“Understanding that we create our compulsions to take care of ourselves is essential in transforming our relationship to them.”

—Mary O’Malley

Mary O’Malley is an author, teacher, and counselor who helps people be aware of being fully alive. Her goal is to replace anxiety and struggle with ease and joy. By healing our inner wounds, we can go beyond ourselves and become a part of improving the entire planet.

When asked about living the life of your dreams, Mary thinks that most people begin to think about some life that is in the future. In her opinion, however, she feels that everything is already here right now. Because our mind is dualistic, we have a filter between our dream and the reality. A better body or a new car can’t satisfy us as much as relaxing into life and to the fact that we are being shown to let go of trying so hard. We are addicted to this struggle, but we can choose to be right here and now.

Mary feels she was gifted with great suffering in her life, turning to overeating, drugs, and alcohol in her twenties. Even with therapy, and group counseling, she attempted to take her own life three times. She even began to beat herself up for being a failure at being able to commit suicide. In this darkness, she asked, “If I can’t get out of this, what is this all about? “ Through being introduced to yoga in her 20’s, after that, it was as if the movie of her life went from black and white to technicolor. All of her trying to avoid and control her behavior only took her deeper into the quicksand of struggle. There was no need to analyze or fix anything.

Here are some important takeaways from our conversation with Mary during the Living the Dream Virtual Summit.


After meeting Stephen Levine, who studied people on their deathbeds, she began to find the way back to her self-love. For most of her life up until that point, she had lived in dread that something bad would happen, and it would be her fault. As she learned to be with these emotions, and these dark places, she began to notice that who she is at the core, is the space where all of the struggles simply pass through. Now, even if something happens, she accepts it as a part of her heart. When we feel helplessness, or sadness, we restrict, but when we can begin to expand, there is a spaciousness that allows us to heal.


When Mary consults with people, she invites them to go outside, sit on the porch, and just listen. It’s not a contest, and we can’t force it. When you take the time to be still for just a moment, you can see beyond the story you’ve created about it; your momentary struggle is so small compared to the expanse of the galaxy. It can be challenging to be there, and not let sounds and thoughts pass by without thinking or trying to come up with solutions. You’ve been conditioned to think about your life, but it’s when we let those thoughts pass without bringing us into the stories of our life, we can be here now.


The title of Mary’s latest book is What’s in the Way, is the Way. Our dualistic nature tells us that if we change this, or get rid of that, we miss where we are now. Our romanticized version of the now is a dream, but the moment includes pain, illness, and death. Compulsions such as being busy, overeating, drinking too much, etc. are an attempt to numb ourselves and avoid the moment. When you come across things you can’t control, it can be a gift. By going into fear and despair, something inside of you begins to awaken. Your curiosity is sparked, and you’re brought into the moment. Take the time to connect, rather than try to control.


What is right now, is the beauty of the moment, simultaneous with what we think is happening. The first spell to break through is thinking we are separate from the flow of life. We see ourselves as alone. When we shatter these illusions, feeling all alone is one of the most difficult ones to break through. We fear we’re not doing enough, are unloveable, or are not enough ourselves. Our challenges — illness, heartbreak, getting fired — will give you exactly what you need. When you can face whatever curveballs life throws at you, you can wake up out of the dream of struggle; you can see what the judgments your conditioning has created for you, and you can see how to step out of it.


Just like learning a foreign language, it takes repetition and practice. Your curiosity is weak and follows your thoughts wherever they go. By strengthening the muscle of your attention, you can stay present longer and longer each time. Mary thinks that meditation has so much charge to it, that she prefers the term “returning practice.” If even for five minutes a day, we can take the time to bring our attention “here.” It’s not a quick fix, but it’s the only way out. There is no perfect way to do this, and your mind will wander, but just keep at it. You’ll begin to recognize an emotion like fear, rather than identifying with it by saying “I am afraid.” We can separate ourselves from the feeling. When we connect our attention, with what is happening at the moment, there’s alchemy. We begin to blossom. By accepting ourselves through being attentive, rather than resisting our emotions, we can fully live in the present.

What if we could take a moment to say yes to our lives, rather than wishing we were somewhere else? We can exercise our mind muscle, raise our awareness, we can be “here” and allow a letting go of our endless trying. We have been conditioned to be so in our heads, and our addiction to struggle is so strong, it can be difficult. When we start paying attention to where we constrict, we can choose to release and engage fully with life.

Living the Dream Virtual Summit, a four-day virtual conference filled with extraordinary speakers and experts sharing their proven practices and exercises on how to let go of whatever’s holding you back from believing in yourself, is NOW open. Visit LivingTheDreamSummit.com to register or purchase an All Access Pass.

Written by Bridget Baker
Photo Credit: Chang Duong, Unsplash.com