The Benefit of Rituals
While in college I had the opportunity to listen to a acting professor from UCLA, at least I think that’s where he taught. He had written a couple of acting books and came out to lecture on his approach to the craft.
There’s not a lot that I remember about the lecture (his name, where’s he from, what he wrote), but there was one thing that stood out and made an impact. During his research he spent some time with native tribes. I can’t remember where.
I promise that the lack of details isn’t the point.
As he recalled this experience with them he talked with a certain reverence for the rituals that he participated in. It was this that he focused on.
He talked about the rituals being the purest form of theatre and having transformative power for the those involved, either watching or participating. It’s this transformation that drew me into theatre. Experiencing a deep catharsis while watching or creating that changed me as a person.
It’s this same process that I’ve loved about religious rituals. Going through wrote motions that tend to get deeper and deeper the more I performed them.
When I was studying masculinity I came across these ancient rites that tribes would perform to mark the transition from boy to man. It was something physical that was performed by the boy that signified this transition.
It was typically something difficult that pushed the limits the boy had so that the act in itself was transformational. It was this ritual that signified his coming of age into masculinity and maturity.
After that point he was given certain privileges and responsibilities. The expectation was already set and if the boy didn’t meet the expectation he would have been socially ostracized.
I have mixed feelings about that kind of social influence, but there’s no question it can be a powerful motivator.
After experiencing my own rituals and seeing the benefits I was curious about how to incorporate them into my life more regularly so that I can gain the benefits more often. Then it dawned on me that the only different between ritual and habit is the reverence and perhaps the subject matter.
There’s a lot on the internet right now about morning rituals (routines). I don’t think there’s anything religious about what I do in the morning but when I say ritual it sounds way more important than routine.
A few weeks ago I started some new morning and evening rituals and it’s made a bigger difference than I expected.
To understand the impact I want you to understand you need to know some background. Are you ready to get real personal?
Part of my new years resolutions this year is to take better care of myself. Since I was 18 the last time I went to the doctor I decided that would be a good place to start. I just went for a general check up and to check out a few specific things:
These specifics were justified. I was able to do a couple of assessments through the nutrition department here at SUU and these were the things that came up as point so concern. Because they aren’t doctors they recommended I get it checked out. It just took me three years to do it.
After mentioning these things to my dad (who is a nurse anesthetist) he told me that he has a family history of osteoporosis (both of his parents), and low hormones. It was long overdue.
Of course, the results came back negative.
As a 33 year old I have:
Here’s the thing about testosterone technically it wasn’t low. The normal range is anywhere from 280-1100 and my levels were at 411. When I mentioned this to my dad he talked to his urologist friend, and the urologist said it should be higher for my age. When I Googled it the internet said I should be at around 600.
The good news is that they are all connected so I don’t have to do a bunch of different treatments to increase all of them. Increasing my vitamin D is going to increase my vitamin C, which is going to improve my bone density and testosterone.
My main concern was testosterone. Not just because of virility, but testosterone effects everything else.
To get a better idea of how to increase my testosterone I read this:
It says there are three different ways to increase testosterone:
My diet isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad. I’m not too worried about it.
I shoot to exercise 3 times a week. It doesn’t always work out that way because of work. But I’m not sedentary.
That leaves number 3, sleep. He starts this section out by saying this is last section but it’s probably the most important. If your sleep isn’t dialed in it doesn’t matter how good your diet or exercise is.
My sleep is terrible. It always has been. My dad struggles with sleep, my grandpa struggled with sleep. Bad sleep is in my genes.
It was obvious that this was my weak spot. If I wanted to improve my health I needed to figure out how to sleep. This is where my new rituals come in.
My problem with getting to sleep is that my brain let’s loose and goes a million miles an hour. I process everything while I’m trying to go to sleep. Once I start I can’t stop.
These rituals help set me up to get my mind in a place where I can relax and get the sleep I want. I’ve implemented both evening and morning rituals to start and end the day the way I want.
This has started to dial in my sleep, but it has done so much more than that. My head is clear, I am more aware, I accomplish more, I feel better. They are small things that have done wonders to my spiritual and mental health.
The process reminded me of the religious rituals I have been through. Small things done consistently over time can make huge difference. I couldn’t recommend something like this enough.
Do you have your own rituals that have made a big difference? What are they?
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