May 2012 Archives

Green Peas and Cancer

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Peas in pods.

Peas in pods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I always eat my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
They do taste kind of funny
but It keeps them on my knife.


My father used to enjoy reading me this rhyme from the Penguin Book of Comical and Curious Verse. He also loved to grow peas in the garden of our Victorian house. We would shell them and eat them lightly steamed with butter and mint.
 

As a teenager I used to volunteer for Help the Aged by visiting a ninety year old widow, Mrs Scopes. She loved to tell me 'Old Wive's Tales'. One oft-repeated saying was "Peas give you cancer, my father said." As it turns out, this adage could not be further from the truth. In fact an unique constituent of green peas, coumestrol, is being investigated for its benefits in preventing cancer. A Mexico City study pointed to the potential of green peas in preventing stomach cancer (1). And the Prostate Cancer Sweden Study points to green peas as helpful in preventing prostate cancer (2). The antioxidant components of green peas may also be helpful in breast cancer (3) as well as in preventing heart disease.

According to Ayurveda, green peas are pitta soothing and laxative, beneficial for purisha vaha srotas or the colon. Enjoy green peas with rice, in kitcheri,in a sabji or vegetable curry with cauliflower and potato or in matar paneer. Or serve them like my father did, lightly steamed with butter and mint

1. Hernandez-Ramirez R, Galvan-Portillo M, Ward M et al. Dietary intake of polyphenols, nitrate and nitrite and gastric cancer risk in Mexico City. Int J Cancer. 2009 September 15; 125(6): 1424-1430. 2009.
2. Maria Hedelin, Åsa Klint, Ellen T. Chang, Rino Bellocco, Jan-Erik Johansson, Swen-Olof Andersson, Satu-Maarit Heinonen, Herman Adlercreutz, Hans-Olov Adami and Henrik Grönberg, et al.  Dietary Phytoestrogen, Serum Enterolactone and Risk of Prostate Cancer: The Cancer Prostate Sweden Study (Sweden) Cancer Causes and Control

Volume 17, Number 2 (2006), 169-180, DOI: 10.1007/s10552-005-0342-2
3.
Pamela J. Magee* and Ian R. Rowland Phyto-oestrogens, their mechanism of action: current evidence for a role in breast and prostate cancer British Journal of Nutrition (2004), 91, 513-531


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Honoured guests, faculty, staff, graduates and students, each of you in your own way a part of our Alandi family-- today's graduation is a tender and triumphant moment.

It is a tender moment, as you, the candidates, graduate from student to practitioner, or from practitioner to doctor. Like the fledgling finches on the porch, you now leave the cozy nest of Alandi to find your wings, to sing and soar. Some of you are moving on to new levels of responsibility as graduates in our community, some to bring the light of Alandi into the wider world.

 It is a tender moment, as the founding students of our gurukula graduate and move on, stretching precious cords of love and friendship across distance and time. In myriad ways, all of us will miss our daily contact with these graduates, who helped lay the foundation stones of the gurukula. For four years we have chanted, meditated, eaten, studied, walked and served in clinic together. Now these bonds of love will be put to the test as our family matures to embrace the world.

It is also a triumphant moment for students, faculty and the gurukula. We did it! Heather has succeeded in graduating as a practitioner while raising her family and relocating from Evergreen to Boulder. Paula has crossed the finishing line after four years of patient part-time study. Annalise had upheld her commitment to Pancha karma and body therapies despite all obstacles. Bhavna has Skped into classes faithfully even as her young family moved from Texas to California. Ceci has surmounted myriad hurdles with great dedication to her studies. And Lauren, Kourtney and Heidi have stood the course through four years of demanding full time study, determined to be the best-trained practitioners of Ayurveda ever to be home-grown in America. Their thirst for learning and quest for excellence led us to create our advanced programme and bring the study of Ayurveda in America to new heights.

 Each of us--students, faculty, staff and ashramites-- have sacrificed much, enduring financial challenges, long work hours, and lack of privacy (in the case of Sadananda), to make this moment possible. With minimal resources, we have achieved great things. We have created a vibrant learning community, continually pushing the frontiers of pedagogy and practice--an environment where teachers and students alike grow continually. We have honoured the ancient roots of Ayurveda in the Gurukula system, creating an Ayurvedic family with deep spiritual roots.  Let us relish our accomplishment!

Dear graduates, as you step out as practitioners, pancha karma therapists and Ayurvedic doctors, you represent and embody not only Ayurveda, but also the lineage and teachings of Alandi, which has nurtured you for these past four years. Leaving our walls but not our family, carry with you our core teachings of love, simplicity and oneness.

In your time here, you have experienced radical simplicity in Alandi's capacity to do much with a little. As a visitor from Poland said recently, "What I love about this place is that in a small space you do great things." You have learnt to value authenticity over appearances and true richness over wealth. As you move on to your own practice, remember the basic lesson you have learnt here: do what you are here to do with what you have right now, without waiting for it to be bigger, better or more perfect. Or as Jesus, Peace upon Him, said, "Since you have been faithful in small things, I will give you charge over much."

If you want your dream to be
Build it slow and surely
Small beginnings greater ends
Heart felt work grows purely
If you want to live life free
Take your time go slowly
Do few things but do them well
Simple joys are holy
Day by day, stone by stone
Build your secrets slowly.

As members of Alandi's family, you have experienced on a daily basis the teachings of oneness and tolerance--sahishnuta. Ekam sat vipra bahuda vidanti. Truth is one, the wise call that by many names. Many rivers, one ocean, as Raghudas taught us.

Creation, like a prism
Fragments the pure white light of Truth.
People in different lands
Catching sight of different colors
Have taught that 'It is green'
Or 'It is gold!'
Today, from the seeds of light
Scattered over the Earth
We reap a rainbow harvest.

 

As healers, carry this understanding forth in your practice and your life, meeting each person where they are, honouring their beliefs, culture and life path while guiding them on the path to wellbeing through Ayurveda. This begins, every day, with meeting yourself where you are right now, including and accepting all the parts and aspects of yourself.

 

Above all, carry into the world the love you have received and shared here at Alandi. Love is the essential qualification of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

 

Maitri karunyam aarteshu

Shakye priti upekshanam

Prakruti shtheshu bhuteshu

Vaidyavritti chaturvidha

Friendliness and compassion towards the sick, joy in their recovery and equanimity towards those whose life is coming to an end; this is the fourfold attitude of the physician.

 

And love, compassion and friendliness are the most important core values you have received in your time at Alandi, which exists as a beacon of love for all beings. Let love permeate not just your Ayurveda practice, but the tiniest aspects of daily life. Love is the need of the hour, the urgent call of the Divine Mother. In all her manifestations, the divine feminine calls us to leave behind enmity, callousness and indifference and embrace the way of love and compassion. In the words of a great contemporary dakini, Yoko Ono, "Remember love!"

Remember love, remember love, Love is what it takes to know love.
Remember love, remember love, Love is what it takes sow love.
Remember love, remember love, Love is what it takes to grow love.
Remember love, remember love, Love is what it takes reap the fruits of love.
Remember love, remember love, Love is what it takes to be love.

 Remember love, remember love.

(Sadananda's version of Yoko Ono's song)

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