There’s no arguing that the mango is hands-down one of the most popular fruits on the planet. And there’s no wonder why.
With its distinct smell and flavour, smooth cool texture and versitility, the mango is consumed on almost every continent of the globe.
It is used in almost every Asian cuisine whether in sweet or savoury dishes, and hailed as the “Fruit of the Gods” and used in countless desserts in many European nations. The mango tree belongs to a family that also includes cashews and pistachios.
The mango has notable health benefits too. The fruit is great for those suffering from high-acidity in the gut, the fruit’s enzymes neutralising acids and aiding indigestion.
Furthermore, the Vitamin E present in mango regulates sex hormones and boosts sex drive. For diabetics too, mango leaves serve as a fighter against the debilitating condition. Soak some mango leaves in water overnight, filter the water in the morning and drink on an empty stomach.
Written by Alex Jeffares. Information courtesy Health Mango.
I am writing to you from a city in the southern Philippines called Davao. As most of you will know I am spending three weeks here in an orphanage, as I came here from my holiday in Indonesia. It is called the Field of Dreams, a wonderful albeit small institution about which I have learnt much in my short time here. It is however located about 40 kilometres out of the city proper. It was founded by an Englishman by the name of Mr. Field who lives in London. But because of a terminal illness of some kind he can’t continue to provide funds for the Field of Dreams and as such they are in a dire financial position.
The orphanage houses 30 boys between the ages of 4 and 20, and has been established since 2006. There are no girls. Unlike in Australia and other Western countries, establishments in the Philippines like the Field of Dreams do not receive any financial support from the Filipino government whatsoever. It is for this reason that they rely heavily on the presence of volunteers like myself, donations (which are few), as well as the constant efforts of the staff here and in Davao proper and elsewhere on the island of Mindanao who source the volunteers and other means of finance.
Boys here have either been abandoned by their parents, neglected or they are here due to indigence. It is the heart-wrenching reality of the situation but nevertheless one that we all must come to terms with as the state of the planet worsens in almost every respect, and those at the lowest rungs of the world’s economic and social ladder suffer the most. But my heart is warmed by the people who work here, and of course the boys themselves who are incredibly tactile, trusting and respectful.
The staff here is comprised of ‘house parents’, of whom there are four, and each having shifts like a normal job. There is George, or as we say in Filipino, ‘Kuya George’, which literally means ‘big brother’. George is the Director of the orphanage who is indefatigable in running the establishment. The boys call me ‘Kuya Alex’. This, coupled with the fact that children and adolescents as old as 20 will hold your hand, pull it towards them and place the back of your hand to their forehead as a sign of grace and respect, has quickly fostered within me a deep admiration of Filipino society and the way in which it teaches children from very young the virtues of respect, kindness and humility. This is something I regret to say I feel is lacking in Australia. I for one am guilty of neglecting these virtues, and at my peril.
Mornings start at 5am, and I’ve made a conscious effort to get up at this time too. Bed time is between 8.30 and 9pm which is perfect for me as my glandular fever continues to abate. Occasionally I get a raspy throat but nothing like what I had before I left. Like in most other tropical countries, the early rise is to make the most of a day that, at about midday, becomes insufferably hot and sticky. The boys go to school after prayer, breakfast and exercise, to mingle with other children from around the village and learn. I’ve also been constant in my attendance at school. I sit in the classes that are taught in English, namely math and science in the capacity of teaching assistant, I suppose you could call it. This is important for me so that I understand the subject matter for when the boys return home. I run tutorials with the boys in the afternoons and evenings in their ‘study room’. Some boys are extremely eager to get assistance, but most are not. The level of education here, as one would imagine, is extremely low. English is not strong and the kids struggle on a daily basis. Every Tuesday, the Sisters from the local church come to give lessons on religion and good morals.
The Philippines is steeped in Catholic tradition, but there are however a number of boys here who were Muslims when they arrived but have since been ‘converted’. A small number of the boys also question the existence of a God. Both Hinduism and Buddhism don’t really feature in the parts of the country to which I’ve been. However I understand that in Manila there are more of these religions.
I was also astonished to learn from my new Filipino friend Glyd that the Philippines possesses 7107 islands at low tide!
As some of you will recall when asking for donations of art materials, paper, toys etc., I strictly requested no books, and I now know why. The shelves in their ‘study room’ are replete with textbooks, encyclopaedias and novels, some in English, others in Filipino. Thank you again to those generous enough to donate things for me to take on my trip. You can be confident of the fact that they are going directly into young hands that use them to their fullest, until tattered, battered and bruised.
We will soon be going on a day trip at the weekend for which I will pay. It is always the burden of the volunteers to either pay for the petrol for the orphanage’s truck when picked up or dropped off somewhere, or when taking the boys on excursions. While I was at a convention (Liwanag Festival on Creativity and Sustainability) in Davao city, I made some new friends who took me to an island called Samal which is home to some stunning beaches. I have learned that volunteers in the past have taken the boys here, so I will do the same and go back there with the boys. We will take buses, a boat and then a ‘hubbil hubbil’ which means motorcycle, to swim and enjoy the beach; a rare opportunity for the boys as they cannot normally afford it.
There is one boy in particular who has taken quite a shine to me. His name is Otep and I tutor him regularly in the ‘study room’ and sit with him during his classes. But management here worries about his academic and developmental progress and some even suspect him of having a mental condition of some kind. There is a mental institution for the challenged and the insane nearby to which we went on my first day on the way from the airport. Otep’s parents are absent: they are not spoken of, maybe dead or indigent I do not know. He has a grandfather in Davao and an aunt in Manila but neither will take him for they feel that if they did it would be their end. I am deeply troubled by the thought of a boy of 14 years being in such a precarious situation, but he seems to cope from day to day. Who knows what the future will hold for him and many of his ‘brothers’ here?
There are a number of younger boys, between 5 and 9 years old, who are very clingy. I try to give them as much attention as I can because I cannot imagine what it has been like growing up with neither a mother nor a father. One in particular called Jericho is fascinated by my hands. He will sit with me for minutes on end, pressing my fingers and watching the redness turn to white and then back to red again as the blood circulates. His hands by the way are about the size of a 3-year-old and he is 8. But most Filipinos are very small in their stature and consequently their limbs. To them I am a foreign giant, quite literally, and I think I’m looked at even more than when I was in India. But a soft smile will always elicit a coy smile back, and they quickly turn away.
There are also two older boys, the same as age as me, who go into the city to a TAFE-style college where they learn a trade. One is learning mechanics, the other hotel management. The eldest, Richard, has requested that I teach him how to read music so that he can improve his skills on the violin. This I will also endeavour to do. But because I’ve learnt the viola it may take a while for me to re-learn the violin first! The boys have many questions about my studies, as do the staff. Questions about money are also numerous. Rose, one of the house parents, asked me how much it had cost me to come to the Philippines, and after having made the conversion into Pesos, it was something in the realm of $100,000 Pesos. She was astounded. Here, money is hard to come by. Therefore I am trying to practise gratitude more and more; for we are so very lucky to live where we live, to eat what we eat, and to experience what we experience.
For now, I will end my letter to you here. I hope that you are all well and making the most of your busy lives, and know that I am grateful for all of you that have filled my life with much joy, friendship and love. Take a moment, when you have one, to think about those less fortunate than yourselves.
Stress, anxiety and other related issues are some of those things of which we need a little. In our day-to-day lives at work and at home, in our pursuits and endeavours, stress is the normal human reaction to pressurised circumstances. It is necessary so that we stay on our guard, avoid complacency or error, it heightens our awareness and actually produces better outcomes. But when one has too much stress over a prolonged period of time, that’s where the problems arise.
Even if you think that you’re a person who isn’t prone to stress, who has a good handle on most things that life throws at you, monitor yourself and try to identify some of the less noticeable signs: fine hand tremors, dilated pupils and sensitivity to noise.
Take some time everyday for yourself. A dear friend of mine calls it “Me Time”. I used to scoff at it thinking she was wasting good time taking an hour every evening for herself to indulge in the things she loves to do. But I now know how wrong I was.
Christmas is a celebratory time: one particular day and of course the weeks leading up to it when people buzz around like crazed insects, often unthinkingly. Preparations are essential: “obligatory” gifts for friends, loved ones and colleagues; party planning; Christmas cards; travel plans for the big day, or the lavish and long summer holidays that will ensue.
But while we make such preparations, and while we fill our minds and external lives with the things we “must” do, we forget the essence of Christ-mas (to avoid the stock-standard and dismally over-used term ”the true meaning of Christmas”, although the two terms mean exactly the same thing).
Undoubtedly, this essence is at everybody’s heart: the desire, if not the innate need, to be with and close to family and friends, to celebrate with one another, share a meal (or three, or five), to share and receive stories, love and the customary material gift. But the “need” and the “desire” become blown out, enlarged to the extreme and often so much so that we lose sight of this essence. It is overshadowed by consumerism, gluttony and vanity. The best gifts are given to impress, the biggest parties thrown to shatter all previous ones, the social buzz that comes from sending hundreds of sparsely-worded and often meaningless cards with messages of a “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year” therein, words which are often already printed, saving us the hassle and effort of writing the words from our hearts ourselves.
By no means should these festivities and preparations cease. Rather, continue this, but always keep firmly lodged in mind the reason for all these things. Christmas is a time for messages of peace and comradeship to be circulated around, a time for loving others, such love you wish to be done unto you, a time for generosity of one’s spirit and whole person.
Our heart, among other organs, is central to our wellbeing. It pumps blood around our bodies to every other organ. Experts say it beats approximately 2.5 billion times throughout a human’s lifespan. What a job! So why not nurture it and live a longer life.
Exercise: we all know that exercise is essential to a healthy heart and mind. Simply 20 minutes to half an hour per day is sufficient. It gives oxygen to the cardiovascular system and reduces body fat.
Vitamin E: antioxidants reduce oxidative damage to heart muscle. Almonds are high in this vitamin. Cholesterol levels are maintained from regular Vitamin E intake.
Salt: it’s common knowledge that salt hardens arteries and damages the heart as a result. We actually get enough salt from the natural foods we consume everyday, so avoid processed foods which contain unnecessary quantities of salt: chips, processed meats and even bread.
Stress: work, studies and life in general can have a huge impact on our stress levels. High stress increases our heart rate, making the organ work harder. Prioritise for time-out at the close of each day. Yoga helps immensely with decreasing heart rate and stilling the mind.
Thanks to Nature’s Own www.naturesown.com.au for the information under this section. We recommend their website.
So many of us nowadays work incredibly hard. Whether it’s at work, trying to climb the professional ladder, at school or university aiming for great marks, whether it’s at home with family and friends, trying to make the perfect relationships, trying to raise your children ‘correctly’, trying to please absolutely everybody. There’s no wonder why we are experiencing a period of extremely poor health. What is behind this seemingly insatiable need to achieve, to strive, to fly? For so many across the globe less fortunate than us, it is a dull ache that rubs against the back of the spine that we call hunger that motivates one to act. For us, it is more than this. It is the need to ‘keep up’, to be better in all the abovementioned areas.
The resultant stress, tension and angst accumulates and manifests itself in many ways: be it something acute like a nervous breakdown, a malign disease that creeps up quickly, or something more chronic and insidious like deep physical fatigue or glandular fever.
On the one hand, we can see these conditions, whatever they may be, as negative, incapacitating, even disastrous. On the other, we can see them as somewhat positive, presenting an opportunity for change and re-evaluation of one’s way of life. To fall is to slow down, then to stop, in some cases completely. Embrace this cessation of activity.
Think about eliminating habits that are detrimental to you and those around you. Consider decreasing your work load and simply take on less. Eat well, be still and always rest. For if you don’t stop, you will undoubtedly be forced to in some way down the track. So start now, and don’t wait for it to happen to you.
This week’s post is aptly entitled “An Exercise in Trust, an Opinion on Happiness” because it seems to be increasingly important to have faith in the natural cycle of things that happen in our day-to-day lives, and in the wider world that surrounds us.
Various constant and well-pronounced ’worries’ appear to dominate our everyday: will I make enough money? Am I socialising enough? Is my family high enough on my list of priorities? For those without relationships, the question is always when? Or if ever? Overall, am I taking MY life in a meaningful, authentic direction? Is it an effort in self-service? Am I doing what I desire? To this question, many would answer no. Circumstances thwart our plans, our attempts; our intentions are always dampened by our demons: it’s all too difficult; I’ll never make it; am I kidding myself? And we seem to resent those who, at first glance, appear to be more ‘successful’ than we. However, what goes down must come up.
This is not to say be complacent and expect that our poor, hard-done-by circumstances will go away because they’ve been lurking around for some time. No. What is required is a combination of both assertiveness and adaptability, indeed action to create change, the change that we want to see; as well as a good-natured view of all issues that are thrown at us, with a generous portion of trust, a belief in the greater good and its potential to improve one’s existence.
With this firmly lodged in mind, don’t despair. Happiness, or contentedness as many prefer to say, is by no means something to have at each and every moment of the day. It is constantly changing, coming, and going. If we were ‘happy’ all the time, we wouldn’t know what it was anymore because anger and sadness and depression wouldn’t exist to balance it up. To be ‘happy’ all the time is unnatural. There is the notion out there that true happiness is knowing that one day you will be satisfied and content with what you do and have in your life, and the next day, you will not. This week’s message seeks to provide this basic definition and encourage one to trust in it.
As flowers begin to flourish and animals come out of hibernation, take time to be still and listen to the sounds of burgeoning springtime around you. To be able to meditate, we need to actually know what the prerequisites for it are. Read this straightforward information for those who are just beginning meditation, or for practiced meditators who would like to return to basics:
- Firstly, things must be left behind. It is the process of deletion, not addition, of things from your mind. Preconceived notions, inaccurate memories and associations we have learned to recognise over the course of our lives should be cleared with deep breathing.
- Reduce disturbances of the body, breath and mind. Agitation, dullness, distraction, thoughts that aren’t really well-focused should be avoided. Conscious monitoring of your thoughts should do this.
So, with this basic information in mind, try to meditate as you best know how, and indulge in the sounds, life but also the stillness of spring.
Onions are the basis for so many dishes worldwide; it is almost a given that it will be found in the foods we eat everyday.
In 1919 when the flu killed more than 40-million people, there was a prominant doctor who visited many farmers and their families, looking to improve their symptoms and most importantly prevent death. He met one family, in which each family member was in pristine health despite flu-riddled neighbours and friends that surrounded them. The farmer’s answer to the question of “how?” was that he had placed an unpeeled onion in every room of the house. The doctor inspected the onion under a microscope and found it to be covered in the flu virus. The raw onion IS a magnet for bacteria. Having absorbed it, the family had not contracted the virus.
On the other hand however, onions that have been leftover are extremely poisonous when consumed. Because of the fact that uncooked onions attract and absorb bacteria, they are to be avoided. And do not precut onions to be cooked the following day. The amount of bacteria they will capture over the next 24-hours is enormous, even when in the fridge. If you must cook leftover or precut raw onion, cook it very, very well. And a tip for owners of pets, dogs’ stomachs cannot physically metabolise onion so don’t feed them any leftovers containing it, raw or cooked.
Take this information on board; it will undoubtedly improve your and your family’s health.
The word pranayama is composed of prana and yama (control) and is meant to be understood as “control of the breath”. “Control” is however a harsh word; we prefer to use “discipline.”
So the breath! We all know it exists because without it we wouldn’t be alive, but we’re never conscious of it and how it affects us. It removes impurities, relaxes the heart and thus relieves tension in the muscles and straightens the spine. Practise this simple and effective exercise every day:
1. EXHALE: push all the air out of your chest and tummy so that you create space in these cavities for the inflow of air upon inhaling.
2. INHALE: straighten your spine as you breathe in slowly so you fill your chest, expanding the rib cage as you do so. Attempt to count to 5 slowly while inhaling. Gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
3. EXHALE: repeat step 1, attempting to count to 5 slowly while doing so. Again, like inhalation, gradually build this up to 8 or 10 counts.
So integrate conscious breathing into your daily routine. 10 minutes a day is a good place to start.