Friday, August 31, 2012

September Book Review - Ancient Teachings in Modern Times

Venerable Losang Samten will be in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on September 5 & 6th while on tour here in Canada. We are so fortunate to have him come to the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library and The Forestry Centre. Please see poster in last blog for more details. I have also posted other blogs regarding his Sand Mandalas.
So, on that note I thought it fitting that the book review for this month be his latest work -
Ancient Teachings in Modern Times - Buddism in the 21st Century, by Losang Samtem and edited by Lori Petruskevich.

First a bit about Losang from the back inner cover:

Venerable Lama Losang Samten is a renowned Tibetan scholar, spiritual teacher, and artist.  Losang fled his homeland with his family in 1959 following occupation of Tibet by Communist Cina.  They first settled in Nepal and then resettled in India in 1963.  He became a monk in 1966 and in 1969 moved to Dharmasala, where he joined the Namgyal Monastery (the monastery of His Holiness the Dalai Lama).  Losang earned a Master's Degree in Sutra and Tantra, which is the highest degree attainable at the monastery, equivalent to a doctoral degree in the West.  He also became a Master of Ritual Dance and Sand Mandalas.  He was the personal attendant to His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama prior to moving to the United States in 1988, as one of the Masters who created the first public sand mandala in the West.  Losang has led an illustrious career creating sacred sand mandalas in museums, universities, and galleries throughout the USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Losang received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a PEW Fellowship, and two honorary doctoral degrees from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and the Maine College of Art. Losang played the role of the attendant to the young Dalai Lama in Martin Scorsese's film Kundun, where he also served as the religious technical advisor and sand mandala supervisor.

As the back cover suggests, this book is written is such a way that you really do feel as if you are sitting down in conversation with Losang.  The book is divided into about 16 chapters giving words of wisdom on Spirituality, Buddhism, Karma, Meditation, Types of Meditation, Motivation, Finding a Teacher, Retreats, Death and Dying and ending with Hopes and Dreams. He explains why the ancient teachings are still so important and relevant in today's world and why we need to preserve them, maybe even more so as the pace of life and technology increases.
The back cover says, "He masterfully weaves together the story of how the teachings of the Buddha can help anyone of any culture or faith achieve greater peace and joy by practicing loving kindness and compassion."

One can truly feel this love and compassion from Losang as he writes in his Acknowledgements,
"It is my heartfelt desire that this book will be of benefit to those who read it and that it will help everyone to find peace, love and joy.  I love you all." 

Pamela Nelson

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Venerable Losang Samtem coming to Prince Albert

For information on Prince Albert events email Dave at
To register for the annual retreat contact Raine and Dennis (306) 781-7332.
For travel directions and general information on Shekinah please visit or call Steve at (306)931-3941.
For information on Venerable Losang Samtem and his work please visit

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Peace is not an outer search

In the practice of yoga, it will clearly come to the person  
that peace is within themselves.
Peace is not an outer search, it is an inner state of being.
-B.K.S. Iyengar, Astadala Yogamala Vol.4 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Words of Wisdom - 20

Persevering practice
will support you more
than an thousand hours
of armchair philosophy.

-Author Unknown

Pamela Nelson

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Skin

The last, and largest sense organ is the skin - giving us the sense of touch and also our outward form.
As Prashant Iyengar says in his article, Functionality and Emotionality of the Senses, "The main function is to provide vitamin D. The skin controls and activates hormones that are necessary for the growth and nourishment of the body.  It controls blood pressure.  It throws out surplus water from the body.  It gives us sensation of pain through our nervous system. It detects pain and because of this feeling of pain we can protect ourselves.  It gives us the sensation of cold and heat.  This defensive wall prevents infections of many kinds."

Our skin also is renewed almost every 27 days - so even as we age - we are like snakes, shedding our skin with new skin cells.

That is some of the skins functions - how does that relate to emotions?

We may not always notice but think of how the blood vessels of the skin change when angry, embarrassed, nervous, anxious, scared, excited, happy and calm. 
Each emotion will be reflected in our skin!

Yoga is about practice and that we can remain in a calm state to work through any emotion we are going through.  When the nervous system is balanced, the blood pressure remains balanced and so too will the skin.

Pamela Nelson

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August Pose of the Month -repost Triangle Pose

This is a re post from the very first Pose of the Month I did.
I will have a new pose for photographer, Gabrielle has been very busy!

Below is the basic instructions for Utthita Trikonasana - Extended Three Angle Pose.
This is meant to help your home practice.
Please make sure you consult your doctor if you have any health issues.

Tadasana - mountain pose
Begin in Tadasana. Feet together or slightly apart and parallel.
Press weight evenly into both feet. Engage the quadriceps/thigh muscles by lifting knees up towards hips.
Press the thighs back. Keep the spine lengthening and the shoulders rolling back and down. The crown of the head stays parallel to the ceiling and the eyes softly look straight out.

Bend knees and bring fingertips together and then step or jump the feet about 4 feet apart.

Turn the left foot in slightly and the right leg out 90 degrees. Keep the front heel in line with the back instep and the front knee in line with the hip and second toe. Keep the thighs of both legs engaged.
Exhale and extend trunk to the right, placing hand on floor or block.
Keep the side body lengthening evenly, back of the head and spine in line and lift the top arm up. Look up.
Keep shoulders stacked.
Press into both feet to come up. Repeat on other side.

If difficult to reach floor or block and keep side body lengthening evenly press toes into wall and bring elbow to wall in line with shoulder.

Or use a chair. With a chair make sure the shinbone is in line with the leg of the chair.

According to BKS Iyengar this pose helps to tone the legs and strengthen the knees, ankles and back.
Can help improve digestion and relieve backache.

Be careful doing this pose if you have high blood pressure, low blood pressure and headaches.
If you have neck issues do not look up but straight ahead or down.

Pamela Nelson

Friday, August 10, 2012


"Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all

the barriers within yourself that

you have built against it."


Pamela Nelson

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Tongue

The tongue, containing eight muscles to anchor and change forms, is used to manipulate food for chewing, secretes saliva to help digest food, it is the main organ of taste, and as a secondary function is used for speech.
So, functionally speaking the tongue, along with the lips, throat, teeth and jaw helps to nourish the body.  But, as Prashant Iyengar writes, "The tongue is so fickle and greedy".  Sometimes our sense of taste causes us to overeat when stimulated by many tasty foods.

It is the secondary use of the tongue though that can have many emotional affects. Prashant says, "this tongue is an incessant gymnast.  It is never tired or pained or sprained like other muscles.  The teeth are like watchmen for the tongue but it still has its freedom."  In the Taitreya Upanishad it says that fire entered out mouth in the form of speech and it can burn somebody.  We can think of the wetness of the mouth as a way to cool this fire.

There are many figures of speech relating to the tongue:
tip-of-the-tongue, tongue in cheek, tongue twister, tongue-tied, bite one's tongue, cat got your tongue, slip of the tongue, forked tongue, silver tongue.

In Prashant's article, "Functionality and Emotionality of the Senses", he writes, the tongue "is a dangerous weapon of fire, but it can also release compassion."  "A person's talent is revealed through his tongue.  It has the source and expression of knowledge.  It can flatter and enchant, it can cheat and be a traitor."

For a yoga sadhana, the daily and continuous practice of the five yamas is the way to cool the tongue.

Yamas – are the external disciplines of yoga, universal codes of conduct or the basic rules of living, teachings that help to lessen the suffering that is to come.

The yamas include:

Ahimsa: not harming, non violence, letting go of hostility in our words, thoughts and actions

Satya: honesty or truthfulness in every thought, word and action

Asteya: not stealing or not having any desire to have something that is not yours by untruthful ways of obtaining it

Brahmacharya: celibacy or self restraint over things that are not needed or take away from ones vital energy

Aparigraha: not hoarding or not holding onto things not needed by you so that someone else can’t have it, not wanting more, also letting go of negative thoughts and not holding onto them. It means to be happy with what you have.
So, although it is good to speak up for yourself, speak your mind - it should be done with mindfulness and thoughtfulness to especially practice ahimsa and satya.
Pamela Nelson