Aleksandra Sonam Wangmo PhD
Philanthropist. Author. Poet. Vedic Counselor. Artist. Musician. Shaman. Yogini. Teacher.
I welcome you into an exploration of art, culture & language of women.
Early Life and Education
Sonam was born into a Polish family in 1979 in Warsaw as Aleksandra Maria Szewczyk. She has a younger sister Katarzyna ‘Katalina’. Sonam’s mother is a doctor of economy, and her father is a master engineer and architect. Sonam has noble ancestry on her mothers side. Her maternal great-grandfather was a member of AK during WWII and he was stationed in UK for an extended time with his family, he received a War Order of Virtuti Militari for his bravery and leadership during WWII and in life. The second world war had an immense effect on Sonam’s maternal grandmother’s life. She spent significant amount of time in India where she attended schools, before living for a short time in UK.
Sonam had a challenging childhood growing up in communist Poland, with a lot of scarcity and poverty that her friends experienced, as well as family challenges and health difficulties. Sonam was sheltered by her grandmother and family. It was the decision of her great grandfather to return to Poland after the war instead of remaining in the UK. In Poland in addition to regular public school, she attended private English school for a while while her parents prepared her to immigrate to Canada in 1992. Sonam spent extended time around Catholic monastic life receiving weekly teachings of religion and catechism in Warsaw.
In Canada, Sonam attended both University of Calgary (Religion Studies) and University of Mount Royal (Sciences). It was difficult for her to adjust to the new environment and non-european culture, yet today the international life made her capable of relating with ease with people of different cultural and religious backgrounds. Sonam graduated from Bow Valley College as a Practical Nurse specialized in mental health. She worked in neurology, trauma, cardiology, medicine, mental health, palliative care and gerontology. She maintains associate nursing registration as Aleksandra Szewczyk with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta.
Due to her health challenges and difficult family dynamics Sonam pursued the studies of alternative health and Yoga. She was introduced to Yoga in 1998 and completed her Hatha Yoga Training with Trinity Yoga International in 2006. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Continuing Education Provider with Yoga Alliance. In 2006/2007 Dr. Wangmo completed Level 1 iRest -Yoga Nidra – Training. In 2011 Sonam completed her Ayurvedic Life-Style Counselor training under the tutelage of Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) and American Vedic Institute.
She is an ordained interfaith minister through a Theological ministry and holds a doctorate in Religious Studies from the same Theological Seminary. Sonam’s dissertation ‘Wild Dakini’ is a paper about comparative studies in four of the world’s religions of feminine principles and their application in daily life.
Sonam’s spiritual development begun very early on, she was always fascinated with plant life and animal life, dance, music, arts and beauty. She had many esoteric experiences as a child and no one to really relate them to. Sonam always felt challenged by lack of women in leadership in the Catholic church and catholic religion. She didn’t find satisfactory answers around the topics of life, death, relationships, women’s roles and spirituality. She felt there was a lack of empowered feminine.
Sonam’s spiritual and personal life has gone through several dramatic transitions, due to her deeply rooted desire to leave the church and embark on a shamanic and Buddhist path.
In 1999 Sonam got involved in Enlightenment Intensives (as developed by Charles Berner), had a direct experience and begun to staff and assist at these events to help empower awakening in modern world.
These initiatory and powerful meditative techniques and contemplations lead her deeper into Buddhism which allowed her to understand the nature of life.
Through a series of synchronistic events in 2007 Dr. Wangmo was lead to a Peruvian Shaman who trained her in the sacred medicines from the Andes and Amazon.
In September of 2007 Sonam moved to Perú where she lived until autumn of 2015. During the first six years she worked hand in hand with the local Peruvians. She participated in hundreds of healing ceremonies, combining them with regular practice of Yoga, Mantra, Buddhist studies and contemplation and meditation. She lived in a semi-retreat during this time, maintaining contact only with those who shared her deep value of Buddhism.
The Buddhist Dharma and her shamanic practice is what makes Sonam very sought after feminine spiritual leader. Sonam understands the nature of mind and the inner workings of many plants as well as altered states of consciousness and the visionary world. She has a lot of compassion for the human condition.
This as well as her nursing background, high integrity, beautiful voice and strong yoga practice allows participants to feel safe, taken care of and able to ask questions that others have no knowledge about. She spent extensive time in the Amazon completing necessary plant dietas, learning about plant medicines, healing, connecting and learning about native tribes their art and culture and writing about these experiences. Over the years the practice of Dharma has clearly proven to be superior to anything else in sustaining Rikpa (realization) Dr. Wangmo now recommends engaging in the healing plant ceremonies only under special circumstances.
In 2014 Sonam connected with a Chilean Elder Medicine Woman – She did an intensive one year apprenticeship with her to deepen wisdom of the feminine.
She published her first co-authored book in 2016. Her chapter discusses powerful transformative tools combined with spiritual practice of Buddhism to overcome depression, body issues as well as healing from domestic violence.
Today, Sonam is a teacher integrating the ancient ancestral ways of the Earth, plants, Bön and Tibetan Buddhism to empower and quicken feminine realization.
In October of 2015 Sonam suffered from an unexpected accident. She had a near death experience and a profound Tara Encounter. In the last moments before she heard her body hit the ground she practiced the Sublime Green Tara practice from the Luminous Secret Vajra Treasury. She was unconscious for nearly 30 min and she returned into her body as Tara. Today she is an enlightened woman, a living Tara and a Shaman.
Buddhism has answered and continues to answer any and all questions about life and death, love and heart and most of all that very thing that everyone is after: Enlightenment.
Practicing Buddhist since 2007, received over 120 transmissions and teachings from all four schools of Buddhism including:
- Took vows at Nalandabodhi in Vancouver on October 30, 2012 – Lama Rabten gave her the name of Karma Sonam Wangmo.
- Completed Chöd workshop at Tara Mandala
- Received the Song of the Vajra Transmission first time at Tara Mandala, numerous times after that from Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
- Received 4 transmissions of The Sublime Green Tara from the Luminous Secret Vajra Treasury, Ösel Dorje Sang Dzö Ley
- Received Ngöndro Transmission(s)
- Received 2 transmissions of Riwo Sang
- Received Shitro transmissions
- Received Dzogchen transmissions of Longsal Rushen – Preliminary practice, The Luminous Clarity of the Universe.
- and many other transmissions
Dr. Wangmo continues her daily studies in Buddhism and regular practice, while teaching and writing and traveling. Exploring art, culture & language of women.
Guru Dhēva Dakini
The logo: The design of the Temple’s Mandala was completed in 2016 by Dr. Wangmo,
inspired by the Queen’s Council Dialogs and seeped in the tantras, Buddhism, Goddesses and Shri Yantra symbolism and Hindu traditional richness, the Temple’s mandala brings the colours of passion and regal priestly purple.
Designed out of 18 Triangles, where in the traditional Tarot #18 is the image of the Moon, the royal road to feminine wisdom, the moon challenges the individual to once again enter the domain of the darkness, this time a very luminous darkness. We expect to understand the fullness of life with our eyes wide open.
A new moon teaches gradualness and deliberation and how one gives birth to oneself slowly. Patience with small details makes perfect a large work, like the universe. ~ Rumi
The darker tones are the darker extremes of the feminine psyche and the lighter notes are the dissolving and purified vibrancies arriving at their centre of the balance. Held together by an artistic image similar to the Buddhist double dorje, the Temple’s mandala has gone on and off as the logo, deemed too intense by some today it is the appropriate symbol of the darkness & light of the feminine womb that embodies and carries everything within it. We are the moist heavenly womb.
August 23, 2019
Yesterday, we decided to update the colour of our logo to green over teal. It represents the current mood and is a reflection of Green Tare on the Lake, laced in gold.
We brought the two main triangles closer together showing a growing closeness between the Green Tara and Sonam.
Symbolism of water in Buddhism is go great significance.
Om Tāre Tu Tāre Ture Swāha