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, June 26, 2013

What is our responsibility?

From a beloved reader:
“I have no trouble loving and feeling compassion for and ONE with those who are victims or activists or even clue less where I get stuck is attempting to even think about sexually abusing and making sex slaves of little children/girls, raping, torturing, murdering WAR etc. If I am ONE with that too how do I sleep at night or even think about the horrible suffering being caused etc. ???”

Sometimes the heart of man gets confused.  Some reach out in violence in an attempt to connect.  They have become so angry, they lash out in venomous spite of their own hurt.

I’ve noticed that if I accept at base that there are those on the planet who, thrashing around in their own roiling pain inflict pain on others, it allows me a different space of understanding and possibility. When I fully realize that this, too, is present here, I open to what is possible for ME, in it all.   

We do not have to feel at one with such things to open our heart in compassion.  There is a deeper responsibility in matters of the heart than sentiments can possibly evoke.  The compassion of which we speak here is of stronger stuff than that.  Our responsibility in these things goes far beyond feelings.  When we get caught in the dynamic of that which is happening, we are lost in the suffering, itself.  When we, instead, drop into a deeper matrix – that space from which we have all originated before we began to get confused – we can find the sustenance we need to effect change that is more kind.

Our true responsibility is to attend to the sacred heart of kindness, which does not have sentiment as part of either its evocation or its delivery.  The responsibility of kindness is firm, steadfast and solid and ever looks within for the guidance and the strength to follow through on its path.

Maintaining our own intention to do no harm, and to allow for the healing possible to, for and through us in any given moment happens here – in this moment.  In this.  No matter what this “this” is.  And no matter how the pain of the moment is being expressed or inflicted.  Sometimes the compassionate expression of our heart in the moment of need is a forceful directive for change.  To love those who are hurting is not to condone or support hurtful behavior, but rather to seek the skillful means by which EACH person in that dynamic is set free from the knot of recurring pain.

Since the details of this dynamic will vary according to the circumstance, we remain open to approach each specific situation simply with this intention:  that we be available to the action needed in THIS moment for what we find – here.  Reconfiguring what compassion looks like (or feels like) gives us greater bandwidth to do what is really needed.  Skillful means sometimes looks harsh on the outside; but if our intention remains clear to reduce suffering; to do no harm, we will be cutting away the chaff not the heart of that which needs attention.

So, the point of all this is to focus less on feeling at one with a hurtful dynamic, and to utter the prayer of “what is needed here?” when we meet it.  Then, to act courageously in the way to which we are called.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Change from Peace (2)

Many of the people with whom I closely associate perceive that the world is in a heap of trouble. It seems the status quo is on a collision course with its own unsustainable future. The current trajectory includes an economic system based on infinite growth and a population boom that won’t stop expanding. Earth is a finite object, and it is where we live. Greed, avarice, financial-only based value systems – all of it – contribute to a malfeasant “bottom-line”.

We all – my friends and I – agree that to live simply, conserve, waste not, and consume little are good things to do. We share a belief in focusing on friendships, not malls, as where we gain sustenance in our lives.

But then, there is a divergence of attitudes. Some argue that “if you’re not afraid, you obviously don’t get the magnitude of the problem”; while others maintain that a fear-based response to the problems at hand is likely to keep the dilemma going.

Since I am of the latter group, it is easiest for me to speak from and about this viewpoint. I notice that fear often leads to attack, which is part of the problematic dynamic in the first place. Recognizing a situation of the magnitude of the one facing us can also be an invitation to dig down deeper into our own psyches to collectively find a different way to go about doing things. Making decisions from a space of peace, with actions designed as kindness to all involved would be a distinctly different way of going about things. Peace as a format really does require each of us, individually, to find that place-of-peace in our own souls. Otherwise it is simply lip-service – which sounds rather like the basis for thinking that got us into this mess.

Being deeply authentic and sincere in the actions of peace can only come about when – we are peaceful. And that, it turns out, is (or can be) hard work. It requires being honest with ourselves about our own fear, loathing, hatred and condemnation and facing these places squarely inside ourselves.

The goal, here, is peace as our operating principle. Because this will most likely support acts of kindness that accommodate the wellbeing of others as well as ourselves. This dynamic can only start from within each of us as an operative space. That means that we allow any fear or anger we feel about a situation to lead us into the place where we tell the truth in a way that deeply intends no harm – to self or the other. This is the collective difference we most need to make. The recognition that to do harm to any other by acts that originate from greed, fear or anger ultimately harms the soil on which we stand.

Live. And die.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

All things pass

I’ve had lots of opportunity in recent months to reflect on my relationship with instability. Our move across the country was punctuated by a robbery in Selma, CA, a car accident in Santa Rosa, NM and a severe migraine that left me five pounds lighter by the time we arrived on the East Coast. It was a transformative trip. Since then, the challenges of finding a house and the recent scare of colon cancer (that turned out to be an adenoma, not cancer) have driven home the awareness of our fragility and the temporary nature of all things.

In all of this, the background cadence of “this, too, will pass” has been a soothing drum-beat. At no time has it felt like there was a “mistake”, or an omen of a wrong turn or punishment for some things not done “right”. And, through each event, a goodness ensued. Beyond the obvious relief I felt from the pathology report being noncancerous is the joy I feel in knowing without a doubt that I am so unafraid of death. Only by staring it in the face for a few days as a real near-term possibility could I have arrived at the solidity of this knowing.

The loss of the many things on our trip across country left us even more aware of what matters to us – and grateful for what we do have. The difficulty finding a home served to both strengthen my resolve to not sell myself short under the pressure of compromise, and introduced us to a fantastic builder with whom we can actually create what we want.

I notice that any given circumstance can open to greater awareness, rather than feel like oppression that just won’t stop. Often in my professional life I have met individuals who seem to prefer maintaining their status quo, miserable though it is, over making the changes necessary to create true and lasting peace for themselves. On some level, our gut knows full well when the habits, relationships or situations we are in are hurtful. We know when we hurt. In an odd, paradoxical way, this is sometimes part of the attraction. Why is that?

There is no simple answer to this. But it may be helpful to consider a few thoughts. If we look closely, we see that there are sometimes hidden, presumed benefits from our pain and struggle. Being seen as a victim has a lot of bennies associated with it. For one, we get attention. For some this may be the only way they know to establish their worth in the world. Overcoming the victim stance requires great strength and courage because it has to be one of the most ennobled positions in the world. Victimhood is sinuously close to martyrdom, a revered state in many cultures. The trouble is, to keep getting the benefits associated with being a victim, we have to keep reinventing the drama of it – and experiencing the dastardly consequences.

There are indeed sometimes difficult circumstances in the world we must face. It is the way of this planet for all events and situations to come and go. Some are painful in their occurrence; some in their passing. How we frame these events in the matrix of our own psyche depends in large part on our acceptance of our experience as we have it. So long as we explain the passing events of our time as “our fault” or “punishment” or some other judgment–based picture, we will suffer an added blow to the original experience. Again and again, until we see it differently.

When we realize deeply that the ways of this world are in constant flux and that our experiences are potential openings to greater self-awareness, understanding, depth and acceptance, all these plays of our lives take on a different meaning. We learn to be curious about the event, and open to our experience. We learn to love ourselves in it all, and embrace ever again the possibility of deepening contact with that most precious ongoingness of life, Itself. Underneath all this is the fluid self-acceptance we can find by knowing that we, too, are temporary on this earth. We matter as we are – right now.

Noticing that all things – for better or for worse – are temporary phenomena is powerful medicine for overcoming resentment. Living in gratitude for the moments we do have – as we have them – is a payoff that beats victimhood hands down.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I recently had a conversation with a lovely woman (J.) * about manifestation. She wondered how it was that, with all her dedication to the spiritual path, she was unable to meet the basics of life. A good income, bills readily and easily paid, a nice place to live. Worry over survival lurked in the background of life. How could this be, when she had spent so much time and effort for so long on the path of clearing the inner demons from her soul?

I hear this particular story often. As J. pointed out, there is a fallacy amongst the spiritual that to be holy, one must be poor. An oath of poverty lurks in the background as an expectation. This is reinforced by the attitude of many that if a person is on spiritual path, they should not expect payment for their services – no matter how skilled they are or how useful that which is given.

It's a fine line, I think. Between, as the Buddhists recommend, not having desires that get in the way of our happiness and, on the other hand, being completely honest with ourselves about what our desires and longings actually are. The answer is contained within this seeming paradox. I notice that as we stay honest with ourselves about what's up for us, desires fall away on their own as deeper issues are resolved. Sometimes these desires get met in the basic ways that are needed, sometimes we gain insights that make the original desires seem obsolete. But, going after the desires, themselves, as a bad thing to “get rid of” misses the point.

The demons that most need to be healed are those needing the compassion of acceptance within ourselves. Only then are we led into paths of self nurturance. When we accept what we find we are best able to fully take care of ourselves and that which we are called upon to do. This kind of self-honesty leads us to take care of what is necessary in the outer world. By attending to the inner spaces with kindness, we find a reservoir of strength to do all we are called upon to do. If we try to convey an image that is not true or congruent with the depths of our own soul or psyche, we lead ourselves astray. Often, ironically, staying honest with ourselves in the areas where we have fears and/or anxieties becomes more challenging as we traverse the spiritual path. We KNOW we've tried so hard - have had such good intentions -- why, then, is there still this and this and this we are dealing with?

But, indeed, when we gaze into our soul, above all else we need to be honest. To embark on the spiritual path is to open to ever greater levels of truth. When we rush too soon to meet/fit an image of holiness we are striving to embody, we may miss the most important elements of true self-evaluation which we are being called upon to do. This means we don’t try to be peaceful, calm, or free of desires. We look to see honestly what is encumbering ourselves from the freedom of joy. Becoming ever more honest about the anxiety we feel about our very own survival is part and parcel of this path. If what we find is fear of survival, or unhappiness over how we are being taken for granted or undervalued or any such thing, this is exactly where we dwell within ourselves. With kindness, compassion and great generosity of spirit for that which we have found.

If our mind is still muddied with fear, it does no good to deny it for the sake of image. To motor over fear (or whatever) is to deny a fact of our experience. Inevitably, as the fear space is healed, the necessary desires are fulfilled and the concomitant unnecessary desires and cravings dissipate. These are not things we extinguish by mentally convincing ourselves we shouldn’t have them. To say that desires are the source of our suffering is not to say to go after them with a pickaxe to eliminate them from our psyche. That is actually a form of aversion – the counter and equal force of craving – both associated with suffering.

Above all else, noticing the edges of our own anxiety is most helpful. Anxiety is often such a subtle, deep, penetrating layer of ourselves we don't even recognize it. It just -- IS. And so, to turn to see that shadow requires an adroit self-examining. To notice the pervasive anxiety that actually drives so much of what we do and strive for. To sit in the middle of THAT --- this is to open into such freedom. To stay still in the middle of the sensation of anxiety, itself. To only love ourselves there. To stay compassionate with this yet one more thing, until we stop struggling against HAVING yet one more thing.

Focus on treating each thing you find with compassion. With love and attention and a willingness to see what adventure this desire may be calling you into. Be gracious with this most precious life you have been given to tend. When we live with compassion, all aversive emotions dissipate of their own. In our depths we ARE peace. We ARE love. And this is what we find as all the arguments against that dissipate.

*There were several individuals within a three day period who had this or very similar situation to share with me! This is an amalgamation of these events.

Note to my readers: those of you who follow this blog will wonder the outcome of my May 22nd post. I am happy to report that an adenoma was removed and found to be not cancerous. Thank you for your caring.