Archive for February, 2019

Tai Chi Notes, March 26, 2019

Feb 26 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m trying to move more with my legs these days, and Chest Opening and Closing in the Silk Reeling Exercises was feeling pretty different on Saturday: much less of the action coming from my arms. Also on a Silk Reeling note, I forgot to mention that, last Tuesday, Elbow Rotations felt a lot more spirally; not sure if that’s just my imagination or what.

On Saturday, when going over Protecting the Heart Fist, I learned that you’re supposed to move your weight back to the right for a bit after the part where you thrust with both elbows. (Before rearranging your arms and foot in preparation for Whirlwind Kick.) And I was noticing that I’m having a hard time avoiding getting uprooted in Flash the Back, when you thrust up with your hand. Or, alternatively, if I try to avoid getting uprooted, then I sink down just when I should be thrusting up. So I need to think about that, I’ll probably ask about it next Saturday.

Also, on Saturday, I practiced the staff form a bit, and realized that I’m already getting lost in it: I’m having a hard time remembering the sequence right at the beginning. So I should keep on trying it with other people (who hopefully remember better than me) on Saturdays, given that I’m only learning it in class once a month; I can’t count on remembering it myself when practicing on Sundays.

In class today, I asked about Grab and Tuck the Robe: I’m tilting to the left when moving to the right. My teacher said I was probably going too low at once, so I should either try not to go so low or I should take an extra step in the middle. I tried that out, and either did seem to help, but I need to experiment more; and I realized that I also am not sure how far forward I should be and whether I should tuck my tailbone. (I also asked about tucking my tailbone when doing the squatting exercise, he confirmed I should do that.)

I was getting more feeling all along my arm when doing The White Goose Spreads Its Wings, that’s fun. And it might be my imagination, but I feel like I’m getting sensations in my feet now, like I’ve been getting in my hands for years; maybe the Lotus Neigong work helped with that? Also, my shoulder blades are feeling heavier: I’d been doing a decent job of relaxing them before, I think, but I suspect the Lotus class gave me a push there, too.

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Tai Chi Notes, February 19, 2019

Feb 19 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I missed the Saturday Tai Chi class, because I spent Friday and Saturday at a Lotus Nei Gong class instead. And wow: it was a lot more painful (and a lot more sweaty) than I expected. I think I’ll write about that more on my main blog, so I won’t go into details here; I was going there as preparation for probably going to a class by Damo Mitchell in May, and if his class is anything like that one (and if I still decide to go and manage to make it off of the wait list), then I will definitely be glad to have had some preparation.

The one concrete thing that came out of that is that the class spent a lot of time in something that is called Wu Ji that is significantly different from the stance named Wu Ji that my Tai Chi teacher presents: your butt sticks out more, you lean over some (with the result that your Huiyin is not at all in the line between your Baihui and your Yongquan), and you stick your arms forward and down with your hands spread. This was extremely painful (and I was sweating buckets) at the duration we were doing it in the class; less painful the second day than the first day, though, and my body was starting to feel like it was clicking into place a little bit when I did the posture. So I’m going to work on that: if I do end up going to the May class and if we spend anything like the same amount of time in that posture in that class, then I will definitely be glad to have been working on improving my tolerance.

On Sunday we had the monthly class: we’re continuing going through the second form, it’s the start of the second time for me. So we’re in parts of that form that I did learn the basics of, and it’s good to see some refinements. And we started the staff form, the parts we did are more different from the spear form than I expected.

I was reading another of Damo Mitchell’s books on my commute in this morning, this one about meridian theory; that’s something that I have a hard time believing in, but he gave a sensing exercise that he claims will help you perceive them more or less directly. So I figure I’ll also add that to my Tuesday/Thursday lunchtime practice. So I did both the Wu Ji and the meridian sensing drill; I started with 5 minutes of Wu Ji (with the plan of going up one minute a time until I hit 20 minutes), that was fine. And, in doing the sensing drill, I actually was kind of surprised at the feelings that I felt between the Taiyuan point (LU9, at the base of my wrist) and the end of my thumb (which is where LU11 is); could totally have been an artifact of how I was holding my hand, so it’s absolutely not any kind of strong evidence as to the reality of the lung meridian, but it’s not a complete lack of evidence, either. So I’ll probably keep that up for a little while, seeing if I can feel more of the lung meridian and eventually parts of other meridians.

No regular class today, but a bunch of us were there anyways; I ended up mostly practicing on my own (going through the silk-reeling exercises and 6 repetitions of the first form), though I did also do a bit of push hands with another student. I continue to think that I should spend a little more time doing push hands in Tuesday classes, I feel like I’m at a place where I can start to get something out of it.

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Tai Chi Notes, February 12, 2019

Feb 12 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m spending some of my focus when walking around trying to keep my head pulled up without pulling my whole body up; one concept there (I think saw this in one of the Damo Mitchell books) is to think of my spine as a chain with both the top of my head and my pelvis pulling on it to keep it taught. Also, I want to get out of the habit of tensing my stomach muscles by default. Not sure exactly how much progress I’m making on keeping my head raised, but it is reminding me of how it feels to sink a little into my kua: it can actually feel really good, and that feeling was sometimes spreading to my torso. So I guess I should keep on trying that…

One thing I noticed in class on Saturday was that I was managing to relax my torso while doing the form. This actually started with Silk Reeling: e.g. on Waist Rotation it’s mostly my legs / kua (or maybe those plus my dantian?) moving things with my torso coming along for the ride; and I felt like I was sometimes getting that feeling while doing the form. I’m not 100% sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I think it is? And maybe it’s in part what people are talking about when they say that movements should originate from the dantian, though I’m not 100% sure about that either. At any rate, something to experiment with.

On Sunday morning I was doing a breathing meditation exercise lying down on my back while Liesl was walking Widget. One thing I’ve noticed in the past is that it feels like my breath goes in an arc: down from my nose to my throat, then along my lungs (horizontally, since I’m lying down, and then it feels like things are going up a little at the end (maybe that’s my abdomen expanding). And, this time, maybe 5 or 10 minutes in, that last little bit started to spontaneously set off a feeling of dantian rotations, in the forward circle direction, with the up from breathing at the bottom of my lungs matching the up part of the dantian rotation at the top. Kind of a trippy feeling; I didn’t want to pay too much attention to it, because the instructions for that exercise say to observe but not really focus on what’s going on, but I hope it happens again? (I looked up the description of the exercise after doing that and I didn’t notice anything matching that experience…)

Some notes from the Tuesday class: my teacher mentioned turning to the right / sinking into your right kua at the start of Six Sealing Four Closing, I don’t think I do that so much, and it clearly helps. And he mentioned relaxing at the end of the movement to the left right after that: I do that some, but maybe I should do it more? Also, I’m still feeling a little stuck (and with my torso out of place) right after pounding my fist in Jing Gang, and also I’m leaning a little when I move my foot to the right partway through Grab and Tuck Robe, I should work on those.

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VGHVI Minecraft, January 31, 2019

Feb 09 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from the first Minecraft session of the new year. First, the inevitable wandering around:

I’m sure I’ve taken very similar pictures to this before.

Those stairs affect my mountain more than I expected.

Another view of how the stairs look in context.

The area to the right of the windows looks promising.

My initial reaction was that those stairs that Dan built are a little overwhelming. He wasn’t there this month, unfortunately, but maybe next month I’ll ask him if he would mind if I made them significantly narrower?

 

I’d been thinking of building more around the shop area, maybe extending it to the path through the base of the mountain, but when I was flying around, there’s this area that sticks out a bit to the right of the windows, and I was thinking maybe I could turn that into a sort of corner tower. So I decided to add another set of rooms there.

Digging my way into the corner.

Here’s the first stab of the shape of the room, without regularizing the wall blocks at all.

The outside view, with some of the blocks replaced / smoothed out.

Now we’ve got some windows, lights, and a fence.

It’s a little cramped on the inside now, though.

Also, this side looks a little blank.

A few more touches, now I like it better.

Here’s what it looks like now on the inside, with the side expanded and a second window added.

Going up a level.

The inside view of the second floor.

Here’s what it looks like from the side: the second floor is currently set back a block, and also has a shorter balcony.

The side window on the second floor.

Not up for decorating the inside yet, but let’s at least put in a splash of color.

Purple carpet on the second floor.

A daytime view of the front.

 

Dan couldn’t make it, and neither could Miranda, but Pat was there; in addition, his wife (I’m blanking on her name, maybe Emily?) also showed up. Here’s the building he was building; and she added some finishing touches to the roof of one of the existing ones.

The inside of Pat’s latest building.

Another angle on the inside.

Here’s the outside view of the front door.

And here’s the back view from the outside.

A slightly wider view; on the right, you can see the roof being worked on.

Finishing off the roof.

Looking across the roof to more of the city.

The finished roof, and the back garden.

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Tai Chi Notes, February 5, 2019

Feb 05 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I took a sick day on Thursday (more trip fallout), so I mostly skipped my Qigong that day; I did at least do a bit of breathing meditation, though. I did get back to doing Qigong today, at least.

On Saturday, I asked about feeling uprooted during White Goose Spreads Its Wings; I’m not supposed to go up as much, more going over, and then sinking/relaxing at the end. So I’ll have to think about that. And I asked about the start of Flash the Back, because I wasn’t sure exactly what the bottom hand was supposed to be doing; it turns out that it’s supposed to be relaxed, with the arm basically dangling, the idea is that somebody is grabbing you and you’re trying to escape. Also, while watching that, my teacher told me to push more with my back leg while thrusting my hand up next in that move; and then, when we were going through the start of the form again, he told me to tuck my tailbone while doing the sort of reversed Oblique Posture in Diagonal Fist; that made a surprising amount of difference.

It was wet on Sunday and I had to be at work, so I skipped practice that day. (But I did again at least do some breathing meditation.)

While walking today I was thinking about the whole feeling uprooted thing. I think that I’m stretching my torso wrong in a couple of ways: one is that I’m stretching the whole thing up instead of stretching it at both ends while being rooted in the lower half of my body. And the other is that I still have a habit of tensing my stomach muscles: I developed that habit when trying to protect my lower back when I had back problems, but it’s a habit I need to unlearn now.

In class tonight, I asked about how long to wait between the end of Grab and Tuck Robe and the start of Six Sealing Four Closing: I’m used to waiting a bit while the energy goes down my right arm and torso and then over to my left arm, but my teacher seemed to not be waiting that long. I still need to think about my teacher’s answer, but I think the upshot is that I’m not relaxing as much as I think I am, or at least as quickly as I think I am, and if I relax quickly then I’ll be in neutral position quickly and feel natural moving in any direction (and in particular moving my left arm).

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