The Five Tibetans helps the reader to facilitate their inner work with the powerful combination of the body-strengthening daily practice of the legendary yoga-like poses known as the “5 Tibetans” along with spirit-nourishing stories and metaphors born of seas, rainbows and mountain vistas. As you move through the pages and activities of the book you will discover for yourself the positive effects of performing the rites that have been touted as the “ancient secret of the fountain of youth.” You will feel the sand beneath your feet, follow a mountain river on its course, and watch a rainbow dance on the horizon. Susan Westbrook gently encourages you to look inward at what she refers to as the “grasping behaviors” that are not serving you the book will help you find the healing behaviours that can facilitate your healing and growth. Regardless of age or circumstances, The 5 Tibetans is a book for you, for your body, for your spirit, and for your heart. The Five Tibetan Rites is a yoga routine based on a ritual of exercises discovered in the early 1900's, by a British army colonel, Colonel Bradford, who was living in a Himalayan monastery. They are practiced around the world and are said to prevent aging. In 1939, Peter Kelder published "The Original Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation," which helped spread the rites in the western world.
The 5 Tibetans has a world-wide following. If you go to the internet and type in “5 Tibetans,” hundreds of videos, web-sites, and commentaries will pop up. The focus of a majority of those artifacts is exercise, a perfectly reasonable aspiration considering the number of positive health effects that have been linked to a regular practice of the postures. I am absolutely more fit than I was even when I worked out at the gym 3 times a week. Participants in our 5 Tibetans Work- shop seminars have reported significant physical gains, including reduction in chronic back pain, increased balance, and relief from asthma symptoms. It will take you several moments to read through all the testimonials at the start of Peter Kelder’s inaugural book on the 5 Tibetans, TheAncient Secrets of the Fountain of Youth. There is no doubt that regular practice of these 5 postures can enhance the physical body. Over time, however, I discovered that the “mystery” of the 5 Tibetans was not in just doing the expected 21 repetitions of each posture every day. The transformative power lay in the mantras and contemplations originally taught to me by my Teacher and, more recently, the ones I reconstructed for my own practice. When I started delving into “traditional” yoga in the midst of writing this book, my teacher told us that her yogi had said, “Yoga without breathing is just gymnastics.” I immediately conjured that statement’s parallel with the 5 Tibetans: The 5 Tibetans without meditation is just exercise. While the exercise will be good for your body, the medita- tive practice can change your life. My time in Scotland also led me to consider other ways of thinking about what I expect from life and the stories I tell myself about my past. My Teacher had learned the 5 Tibetans from Dekyi Lee Oldershaw, a former Tibetan Buddhist nun who had studied the postures with a Ti- betan Buddhist Master. As I learned the postures from my Teacher, I was also taught correspon- ding elements and chakras and delusions that cause suffering. This was my first real exposure to Buddhist philosophy. Upon my return to the US, I did not turn to Buddhism, but I did begin to read the works of the venerable Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. In the way that the 5 Tibetans became my daily meditation partners, Hanh’s book You Are Here, became the voice that directed my inward steps in those first months after returning from Scotland. I read the little yellow paper back from cover to cover at least 5 times in the year that followed. It became the symbolic spiritual artifact of my initial year as a “wanderer.” Although I didn’t know it in the beginning, I was in desperate need to hear the things Hahn offered in his compassionate, yet direct, way. Many of the concepts from You Are Here will filter into this book. I took the guidance from this gentle monk like I take just about any lesson...I went kicking and screaming. But I also listened. And considered how different the concepts he laid before me were from my own world view. Hearing the possibility that things manifest when the conditions are right and do not manifest when the conditions are not right. Being with my pain as though it were my own precious infant. Believing that the “garbage” of my life can be the compost that nourishes the next remarkable part of my path. Working to extinguish a way of thinking that caused me to see some parts of myself as “bad” and other parts as “good.” I am still processing. Likely, one of the biggest Ahas! (or Duhs!) on that spiritual journey in Buddhist literature was the all-too-obvious reality that everything changes. Nothing is permanent. I am guaranteed nothing. Not even my next breath. I know this at some level, but I think I tend to try to ignore the truth of it. Once I just about got my head around the concept of non-permanence, I was hit square on with the accompanying realization of its close partner, non-attachment. Simply put, not only can I not expect anything to stay the way it is, I cannot hold onto anything either. It was a spiritual one-two-punch straight to the solar plexus. It took my breath away and shook my sense of security. I don’t know about you, but non-permanence and non-attachment have to be the hardest concepts of reality that I have been forced to take on. I want my relationships to last forever. I don’t want my friends to die. I don’t want to move time and time again trying to find a place where I can be myself and make a living. I not only expect things to stay the same, I am shaken to my very core when they are not. Over time, though, as I have accepted change as a necessity, I have begun to find it easier to open my hands and heart to let things go with less grasping and misery. I am not yet an expert at it, but at least I am more aware of the times I am resisting the flow of “what is.” In many ways, the concepts of non-permanence and non-attachment are the real teachers in this book. As you read through the chapters that follow, I invite you to explore these realities both in the world around you and within your own heart and life. Each metaphor from nature or story of my own personal resistance has a built-in connection to the need to accept change and let go of the things and ideas that keep us separated from our best selves and our highest service. Linked with the physical activity of the 5 Tibetans and meditations on the mantras, your ongoing contemplations of non-permanence and non-attachment will bring about a shift in your expectations which, in turn, will be accompanied by a modification in your thoughts and actions. When you are willing to shift your thinking and your actions, healing and transformation can come streaming in like morning light through an east- erly window. The purpose of this book is to support your courageous acts of looking deeply and mindfully into the actions and attitudes that create pain in your life and to coach you forward on the path of living more fully with increased gratitude and joy. The stage for that important work will be a daily practice of the 5 Tibetans and contemplations of their representative chakras and mantras. I have called the book a workshop because it is my desire that you will see this as a safe place to tinker with, repair, and build...you. Each time you go into the book to read a chapter, visualize yourself walking out the back door of an old farmhouse and heading for the quiet confines of the little workshop down by the pasture. Go in, close the door, gather your tools, and unpack your personality wares and past mistakes. Take stock of your relationship to the concepts of non-permanence and non-attachment. Take time to consider your attachments. Commit yourself to the work of your own healing and wholeness. I feel confident that when you leave the workshop, you will be well on your way to discarding the behaviors and con- cepts that are not serving you, and ready to take on ways of thinking and being that can set you free to enjoy a life of intimacy and connection as well as expansiveness and authenticity. The book is divided into three parts. In Part I, you will get “outfitted” for the journey ahead. You will learn about the five postures known as the 5 Tibetans, explore descriptions of the chakras and elements that will be part of the mantras, and get a brief introduction to the stars of the show, i.e., the grasping and healing behaviors. In Part II, you will be led through the five grasping behaviors and their connections to the 5 Tibetans and to your life and relationships. Each of the 5 chapters will begin with a story taken from a natural setting or my own experi- ence meant to create a metaphor for you to carry out of the “workshop” and use for greater awareness in your daily life. Part III offers the antidotes to the grasping behaviors; actions that can bring healing and wholeness and a greater sense of connection to yourself and to the world. Each healing behavior will be linked to the chakra represented by one of the 5 Tibetans postures. In essence, this book is your workshop between two covers. When I say the word “work,” my mind automatically hears my grandson, Ben, say, “I have wuk(sic) to do!” I assume he hears that from his parents, but the sweet chirp of his voice and his two-year-old semi-lisp make it an irresistible statement. I find myself repeating it, adding the rise in pitch on the word, “wuk” as he does. There is work to do. To heal the results of the hurts and disappointments that have come your way. To open your heart to greater love and compassion for yourself. To create con- fidence and peace so you can stride out into your world and your relationships with greater joy. Yes, there will be some ease and flow. Yes, there is also work to do. It is a courageous act; there is no harder job on the planet than standing steady and taking a look inside at all those layers we have constructed over the years. You are here today because you believe it is time to do that work. You have been led to this perfect place at this perfect time for your perfect heal- ing. Welcome to your workshop!
At the age of 50 Susan Westbrook took a leap out of the mainstream to become a high ropes facilitator, life coach, and Reiki Master/Teacher. Susan is passionate about helping you go bravely into the dark corners of your inner life so you can begin healing the old wounds that are stealing the peace, joy, and abundance you were created to have. In The 5 Tibetans Yoga Workshop, Susan blends her experience as a naturalist and spiritual coach with the forms and mantras of the legendary 5 Tibetans yogas to provide you with a format for a daily spiritual practice that will send the self-destructive grasping behaviors running and open space for growing actions and thinking that will make healing possible.
“It takes vision, courage and the dedication of a true seeker to travel thousands of miles to take a course she could have taken in her hometown, so I knew Susan was special from the first time we spoke. What I didn’t know was that my willing student was to become my wise teacher. I am so grateful to Susan for shining her unique light on the Five Tibetan teachings in a way that will inspire people worldwide to try these fabulous techniques and find their lives changed in positive, meaningful and significant ways. This work is important and Susan has made it accessible to everyone in this inspiring, authentic and compelling tapestry of personal stories, clear instruction and insightful wisdom that I am eager to use in all my Five Tibetan classes from now on.”
– Elizabeth Harley, Five Tibetans Yoga Teacher, Master Teacher of the Diana Cooper School
“Discovering the Five Tibetans and contemplating the corresponding mantras helped me to acknowl- edge and release negative patterns of thought and behavior. This book is an enjoyable and practical guide to some very lofty ideals, and provides a guided path to personal growth and transformation.”
“I was fortunate to find out about this program a few weeks after it began. This meant I had to be okay with being behind on the info and behind on the practice! I’ve done a lot of yoga in the past, yet this approach found me at a time in my life when I was ready for its simplicity and gentleness. I have been amazed that inside of these simple 5 postures I have discovered some new possibilities for myself. The postures alone don’t get the credit, however. It’s the simple focus on things such as 'vulnerability' and 'surrender'. For anyone who wishes to have a deep, yet simple experience of themselves, a cleansing one, without extra hoopla, I’d recommend getting this book right away. Perhaps the power of this is the author’s own vulnerability and surrender. I’m grateful to have been guided to it.”
– Robin Holland, CEO Robin Holland International
“The Five Tibetans Yoga Workshop provided a daily practice of discipline and meditation. The self- focus time allowed me to sit with my own contemplations and ponderings about subjects that were part of the content of the workshop. The exercise of the actual Five Tibetans provided physical discipline, and the mantras of each pose helped me expand my awareness of the impact on my body, mind, and spirit. I found the work to be profoundly intimate, calming, soothing, and deeply satisfying. Anyone who has an opportunity to read this book and/or participate in the workshop would be treating them- selves to a hugely beneficial experience.”
– Margo E. Bebinger, CPCC Leadership and Life Coach
“We all need to do our own inner work to truly become the person we long to become. Susan shares an inspirational path to that end and offers insight from her own personal story. The wisdom offered in The Five Tibetans Yoga Workshop is a treasure for all who long to explore the nature of our humanity and our spirituality.”
– Rick Tamlyn, author of Play Your Bigger Game
“Susan Westbrook, in her well-written book on The Five Tibetans Yoga Workshop, recognizes the profound benefit of pairing these exercises with meditation, wherein lies the potential for deep change and growth. Sharing personal experiences of her path, she guides you on the way.”
– Mary Horsley, author of Chakra Workout: Balancing the Chakras with Yoga
"For the uninitiated, The Five Tibetans are the legendary yoga-like poses reportedly part of the daily practice of monastic monks in Tibet who performed the five exercises to balance the energy of the chakras and to enhance vigour and vitality. Westbrook spends a little time explaining the history of the Five Tibetans and the lore surrounding them as the ‘Rites of Rejuvenation’ or the fountain of youth. But the core of this book encourages a daily practice of the Five Tibetans yoga and contemplation of the accompanying mantras and chakras. It is a unique approach to personal transformation, which Westbrook breaks into three parts. The first involves learning the exercises and becoming acquainted with what Westbrook calls ‘the stars of the show’ the grasping and healing behaviours. In the second part she ventures deeper into ‘grasping behaviours’ and identifies them as confusion, resentment, doubt, fear and miserliness and reflects on how they influence our lives and relationships. The final section offers the antidotes to ‘grasping’ as vulnerability, surrender, authenticity, awareness and connection and how a commitment to these healing behaviours impacts our lives."
– Sharon Martin, Embody
"The Five Tibetans are the legendary yoga-like poses reportedly part of the daily practice of monastic monks in Tibet who performed the exercises to balance the energy of the chakras and to enhance vigour and vitality. In this excellent book, Westbrook explains the history of the Five Tibetans and the lore surrounding them, and encourages a daily practice and contemplation of the accompanying mantras and chakras. Along with the exercises, Westbrook identifies the 'grasping behaviours' and how they influence our lives and relationships, and provides the antidotes to this 'grasping' for a path of personal transformation."
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