There are many types of yoga – raja yoga, hatha yoga, etc. – all with the same aim, to bring us to a place of unity in body, mind, and spirit. So the practice of whatever yoga method you use all comes down to the same thing: mindful attention. We can practice mindful attention in every aspect of our lives whether it be movement, thought, or even tourism. So what happens when you combine all three? For me, it all came together using and teaching a program called T-Tapp in Teotihuacan (Teo), Mexico as part of an intense but exhilarating Spirit Recovery Journey. It came as an assignment, I had no idea what I was doing or how it was all supposed to work; but I jumped at the opportunity and said “YES!” to life. I highly recommend that last part; you never know what might happen!
In four days at The Dreaming House guided by Lee McCormick and Emily Grieves (and lovingly spoiled by Alberto Romero and his wife Veronica Galicia), I found I did the yogic work it took me seven trips to the Brazilian healing house of “John of God” to achieve. Using T-Tapp’s method of mindful movement for myself and teaching it to others seemed to be supercharged by the energy vortex of Teo’s archeological grounds. It’s easy to view Teo as just a conglomeration of ruins, most touristas probably do. But, my trip to these hallowed grounds was guided by a Toltec master, trained by Don Miguel Ruiz. Lee McCormick immersed us in the energy of Teo; we delved into each area of the city with mindful intent, with full awareness of our body, our thoughts, and our dreams – not your ordinary “organized” tour!
The gentle, cowboy wisdom of a master like Lee and the creative guidance of Emily meant that our experience of Teo was unlike any of the hundreds of other people swarming down The Avenue of the Dead. We lived the rituals of the masters: cross the Temple of Recollection with your eyes closed; climb to the altar of Quetzalcoatl’s Temple as thousands of apprentices before you and leap into the serpent’s mouth; see the Pyramid of the Sun coated in mica calling you to meditate at its apex. Doing our yoga, experiencing not just the place but the meaning of the place, brought everyone in the group through a deep, rich journey. It was hardly the “on your left a pile of rocks, on your right a ruined pyramid” type of tour!
Speaking of deep, rich, and yummy -- after climbing the Pyramid of the Moon or the Pyramid of the Sun, you return to warm embrace of The Dreaming House. Rather than staying in an antiseptic hotel, you are welcomed into a loving home resplendent in bright yellows, azure, and green. Rooms are simple yet lovely and all of us were thrilled to have a “real” shower; none of those drippy, spitting low-flo things are to be found, these are real showers that rejuvenate your soul!
And then there’s the food. Veronica and her kitchen curanderas love cooking, love taking care of people. Their passion and a bounty of fresh ingredients meant that every meal was a combination of comfort food and mouth-watering real Mexican cooking served family style in the dining room or outside on the veranda—laughter and joy and a touch of nirvana radiating from everyone. Aztec soup to make us strong, sweet cakes to remind us of the sweetness of life, and refried beans unlike any you’ve had before. Then there’s the morning eggs so fresh and sweet topped with a homemade salsa and cilantro like you’ve never savored. And the coffee; how do I describe the coffee? A hint of cinnamon, milk, and sugar but unlike anything I’ve had at home. I seriously considered finding a way to stuff one of the women from the kitchen in my suitcase to come home with me. Immigration issues be damned, the coffee was just that extraordinary.
The system of movement I use, teach and attempt to live is called T-Tapp. It’s a combination of yoga, pilates, ballet, chi gong, and a couple of other things for which I haven’t found appropriate words. You can do T-Tapp fast, you can do T-Tapp slow; but however you use it, each move brings focus and awareness while building heart strength and lymphatic flow. As a Certified Trainer in this marvelous method of mindful movement, I’ve watched people transform both their body and their spirit by bringing conscious awareness into each movement.
Ever since Oprah recommended the book The New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle, “being in the present moment” has become almost cliché. It’s a human tendency to use the information as an exercise for the mind to chew on. We THINK about what it all means and tell ourselves how true it is. But the thinking about it isn’t the DOING, and more importantly the BEING of it. How do we take the information from our heads and bring it into our hearts, how do we feel what it feels like to simply BE? In truth, this is the secret of all great masters and their message to us from every discipline: To BE present to the experience of being human. We add the trappings, layers, and stories that make BEING so complicated!
Mindful movement with T-Tapp is an incredible tool that allows us to align our energetic system and our physical body to bring awareness into our hearts. From here we can begin to FEEL our experiences instead of listening to the commentaries about them from our head. When you combine this shift in perception created by conscious movement with the powerful energies and wisdom of the Toltec Masters, the result is nothing less than miraculous!
Toltec masters infused the city of Teo with a powerful energy hundreds of
years ago and they continue to share this wisdom today. As conscious
tourists we stand in two worlds at once—we are transported to the Toltec
Master’s dimension while we stand in the moment as everything we have become
so far, we are able to truly BE in all the moments at once. The
Pyramid of the Moon calls you down the Avenue of the Dead, pulls you to an
opportunity for rebirth. Move out the old stuff! Feel your body’s vitality!
Be aware of everything you are and everything you interacting with!
Looking at the unparalleled aqueduct system these ancient people designed, I
was struck by the similarity of it all to my own body’s aqueduct system –
blood vessels moving nourishment in and lymph moving out the trash. It
is only fitting that we took time out to do some added T-Tapp mindful
movement on the Pyramid of the Moon!
Lee calls his work “Spirit Recovery Journeys” and I can’t think of a better name for the experience. Throughout our lives, pieces of ourselves shatter and get lost around the universe. Teo, Toltec Teachings and Mindful Movement with T-Tapp gave all of us the opportunity to gather ourselves, to find our shards, and to make them complete again. Doing my yogic work on this journey was intense and it was startling at times, but it has rarely been so rich. I felt like I was doing my spiritual housekeeping on steroids, emotions and memories whipping through my mind’s eye, letting me scrub clean the corners of “my house.”
Returning the world I live in was somewhat surreal; it’s like after a particularly good session of bodywork when you’ve reconnected with yourself—suddenly you see the world with different eyes. The good news is that once you’ve touched that spot, you can easily “dream” yourself into it again. Of course the distractions come roaring back. I start to contemplate what is “the present?” How does this “time” thingie work? What does it really mean to BE present? At least I know I can take my monkey-mind back to Teo, feed it some bananas there, and see what else the mindful masters have to teach me!
Renee McLaughlin is a certified T-Tapp Trainer, self-avowed adventurer, and long-time yoga student. You can contact her at email@example.com.