Tai Chi notes, October 16, 2018

Oct 16 2018

Last week, I’d been wondering about my right arm when moving forward in the first Pound with the Pestle: I thought I was moving it too far back, jamming my energy. So I asked about that in Saturday, and I was indeed correct: I should have my arm more in front of my torso rather than to the right when extending it there.

We had the once-a-month Pao Chui course on Sunday; the application review from the first floor was interesting, talking about Thrust with the Right / Left foot. The details of the foot movements at the start of those moves really matter, if you trap closely it makes a real difference.

I started reading A Comprehensive Guide to Daoist Nei Gong, and it’s super interesting so far. (The author has a more introductory book, and I’d been thinking I should have ordered that instead, but now I’m happy with my choice.) One thing that caught my eye is the discussion on p. 39 of uses of the term “Qi”. Sometimes it just means the quality of an action: a completely straightforward usage. Then there’s Qi of the channels, which he describes as “extension of consciousness through the body”; that’s the part that, I think, we hear about most in the west, with the most mysticism involved; I still have a hard time really believing in, say, there being a particular point (Xia Bai / Lu 4) on your body that “helps a person to start the emotional recovery process that needs to begin after grieving has ended”. And the third version is Qi of standing / martial arts, “the reaction to sinking and changing the body” – that seems directly associated to some of the stuff I’m seeing in my Tai Chi classes.

I really appreciate seeing all three of these described (even the bits that I have a hard time believing in), and also how concretely the author ties that to various both physical structures and sensations as well as how well he presents the analytical framework. I’m dubious about the details of, say, specific points on the body or ties to organs, but I’m a little more on the fence when it comes to channels in general: seems weird, but I can also relate it a little to physical sensations? And then there’s the analysis of muscles / sinews / tendons / “huang”: I’m willing to believe that Western medicine pays more attention to muscles than it should, and it seems not completely ludicrous that there’s some sort of connective tissue that Western medicine actively undervalues? (Huang might be the same as fascia, the author isn’t sure.)

I just finished a chapter on Wu Ji meditation; some potentially useful ideas there on how to experiment with body positioning and relaxing. (Including the question of to what extent I should tuck my tailbone, something that my teacher recommends in that context and that Gokhale actively recommends against!) Another interesting thing is a reminder that the Dantian is a specific location and that it’s inside your body rather than on the surface: I think I’m doing a combination of being a bit vague about it and thinking of it as being closer to the skin, I should change my attention a bit more during the form.

It’s a big book, it’ll be a while before I finish it. (And I might need to interrupt my reading because of a library book being due.) The other thing that’s been going on is that I seem to be reasonably successful in establishing two new habits: I’ve done 50 Dantian Rotations every day this week, instead of the 20 that I’d been doing, and I’ve finally doing the squatting exercise reliably before I go to bed. Starting with only 3 repetitions, which is pathetic, but I’m already up to 4, so at least the trajectory is good.

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