Lotus Nei Gong Course, May 2019

May 15 2019

I spent the last five days at a Lotus Nei Gong course taught by Damo Mitchell (with the help of a senior student of his). I’ve been impressed by Mitchell’s books, and I liked him quite a bit as a teacher: good at explaining, funny, and I really liked the mixture of stuff he taught, going over core practices, teaching us (most of) one important sequence, occasionally lecturing on basic concepts, and mixing up the difficulty level nicely. (I’m definitely more prepared than I was for the Nei Gong course I took a couple of months back, but this one was also less physically stressful, except for one morning.)

My Wu Ji positioning was pretty good; I was told to go a little lower, and sometimes my tilt wasn’t quite right but I got corrected to tilt both more and less at different times, so I’m okay on average? The tip that I picked up on the tilt was to ease up on my lower back, and I think I can feel what that’s talking about: if I stand what feels straight up to me, I do feel a slight tension in my lower back, and I can lessen that by tilting a bit. Also, my hands weren’t nearly low enough, and also should be wider, a little wider than my body, and I should make sure to keep my neck up.

Sessions regularly got kicked off with a set of stretches, I should probably try to do those. The main theoretical concepts that were discussed were about Yin Qi and Yang Qi: letting your mind sink to your Dantian to build up Yin Qi, having it go from there into the rest of your body, opening up space in your joints to let the Yin Qi flow in there (at least I think it was the Yin Qi?), how opening up your Lao Gong helps you manipulate Yin Qi, how Yang Qi leads to various sensations which you should basically ignore (which is too bad, I can feel those and they’re kind of fun!), how Yang Qi will open up the meridian on your back and that’s super important, once it’s there then other meridians will start to open. And, once you’ve done that, opening up the meridian in front is the next major goal, and doing both of those will make a significant difference in how you feel; Mitchell presented that as in reach, even in reach within a couple of years, but also something which almost nobody in the class had yet reached.

So then there were techniques in support of that: lots of stretches, for example, to open up joints, lots of sinking the mind to your Dantian. And sinking was emphasized as a key: if you just place your attention in your Dantian then it won’t really be there, part of it will still be in your head. Don’t trust your mind: instead, do a combo of paying attention to where your body can feel contact from your mind and then letting that feeling skin. Also in support of this was a technique during sitting meditation: once it has sunk, then open your hands at your diaphragm with your Lao Gong down, that helps keep the Qi down there. And then you can move your hands to hold your Dantian like a ball, and play around with it. Also, if your Qi is sunk, you can do reverse breathing (but don’t do that if your Qi isn’t sunk): don’t make a big physical production of it, instead make sure that your attention is in your Dantian and then, when you breathe in, think of a bag contracting around where your attention is.

We also spent significant time on the Five Animal Frolics, though we only learned four of them. I’ll do a separate post with notes on that.

It definitely made me want to keep on doing the Lotus Neigong stuff. I think I’m going to replace the silk reeling exercises that I do at the start of that with stretches, and I’ll sometimes replace the Qi Gong sequence I’ve been doing with the Animal Frolics. (And, when I’m doing that, I’ll do the long Wu Ji before the frolics, with only a smaller bit at the end, that’s what we were doing in the class. Though the bit at the end is very important, it lets your body learn from the frolics!) And I’ll see if I can find more time to work in bits of practice, e.g. maybe doing some sitting practice on days when Liesl is walking Widget?

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Here are my complete notes:

First day:

Wu Ji: sink back more, arms noticeably wider, tilt forward a bit more than I had. When sinking into my feet, let my weight spread the bones of my feet.

Sink the Qi by noticing where my mind interacts with my body and letting it relax and sink down. Seems like a pretty key practice. Don’t try to directly place my attention on my Dantien, that won’t have the desired effect.

Reverse breathing: after sinking Qi, inside of abdomen contracts around where my attention is. Don’t move outside muscles. Not worrying about that so much for now, I’m not good yet at sinking my Qi…

Afternoon: in Wu Ji lean forward just enough to relax my lower back. Arms are spread pretty wide to the side, a little wider than my body. Got corrected on my neck once, I should indeed force it back and up a bit.

Felt like I’d sink my Qi correctly once, pressure inside my abdomen.

Second day:

Wu Ji: got told to lower my hands a bit more.

Third Day:

Open up space between joints, sink the Qi, have the Qi full up space between joints. This is probably what’s going on in Silk Reeling Exercises, with the gathering energy between exercises? So the exercises open up space, but we need to get Qi in there?

Should probably work in something stretchy, a Daoyin, hopefully I can find a good description of the animal frolics?

Cleansing: feeling a surprisingly concrete line going down my body.

Fourth day:

Morning was rough, but I made it through.

In Wu Ji I got corrected to not lean forward as much.

Maybe it’s the long days but if we do something quiet at the end day, I do feel like my mind is in my abdomen more. And having my palms at the diaphragm open and facing down might be having an effect?

Fifth day:

Interesting lecture at the start. I shouldn’t try to do the Microcosmic Orbit with my mind, it doesn’t help. But opening the channel in the back is key (and it leads to other channels opening.). Opening the Mingmen involves stretching it; so it can vibrate like a guitar string.

Separate note about animal frolics.

One hour practice: 35-40 minutes moving energy through the body. Wu Ji counts as this.

Spend remaining time on body work (e.g. Dao Yins) or sitting practice: they don’t stimulate the Yang Qi.

Dangerous to spend more than 35-40 minutes on Yang Qi exercises without support. Can start by foods to support kidneys, Yin, and blood.

Practices:
1) Wu Ji
2) Sitting practice we did to train sinking of the mind
3) Dantian work: rolling hands, for example
4) Animals

Avoid cold food until Dantian is consolidated.

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