“have I done my best today?”
I asked myself
as I stared at a blinking cursor
on my computer monitor.

“no, not yet”
I thought to myself
as I typed a few more keys
on my keyboard, relentlessly.

“where is the summit?”
I wondered to myself
and I implored the world in my heart
found the people I’ve met,
stories we shared,
and saw them pointing towards the bright light
next to the blinking cursor
on my computer monitor.


Cognitive Benefits of Napping

As young kids, we have enjoyed naps frequently. As we grow older, napping becomes less frequent. Some people may even actively avoid napping, concerned that they may not get sleepy enough to fall asleep at night. Yes, sleeping on time at night is important. But did you realize that sleeping on time is also essential? This post will explore appropriate ways to take a nap and the cognitive benefits of napping.

  1. What are the Cognitive Benefits of Napping?
  2. How Do You Nap?
  3. Types of Naps
  4. Summary

What are the Cognitive Benefits of Napping?

Just as having enough sleep gives cognitive benefits, there are a lot of benefits to getting a nap. Let’s first explore the cognitive benefits of taking a nap.

  • Napping and cognitive function level: a 2020 study on the Chinese population aged over 60 years old found that those who regularly took naps scored higher in the Mini-Mental State Examination test, which is often used to assess the risk of dementia risk. While napping has a protective effect, it could also be an indicator of cognitive impairment. A 2019 UCSF study suggests that napping could be an early indicator of cognitive impairment.
  • Napping and diseases: A study done in 2018 found that taking naps reduces the risk of Parkinson’s Disease. A 2015 study found that taking naps may also reduce cardiovascular diseases.
  • Napping and emotion: a study at the University of Michigan found that napping leads to less impulsiveness and increased frustration tolerance.

How Do You Nap?

One of the ways to get started with napping is to learn how to nap appropriately. Here are a few key points to keep in mind as you go for your nap:

  1. According to the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorder Center’s medical director, Charlene Gamaldo, taking a nap between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM will benefit the most because of the sleep cycle timing.
  2. Taking a nap in a cool, dark, and silent place may increase the quality of your nap.
  3. Napping time should like between 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Setting an alarm before you fall asleep might be a good idea. Otherwise, it may lead to 2 types of side-effects of napping:
  4. Talk to your physician about whether any medication interferes with your nap. Certain arthritis, mental health, and blood pressure medications may interfere with sleep quality.

Types of Naps

  • Power Nap: a term coined in 1990 to encourage naps during work hours; taking 10 minutes or less after lunch is recommended to relieve drowsiness.
  • Recovery Nap: it’s a kind of nap that’s recommended to make up for lost hours of sleep
  • Coffee Nap: a nap taken after sipping coffee or tea. It takes about 20-30 minutes for the caffeine effect to take place, and it may rejuvenate energy.


In this blog post, we explored the potential benefits of taking a nap, how we can nap efficiently, and what side effects could happen if we take it at the wrong time or longer than necessary. Each person may have different physiological needs, so consult your physician about napping if you want to dive deeper into the world of napping!

Disclaimer: This web post is for information purposes. If you have medical needs, please contact your primary care physician.

Cognitive effects of Reading

As you are reading this post, you may wonder, “How am I absorbing this information?” In short, there are a lot of complicated processes that is involved in reading a text and incorporating the knowledge into our brains. In this post, we will explore what components and processes are involved in reading and are cognitive benefits of reading texts such as books, articles, and blog posts like this one.

  1. What is reading?
  2. Components of reading
  3. Cognitive effects of reading
  4. Summary

What is reading?

While reading is natural for most people, understanding what it really is, and what processes are involved can help you read more efficiently.

  1. National Accessible Reading Assessment Project (NARAP) claims that there are 3 types of reading:
    1. Reading is decoding and understanding written text
    2. Reading is decoding and understanding text for particular reader purposes
    3. Reading is the process of deriving meaning from text.
  2. Irena Kuzborska from the University of York breaks down the reading process into Knowledge Base, Cognitive Process, and Metacognitive Processes.
    1. The knowledge base comprises Background Knowledge, such as people and places, and Linguistic Knowledge, such as grammar and syntax.
    2. Cognitive Processes are composed of Comprehension Processing Strategies, such as building inferencing and organizing text-level structures, and Linguistic Processing Strategies, such as chunking into phrases and accessing the meaning of words.
    3. Metacognitive Processes are composed of executive control and goal-setter, such as adjusting reading style to the appropriate purpose and genre of the reading.  

Components of reading

There are neurological and psychological components to reading. Here are a few of the major components of the reading process:

  1. Phonics: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education defines it as teaching the code-based portion of reading and spelling that symbol-sound relationships.
  2. Decoding: is an ability to translate a word from print to speech
  3. Fluency: is an ability to identify rhythm, phrasing, intonation, as well as accuracy and reading rate

Cognitive effects of reading

While some studies indicate the benefits of reading for preventing cognitive decline in those with early mild cognitive impairment or dementia, some studies did not show effectiveness. Below are a few examples showing the benefits of reading:

  1. In 2021, a 14-year follow-up survey study in Taiwan found that leisurely reading activities were associated with better cognitive outcomes (telling the time/location, remembering personal information, and counting backward).
  2. In 2010, the University of Liverpool found that reading in groups and engaging in stimulating activities together could significantly improve the mental health of depressed patients.  
  3. A 2015 study at Northern Arizona University found that Intergenerational Program (IGP), which involves putting together school-aged children and older adults to read together, did not show any improvement in cognitive function level or mood but did improve the quality of the relationship between older adults and children.


In this post, we explored what reading is, what is involved in reading, and explored the potential benefit of reading. Although this is not an exhaustive list, we hope this has helped you understand what is involved in reading and what could be some of the benefits of reading!


walking across a park,
I noticed a deer just standing.
I stared at her, and she stared back.
The deer walked towards me
slowly, smoothly, and silently.
I stood still,
even though I could reach her.
The deer peered into my eyes.
We stood there for a moment,
before she turned,
and started to walk away.
I turned,
wondering what could have been,
had I reached out to her.


Imagination & Goal Attainment

Today we will explore how imagination helps your goal attainment. Many of us may have encountered advice on how to achieve our goal: “imagine how happy you will be when you attain your goal!” Could this be true? Or could this act of imagination backfire? Read this post to learn more about the effects of imagination on goal attainment!

  1. What is Imagination & Creativity?
  2. What are the Effects of Imagination?
  3. How To Imagine Effectively?
  4. Summary

What is Imagination & Creativity?

First, let’s define what creativity, imagination, and fantasy means. Throughout the article, we will focus on using imagination for productivity.

  • Definition of creativity: creativity is defined as the generation of ideas that are original and valuable. Creativity relies on imagination.
  • Definition of Imagination: According to Merriam-Webster, imagination means “power of forming a mental image of something … never wholly perceived in reality,” or simply, “a creation of the mind.”
  • Definition of fantasy: fantasy is a process of creating something unrealistic in response to psychological need. It is distinct from imagination in a sense that while the imagination is related to reality, fantasy is related to unreality.

What are the Effects of Imagination?

As Albert Einstein said, “imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

  • Imagination and goal attainment:
    • A 2017 study on imagining carrying out a task successfully helps improve a performance by improving self-regulatory behavior. Similarly, a study found that learners imagining a procedure or concept performs better than learners studying the material.
    • A 2000 study on school children aged 8-12 years showed that those who mentally elaborated a desired academic future and present reality were more likely to stick to their goal commitments than those who either only indulged in the desired future or merely dwelling on the present.
    • Another experiment in the same study showed that specifying where, when and how they would start goal pursuit were comparatively more successful in meeting their goal.
    • It also showed that connecting anticipated situations with goal-directed behaviors (such as if-then statements) than merely thinking about opportunities to act makes the children more likely to act on their goals.
  • Imagination and mental health:
    • What could be the effect of goal-directed imagination on mental health? A 2021 study on 153 adults showed that goals that were more attainable, under control, and expected to bring more joy and had imaginations with more clarity, detail, and positivity had higher well-being and lower depressive symptoms.
    • Depressed individuals may have more negative, overgeneralized, and imprecise imagination. A 2013 study explains that points out that depressed individuals are more likely to give fewer examples of positive, detailed, and specific future events than non-depressed individuals.
  • Imagination and memory:
    • One of the types of memories is a visual memory. It is no surprising then that visual memory is associated with imagination. An MRI study (? source) points out that process of imagining can improve retaining short-or-long-term memories.
    • A 2015 study showed that for those aged more than 85 years old, cognitive stimulation therapy that incorporates imagination and creativity may also reduce risk of memory problems.
  • Social effects (interpersonal relationship quality)
    • A 2014 study showed that daydreaming about a others whom the daydreamer had a high quality relationship was associated with increased happiness, love, and connection
    • A 2013 study found that imagination can also boost a relationship between a certain brand and a consumer. Whether having similar brand improve the relationships between people have not been studied yet.

How To Imagine Effectively?

Have you ever had a writer’s block, where you cannot come up with an innovative topic to write about even as you wish you come up with something to write about? One of the reasons why we face a writer’s block could be because we were not intrinsically motivated to write. According to the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, individuals who are intrinsically motivated tend to be more creative; those who engage in creative activities for the sake of the activities themselves are better able to come up with original and valuable ideas. Wanting to help others may also increase the likelihood of becoming more creative.

  • Activities to boost imagination
    • Question: instead of passively consuming information, actively ask questions validity of the information. Ownership of ideas can help improve imagination
    • Investigate: actively seek out information for your need for your purpose
    • Collaborate: to promote multidisciplinary thinking, work with people from different backgrounds, exchanging and probing information
    • Experiment: using the information at hand, explore new possibilities and discuss with collaborators what could be new ways to apply the knowledge
    • Reflect: creative writing, self-reflection, listening to inspiring non-lyrical music, immersing into creative films/book can boost your imagination. Taking a walk or meditating could be helpful too.
  • Other activities
    • A 2009 study found that staring at color blue may help improve more imagination, while staring at color red may increase likelihood of paying more attention to details.


We have explored the benefits of imagination in attaining goals, improve memory, and steps that we can easily take to boost imagination and creative activity. Imagination can be a way to proactively create one’s own life path. If you feel you would benefit from proactively constructing your future, try boosting your imagination!

Disclaimer: This web post is for information purposes. If you have medical needs, please contact your primary care physician.

Benefits of Walking

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, most of us would admit to gaining a pound or two because of staying at home and restrictions on going to the gym. But did you realize that just taking a walk around your neighborhood can have a beneficial effect on your health? This post will describe the health effects of simple walking.

  1. What is Walking?
  2. How Do You Walk?
  3. What are the Benefits of Walking?
  4. Summary

What is Walking?

Walking is a type of cardiovascular activity that increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure. With increased blood flow, oxygen and hormones like endorphins can circulate throughout the body.

Walking is different from standing still. A 2020 study comparing quasi-static standing and walking found that while standing increases the likelihood of lower leg swelling and muscle fatigue, walking did not.

Walking is different from running. A 2006 study investigating the physiological and kinematic difference between the two forms of location found the key difference is that of the timing of each phase of locomotion.

The appropriate walking pace is a metabolic equivalent (MET) of 3.0 – 6.0, or 2.5 – 4.2 mph.

How Do You Walk?

Before the walk: before you set out to walk, a few steps of preparation can make your walk more enjoyable.

  1. Plan your route. Before you head out, planning ahead of time where you want to visit will make your walk more rewarding. If you want to walk without a plan, remember that disappointments are part of the process! Keep walking, and you will find the enjoyable journey of walking. Also, make sure that the neighborhood is safe. If you have a reward at the end of your trip, such as ice cream at the end of the walk, it will make your journey more rewarding! Sidewalks are generally recommended; if there is a school, a public park, or even a shopping mall nearby, give them a try!
  2. Protect yourself. Make sure to wear sunscreen and sunglasses if it is hot outside. Bringing a small backpack to pack your sanitary items and water bottle can be helpful!
  3. Wear your gear. Wear comfortable shoes wear. If it is hot outside, wearing shoes has a soft cushion and ventilation can be helpful! If it is cold outside, make sure to wear something that will help you prevent from slipping. Wear a smartwatch that can track your walk progress if you’d like.
  4. Stretch. Before you head out, stretching can help you prevent injuries such as falls and slipping.

During the walk: Mayo Clinic outlines simple tips on how to walk effectively:

  1. Keep your head up. Look forward, not towards the ground.
  2. Keep your neck, shoulders, and back relaxed, not stiff.
  3. Tighten your stomach muscle slightly to keep your back straight.
  4. Start each step rolling from hill to toe.

After the walk, rehydrate or have a light snack, such as a banana, to refuel. Write about any thoughts that you had during your walk.

What are the Benefits of Walking?

Improving Cognitive Level & Mood

Walking, in general, is more beneficial than not walking. However, walking outdoors is recommended compared to walking indoors. An ECG study conducted in 2018 showed that walking outdoors instead of indoors has a higher likelihood and more extended period of “meditative state.” In 2020, another study compared physical exercise with walking in nature and found that walking in nature lowered cortisol (stress hormone) levels and improved mood.

Preventative Effect

Studies have found protective effects of walking by reducing the risk of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. The 2018 Physical Activity Guideline for Americans recommends walking at least 150-300 minutes(2.5h-5h)/week. Walking can help improve body weight, teeth cavities, and diabetes by lowering cravings for sweet things like chocolate. It can even influence the gene expressions related to obesity to reduce the likelihood of obesity, according to a 2006 study. American Cancer Society found that women who walked> 7 hours per week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked < 3 hours per week. Another study showed that those who walked 20 minutes daily for at least 5 days a week had 43% lower sick days.


Walking is a simple activity that many people can engage in. There are a few steps that you can take to make this experience more efficient and pleasurable. It is one of the examples where you can find significant health effects with gradual effort. Try taking a walk today!

Disclaimer: This web post is for information purposes. If you have medical needs, please contact your primary care physician.

Types of Meditation

You may have heard about the benefits of meditation. But what exactly is a meditation and where does it come from? In this post, we will explore types of meditation and their roots.

  1. Meditation Type – Format
  2. Meditation Type – How To
  3. Meditation Type – Origin
  4. Summary

Meditation Type – Format

There are two large types of meditation: guided vs. unguided meditations. It is recommended that beginners try guided meditation with an experienced teacher that can be trusted. Meditation can be done 1:1 or in a group.

  • Guided meditation: a teacher guides you through the basic steps of the practice
  • Unguided meditation: meditate alone, without someone else explaining the process, paying attention to the body and thoughts for a set period.

Meditation Type – How To

For non-religious purpose, there are common meditation techniques you can use.

  • Focused breathing:
    1. Close your eyes and keep your spine straight
    2. Notice the inhalation and exhalation of your breath
    3. Pay attention to the end of each breath
    4. Count 1 to 10, inhaling at odd numbers, exhaling at even numbers
    5. If your mind wanders com back to observing breath
  • Box breathing: helps with mind and body relaxation in stressful times
    1. inhale for 4 seconds
    2. hold breath for 4 seconds
    3. exhale for 4 seconds
    4. hold breath for 4 seconds
    5. repeat 12-15 times
  • Body scan: helps with syncing mind and body by performing a mental scan from top of the head to the end of the toes. Bringing attention to any sensations, tensions, aches, or discomforts as they are.
  • Noting: during breathing technique or visualization technique, you can “note” your distraction. Labeling the distraction as a thought or emotion can help restore awareness, and helps you letting go of distractions.
  • Visualization: this technique can help you maintain a certain type of emotion such as warmth and kindness. An example involves mentally visualizing a bright warm light at a certain body point and spreading the feeling throughout the body.
  • Loving kindness: is used to strengthen feeling of kidness, compassion, and acceptance. Kindness is wishing good things to happen to the person. It starts first with self and the spreading the loving kindness to others. It involves visualizing a person and mentally visualizing a warm and good emotion.
  • Compassion: similar to kindness, compassion is hoping bad things will not happen to the person. It involves focosing on the person and paying attention to the sesations that arises.
  • Reflection: this technique involves asking questions using the second person perspective such as “what are you most grateful for?” and reflecting on the question while paying attention to the feelings that arise in response to the question.

Meditation Type – Origin

Although most people will recognize what meditation involves – closing eyes and sitting still – there is no concrete definition of what “meditation” is. There is an ongoing debate within the scientific community on the definition of meditation. The roots of meditative practices can be traced back to religious origins.

  • Buddhist traditional meditations: Buddhists have diverse meditative practices varying by each school for their goal of awakening and nirvana. Their main practices focused on body contemplations and mindful breathing. Some of the main/popular Buddhist school of meditation are as following:
    • Theravāda tradition: focuses on Vipassana and Samantha techniques (later explained)
    • Tibetan tradition: focuses on visualization techniques
    • Sarvastivada-tradition: turns the attention away from the objects of experience to the nature of mind. Zen-tradition meditation draws from Sarvastivada-tradition meditation.
  • Secular meditation practices often use the following two types of Buddhist meditation (Theravāda tradition):
    • Vipassana (insightful) meditation: this type of meditation aims to develop wisdom and compassion. It involves focusing on the breath and awareness of all the physical and mental sensations that arise.
    • Samantha (calming) meditation: this type of meditation aims to create a quieter and more peaceful state of mind. Calming meditation involves focusing on the breath, a mantra, a visualization, a physical object, or a sensation in the body and returning to this sensation when the mind starts to wander.
  • Hinduism traditional meditation: Hinduism meditation also has many schools. Studies on various types of yoga meditation such as Ananda Marga yoga, Tantric yoga, and Kundalini yoga have been shown physiological effects on relaxations. Chakra meditation, which focuses on seven points of center of energy, also draws from hinduism and Buddhism tradition.
  • Tao traditional meditation: includes qiqong meditation, a Chinese meditation that involves harnessing energy in the body to either send the energy inward for self healing or outward to help heal another person.
  • Christian (Contemplative Prayer): One of the Christian prayers includes Roman Catholic church’s rosary prayer.
  • Judaism (kabbalistic practice): kabbalah is a range of Jewish mystical activity to gain a deeper religious understanding
  • Islam (Sufi dhikr) traditional meditation: dhikr is incorporated as a formal technique that also seeks to gain a focused attention for deeper religious undertsanding.
  • Transcendental meditation: was founded by Maharishi Mahesh in 1950s. It is taught one-on-one by instructors trained and licensed by Maharishi foundation. It involves twice a day 20 minute meditation.


We explored the traditional roots and types of meditations. While this is not an exhaustive list of meditation descriptions, we hope that this post has helped understand and explore where meditation practices come from, and which meditation type to choose for your needs! We also encourage double-checking our sources!

Disclaimer: This web post is for information purposes. If you have medical needs, please contact your primary care physicia