By Karan Johnson September 15, 2021 Rituals come in many different forms and are practiced in cultures around the world, but why have they become such an important part of our lives? W
When anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski visited the Trobriand Islands in Papua New Guinea at the beginning of the 20th century, he noted the elaborate preparations fishermen had to make before setting out to sea. They would paint their canoes carefully with black, red and white paint , singing spells at the same time. The ship would be hit with wooden sticks, the bows stained with red ocher, and the crew members would adorn their arms with seashells.
Malinowski recorded a long list of ceremonies and rituals that islanders would perform before venturing out to the open sea. But when fishermen went out into the nearby calm lagoon, they did not use these rites. Malinowski concluded that the rituals "magical " "executed by the islanders was a response to help them cope with the unpredictable power of the Pacific Ocean.
Later, anthropologists noted that fishermen in other parts of the world , like those who practice fishing in haute sea off the Texas Gulf Coast and drift fishing captains in East Anglia , UK, were also prone to superstitions and rituals to help them cope with the uncertainty and dangers of their profession .
But evidence points to the existence of rituals long before the 20th century. One of the earliest examples of human ritualistic practice is said to be the carving of a python in a cave in Botswana, southern Africa, dating back 70,000 years . Thousands of stone spearheads in the cave are believed to have been burned in a ritual, some of which were intricately carved from red stone brought hundreds of miles away. The archaeologists who made the discovery believe that the destruction ofSpearheads were part of the ritual python sacrifices.
But why have rituals been used for so long?
Bronislaw Malinowski recorded a long list of rituals and ceremonies that islanders de Trobriand performed before venturing out to the high seas (Credit: Chronicle / Alamy)
A ritual is defined by psychologists as "a predefined sequence of symbolic actions often characterized by formality and repetition without an instrumental purpose direct". The search identifies three elements of a ritual . First, it consists of behaviors that occur in a fixed succession - one after another - and are characterized by formality and repetition. Second, the behaviors have symbolic meaning and finally, these ritualized behaviors usually have no obvious useful purpose.
Rituals occur surprisingly often in our daily lives. It is believed that we are training rituals based on nos values . For example, people with Christian values baptize their babies as a symbol of spiritual rebirth.
But rituals go beyond helping us live our values. They can also make us less anxious.
Ritualistic practices can help bring some degree of predictability to an uncertain future. They convince our brains of consistency and predictability like " ritual buffer against uncertainty and anxiety ", scientists say.
Studies show that the anti-anxiety effect of rituals can be applied to almost any activity at high pressure. In a disturbing experiment, the researchersasked participants to perform an anxiety-provoking task - sing Don 't Stop Believing (by rock band Journey) in front of strangers . The participants were separated into two groups, one was asked to perform a ritual beforehand (including sprinkling salt on the drawings they had created). The second group was given instructions on their performance and left to sit quietly.
Participants' heart rates, feelings of anxiety, and song performance were measured to determine levels. anxiety. "Participants who completed the ritual sang better, had significantly lower heart rates, and reported feeling less anxious than participants who did not perform the ritual ", explains Francesca Gino, head of the ritual. trading unit, organizations and markets at theHarvard Business School. and co-author of the study.
In another study involving 75 Hindu women in Mauritius , anxiety was triggered among the participants by asking them to prepare a speech for an expert assessment. All participants were fitted with a heart rate monitor and were asked to complete surveys at the start and end of the experiment. Some of the participants were sent to a local temple to perform rituals before completing the second poll, while the rest were invited to sit and relax.
Levels of Similar anxiety was reported by both groups in the first survey. However, after the second survey, self-reported anxiety levels for participants who performed the rituals were lower. Heart rate readings have also coConfirmed that participants who performed ritual actions had lower physiological anxiety.
Sports psychologists also suggest that pre-performance rituals may confer benefits to athletes, such as best execution and possible reduction in anxiety levels . Rafael Nadal, winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles, is said to have almost as many rituals - 19 - as he uses before every match. In his 2012 autobiography, Rafa: My Story, Nadal explains that his rituals are "a way to place me in a match, ordering my surroundings to match the order I am looking for in my head.
Athletes use rituals for psychological benefit - Rafael Nadal has his energy drink and water in a certain order, for example (Credit: Nicolas Asfouri / AFP /)
On the other hand, the type of ritual does not appear to affect anxiety reduction. Gino adds that "even simple rituals can be extremely effective ". Research suggests, paradoxically, that rituals involving pain, injury or trauma could have some type of psychological benefit to those who perform them. For example, if the re-walkers reported a higher level of happiness after participating in this ritualistic ordeal.
There are also indications that rituals can help us cope with some of the most difficult times in our lives , like mourning.
End-of-life rituals can create stronger bonds between the dying and their loved ones. In a 2014 study, researchers found that the sorrow waswas lower among participants who performed personal rituals , such as washing the deceased's car every week. When we experience a loss, we often feel a loss of control , so it is perhaps not surprising that rituals are used to create a semblance of order to regain control.
But the benefits of rituals also extend beyond the individual - they are evident in groups of people, too.
Ritual behavior can improve social bonding when we practice it collectively. "Having social networks has often been linked to well-being, and rituals - frequent group gatherings - are thought to be particularly effective in facilitating such networks," explainsValerie van Mulukom, psychologist at Coventry University in the UK and co-author. from a study on l ' effect of secular rituals on social bond .
Group rituals indicate that the members share the same ideas and share certain values, which foster a climate of trust . For example, ritual chants have been shown to make connected football fans . And for singer-songwriter Beyonce, saying a prayer in a circle with her entire team is a " spiritual practice which leads to perfect performance.
" After participatingIn group rituals, many people report a greater connection to others, in some cases even by simply observing a ritual, "says Johannes Karl, a doctoral student at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand who has studied how rituals affect social bond and health .
Everyone has daily rituals - no matter how small or mundane - that they use to bring a sense of order and control into their lives (Credit: Thomas Northcut /)
Van Mulukom's research on religious rituals in Brazil and the UK determined that participating in rituals increased pain thresholds and the ability to experience positive emotions , which increased social bonding in the group. But the social bond is not limited to religious rituals. "We have found that this effect occurs both in religious rituals and secular rituals , "adds van Mulukom.
Despite their many advantages, however, there are inconvenience to rituals.
For groups, the evidence implies that rituals can stimulate intergroup bias. For example, a study that yielded groups of children's string and bead bags found that those who participated in group rituals spent more than time to show their materials to members of the group who participated in the rituals than to children who did not belong to the group.
More disturbingly, group ritual efforts, such as hazing , the cruel ceremonies of 'initiation which prevail among certain groups of students or within the military, are extremely harmful. Hazing often involves degrading and humiliating insiders and, on rare occasions, a resulted in death. Research on hazing prevention has revealed that a commitment to cultural change is needed to combat this type of harmful group ritual.
Overall, research suggests that, whether informal, secular, individual or collective, rituals can have a positive impact on our well-being. Since rituals have anti-stress qualities, Gino advises us "to adopt pre-performance rituals during stressful situations in your own life, perhaps before giving a presentation at work, eg.Asser an exam or having a difficult conversation ". T Robriand Islands fishermen, they could help you face the rough seas.
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