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, May 29, 2013

Gratitude as an Opening

I’ve been noticing, lately, how feeling grateful fills me up with so much energy. And – how very little it takes to engender this feeling. More of an awareness, really – of how temporary every painful thing is. How the nuances and vagaries of life really do come and go. And under it all is this deep, abiding sense of peace. Which then stirs an awareness of how very much I do have. And how very easy my life is, overall.

For this I am grateful.

When we feel grateful, it enlivens our cells with happiness. This energy is warmth in and of itself. It is self generated, without any prerequisite other than the focus of our own minds. Simply by noticing a thing – and it can be anything – about or for which we feel grateful, we are filled with a gladness of spirit.

When we are fully in this dynamic, we become aware that we hold the power to generate enormous energy for ourselves. Though gratitude often has an object of focus, it turns out to be actually independent of anything outside ourselves. It is entirely dependent only on where we place our minds – our consciousness. So its dependency is actually only internal. This is a very powerful statement to make – and an important realization to have.

When we become aware – truly – of our own capacity to generate such emotion or strong feeling, we begin to loosen the bonds of dependency on things needing to be a certain way in order for us to feel happiness. There is a profound paradox in this – in that those who feel dependent on outer circumstances to dictate their happiness are often the most miserable even when they seem to have the most. This attitude is also self generating, in that if we notice anything that is awry relative to our conditions of happiness, we carry on about it in a negative vein.

Does this mean we can never make change in our circumstances? Quite the opposite is true. When we greet what is in front of us with openhearted gladness, we are strengthened to deal with it in exactly the sort of gracious way that will most likely bring about healthy and necessary change. Our situation (again, paradoxically) often becomes exactly that which anybody might identify as “more perfect”. I’ve noticed, personally, that my decision-making capacity is enlivened, strengthened and made more true when I am in a happy state of mind.

But really, what is more important, we are happy no matter what the circumstance. There is such deep authenticity in this that there is no situation that can throw us off the mark. We live in the awareness that under it all – this and this and this – we are deeper than the circumstance at hand. When we remember our depth – IN this and this and this – there is such automatic joy, peace and happiness.

And, for this, we are grateful.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dying - or not

Life has a way of surprising us. Most of us are striving to be the best we can, given the circumstances of our beliefs, birth and current living situation. But then there is a curve ball that changes all the rules we’ve been living by.

Or tests them.

I’ve recently discovered the blood I’ve been noticing in the toilet every morning is really not a figment of my imagination. Moving from frank denial to concerned ignoring to finally getting a test to confirm what I full well knew was there, I’ve put myself straight in the line of needing to get a colonoscopy for next steps of evaluation. Being a doctor does no good in the department of soothing one’s nerves over such things.

But my spiritual practice has risen to the front and center in a whole new powerful way. I’ve done a lot of self-examining in the past little bit. And discovered – really – I’m not afraid of dying. Not to say this is an inevitable outcome here – but, really, it will be – some day. And events such as this bring this fact right to the fore of existential awareness.

I am afraid, though. Of the events that may ensue in the name of medical care. As a physician, I know well the laundry list of possibilities that await me on the other side of that colonoscopy. The sitting down to discuss ---- what. And I know full well the recommended procedures and medical treatment for each of these possibilities. Many of the options are not pleasant.

Here we run into difficulty. There just isn’t much in our culture that supports an attitude or stance of NOT doing whatever we can to prolong life at any cost. We, as a culture, are so durned afraid of death we would choose the prolongation of suffering in the decaying form over just letting it go already.

I have a problem with this. I’m not sure just how unusual I am. But I definitely know I’d rather just pass peacefully into that next night of the soul – which I so fully trust opens up again into a different sort of day – than to prolong the agony of being stuck in a form which is trying to die already. The body. It’s so, so temporary. Why, in heavens name would we try to hang onto it beyond its useful time?

I’m fully aware most won’t agree with me on this. And that when that time comes –whenever it is – I’ll likely have a fight on my hands just to be allowed to die peacefully. But I don’t want the torture of being forced to stay alive under conditions in which the body is on a natural trajectory of dying. I am so clear about this. And I know it is likely there will be a difference of opinion about what “the inevitability of death” really is. I don't know what circumstance may prompt ME to choose the route of no intervention.

So here is the real edge of my personal spiritual practice. Because to have and live in anxiety about ANY facet of life/living/dying is to suffer. For me, to look squarely into the fear of being kept alive under conditions that I theoretically don’t want is where I must go. To see it – embrace it as a possibility – and cross THAT bridge when it comes. In this day’s tendencies, it is almost as inevitable as death, and given what I know, it is more odious. So it is clearly where my work lies. To accept even this. The possibility of standing by as I watch my form deteriorate in slow motion. I may not get the luxury of dying quickly. The liberty. I feel so ready and willing to be called back Home. I just don’t necessarily like the trip getting there. And so there – there is where I find a fight going on. A disagreement with reality. This is not to say we don’t express preferences and act on them. But when the chips are down, and we see what really IS happening – this is what we deal with.

What I notice is that, in this process, I feel ever so much more aligned with Purpose. So much more willing to embrace and accept WHATEVER the Divine has in store for me. How do I know, in advance, what it is I may be called upon to do? Or where? So, this, too, is part of the curriculum. The game plan.

It opens up a whole different world of possibility to know that the WAY we die is also part of the practice. Watching, seeing, embracing, opening to what this – and this – and this is for us. To accept self here. Right here where we are.

No matter what – in the end – that is.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Tibetan Dzogchen master Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche describes the shock he experienced when he first came to the United States. Again and again, he heard a strange mantra: “I’m busy.” He came to realize that to say “I’m not busy” would be construed to mean there was something wrong. Something abnormal.

This rings true with my experience. When I resigned the Medical Director position of the Integrative Medicine program I developed in Corvallis, OR, I went through a prolonged period of distinct discomfort. Not because I had relinquished my role or responsibilities, but because there was no longer a succinct answer to the perpetual question of “what do you do?” Linking our identities to our functions is such a pervasive thing that the accompanying busyness associated has become a requisite to being defined as having value at all.

To “do nothing” is to BE nothing. A bum. A free-loader. A --- nothing.

Or so we think.

What if we unhinge that particular sequence, just for the folly of exploration? What if – just what if – we can BE, first? Just be. Try it now. See what happens. Notice your breathing, sensations, thoughts, feelings – all arising and then passing away. Notice the spaciousness within which all this happens. How peaceful, immense and grand it is.

What I‘ve noticed is that doing also arises from this spaciousness. Like every breath in inevitably leads to a breath out. Or vice versa. But the doing that arises from sequencing the dynamic in this way is ever so much more comfortable. Truer to self. Congruent with my inner state of happiness.

Lest you get the squeamies from the idea that you’ll never be functional again, I assure you that exactly the opposite is true. It’s even possible to accept a long-term job commitment under these conditions. But we won’t be confused, thinking that the ensuing busy-ness of our work is what defines our value. And, because the principles of a place chosen from inner awareness are more likely to be aligned with our values, it will not feel like a death sentence to our soul. It is possible to be settled with activities that are a cheerful alternative to mind-numbing, soul scorching work, if we choose from the inner state of peace and “yes” in the first place.

It’s taken me a few years to be comfortable with this. But I can honestly say that by focusing on my inner state as the central issue most needing attention, I’ve found such creative ideas of what to “do” with my time. I lOVE the experience of sharing from the heart. Whether that is to share my goods with a person who needs them, or my time for a cause. Whether to accept a position aligned with my values in a principled place, or to spend a weekend in silent meditation. The variability to the actions of my days still leaves me in a quandary as to how to answer the question: “What do you do?”, but I find myself more in tune with a river of peace by following this path in life.

We tend to choose our commitments more wisely when we rest first in the abiding peace of Being.
As we’ve so often heard: “Seek ye first the kingdom within”. Indeed, all things ARE aligned with that state when we do. Being in peace ensures that we peacefully respond to each situation that is best geared for the need of that moment, because we are not locked into a preformed idea of “who we are” as an external function. If we are busy, it is of this moment, and there may well be equally comfortable moments when we can say, with clear conscience: “I’m enjoying not being busy right now. And you?”

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trusting Ourselves

I had a lovely conversation with a friend recently about “why things happen”. We agreed there is the possibility that things are just random. Stuff happens – and it is our lot to sort out how we’ll respond, given this or that in our lives.

I lean toward thinking that we may have something to do with our lot in life, though. Not in the pejorative way that many of us were taught to believe; ie: roiling with guilt about what we did wrong to bring this craziness into our lives. But rather, that there is a natural trajectory to the things we think, say and do. There are consequences of the sort that to push a ball in one direction is to increase the likelihood it will move in that said direction. There are other parameters to deal with. The slope of the land. Whether the ball is full of air and so on. But still – our action has an influence.

And so it is in our lives – any given tendency toward which we lean is likely to reap some sort of benefit, for better or for worse.

The secret for many of us, laden as we are by the aforementioned guilt, is to unhinge from the self-splattering we can get into in response to the circumstances of our lives. The same lines of reasoning would inform us that to beat ourselves up is to provoke another whole set of circumstances in which we are the victims of our own brutality. And, I notice, that is what often happens.

In our good-hearted search for the lesson to be learned in the conundrums of our lives, we tend to cast blame. “Why did this happen?” is often construed to mean “What did I (or you) do wrong to get this mess?” To dig deeper in the undoing of the maladaptive messages of our own mind is to question that premise at its base. Forget that sort of figuring out.

Ask, instead, “Given this (and this and this), what is the best/kindest/gentlest response I can come up with here?” What I find is that if there is some awakening to be had in terms of that which I may have done to provoke any given situation, it will most likely be revealed in a useful manner under these conditions. A gentle environment in which to come to revelation.

Let that be our goal, then: to be safe enough with our own selves that we dare to reveal that which we most need to see. Plenty will come out of hiding fast enough when we do this. Because we have proven ourselves to be trustworthy where it matters the most: to our very own selves.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I’ve been in quite a process. Since moving to North Carolina, my husband and I have been on a continual hunt for our new home. Not “new” necessarily, but new to us. We imagine it being the place where we settle in for the long haul and grow old together. The place where every tree we plant will bear fruit within the season of the rest of our lives.

So, we’re being careful about where we plant ourselves and these said trees. And we’re having a hard time. It seems that every beautiful place we see has an HOA with restrictions so tight they make our neck veins bulge. One so-called green development with all the right upfront standards forbids any fruits or vegetables on the grounds that the neighbors (who are apparently into a “lifestyle” that includes no implied work) might find them offensive.

Another lovely development has a list of “preapproved plants” a new inhabitant in their restricted, elite neighborhood is allowed to plant.

Well, all of this feels like a big fat oppressive thumb on my creative, puttering soul. When I look out the window and see a potential hibiscus plant blooming in the lovely breeze inviting local hummingbirds to feast right outside my kitchen window, I don’t want to have to go through a committee to get approval before I can break ground.

What I’ve realized is that, like my lovely realtor who is becoming a fast friend keeps saying, this is a process. And more importantly, I’ve realized that I don’t WANT it to be a "process”. I want it to be over already. Decided. Settled. I want to be settled. In our new home – just right and just so. Well, but life IS a process. And this is yet one more glaring example of how that is so.

One also never knows upfront what “The Process” really means. How that will play out. To what conclusion. To my astonishment, I’ve realized the process so far has led me right back to my original assertions of what I want. I am learning that to stay true to self I need to be firm in the face of resistance by others who have their ideas about what might be right for me. So – the process is a deeply internal affair. Of setting my INSIDE home straight. Of staying true to Self, and holding on until the outer matches what I most deeply care about.

As I wrap around this realization and settle in for the long haul – of the process – I realize I get so much calmer. More sane. Less frenzied and in a hurry. I’m seeing that to stay true to the deepest principle one can find inside of one’s own soul is how one stays on track. And, then, maintaining a ton of flexibility in how the details play themselves out around that. Until the whole reflects that truing mark. Sometimes in a creatively new way – but still remaining true to an internal set of deeply held values.

I’ve been amazed to see how much resistance I’ve had to letting this –or anything, really, in my life – be a process. I want to be arrived. Spiritual. Wise. And settled in my new home already.

But, this life, like that blooming hibiscus that arose in my mind’s eye, is a continually changing, ever-growing, versatile, flexible, ever-evolving – process. Having seen this, I’m smiling with the kick I can get out of it.

This. The process.