Anita Kemp Ph.D. Blog

Ideas for a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Our Wisdom Years

I just finished reading a book that would interest anyone 60+. Charles Garfield wrote Our Wisdom Years: Growing Older with Joy, Fulfillment, Resilience and No Regrets. He leads us through nine stages for moving from adult to elder. He presents his own journey in which his goal oriented stress lifestyle dramatically ended with hip issues. He was stopped cold and had to reinvent himself by slowing down.

His Third Task stood out for me – “Shifting your eyes from the goal to the moment.” This is about finding joy in the moment and spending more time with the joyful and not asking “At my age?” I have seen 90 year old women doing yoga and on the balance bar in a gym. Why not? Or maybe your joy is watching the flowers grow or sitting with a tree.

You will find many good ideas and contemplative exercises here to move strongly into the next years of your life.

April 23, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Increase Your Resilience

In these times, resilience is what is required. Rick Hanson PhD has been working with this topic for a while and even has a book called Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakeable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness. The basic premise is to actively cultivate positive emotional states. The process involves being aware, feeling the state, then letting it be with the final piece installing an experience of the antidote. The last piece requires embodying the positive emotion and feeling it strongly.

Because we are wired to remember the negative more than the positive, this retraining does take effort and consistent effort. One time does not do it. Each time you are aware of depressed emotional state (for example), you bring up a time of joy and bring it into your body. Where do you feel joy inside? Then intensify the feeling.

Another key to the process is not to push away the depressed emotional state, feel it and hold it in awareness with all its nuances before you let it go. Note letting it go is different from pushing it away.

May we all experience more calm, strength and happiness in 2021!

January 2, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Bliss for Your Brain

all use a little bliss in our world now. So check out this new book by Dawson Church called BLISS BRAIN: THE NUEROSCIENCE OF REMODELING YOUR BRAIN FOR RESILIENCE, CREATIVITY AND JOY. He presents the Default Mode Network that operates for most of us as a scanner for all the things that can go wrong and fuels worries and negative thinking. With the Ecomeditation technique he developed and also other meditation techniques  the brain is rewired and creates a calmer and even blissful state. His technique is fun – starting with a round of tapping Emotional Freedom Technique and then a breathing pattern.

There is clear discussion of the parts of the brain that change along with neurochemical and brain wave changes. He stated that the Ecomeditation puts one in the alpha brainwave state immediately – not needing 20 minutes as other meditation techniques seem to need. Then there are the “Seven Drugs of Bliss” that kick in – dopamine (motivational neurotransmitter), serotonin (feel-good neurotransmitter), norepinephrine (wake-up neurotransmitter), oxytocin (hug drug), beta-endorphin (pain killer), anandamide (the primary endocannabinoid).

Especially now that our ability to hug and be with others along with other activities meditation that produces all the above benefits and more is even more crucial to our state of well-being.

There is a lot of good and interesting information in this book. You can sample Ecomeditation at

October 31, 2020 Posted by | Emotional Well Being, meditation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


We are all being asked to Zoom, Skype, text, email instead of talking face-to-face. What are the implications for our humanity? The June Psychology Today issue addressed this in the article “Face Value.”

Here is a brief summary. Stephen Porges, neurocientist, sees our bodies as polygraph machines. Our autonomic nervous system picks up signals from people when we are with them. Are they safe? Are they dangerous? This process is beyond the words being said and beyond our conscious control. Our bodies know.  If we sense safety, we begin to synchronize and mirror each other. The mirroring allows empathy and as the process continues oxytocin gets released and we bond. We pick up subtle fluctuations in facial muscles that convey emotions. None of this can happen online or with text. A study looked into texting versus in person conversations between mothers and daughters. Bonding did not happen in the texting group. There are also nonverbal vocal cues that we pick up. Think of how many ways “I am happy to see you” can be expressed vocally with very different undertones.

These are things we inherently know but have been forgetting as our society becomes more tech and less in person. Even more concerning as we don’t use our in person skills, circuits and pathways in the brain atrophy. We lose the ability of reading people’s faces, empathy and bonding. I am reminded about a recent experience as National Park officer was prepping a group of us for our backpack. He was talking about the dangers and potential emergency situations. One young man had a question – “If I see someone hurt, should I stop and check on them?” This astounded me. Quoting from the Psychology Today article – ” When we move through the world with a level-headed gaze, we see others and feel responsible for those in distress. In our digital lives, it’s easier to turn away, but each time we do, we risk losing the capacity for empathy.

Perhaps this stopping due to Covid  19 will help us reassess our priorities.

April 30, 2020 Posted by | Emotional Well Being, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Amazing Benefits of Exercise

You will want to read Kelly McGonigal’s new book THE JOY OF MOVEMENT for a strong dose of motivation. Exercise releases endocannabinoids which reduces the stress response, stimulates the release of dopamine which fuels optimism and good feelings.  Regular exercise increases the brain’s sensitivity to this chemical. Therefore, exercise becomes more enjoyable the more you do it.

The exercise only has to be moderately difficult for you and for at least 20 minutes to get the high from endocannabinoids. It takes about 6 weeks from starting an exercise plan to get pleasure at its peak. Once it does, the motivation to keep exercising is there.

Exercise reduces anxiety, rumination and depression. The lactate produced by the muscles alters the brain neurochemistry to have these good effects.

Even more good news! Muscles are an endocrine organ and produce proteins called myokines that have multiple benefits. One such protein is Irisin which may prevent neurodegenerative  disorders like Alzheimer’s. It helps burn fat and stimulates the brain’s reward system.Thirty-five helpful myokines are released by the quadriceps during one hour of bicycle riding. These regulate blood sugar, reduce body and brain inflammation, kill cancer cells, help muscles get stronger.

Every step contracts over two hundred myokine-releasing muscles and the chemicals released benefit every area of your body and mind.




February 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

I have attended a yoga class for many years and have noted the benefits – feeling great at the end of class. Now I am finding out that there is a whole trend toward using Hatha Yoga and Pranayama for anxiety, depression and trauma.

You may want to explore this as well. Check out Amy Weintraub’s books – YOGA FOR DEPRESSION and YOGA SKILLS FOR THERAPISTS.  I especially like the sections on breathing techniques. She teaches breathing for balancing, relaxation, energizing and cleansing. Why does it help the emotional state? Amy cites the work of Dharma Singh Khalsa MD who stated that Yoga stimulates the pituitary to release endorphin and the glandular system to release adrenaline and norepinephrin compounds. The end result is to have a balance of relaxation and stimulation.

Another book that may be of interest is David Emerson and Elizabeth Hopper’s OVERCOMING TRAUMA THROUGH YOGA: Reclaiming Your Body. I haven’t yet started this one. However, Bessel Van der Kolk, the premier researcher on trauma,  has been endorsing yoga and body-based treatments for PTSD. If you have had any trauma, do read his latest book – THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE. 

Whether you want to alleviate anxiety or depression or just want to feel great, check out a yoga class.

January 5, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meditation Changes Your Brain

Research keeps coming on the benefits of meditation. Please check out the new book Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson. Some of the interesting findings summarized in this book you may already know. But here goes the list – faster recovery from stress, less amygdala reactivity (less hijacking by emotional ups and downs), improved happiness circuitry in brain, stronger ability to focus, improves working memory, inhibits impulsiveness, takes you out of negative self-focus, reduces pain, reduces inflammation, slows the usual shrinkage of brain upon aging (long-time meditators are “younger” by 7.5 years).  They review the literature and let you know how solid the results are. Some of the changes are viewed as traits – meaning that they stay with you – and others are temporary changes for as long as you keep the practice. Do you need more incentive to meditate? Of course, it is now recommended for anxiety, depression, addictions etc.

November 26, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Gut Microbes Matter

More information keeps coming out on the benefits of healthy gut flora. A diversity is needed because each different strain has different benefits. Besides the physical health benefits for chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes and obesity, there are mental health benefits. A new study found benefits for PTSD. More research needs to occur because this study was on mice and there is a long stretch to say that mice meet the criteria for PTSD because they cannot report the symptoms. However, new mental health treatments might just involve diet and/or fecal transplants. Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter of Sept. 2016 has a good article on this. He advises including in your diet leafy green vegetables, and fermented foods along with exercise, avoiding antibiotics and not being a germophobe.

October 17, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Get ready for the holidays and jump start your weight management to be able to handle the holiday foods. This is a 4 session class that covers Tapping/Acupressure for weight loss and cravings as well as self-sabotage; Hypnosis for motivation for healthy exercise; Mindful Eating to practice enjoying smaller portions and Imagery to feel good about your body and Self.

The psychological issues are the ones that block women from maintaining weight loss and being successful. These tools provide an important part of the answer. Don’t try another fad diet. Eating healthy along with exercise is the key and these psychological tools make it much easier. RSVP at 530-222-5253 or

October 7, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thew News Is In: We Can Eat Fat Again

You may want to check out the TIME article June 13, 2014 about eating fat. Apparently there is no significant evidence that saturated fat increases cardiovascular disease. And although saturated fat raises LDL, it also raises the HDL. So it makes no difference. You can eat butter and cheese again.  Yes, it is better to eat polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat because they actually benefit the cardiovascular system. So keep the olive oil and salmon.

Next the impact on weight needs to be considered. The results seem to be in that a low fat, low calorie diet does not work. In fact, this makes our cells more resistant to insulin and the result is weight gain. What can you do? For weight loss, the Mediterranean diet and a low carb diet both work. But don’t skip the satisfying taste of butter, cheese and eggs. 


July 15, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment