by | Jul 31, 2022


What is mindfulness or total attention?

It is the mind that is not tied to language.

Let me explain. According to quantum physics we ourselves create our world, the world that we live in. We do that through language. When the baby is born it does not know language. In fact, every now and then they still find children that went missing years ago and grew up with animals. These children ‘learn’ the language of the animals they grow up with, and that then ‘makes’ their world.

As Carlos Castaneda says, as we grow we learn the ‘description’ of the world through language from the parents, family, society. But we forget that the description is NOT THE WORLD, the menu is not the meal, the map is not the road.

To ‘know’ the world we need to for a moment put the description to the side and ‘see’ the world as it is, not as we have been described that it is.

Yogis, Buddhists and other practices have been very clear about this.

We never ‘see’ things as they are at this moment. We only see the memory of those things, the words we have learned, the description, the accumulated ideas that we have about those things, the likes or dislikes. In other words, we see everything through the screen of words, through language.

Panta Rhei’ in ancient Greek means ‘everything flows’. The term is known as part of the philosophy of Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the late 6th century BC. He said “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

We and everything else are in Constant Motion (panta rhei) , constant change, or rather, everything is constantly created from moment to moment.

With this Heraclitus means that we can never have the same experience twice, as everything is subject to continuous and relentless mutation, changing, flowing, flowing on and on and on…..


So seeing is when you look at something and do not recognize it, do not compare it to something you have seen in the past. Therefore you do not have words for it, language., description. It is the Unknown.

This does not mean that your mind is a blank. On the contrary, it is extremely alive, aware, paying total attention to what is in front, but without spoiling it, without comparing it with something else, without corrupting it by words, by the description.

How do we apply this to our yoga practice?

In total attention the mind is completely occupied with the movement of the moment. As the Zen Buddhist says: ‘When you eat, eat, when you sleep, sleep’. There are no thoughts or distractions, no referring to descriptions of the asana.

It is the mind that does something for the first time, even though it has done it a thousand times before in the past.

What does this mean?.

Every movement that you do is the first time you are doing it, every asana you do is the first time you are ever doing it.

There is no referring to other times in the past that you did this movement, this asana, there is no ’re-cognizing’. ‘Re-cognizing’ in Latin means to ‘again know’, so it refers to the past, when you ‘knew’ this movement.

Instead in total attention you do the movement, the asana, as if it is the first time you are doing it, and therefore the mind is free, fresh, innocent, curious.

With the mind in this way, innocent and free, the physical exercise, the asana, becomes a meditation in action.

Without total attention there is only repetition, there is no learning, no discovering.

What is learning?

Learning is not accumulating knowledge, it is not something that you can retain.

Learning is a break in the continuity of an action or a thought.

This is different from acquiring knowledge. Acquiring knowledge takes time and effort, accumulating information about something or someone. It can be stored, remembered, to be used at a later time, and re-cognized in the future.

On the other hand, learning is the moment in which the past and recognition are absent. It is a catastrophic break in the continuity of thoughts, emotions and memory, in which you are left with something totally unknown, not remembered, not-recognizable.

Only in that moment, when memories and recognition are absent, can the mind see that which is in front of it.

With the mind in this way, innocent and free, the physical exercise, the asana, becomes a meditation in action.

Further on I will discuss this more in detail.


We will now discuss the NATURAL PHYSICAL body and its NATURAL MOVEMENTS.

We must remember, understand and respect that the physical body has survived for hundreds of thousands of years on this planet and has learned to be perfectly adapted to do so and to continue to do so.

Each species on planet earth has its special body type which suits it living style.

Basically you can say that all hoof-animals are vegetarians, grass and leaf eaters, and their hoofs serve to run as fast as possible to evade the predators, while all animals with claws and fangs are meat eater, predators

The apes fall somewhere in the middle, having neither fangs and claws, nor hoofs. They live in trees and therefore have developed hands that can grasp things and branches, (the opposing thumb), which no claw or hoof animal can do.

We belong in that category, but we went further than that.

As the ape still has the opposing thumb, both on the hands and the feet, human beings, when they crawled their way out of the tree to live on land, had to change the structure not only of the pelvis, from almost horizontal to vertical, but first of all it had to change the feet in order to be able to walk and run on flat ground. So it had to lose the opposing big toe and straighten the foot out.

So where the apes use their hands and arms for locomotion, human beings started to use their legs and feet for locomotion. Therefore the feet had to change radically their structure We will talk a lot about that when we get to the first yoga posture called Tadasana.

Thus the only true, natural, forward movements of the human ape, thanks to this change in the structure of the pelvis and the foot, are :

1. Walking

2. Running

3. Jumping

Contrary to the animals who walk on four feet, we walk on two. This makes a huge difference.

If you take a horse, the spinal column is supported on four ends by the legs and the ‘arms’: the hip joints and the shoulder joints, and the spine hangs like a hanging bridge between these four points.

Therefore the spine is fairly inflexible. The horse can bend (bucking), hollow the back by rising the head, and twisting by kicking up the hind legs (excellent way of getting rid of pesky riders). The bull who has been trained for bull riding can do even more. Being consummate athletes from young age they can bend in the most incredible ways, combining those movements with jumps that can reach a height of two meter, all the while bending in all directions.

Our spine is locked only at the hip joints. The pelvis is vertical (with the animals it is horizontal) and the spine ‘grows’ vertically upward out of the pelvis. Therefore in a certain sense the spine resembles a bamboo rod with lots of ‘segments’ (the vertebrae), held at its base.

This being the case, it is also very flexible, but the only really true movements that we have are:

1. Bending the trunk and spinal column forward from the hip joints

2. Bending the trunk and spinal column backward from the hip joints

3. Bending the trunk sideways with the spine, specially the lumbar spine

4. Twisting the spinal column around its axis

ALL THE MOVEMENS WE DO IN YOGA AND DAILY LIFE ARE ONLY COMBINATIONS OF THESE FOUR MOVEMENTS, sometimes including the forward movements (walking, running, jumping).


During the evolution the body had to make some major changes to get from ape body to human body:


  1. Descendent from the apes.
  2. Came down from the trees
  3. Had to learn to walk upright
  4. Had to lift the pelvis upright to vertical
  5. Lost the big toe as organ of locomotion (curled toe around branches)
  6. Foot straightened out: from heel to mid foot to toes
  7. Foot is triangular: heel – mid foot – toe
  8. In apes the shoulders are weight bearing. The length of the arms and legs are the same: Apes the hands come down till below the knee.
  9. With us the arms became shorter
  10. Elbow joint changed: Upper arm and lower arm can rotate in two different directions

Some observations and simple exercises:

Pupil in Anantasana

  1. Feet very small, body tall and big
  2. Feet have to carry all that weight
  3. Churches have domes to carry the weight of the air
  4. Thanks to the three arches of the feet: inner arch, outer arch and transverse arch
  5. Weight of air on us: 1,033 x square cm

Exercises pupil lying on the back:

  1. With legs up put a pen between the arches
  2. With an elastic band around the big toes push them up
  3. Ankle rotation
  4. Spread the toes

Exercises pupil in Tadasana:

  1. Show the three arches
  2. Push a pen through inner and outer arch
  3. Pick a pen up with the toes
  4. Lift the heels as high as possible
  5. Walk on tip toe
  6. Stand and exercise on balancing board (holding on to chair)

As I said before, the only natural forward movements of the body:

  1. Walking
  2. Running
  3. Jumping

Walking (pupil showing):

  • Walking is controlled falling: from the heel to the middle of the foot to the toes
  • Walking or controlled falling starts on the heel, from there to the middle of the foot, then to the toes
  • The toes serve to recuperate the balance and distribute the weight

The controlled falling called ‘walking’ passes through two major joints:

  • The joint between the ankle, called : upper spring joint (because you use it for walking, running and jumping). Also called talo-cruralis joint
  • The joint in the middle of the foot, called the lower spring joint or talo-calcaneo-navicular joint
  • This joint is the highest point in the middle of the three arches: inner, outer and transverse arch
  • The upper spring joint between the ankles can only bend forward (see for instance skiing)
  • The central bone in the lower spring joint, in the middle of the foot, is called nava. Nava means boat. Boats rock, so this joint can rock to left and right, which the upper spring joint cannot do (sprained ankle)
  • Therefore controlled falling, which is walking, goes from the upper spring joint between the ankles to the lower spring joint, whose job it is to correct the balance.
  • From there to the toes, which continue the correction.

So all in all walking is an extremely precarious activity, and anyone having small children know how difficult it is to learn and it takes a lot of practice.