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Modern Rituals: 5 Healthy Middle Eastern Traditions to Incorporate into your Wellness Regime

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Cultures all over the world have their own set of rituals, some religious, some celebratory, and some connected to wellness. To achieve long-term health and wellness goals, consistency is essential, which is why creating our own set of daily rituals can be so powerful. This could be as simple as lighting a candle when you wake up and prepare for your morning yoga routine or having a cup of herbal tea before bed to help you wind down. In this series, sponsored by Rancho La Puerta wellness resort, we explore ancient traditions from around the world that can enhance you modern wellness practice.

Wellness in the Middle East

As home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world, the birthplace of medical science, and a rich culinary and cultural heritage, there is a lot we can learn from the traditions of the Middle East.

The Tradition: Mezze and the Midday Meal

In the Near East, you will find tables filled with small dishes of legume and plant-based dishes like hummus, tabouleh, pickles, fresh fruit, and dates. These informal meals provide a variety of balanced, healthy foods and encourage a leisurely pace. In most parts of the region, the largest meal of the day is lunch, which gives the body energy to get through the day, and plenty of time to digest before bed.

The Modern Ritual

Once or twice a week, making your midday meal your largest meal of the day and have a light dinner of plant-based small dishes.

The Tradition: Frankincense

Found in Southern Arabia, Frankincense is a tree sap that is harvested and burned for religious ceremonies in both the Catholic and Islamic tradition. It’s smoke is thought to cleans the air, both physically and spiritually. Medicinally, it has been used in edible and topical form as a remedy for issues ranging from digestive and respiratory issues to diabetes and hypertension. The bright, clean smell is soothing and promotes a sense of wellbeing and reflection.

Modern Ritual

Use essential frankincense oil in a diffuser to start your day.

The Tradition: Olives

Considered a holy tree in the Near East, olive oil is well-known as a healhty fat and is used to soften skin and hair. Table olives are a great source of healhty fat and fiber when eaten in moderation.

Modern Ritual

Use olive oil in place of other oils and butter in your cooking, add olives to your mezze spread, and try extra-virgin olive oil to moisturize dry skin and hair.

The Tradition: Islamic Prayer

Muslims around the world pray five times a day: at sunrise,  midday, in the afternoon, at sunset, and once when the sun has set completely. This practice is seen as an act of obedience to Allah, and is meant to keep Muslims grounded in their faith while servings as a consistent reminder of what is important in life.

Modern Ritual

No matter what your religious beliefs are, making time to re-center throughout the day can help to pull you out of the stressful tailspins we often find ourselves in. Set an alarm to go off at different times throughout the day, and take just one to five minutes to breath, meditate, pray, or simply close your eyes and think about what is most important to you. It is a great way to re-invigorate your motivation and restore perspective.

The Tradition: Hospitality

Hospitality in the Middle East is rooted in the struggle to survive in hostile environments. Historically, human contact was treasured as the infrequent traveler was a source of news and information and safety hinged directly on the size and strength of one's family, tribe, or clan. Visitors to the Middle East today are still greeted with a cool drink, coffee, or tea upon entering a local home. People are never too busy to sit and talk, and even a greeting on the street involves asking after the other's health and family, and actually waiting for a real response.

Modern Ritual

Make people your priority. When you ask someone how they are, listen to their answer. Greet your visitors, or even family members, as honored guests. Learning to appreciate those around us, and treating them as cherished parts of our lives leads to deeper connections, greater compassion, and a richer life.

About Our Sponsor

Rancho La Puerta has been changing lives for over 70 years. Family-owned and operated since June, 1940, the first guests arrived at a beautiful Baja California campsite created by Edmond Szekely and his young wife Deborah. Since then, the Ranch's approach to sustainability has been "Always Better," as the property and its employees offer the best guest experiences possible, while continually striving to reduce their environmental impact.Throughout the property’s history, programs have been developed to initiate and explore forward-thinking activities in the community of Tecate, the trans-border region, and beyond. With a depth of activities at Rancho La Puerta coupled with the organic evolution of Ranch itself, no two experiences are every the same, but guests can expect the unexpected as they connect with themselves and the natural world around them.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
Felicia Campbell
Felicia Campbell is the author of the award-nominated cookbook and culinary history, “The Food of Oman: Recipes and Stories from the Gateway...
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