. Shame and fear – and instigation of self-loathing – has been a cornerpost for many to keep the fires of the faithful burning and returning people back to the hearth of the church seeking forgiveness for their mere existence. So, to find the freedom of soul that might be engendered if one is NOT shamed would purport a mass exodus from the chains that bind. It doesn’t need to be this way.

To become curious – not ashamed – of what such basic emotions as fear and anger are trying to tell us is to make life an adventure. We become unafraid to find out where we lead ourselves when unhampered by shame. To honestly want to know what it is we need; what we are trying to tell ourselves with the movement of emotions. To be not ashamed to be alive in our own skin – with all its moods, storms and weather. Whatever it takes, to free our souls from the heinous agony and anguish of shame is the beginning of a total freedom that invokes Joy and the right to proclaim that which we were meant to be. The freedom of Soul to be kind because it is Its true nature to be so. Trusting that we were created in such a way that to be our True Selves is indeed a blessing unto itself.

Happy. With ourselves and our condition in life. I also notice that I feel much more inclined to be kind to others when my own internal state burns with this fire. I’d call that a deeply moving spiritual experience of the best kind possible.