Monday, August 27, 2007

The Five Tibetans - What's Real & What Isn't?

Claims for the benefits of performing the Rites have proliferated over the web, becoming increasingly exaggerated to a point where they have been made to sound like a 'miracle cure' – an ancient, secret snake oil medicine!

People are led to believe that the Rites will completely halt their aging, help them lose enormous amounts of weight; fix their cancer, heart disease, fibroid cysts, and numerous other serious health conditions. Their expectations are often set way too high, and they are bound to be disappointed. This is regrettable, as it steers people away from this truly beneficial routine which takes such a short amount of time per day.

This article is an attempt to restore credibility to the Rites by helping people gain realistic expectations, of what they might achieve from performing this powerful rejuvenation method.

A simple search on the web will show numerous sites offering downloadable e-booklets on The Five Tibetan Rites for around US$19.95 up to $39.95. These booklets are copies of the original book that introduced the Rites to the West during the late 1930's. Titled, The Eye of Revelation by Peter Kelder it outlines the story of the discovery of the monks in Tibet by his friend; retired British Army Officer, Colonel Bradford. According to one of his publishers Peter Kelder is still alive; albeit very old - and therefore the copyright on his book does not expire for another 50 years.

Since the selling of these booklets is purely a commercial enterprise; invariably there will be some internet marketers who exaggerate the benefits of the Rites, in order to entice buyers to purchase this product. Whilst this proliferation of marketers' offering the same booklet increases the visibility of the Rites, which is beneficial; I feel it is important to add a dose of reality to the whole subject.

If you are thinking of learning the Rites; good for you. However you might want to bear in mind that nearly everyone selling these booklets has never actually physically taught anyone. "So what", you might say: I'm coming to that...

So what gives me the right to comment? After all I also benefit commercially from selling T5T (my abbreviation for The Five Tibetan Rites) merchandise, workshops and teacher training. I'll be brief: My background is in teaching the Rites to thousands of people over the last 6 years. I’ve had two books on the Rites published, T5T: The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites (Penguin) and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House). I’ve taught numerous workshops to hundreds of students; trained 32 instructors, filmed a DVD and made an audio CD.

So What are the Exaggerations, Non Truths or Over-Simplifications Claimed for the Benefits of the Rites?

Here are some examples I have found on the internet:
  • You can remove your wrinkles, a secret cosmetic surgeons don’t want you to learn. Absolute rubbish I’m sad to say!
  • Restores your natural hair color. In all the many hundreds of people I have taught only ONE said he ‘thought” his sideburns were going darker.
  • Guaranteed – you will look a shocking 30 years younger! Will turn you back to being 25 years old all over again! Imagine getting back the face, hair, strength and vitality you had at 25 years old! If this was true, it would be on the main news! The extra life-energy (Qi, prana) flowing through your body from doing the Rites definitely gives you a healthier and more vital look – but NO way do you become young again sadly.
  • Will correct your eyesight. In my experience, no-one yet has flung off their glasses saying, “I can see, I can see". There is a slight difference in your vision immediately after you have done the Rites, with a mild improvement overall. They certainly do not ‘fix’ eyesight problems.
  • Virtually anyone can perform them at any age, right up to 100 years old or more! The person who wrote this comment is a copywriter, NOT a teacher of the Rites! When I began teaching the Rites I used the original version as described in Peter Kelder’s books. In every workshop I noticed a pattern of lower back and neck pain occurring in a similar percentage of people. So I took the routine to physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, occupation health, Feldenkrais and Pilates Instructors to find ways of making them safer, and simpler for just about anyone to do. The result is T5T which incorporates core stability to protect the spinal column, as well as ways of moving that do not compress the discs and vertebrae of the spine. The problems of the past have been totally eradicated by this step-by-step process. I also consulted a well-known breathing expert as I felt breathing was very scantily addressed in Kelder’s books. A number of clinical studies have proven that how well you breathe literally dictates your lifespan. With the T5T method of doing the Rites, your breathing capacity is increased and your breathing rate is slowed. To find out if the Rites are for you or what to watch out for when you begin learning, see my article “Are The Five Tibetan Rites Suitable For You?’
  • Your energy levels become turbo-charged! There is no doubt that this is one of the principal benefits of the Rites. However most people will read this and think they can go out and run a marathon. Not everyone gets the super-charged variety. Most people get an obvious endurance type of energy as opposed to the six cups of coffee effect inferred by the use of the word turbo-charged! Unlike caffeine energy, the energy derived from the Rites is enduring (unless you stop doing them).
  • Martin Sheen the actor and John Gray from Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus credit the Rites for their youthful looks. This is not what they say at all! The quotes attributed to both of them on the Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth book covers, mention nothing about them "personally looking younger" because of the Rites. Incidentally, John Gray kindly reviewed my book project (and provided a personal quote) and noted the amendments I had made to the Rites. He told me that he too had modified the Rites to make them safer and easier for people to perform.
  • Every copy of the book was lost, until one was found recently. Completely untrue! The publishers say (on the Fountain of Youth No 2 book cover) they have sold over 2 million copies of the later version of the book. Borderland Sciences have been publishing the original book “The Eye of Revelation” for years and at a fraction of the cost $5.95 versus the $19.95 up to $39.95 that people are charging on the internet. It’s a great story by the way and well worth reading. It is not a great teaching aid though as the instructions and illustrations are extremely limited, and for the reasons mentioned above.
So, What Are The Real Benefits?

There has been no clinical research done on the Five Rites. Although there have been numerous studies done on yoga, from which the Rites are developed. Some of the Rite’s movements are well-known yoga postures; however these 5 movements are performed in a specific sequence with some unique adaptations. The Spin (1st Rite) for example is not part of any other yoga and is unique to the Five Rites. The only 'research' that has been done if you like, is by the millions of people (the publisher of the Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth claims 2 million copies of this book have been sold) who have practiced the Rites.

Other notable research is from Five Tibetan teachers, or yoga teachers who teach them to their students. I cannot speak for the others but here is a list of the benefits you can expect. This knowledge comes from the direct teaching experience of myself and my instructors in teaching the many hundreds of students who attended our workshops or received private tuition. We compiled this information from our workshop/private tuition feedback forms, correspondence, discussions, testimonials and completed questionnaires:

Since I have modified the Rites (without affecting their integrity) to make them safer and easier to perform; the list below relates to T5T (my abbreviation for The Five Tibetans).

Most people experience varying degrees of one or more of the following benefits:
  • A significant increase in energy - more the endurance type of energy as opposed to the revved up caffeine type of energy. You feel like you can keep going and going.
  • Feel calmer and less stressed – your buttons simply don’t get pushed as easily anymore.
  • Develop significant mental clarity with a razor sharp focus.
  • Feel stronger, more flexible and less stiff
  • Enjoy seeing muscles appear on your arms, stomachs, hips, legs and backs. Good for toning flabby arms and tightening the abdomen
  • Sleep better. Some people have more vivid dreams
  • Overall improvement in your health, don’t seem to catch colds etc as often
  • Helps with depression and anxiety - lifts mood and improves well-being
  • More centered and at peace
  • Improved self discipline and sense of purpose
  • Feel younger and more powerful
  • Improved breathing - deeper, slower & more conscious
  • Increased levels of Qi (chi, ki, prana, life-energy)
  • Better posture
  • Develops good core strength, which provides a strong foundation for any other form of exercise or modern living
  • Some people lose weight, most find it easier to control weight and desire healthier foods
  • Improved digestion and elimination
  • Helps with the transition and symptoms of menopause
  • Helps with the symptoms of menstruation
  • Improved libido
There are many individual cases of people receiving improvement to their health conditions. This does not indicate that everyone who has this condition will experience the same benefit. It also does not allow for the influence of other factors that may also have contributed to the improvement in their condition. Please see the Testimonials on my website that detail these personal experiences (full name's given).

I hope this information has helped you. If you are already doing the Rites and would like some tips on maintaining a long-term practice and interest - please read my article “Getting the Most Out of The Five Tibetans”

If you would like to really boost their effects I highly recommend you include core stability training with the Rites, and learn how to breathe correctly (both during and between each movement). If you do not have someone who can teach you this, I recommend you purchase my Book or my DVD which covers both subjects in great depth. In the T5T method, both these subjects have been tailor-made by myself and other health professionals, to fit and maximize your practice of the Rites.

If you are or have already practiced the Rites and are disappointed that your expectations have not been met, please read my blog post “The Five Tibetans - Not Getting the Benefits You Expected?" It includes comments from myself and others, offering suggestions to enhance your practice so you can obtain further benefits.

Finally, if you are considering learning the Rites for the first time, including those of you who are experienced yoga, or fitness practitioners; please read my article “Are The Five Tibetan Rites Suitable For You?

If you wish to publish this article on your website you may do so, provided you assign copyright to the author exactly as written below. Copyright (c) 2007 Carolinda Witt - author “T5T: The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites" and "The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan"
The Five Tibetan Rites - Is There a Link to the Whirling Dervishes?

It would be natural to assume a link between the whirling described in Rite # 1 of The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, and the Whirling Dervishes - founded by the great philosopher and writer Rumi in the 13th Century. However, from the evidence I have found below, there is no connection.

Some practitioners and teachers of the Five Tibetan Rites have adopted some of the movements from the Sema (the Dervishes religious ceremony - such as spinning anti-clockwise and holding one palm facing upwards and one pointing downwards. However as you shall read below, this is purely a modern adaptation, and has no historical connection.

Although they both spin, the First Rite and the Sema (a religious ceremony) have different outcomes and vary significantly in technique. The Dervishes spin to induce a trance-like ecstatic state, whereas the Tibetan 1st Rite is performed to stimulate the vortexes into action.

The sema is the inspiration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi (1207- 1273) as well as of Turkish custom, history, beliefs and culture. It is part of a sacred ceremony in which the dervish rotates in a precise rhythm. Whilst whirling, the dervish aims to empty himself of all distracting thoughts. As he enters into a trance, he is released from his bodily awareness and conquers his dizziness. Dervishes believe that their souls are released from earthly ties, able to freely and jubilantly communicate with the divine.

Dervish literally means "doorway" and is thought to be an entrance from this material world to the spiritual, heavenly world. In the past the Turkish Sultans would often consult the Dervishes for guidance. They believed that the dervish was in prayer and that the spinning created a hypnotic and relaxing affect which opened his body to receive the energy of God.In the Tibetan First Rite, both palms are facing downwards towards the floor. The Dervishes however, place their right palm upwards to receive the power of the heavens, and their left palm turned downwards to direct this energy into the earth. They see themselves as the conduit of God’s power and do not try to hold onto or direct that power.

Extract from the official website of Rumi's family:

While whirling his arms are open, his right hand directed to the skies ready to receive God's beneficence, looking to his left hand turned toward the earth, he turn from right to left around the heart. This is his way of conveying God's spiritual gift to the people upon whom he looks with the eyes of God. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, he embraces all the mankind, all the creation with affection and love.

In Peter Kelder's books whereupon he outlines Colonel Bradford's direct teachings from the Lamas in the Tibetan Monastery, he mentions Bradford's discussion regarding the Dervishes as follows:

When I spoke to one of the Lamas about this, he informed me that while this whirling movement of the Dervishes did have a very beneficial effect, it also had a devastating one. It seems that a long siege of whirling stimulates into great activity Vortexes (Chakras) A, B and E. These three have a stimulating effect on the other two - c & D. But due to excessive leg action the Vortexes in the knees - F & G - are over-stimulated and finally so exhausted that the building up of the Vital Forces along with this tearing down causes the participants to experience a kind of 'psychic jag' which they mistake for something spiritual or at least religious.

However, continued the Colonel, we do not carry the whirling exercise to excess. While the Whirling Dervishes may spin around hundreds of times, we find that greater benefit is obtained by restricting it to about a dozen or so times, enough so that Rite Number One (The Spin) can stimulate all the Vortexes to action.

Another variation is that Bradford tells us to spin clockwise whereas the Sema is performed anti-clockwise. For more information on whether we should spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere - see my article which gives you the correct information.

The true origins of the spin we can only speculate about. Spinning is so natural it almost certainly evolved from the careful observation of natural laws.

You can see evidence of spinning everywhere. The Earth spins around the sun and when viewed from space is covered in spiraling cloud formations, similar in shape to that of our galaxy. Your own body contains numerous spirals, from your DNA to the unique swirls on the tips of your fingers. Time-lapse photography enables you to see that sprouting seeds don’t shoot upwards as was previously thought. They germinate in a spiral.

The Ancients, have long taught that the universe is full of spinning vortexes, through which the energy of the universe enters and vitalizes your body and all other things. Some ancient cultures believed that the Earth’s energy gathers into vortexes, and in those places they built churches, temples and other places of worship and learning. Some people believe that the extraordinary structures of Stonehenge, the Pyramids and the giant stone monoliths of Easter Island represent places where the Ancients believed ‘special energies’ gathered.

Whatever the explanation for the Spin (1st Tibetan Rite) it does seem reasonable to think that there may be some universal significance in terms of connecting spinning with energy generation and dispersal.

The vortex form is integral to the universe. It’s a constant that recurs throughout all life. Through the revolving of the neutrons, protons and electrons of the atoms that form our basic structure, everything takes part in this revolving.

"The sky is round, and I have heard the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours.

The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves…" Black Elk, Sioux Holy Man

If you wish to publish this article on your website, you may do so provided that you assign copyright to the author, exactly as written below:

Copyright (c) 2005 Carolinda Witt - author T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan