A Ritual for Longevity, Energy and Clarity

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. We all grew up hearing this saying, but have you ever stopped to consider its deeper connection to the value of consistency or ritual? Many of us may just take this at face value – the more often I eat apples, the healthier I’ll be. In fact, the real message here may be to take time to nourish yourself and the rewards will begin to manifest. Long before we understood scientifically why consistent practices benefit our species, we made conscious efforts to “honor the moment”. Humans crave rituals and as long as civilizations have existed, rituals have been at the center of daily life. Hunting, praying, preparing meals, seasonal celebrations, and preparing a delicious cup of matcha are all bound by ritual.

Rituals are inherently stress-reducing. When we can predict a probable result from a given effort, we are calmer, more focused and present in the moment. Since stress is arguably the leading catalyst for chronic disease, this is important. Bronislaw Malinowski suggested more than a century ago that when faced with a prospect of uncontrollable threats, people are compelled to perform any action that is deemed effective to regain the feeling of control. According to Malinowski, magico-religious rituals are emotionally driven expressions of the desired goal, be it safety during warfare or success in the hunt, that stem from the compulsion to exercise control over uncontrollable threats and to soothe overwhelming anxiety.  In other words, Malinowski theorized that rituals are inherently tied to anxiety-provoking situations because they help decrease anxiety that might impede normal functioning.

To further support the theory concerning the connection of ritual and beneficial outcomes, consider this excerpt from participants in a study published in 2017, where fifty-nine participants were recruited from the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus:

“Many of the responses illustrate the perceived benefits of the ritual and how it helped make participants feel a greater sense of calm during their performance. Interestingly, the feature of sequenced action repetition was frequently mentioned.  For instance, one participant wrote:

I was able to observe that the repetition of activities somehow improved the completion of the tasks. I think that maybe completing the set of actions helped me feel a little more focused and calmed.” Another participant wrote: “Over the week, and in the study, completing the actions before beginning the task helped calm myself and made me feel in control for some reason.” The ritual appeared to be helpful even beyond the scope of the study and its tasks: “I found that by doing the action sequences at home, it made me more focused on my studies for the upcoming midterms.”

Adopting a daily ritual may seem too simple to have such profound benefits, but we can see from both modern research and ancient practices that humans seem to perform at their peak ability when having a routine. This phenomenon will always be in the back of our minds while we gather our matcha, whisk, scoop, and bowl, and take a moment to prepare our nutrient-rich, delicious cup of matcha!