Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Behind the Scene of Getting the COVID Vaccine

Don’t let images deceive you. You may think you see everything in my picture after getting the vaccine but you don’t. Let me take you behind the scenes of my life this past year. As I can only imagine what being behind the scenes of your life has been like for you.  

What you don’t see in the picture is my yearlong of agony, tears, hard decisions and losses, like all of us. What you don’t see is me having to hold it all together, for myself and for everyone else around me. 

What you don’t see is that I felt that nobody, and nowhere was safe, no matter what precautions I took. I felt I was vulnerable. Everyone else was vulnerable. (We still are). And use zoom virtual meetings as you may, the isolation felt almost deadly to my soul and suffocating at the very least. 

What you don’t see in the picture is how hard it was sitting through the longest and darkest night of my soul, and bearing witness to others’ darkest nights of their souls. While I reminded myself that it was the darkest right before dawn, to hang on tight, and that even the longest and darkest night ends, I didn’t know how much longer I could hang on to the hope for dawn. It became one day at a time, one shallow breath at a time with a mask on.

What you don’t see in the picture is me writing a letter to the governor, over a week ago, asking her when the COVID vaccine would get rolled out to addiction centers.

What you do see finally is my smile. 

Someone said to me, “Finally we see you smile.” 

I forgot how to smile this past year; truth be told. I didn’t have to smile. I had a mask on everywhere that I went. A smile was so rare to come by from others, and from myself.  

I didn’t realize that this past year, I was pursing my lips and holding my breath while being on this white knuckle COVID ride. Till, I felt my tears as I waited for the fifteen-minute period of monitoring after getting the vaccine. While the tears streamed, I felt my burdens ease a little. My chest felt less heavy.

The lady that took my picture is Judy. She owns a second hand store, where it has been like a ghost town this past year. I hadn’t seen Judy much or frequented her store this past year. While I was waiting on line to get my vaccine, I saw on her Facebook a frame that I was inexplicably drawn to. So, after I received the vaccine, I drove directly to the second-hand store and bought it. Judy stayed 6 feet back, and took my picture post COVID vaccine. She asked me if I wanted to have a second picture taken without the mask. I was hesitant. But, I looked at the serene frame, exhaled and said, “Sure, why not?” She reminded me to show my “dazzling smile”. So, I did, looking at the frame that I just bought.

I am calling the frame: the post COVID vaccine scene. It has blue calm colors, a coffee table and a chair, with a relaxing atmosphere, and a sense of perspective. The frame feels like I am  invited to finally sit or rather collapse into the chair, to feel the wind blow. I am invited to look outside of the window and feel that I am finally safe.  I can breathe and let go a little. 

So, this is what I want you to see in my picture post COVID vaccine: Hope for safety. Hope for dawn. Hope for being together with loved ones in person. Hope for connection again. Hope for wholeness again. Hope for healing. Hope for growth. Hope for change.


PS: I will still take my precautions, wear my mask, wash my hands and physically distance. But now, I do the same precautions with a different intention and perspective, not out of fear, but rather because of hope. 

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

You are the ONE you have been waiting for!

As the new year starts, and as you think of what intentions you want to set for this new year, how do you approach it? Do you make a list of goals you want to accomplish? Do you use a vision board? Do you find yourself sometimes feeling like you may not have all the needed resources, be it physical, material, emotional or spiritual? Do you end up feeling overwhelmed or start judging yourself for the past goals that you had and didn’t quite accomplish the way you planned? Have you ever wondered if  there is one crucial ingredient or a secret weapon that can help you on your journey to bring you fulfillment of your intentions? And if such a thing existed, how far would you be willing to travel to obtain it?

The crucial ingredient to inspire you, support you, uplift you and sustain you on your journey to pursue your intentions for this year is YOU-nique. It is YOU. Some people refer to it as TRUE SELF, and I like it call YOUR WISE HEART. Your wise heart has depth, evenness, acceptance and wisdom that only YOU would know and that only would apply to you, nobody else.

How do you access YOUR WISE HEART? Because once you access YOUR WISE HEART, you will know it. And, then, there is no stopping you from your fulfilling your life trajectory.

There are eight qualities that are doorways to your wise heart. By distancing yourself from your common behaviors, patterns and thoughts, you tap into these eight quality and experience your wise heart. So, as you set change in motion in your thoughts, behaviors and patterns, start listening to the following qualities show up in your life.

  1. Curiosity: This is the first step to making any change. This is where you start to be able to turn towards yourself and inquire within yourself to see what you are actually doing before you can make any changes. Do you find yourself judgmental, closed off and so stay stuck and negative? What happen if you let go of that judgement and become curious about getting to know yourself?
  2. Clarity: This comes from curiosity. If you are open to looking inward and learning about your patterns, then you begin to understand why you do the things you do. You become an observer of yourself. The observer self sees the big picture and offers a bigger perspective beyond a narrow viewpoint. Making decisions and setting boundaries become easier as a result.
  3. Compassion: This happens naturally after taking an inventory inwards and gaining clarity of why you did what you did. Compassion is hard to practice, both for yourself and for everyone else. But, with perspective and seeing the picture, you understand that you are not the only one struggling and that others are struggling also. And, you apply the same compassion you would give to a friend to yourself. You notice that you become kinder and less defensive and feeling isolated.
  4. Calm: This comes with clarity, and you can see and trust the bigger picture. You are no longer seeing things through the lens of fear and intention emotions. You are no longer holding on too tight, and getting upset over the smallest things that may not be relevant to your path in the long run.
  5. Confidence: This comes with finding calm and clarity. Inner trust comes more naturally and with trust, you are able to bounce back more easily, even when things don’t go as you expected.
  6. Courage: This comes with confidence, and the ability to act on decisions. It is taking the right action and is the anecdote to fear. You will find yourself pursing experience you were previously afraid to do.
  7. Creativity: With courage and confidence, you may feel yourself lighter, more creative and expressing yourself more. You will feel your connection to your intuition and be inspired.
  8. Connectedness: This comes with self compassion and being able to feel seen and accepted. You will start to feel more at peace and safe. And as result, you will find yourself spending more time with people and be in nature.

So, what are you waiting for?

What you have been waiting for is YOU.

Will you take the first step to be with yourself, and look within yourself with curiosity, and compassion?

Are you ready to be inspired and transformed by experiencing YOUR AMAZING WISE HEART?


References: Internal Family Systems. Richard Schwartz, PhD.

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

How are you faring 9 months into the pandemic?

This is a view from my window

I am not, to be totally honest. Nobody is. It is hard to keep it together all the time, for ourselves, and our loved ones during the pandemic.

Most of us are feeling exhausted, numb and burned out from dealing with decision fatigue. 

I recently listened to a podcast by Brené Brown where she interviewed two authors of a book called Burnout. The authors talked about how emotional exhaustion happens because we don’t let the neurobiology of emotion complete its full cycle. 

What does that mean?

Every emotion has a beginning, a middle and an end. And when we don’t let the emotion complete the full cycle, we get stuck in a tunnel. This is when burn out, exhaustion and emotional numbing show up in our lives, our bodies and out relationships. 

How can you let your emotions complete the full cycle?

1) Physical activity
This can be as simple as taking a walk outside, or doing your favorite stretch. Have you ever watched how easily and frequently cats and dogs stretch and shake it off? Our pets are onto something very wise.

2) Breathing
This can be as simple as breathing in to a count of 4, holding your breath to a county of 4 and exhaling to a count of 4. Or, even letting out a long, loud sigh would do!

3) Positive Social Interaction
This can be as simple as smiling at someone, or being kind to a stranger, or saying “Have a nice day” to someone at the store. 

4) Laughter
Think of a really funny joke, or an amusing encounter and let yourself laugh about it. You may want to have someone else to share the laugh with! 

5) Affection
Cuddle up with your pet. Give a hug to someone you are close to. 

6) Creative Self Expression
Take whatever is inside of you and put it outside of you in a creative expression. Maybe you like to make collage. Maybe you like to knit, or make origami.

Even by imagining your way through a story, that is a form of self expression. Give yourself permission to daydream.

The picture above was taken in my office. Iowa is not by the beach, so I bought this picture of a beach to help me imagine being by the beach, next to a nice breeze. And, I put the puppets next to it to remind me of what it is like to simply be and play by the beach.

There is no right or wrong way to how you express yourself. So, go ahead and imagine your heart’s desires. 

“Take your broken heart and make it into art,” as Carrie Fisher says.
What art do you give yourself permission to create?

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

New Moon Circle 10/15/2020

The Vision. The Dream. The Intention.
Once Upon A Time, many many moons ago, people from around the world were in tune with cycles, rhythms, seasons, so much so that a lunar calendar was born. The lunar calendar remains, and so does the moon with its cycles.

While the path of the moon continues round and round, many of us have gotten of cycle, and in states of dis-ease, spun off by foreign rhythms, spinning us out of control. Rituals, setting intentions, taking the time to pause and listen to our inner guidance and wisdom within a community bring us back into rhythm, harmony and a state of ease.

It is between the inhalation and exhalation that we can take a pause and reset our nervous system. On the night of a new moon, of this simple pause that nature gives, please come and join me in community, to set your own intentions and come into rhythm, and right relationship with yourself, your life and your loved ones. Please share this with others to attend.

Come as you far, no more and no less.

We will do the meetings via zoom for now with the hopes that we will do it in person in the near future.
This is a free offering.
7:00pm-8:30pm CST.
Zoom ID will be sent once you RSVP.
Space is limited to 10 people.
You can let me know if you are attending through facebook message, instagram or email

What to Bring
– Something you hold as sacred, or what makes you feel comforted or safe. It may be a stone, or a blanket, or a picture of a loved one.
– Something you hold as beautiful or brings you joy. It may be flowers, or vegetables from your garden, or your pet.
– A hot cup of tea, or maybe some incense

May you be well.
May you be at ease.
May you be at peace.

See you at our circle among other fellow sojourners.

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Self-Care Practices: From The Inside Out

Because there is nobody else like you in the world, your self-care is your unique imprint that only you intimately know and build over time. Anything  worth doing takes time to practice and cultivate, and self-care is no different.  So take a deep breath, maybe get a warm drink and sit in your cozy lounge chair to take measure of YOUR self-care. What we take measure of, we can appreciate and grow.  You may want to get a pen and paper to reflect on the questions below. As you reflect on your self-care journey, I will share with you my evolving journey to self-care practices in the hopes to support and inspire you.

Why do you value self-care practices?

I value my self-care practices because I inherently matter. I matter because I am the only person who can be me. Who I am, my gifts, desires, dreams and visions all matter because I matter. I learned over time to differentiate between self-worth and self-esteem, the latter is based on what I do or what others think of me, all of which is externally driven. I practice self-care because I feel energized, rested, healthy and connected to myself afterwards.

What do your self-care practices look like?              

My self-care practices involve physical, mental, emotional and social routines. Physically, I pay attention to the amount of sleep I get, having regular healthy meals and being physically active. Mentally, I maintain a mindfulness-self compassion meditation practice and a gratitude journal. Emotionally, I practice good boundary setting, saying no, asking for help when I need it, staying true to my values and spending time doing things I enjoy. Socially, distanced of course, I spend time with people whose company and friendship I value.  

What messages from others have you gotten about self-care practices?

I used to think that self-care is selfish and self-indulgent. I also used to think that it was a temporary thing to do rather than a practice to maintain and cultivate. I used to think that there was a right way to do it, and so wouldn’t practice self-care “because I didn’t give it the right amount of time.” I also used to approach self-care practice as something “I deserved if I worked hard enough for it.” I used to think that self-care practices were set in stone and were not dynamic.  

How has your self-care practice evolved over time?

I have learned over time to give myself permission to let my self-care practices adapt, change and grow. I have noticed that my needs vary depending on the season of the year, how my physical health is and the daily demands of life, work and relationships. Each life experience has shaped who I am becoming. I have learned to honor my growth and so reassess what I need from my self-care practices and what I want them to look like. I have certainly had to adapt them during this challenging time for all of us.

When are you least likely to practice self-care?

I noticed that I forgo my self-care practices when I am taking care of others’ needs, and when I have external demands on my time from others and from work. I also noticed that I don’t maintain my self-care practices when I place demands and expectations of myself, when I let myself believe my negative beliefs of myself and when I set poor boundaries.  

When do you know that you need to practice self-care? Do you notice physical or emotional changes without doing self-care?

I notice that I haven’t been practicing self-care enough, or need to adjust it, when I feel easily overwhelmed, become emotionally reactive and don’t have the bandwidth to handle curve balls that life throws at me. I also notice it when I start to be harder on myself and blame myself and show less compassion towards myself and others. I tend to lose my sense of curiosity and adventure and overall feel that I have less physical energy.

Do you keep a certain schedule or rituals for self-care? If not, why not?

I learned that I need to maintain an adaptable routine. The keywords being consistency, flexibility and gentleness towards myself with less self-judgement. There are times, when I have more time to do more self-care. There are other times where I recognize that I need to do more self-care practices depending on life-circumstances. I used to be rigid about my self-care, and that created more stress and self-judgement. It is an evolving dance.

Who or what inspires you to practice self-care? Why?

My patients inspire me to maintain my self-care practices. When I witness how they are able to cultivate over time their self-care practices and how well they feel and grow, it reminds me to listen to myself and my needs. Also, my friends, who are my source of accountability, remind me to return to my self-care practices.

What do you like most about your self-care practices?

I like how I feel, think and connect to myself and others when practicing them.  I also notice that I am able to be and live as a better version of myself. I notice that I am able to pause before reacting to people, places and situations, and act in a way more consistent with my goals, values and visions. I also tend to have less of a need to consume in general, whether it be food, media or buying things.  

What are some of your challenges around self-care practices?

I notice that comparing my self-care practices to what others do for their self-care practices discourages me. Self-judgement about if I am practicing enough or practicing the right way diminish the joy I receive from practicing self-care. When I perceive that I have less time, then I practice less self-care. When I lose sight and connection to my values, I also value less my self-care.

How would you like to grow your self-care practices?                                                                                         

I would like to build more of my self-practices within a community, as it is easy to believe that I am alone and isolated, especially during this challenging time. I look forward to the personal growth in the face of current challenges to adapt my self-care practices. Curiosity and a sense of adventure are key ingredients to the process.  

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Doctor’s Prescription: Forest Bathing, The Art of Slowing Down

I don’t know about you, but with COVID and social distancing, I notice that I have been spending a lot more time outside in nature, and that is how I discovered forest bathing. The practice of forest bathing, also called forest therapy, involves no bathing and is not led by a therapist. It originates in Japan since the 1980s, and is known as shinrin-yoku which means “taking in the forest.” It is the practice of moving slowly in nature using all the five senses. It feels like and looks a lot like standing around so to speak. While it may seem easy to do, it turns to be harder to do in practice as you start to notice your thoughts the more you slow down.

When I started moving slowly in nature, I started to notice my own thoughts: am I moving too slowly? What will people think who pass me on the trail? Am I doing this right? However, the more I slowed down, and stopped to notice different plants and animals, the more I became aware of the smells and sounds around me, and the more I was able to appreciate the present moment and my own breath. Doing forest bathing has helped me move from doing more, to more being, which has been enjoyable.

Some of the benefits of forest bathing include relaxation, less stress, connections with nature,  insights to take home, improved mood, improved vigor, reduced fatigue and feelings of awe. Research is showing that being in a natural setting is good for mind-body health. It can lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels and improve concentration and memory. A chemical released by plants and teers, called phytoncides, boosts the immune system.

How to Go Forest Bathing

  • You can choose anywhere in nature, it can be a park, a forest
  • Make sure you have left your phone behind
  • Relax all your muscles
  • Walk aimlessly and slowly
  • Let your body be your guide, letting it lead you where it wants to take you
  • Follow your nose
  • Take your time
  • Savor smells, sounds sights of nature, let the forest in
  • Slow down, stop often. This is not a hike

So, what are you waiting for? Start your forest bathing therapy today and find out what it is like for you!

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Mindfulness Self Compassion workshop 4/25/2020

This workshop is coming at a time when all of us are grappling with changes, disappointments, grieving losses, the unknown future of ourselves, families, work , local communities and the entire international community.
How do you typically react to difficulties in life- work stress, rejection, physical problems, financial difficulties? Most of us deal with such difficulties by finding faults in ourselves, “It’s my fault. I will never succeed. I am not good enough.” You can fill in the blank for what you say to yourself during challenging times.
Integrating Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) in our daily life supports us in dealing with difficult emotions and challenging situations. It increases confidence and a healthy sense of self. It helps us processing difficult experiences and developing self-awareness. Self-compassion is a skill that can be cultivated.
This workshop is an introduction to how to cultivate mindful self-compassion. It is based on an 8 week program in Mindful Self-Compassion that Kristin Neff, PhD and Christopher Germer, PhD, created based on research in the field of self compassion and mindfulness. This is an experiential workshop.
When you take this workshop, you learn some skills to soften, so to speak, the blow of all these uncertainties.
You can email me at or message me on facebook for registration.
Registration fee is $40. Cash, check, debit and credit card are all accepted. Pre-registration is required.
Space is limited to 10 people.
Location: this workshop will be virtual given the current circumstances and the recommendation of social distancing.
Time: April 25, 2020 from 1pm to 4pm.

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Mind Body challenging times..

Do you feel like you need emotional and mental support? How does your body feel with all these emotions? Do you feel that you are not able to be there for others? When you are able to take care of yourself, you can be there for others.

Join me online to learn to support yourself first and then others by learning some mind body skills created by Center for Mind Body Medicine.

“Mind-body medicine is based on the scientific understanding of the inextricable connection among our thoughts, sensations and feelings, and our mind, body, and spirit – between ourselves and the social and natural world in which we live. CMBM’s approach to wellness is grounded in practical, evidence-based skills for self-care, nutrition, self-awareness, and group support.

Mind-body skills (such as meditation, biofeedback, guided imagery, and self-expression in drawings, words, and pictures) are scientifically validated to reduce stress and restore physical and psychological health. The mind-body approach heals individual trauma and builds community-wide resilience.
All people have the capacity to understand, help, and heal themselves. When we share this process of healing with others, we serve our highest purpose and facilitate the most life-enhancing and enduring changes.”

Join me on fb live to learn a mind body skill that helps you stay centered and grounded during this time. This will involve a guided meditation. The only pre-requisite is being able to take one breath at a time. Please share.

Below is our first session, which was on 3/24/2010 at 6pm- 7pm CST.

Next session is 3/31/2010 at 6pm- 7pmCST

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Self-Compassion: Being On Your Own Side

As you read this article, I want you to write down the first words that you tell yourself when you fail, or when something doesn’t go your way, or a friend does not return your phone calls or when you have financial or health stressors.

Most of us understand compassion for others; it is central to most world religions. The golden rule is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Self-compassion implies learning to treat ourselves the way we would treat others when they suffer or fail.

There has been ample research about the benefits of self-compassion. Self-compassion has been found to be linked to a decrease in negative mind-states such as anxiety, depression, stress, rumination, perfectionism and shame (Zessin, Dickhsuser & Garbadee, 2015). It also has been linked to an increase in positive mind states such as life satisfaction, happiness, connectedness, self-confidence, optimism, curiosity and gratitude. It also has been linked to more effective coping with divorce (Sbarra 2012) and with chronic health conditions (Sirois 2015). Self- compassion also has been linked to having less fear of failure, and more likelihood to try again and persist in efforts (Breines & Chen 2012). People that worked on self-compassion reported healthier body image; healthier eating behaviors, less alcohol use and more exercise (Terry & Leary 2011). It also has been found to be linked to better romantic relationships, more altruism for others, less burn-out and less “compassion fatigue” (Neff, Beretvas 2012 and Raab 2014).

Applying compassion towards ourselves is easier said than done. What happens when we close our eyes, pay attention and give ourselves compassion and kindness? We awaken to the unlovely parts of ourselves and old wounds that have been hiding. Navigating the territory of the unlovely parts of ourselves requires the cultivation of certain skills in order to be able to shine the light on these parts, stay there with the undesired pieces until they are transformed.

Let’s address some myths about self-compassion.

  1. Self-compassion is not a form of pity. It does not mean feeling sorry for yourself. In fact, it is an antidote to self-pity and the tendency to whine about our bad luck.
  2. Self-compassion does not mean a person is weak. Researchers are discovering that self-compassion is a powerful resource to cope and be resilient in the face of difficulties.
  3. Self-compassion does not make the person complacent. In fact, we tend to think that the more we criticize ourselves the more motivated we can become. Researchers have found that if we are able to acknowledge our failures with kindness rather than judgment, we get in touch with other parts of ourselves that care about ourselves to be healthy and happy. 
  4. Self-compassion is not narcissistic. Indeed, the emphasis on self-esteem in American culture has led to a rise in narcissism. Self-esteem is fragile and is based on positive evaluation of self-worth. Self-compassion, on the other hand, is a way of relating to the ever changing dynamics of who we are with kindness and compassion. With self-compassion, we acknowledge that we all share the human condition of imperfection.
  5. Self-compassion is not selfish. When people are engrossed in self-judgment, they have little space left to think about other people. When we can nurture ourselves, meeting our emotional needs first, then we are able to have space and ability to focus on other people (Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion).

There are different ways to cultivate self-compassion. For example, some mindful-based approaches include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy (Keng 2012, Gilbert 2010). Mindfulness Self-Compassion (Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer) is another approach that offers different skills to cultivate self-compassion.

Exercise #1 (adopted from Mindfulness Self-Compassion program by Kristen Neff and Christopher Germer): Changing your critical self-talk.

Go back to the list that you made at the beginning in regard to what you tell yourself when you fail or things don’t go as you planned. Notice what words you use when you are self-critical: Are there phrases that come up over and over again? What is the tone of your voice? You want to get to know the inner self-critic and to become aware of it when it is active.

Soften the self-critical voice with compassion without self-judgement. Some phrases that you can use may be “I know you are worried about me and want my safety, and I am thankful for your care but your worry is causing me pain.” By offering your inner-critic self-compassion, and staying gently with it, it will slowly transform into self-compassion that starts to affect the other parts of yourself.

Exercise #2 (adopted from Mindfuless Self-Compassion Program by Kriten Neff and Christoper Germer): Soften-Soothe-Allow.

Take a comfortable seat and bring into mind a situation that is a little stressful. Now, soften gently a location in your body and relax your muscles, holding the feeling that comes up gently, without changing it or judging it. Next, soothe yourself because of this stressful situation. You may wish to place your hand over a part of your body that feels uncomfortable and imagine  warmth and kindness flowing from your hand into your body. You may say to yourself soothing words, “It is ok. I am sorry you feel this way.” Lastly, allow the discomfort to be there, releasing any need to control it or make it go away. Now, let go of the practice and allow yourself to just be where you are.   

Like any skill, these two skills will take time to practice and build. Be gentle with yourself and be on your own side as you practice them.


The Proven Power of Being Kind To Yourself. Self-Compassion.Kristin Neff.

The Mindful path to self-compassion. Christopher Germer.

Mind Body Medicine Sioux City

Mindfulness Self-Compassion workshop 3/28/2020

How do you typically react to difficulties in life- work, rejection, physical problems or financial difficulties? Most of us deal with such difficulties by blaming ourselves. You can fill in the blank for what you tell yourself during these times, “I am not good enough. I will never succeed. It’s my fault.”

Self- esteem needs success to prove your self-worth, whereas self-compassion says you are worthy no matter what. Integrating mindful self-compassion (MSC) in our daily life supports us in dealing with difficult emotions and situations. It increases confidence and a healthy sense of self. It helps us to process difficult experiences and developing self-awareness. Self-compassion is a skill that can be cultivated.

This workshop is an introduction to how to cultivate mindful self-compassion. It is based on an 8 week program in Mindful Self-Compassion that Dr Kristen Neff and Dr Christopher Germer created based on their research in mindfulness and self compassion.

This is an experiential workshop. Space is limited to 10 people. Pre-registration is required.

Location: 505 5th street, Suite 201, Sioux City, IA

Date and Time: 3/28/2020 1:00pm-4:00pm

Registration fee is $49. Early registration by 2/29/2020 is $40. Cash, debit or credit card are accepted.

Contact details for registration:, or you can message me on instagram nesrinabuatamd or on facebook Page Nesrin Abu Ata MD.