Nei Gong Notes, August 16, 2022

Aug 16 2022

This week’s lesson in Damo’s course was on Self-Healing. Which, basically, is using attention (but not intention!) to help your body heal itself. I don’t have any current physical ailments that I particularly need to recover from right now, so I didn’t spend time trying it out, but something to keep in mind the next time I strain something.

Though I do have an energetic ailment: I’d been feeling better about my Liver Heat improving and was looking forward to focusing on my Kidney deficiency, but then the Liver problems were actually kind of annoying the first half of this week. I decided to spend time doing the Wood Wu Xing and I asked Damo about it and he recommended the Water Hui Chun, so I’ve been doing those, and it really did get significantly better over the weekend (and my doctor agreed when I saw him yesterday); yay. When I did the Wood Wu Xing the first time this week, I had a noticeable tingling in my Bai Hui, and that went away after about five minutes of the exercise; I’m not used to that clear a concrete effect.

That got me thinking, though, that right now my main issue is this energy problem. And, until I get that sorted out, I’m just not going to be able to do stuff at full capacity. And, if I’m focusing on sorting that out, it seems like that can make a difference; so that’s what I should be doing as my top priority.

And, in terms of other priorities, my next priority is getting the Microcosmic Orbit going reliably: that’s definitely more important to me than Damo’s class. But, also, I was sitting this weekend and thinking “my chest really does feel tenser than would be ideal, I should work on that”.

So, right now, I feel like my priority should be 1) getting healthy; 2) the Microcosmic Orbit; 3) going back to foundations; 4) continuing with Damo’s course. And there’s no way I will ever find time for the fourth of those, given that priority stack; honestly, even three priorities feels wrong. The only reason why I’m not saying that I’ll just do the first two is that that would basically have me only doing seated work, and that feels wrong: my natural tendency is already to seek out seated work and avoid standing work, and I don’t think that’s healthy. So I should keep up the Wu Ji, I should probably work in some Dao Yins (given that I’m noticing tightness in my chest, maybe spend some time on the Lotus Dao Yin?), I should keep on throwing the Wood Wu Xing into the mix, and it’s probably not a bad idea for me to go through the Ji Ben exercises some.

But, given those three priorities, even once I do have the health issues sorted out, I’ll probably still want to stay paused on new lessons for a bit while I get the Microcosmic Orbit under control? Also, I should probably find time on the days when I’m working to fit in a second seated session, so I can do a Hui Chun plus poke away at MCO stuff; fortunately, if I’m pausing Damo’s course, that opens up some time on Tuesday and Thursday evenings that I can use for that. (Or at least it does on Thursdays; I have a Tai Chi course on Tuesdays for the next three weeks that’s keeping me unusually busy.)

One other thing I did this week was trying out Damo’s advice for driving a car: relaxing my arms and getting a stretch in them. Pretty interesting; my hands seem to be asymmetric, so if I want them to feel like they’re stretching the same amount, I need to move the right hand up the wheel. (I don’t think that’s me, I think probably the seat isn’t quite centered in front of the wheel.) And he talked about paying attention to the cars around you; I noticed that actually do feel a bit of pressure in the appropriate direction, but only when they’re quite close. I’ll play with that a bit too, though not at the expense of actually looking around me!

Tai Chi is going okay; I haven’t had the energy to do as much practice as I should, but I did manage to successfully get caught up with the spear, and to remind myself of one bit of the Jian that I was starting to stumble on. I need to work on the Guan Dao this week, though, there’s class this Sunday. (It’s the annual picnic, so maybe we won’t have time to do Guan Dao, but I should be prepared in case we do.)

And I’m chipping away at Push Hands. Still a huge amount of work to do there, but it’s something. I learned the moving two hands version tonight; and in terms of stuff to work on, I need to work more on turning my waist and on sticking to my opponent.

One of the senior students asked if I was doing instructor certification; nice that she thinks that I’m doing well enough to ask that question! I’d been thinking about it but hadn’t heard that it was scheduled, but it’s coming up in September. So I should look through what’s necessary for that; when I’ve seen people do it in the past, they’ve demonstrated the Lao Jia first form and one weapon, and I feel comfortable enough with that (I’ll probably do the Jian), but I should make sure to put in a bit more time when practicing just to make sure.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 9, 2022

Aug 09 2022

Good week; not 100% back to normal in my practice, but a lot closer than I had been. I did one of Damo’s lessons for the first time in over a month; it was the Qi Mobilization version of the eighth Ji Ben Qi Gong exercise. Which was pretty interesting: like the seventh, it’s about mobilizing the Yin field, and as long as I did the actions slowly enough, I think I was correctly feeling the field’s existence and then how it moves and stretches as I do the exercise? Makes me wonder if there’s something about the Zhan Zhuang hand position that makes it easier to feel that field, since both the seventh and eighth exercises in that series have you start with your arms in that position, and they both can be used for feeling the Yin field. And actually Tai Chi felt different today when I was going through the form, in a way that might be relevant; it would be good if my sensitivity in that area was starting to increase.

And I started going through the various seated exercises that I’d learned on the lead up to the Microcosmic Orbit, trying to get back into shape there. And that felt pretty good: I don’t feel overflowing or anything, so there’s work to be done, but I feel something? I had been thinking that I might try out the MCO this week, but now I’m thinking I’ll do another week of prepwork: partly because I’m busy tomorrow morning, which is normally one of my practice times, and partly because I’ve been surprisingly sleepy over the last week, so if that continues, I won’t want to push my Nei Gong practice. Also, some of the things Damo said in this week’s lecture made me think that it could be interesting to go through all the Qi Mobilization exercises in a single session, which would take a good chunk of time.

In terms of Tai Chi, I’m pretty much caught up with the spear form; some details that I don’t quite have, but at least the basic movements are all there. And I did more push hands on both Saturday and this evening; hopefully I’m getting better at relaxing and rotating instead of trying to force things, one of the senior students really helped me with that this evening. I mostly did minimal amounts of practice outside of class, though I did go through the Dao and Jian forms; I was a little disturbed to find that there was one spot in the Jian that I didn’t quite know what to do, so it’s good that I’m getting back to doing that! And I need to get back to the Guan Dao, given that I missed two Sunday classes; fortunately, the Sunday class this month won’t do any Guan Dao, so I’ve got a full month to catch back up. (And I do think that I learned everything from the June class, so I just have to make sure I still remember that and then do the bits we added in the July class.)

If I weren’t having sleep problems this week, I’d be optimistic that the acupuncture is helping; Dr. Yang says that my Liver heat problems are doing better, though not so well this week (hence the sleep problems), and he’ll soon switch to focusing on my Kidneys. (Which he says are also doing better, but are still low enough to noticeably affect me.) It would be good if that actually turns out to have a real effect on me; right now I’m pretty convinced that some of the physical readjustments he did have made a noticeable difference, but my energy level changes are still within the realm of potentially just being random fluctuation.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention last week: Damo put out a really interesting video on relaxing during Wu Ji. Basically, he was saying that, when doing Wu Ji (or other standing meditation), he really does feel like his muscles are completely relaxed, but as long as he keeps his attention appropriately in his body, the Qi provides enough buoyancy to keep him up without effort beyond the attention. (But then if he’s in that state and removes his attention, he’ll collapse.) More encouragement for me to listen to situations where my body feels a little puffy: I definitely notice that sometimes (especially in my arms after the first three Qi Mobilization exercises), hopefully I can get that feeling across more of my body. One positive recent sign that might be related is that I am still periodically noticing that, when I’m relaxing, my spine does occasionally want to spontaneously stretch out a bit; hopefully that means that it’s creating space for that sort of puffy feeling to build into.

I also reread Chen Xiaowang’s book on The Five Levels of Taijiquan; I’d forgotten how much of that book talks about Qi development, in ways that are consistent with the previous paragraph. So hopefully that can be a way in which Tai Chi and Nei Gong can work well together.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 2, 2022

Aug 02 2022

Last week was the closest to normal in a while. I finally tested negative for COVID last Wednesday, and I’ve been continuing to feel better; my cough hasn’t gone away yet, but it’s certainly improving, and at times over the last few days I’ve been feeling actively good.

In terms of Nei Gong, I didn’t do any new lessons and I didn’t do extra practice on Wednesdays and Fridays, but I did a solid seated practice session every day (alternating days between the Water and Earth Balancing exercises), and I got back into doing Wu Ji, starting at a minimal amount but ending up at an amount that at least I don’t have to feel ashamed by. The balancing exercises continue to be interesting, I like paying attention to the inside of my body during that. I don’t know for sure if they helped with the post-COVID recovery, but based on my experience, they certainly didn’t hurt, and might have helped?

And I went to Tai Chi on Saturday; I wasn’t quite at my full energy level, so I skipped the Xin Jia part, but otherwise it was good. I do have a noticeable amount of spear to catch up with, and not a lot of time to catch up to it in (we’ll finish the form this week or next, though hopefully we’ll have another week or two where we go over the whole thing?), but I think the bits I missed are going to be manageable; I tried going over them on Sunday with the help of a video, and while I didn’t quite get it all down, I feel like, if I do the same thing tomorrow and Friday, I’ll have a decent chance of being able to follow along well this Saturday.

Tony started his Summer Tuesday course, and this year he’s planning to focus on push hands and on Xingyi. I don’t have any interest in Xingyi, but push hands is something that I’ve been wanting to work on and that hasn’t been happening as regularly on Saturdays as I would like. (That lack is partly because of me, to be sure!) So I attended that tonight, and I’m glad I did; so much in the basics of push hands that I’m just not getting right at all, I really need to keep on chipping away. For now I want to focus on turning a little more, and I think I should make a habit of trying to do some push hands every Saturday after class even on weeks when Tony isn’t formally teaching it.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 26, 2022

Jul 26 2022

I’m still in a bit of a holding pattern: I’m feeling quite a bit better than I was last week, but I’m still coughing a lot (and still testing positive as of yesterday), so I hadn’t been restarting Nei Gong or Tai Chi practice and lessons. Though today I did do some seated work for the first time in a while, the Kidney Hui Chun exercise; I think I’ll probably try alternating between that one and the Spleen one over the next week? And I might start light standing practice and/or Tai Chi tomorrow, we’ll see how I feel. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to go to Tai Chi class this Saturday; can’t say I’m looking forward to catching up after missing three weeks of spear, but it is what it is.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 19, 2022

Jul 19 2022

I’d been helping my offspring move the previous week, which had really bean eating into my ability to practice, so last week was a bust. But that move happened last Tuesday; I was visiting my parents for a half week after that, though, so I wasn’t going to be back to normal, so I didn’t expect this past week to be good either. (And in particular I didn’t watch a lesson from Damo’s class, because I didn’t have any confidence that I’d be able to practice it.)

But then actually things went surprisingly well during that visit, and I got a few days of better practice in. Not abnormally good practice or anything, but at least I was back do doing my Nei Gong routine at about the level of days when I’m working? So that was a pleasant surprise.

Or at least it was a pleasant surprise until I started to feel more tired than I expected in the middle of one bit of practice. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it, I just figured I still needed a bit more of a break. But, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure that was a first warning sign.

Because the good news is that I’m home back now; the bad news is that I’ve got COVID. (And, unlike a month and half ago or whenever it was, this time I tested positive, so it was definitely COVID.) It came on pretty hard, though I at least seem to be past the worst of it now; hopefully I’ll continue to recover at a decent clip and won’t have any long COVID symptoms. And hopefully I didn’t infect my parents or anybody on the airplane flight home; my parents aren’t showing an issues yet, which is a good sign.

So I’m taking another week off; no new lesson this week. (Hopefully next week!) I am a bit sad that I’ll probably have to skip Tai Chi on Saturday; that class is outside, so maybe if I’m testing negative before then and am not active symptomatic, it would be safe, as long as I wear a mask and stay away from other people more than normal? Not sure, I should probably skip a third week of class just in case…

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Nei Gong Notes, July 12, 2022

Jul 12 2022

I’ve been visiting family for the last week, helping my offspring pack boxes and move apartments, so very little Nei Gong this week: I did do a bit of sitting and a bit of standing every day, but it was quite minimal indeed most days, and I wasn’t working on anything specific. And I’ll be out for most of the upcoming week, too, visiting my parents.

So, nothing to report about Nei Gong or Tai Chi; I did watch the next video in Damo’s class, it was about True Perception, not much to say about that, almost entirely theoretical. Or, well, a report of real experience, but without much in the way of guidance how to reach that experience; at any rate, good that it didn’t have any exercises for me to work on because of how the week has gone!

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Nei Gong Notes, July 5, 2022

Jul 05 2022

Still having a hard time getting the Microcosmic Orbit going; if anything, this week was worse than the previous week. As before, on Wednesday I did a thickening exercise, and I felt like it went well; and then I did an MCO exercise on Friday, and unlike the previous week, I was alert during the exercise, so I hoped it would go well. And it seemed like it was going well through most of it, until I got to the bit where I was setting up a rotation within the Dantian; that rotation was very weak, and when I tried to kick off the MCO itself, almost nothing went up my spine.

I felt like, in the past, I’d had a much more self-sustaining rotation when I’d done it right after doing a bit with my hands where I drag Qi through my tailbone / spine / diaphragm / front muscles: those two steps are part of the thickening sequence I’ve been doing, and I think one of the times in the workshop they were together in the MCO practice? So I thought I might try it that way; but then on Sunday I decided to do the thickening exercise again, and this time, the rotation wasn’t strong.

So my conclusion for now is that I probably just need to build up Qi in my Dantian: probably the workshop built it up a lot, and now it’s drained down to more or less the level it was right before the workshop. Which isn’t anything, but which also isn’t enough. Who knows; I’ll keep on chipping away and see if it slowly builds up further.

(Speaking of the workshop, one of the people there mentioned that he read this blog; that was a pleasant surprise, I literally wasn’t sure if anybody was reading it. So hi there! I’m bad at names, so I will take a stab at saying “hi, Boris”, but I apologize in advance if I’ve misremembered your name.)

This week’s lesson in Damo’s online course was on the Qi mobilization version of the seventh Ji Ben Qi Gong. This one is about moving the Yin Qi field, and is pretty subtle, I’m honestly not completely sure if I’m feeling what it’s talking about. But I think I might be; I kind of get a feeling of something right around the surface of my body (but not on my skin, so hopefully it’s not Yang Qi tingling), which twists in a kind of interesting way when I do the exercise.

In terms of Tai Qi: Tony went over my form. He talked about me stretching more in Golden Rooster, which got me to think that I should work on feeling lines of connection through my body during the form. (I’ve been doing that during Silk Reeling, but not as much during the form.) So I’ve been trying that, it’s been a good experiment. And I’m rushing Flash the Back a bit, I should turn (at least my torso, not sure about my feet) before doing the flip with my hands.

I’ve given up on trying to learn the Hunyuan 48, but I actually really enjoy doing it in class: it feels pretty strongly like moving Qigong in a way that other Tai Chi forms don’t to me. So hopefully I’ll be able to learn it for real the next time through. I am back to being caught up with the spear, and I’m caught up (or even a little ahead, I think?) with the Guan Dao as well. Which is good, because I’ll be away visiting relatives for the next two weekends, including one Sunday class.

The acupuncture is going okay; helping some, but I’m still more tired than I would like. My doctor says that my Kidney Qi is improving, but that there’s still noticeable room for further improvement; hopefully the improvement will continue. (I’m a little worried that the improvement so far might to some extent have also been caused by the Nei Gong workshop and might be going away; hope not…)

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Nei Gong Notes, June 28, 2022

Jun 28 2022

A less exciting week than I would have liked. I was hoping to keep up the benefits from the retreat, and in particular to continue working on the Microcosmic Orbit. Though, as per Damo’s recommendation, I figured I should only do the Microcosmic Orbit once a week; I’d copied down notes on both the MCO sequence that he’d used during the retreat and on a similarly long Qi thickening exercise that had a fair amount of overlap with that sequence, so I figured I’d do the Qi thickening on Wednesday and the Microcosmic Orbit on Friday.

I was actually worried that I wasn’t doing enough practice in the start of the week, and during the previous weekend. But the thickening exercise on Wednesday went well, and my stomach did feel like it was activated decently well after that – not moving around or anything, but there’s a certain brightness I sometimes feel there? Unfortunately, though, the Microcosmic Orbit practice didn’t go well on Friday: I felt the orbit a bit, but not nearly as much as I had during the retreat.

Not sure what’s going on there – I was a little sleepy then, so maybe that was it? Or maybe I just need to practice more for the MCO to work reliably; if so, I don’t know if that practice has to happen in intense bursts or if I just need to keep on poking away at it. Also, there was one part of the sequence in my notes that I wasn’t sure about, and asking about it, I think I might have gotten that part wrong; I wouldn’t expect that to be a super important difference, but maybe it was?

Anyways, I’ll keep on poking away at it via that plan for a bit; hopefully I’ll build things up and get the MCO working again. If not, I’ll figure out some place to put in more work, and I might also add in the version of starting the MCO from the online school. (I think Damo’s reasoning behind only doing it once a week is that it’s more strenuous on your body than it seems like; but hopefully if I’m not actually kicking it off well, then trying it twice a week would be reasonable?) And hopefully I can get back to doing three hours of practice instead of two on Wednesdays and Fridays; we’ll see if my energy levels allow that. (I made the mistake of eating breakfast before practicing on Friday, and I think that was a mistake…)

Other than that, I’m also trying to work in more Dao Yins in my practice than I have in the past: that was definitely something that we were doing quite a bit more during the retreat than I regularly do.

Anyways, in terms of the online course, there was a lesson on practicing in water (bathtubs, swimming pools); not relevant to me for now, so I’m not worrying about that. And in terms of Tai Chi, I’m mostly but not entirely caught up with the spear form and I chipped away a bit on the Guan Dao.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 21, 2022

Jun 21 2022

The workshop is over now; I’m very glad I went. It was good to get some in-person correction on details of postures; it was good to get pushed quite a bit more than I push myself at home. (Sometimes, I think three or four of the nine days, I took a break in the middle of a session; but on over half the days, I made it through the whole thing.) But also in terms of things that I was less sure of coming in: it was very good to, as I mentioned last week, get an idea about what I should do differently to help with my fatigue (basically, bones down flesh down leads to depleted Spleen Qi, whereas bones up flesh down leads to an increase in Spleen Qi). And we did indeed spend significant amounts of time on the Microcosmic Orbit in the last two days, and I did in fact manage to get it going.

Which did not feel at all like what I expected! I’m not sure if I wasn’t reading things correctly or if a lot of the descriptions that I’ve seen don’t actually map accurately to how the Microcosmic Orbit actually feels. (Though, as Damo points out, it feels different at different levels in your practice: if you have very thin Qi, then it’s just a mild sensation going around; once you start thickening the Qi, you get to the state that I’m at this time; if it gets still thicker, it sounds like your body gets tugged apart and moved around more; and eventually you get to stages where your glands start producing substances. So that could also account for the discrepancies.)

Concretely, when going up my back, it didn’t so much feel like a discrete bit of Qi going up my back as fluid filling up my back; so yeah, there’s a point that moves, but that point feels more like the top of a rising column of liquid. And it doesn’t go up a particularly narrow channel: it’s centered on my spine (or, I guess, my Du channel), but it flows through a wider channel. (Maybe moving around blockages, I’m not sure.) And, when going down, it doesn’t actually go down the very front of your body, where the Ren channel is: it’s further towards the interior of my body. So different enough from what I was expecting (especially in the going down part) that, honestly, if I hadn’t been at the channel, I’d wonder if I was doing something wrong or had only opened up half the Orbit or something; but Damo did talk about what it actually felt like and where you felt it moving, and my experiences did match what he described.

So: yay! And an interesting experience: not just surprising, but also good to feel my body want to move around and open up and what not. And I started feeling kind of chill, too. I’ll definitely want to keep that up; I’d actually be tempted to do it pretty frequently, but Damo said that, for now, we should only do it about once a week. So I’ll stick with that, but I’ll try to make that one day a week really count, and to support it with related exercises other days a week, so that my practice of the Orbit gets better instead of fading away.

In general, we’ll see if this leads me to practice more or not. If I really can get my energy levels up, then that will help. And it also gave me a nudge in the direction of doing more Dao Yins. Also, there are some ambient changes: I feel like my spine is wanting to stretch (and occasionally move) every once in a while, which feels like a healthy thing? (Especially given my history of back problems: I do have compression damage there that I would like to undo.) So I hope that will continue (or, if it stops, to stabilize in a condition with a more open, healthier spine), rather than dying down in a few weeks; we’ll see.

Other notes on positioning: when doing Wu Ji, I got some correction to hold my hands lower. I’d been letting them float more ever since I started doing the Qi mobilization versions of the Ji Ben Qi Gong; but maybe I was overdoing that, because I can’t really say that I feel the weight of my hands in my feet? Letting my shoulders expand out is probably good (though I do want to make sure I feel the weight of my shoulders in my feet, but I think my shoulders really do sink even when they expand sideways), but I should be more careful with my hands. And also it was good to get back home so I can practice in front of a mirror and see the torso misalignment that various people were trying to fix; I should either shift my weight left on my feet or move my torso right, and once I’ve done that I should rotate it a little bit to the left.

Hopefully the acupuncture and physical work that my TCM doctor is doing will help with that; it’s definitely improved my physical alignments, but there’s clearly work to be done there. He was pleased in my appointment today that both my Liver Qi and Spleen Qi problems had significantly improved, so that was good to hear.

I did almost no Tai Chi the week I was gone; I did go to the course this last Saturday, but I actually skipped out at the end. So I’ve got some catching up to do there; and I’m going to be out of town in July and I’ll have to miss two weeks of classes (including missing a second monthly Sunday class in a row); not great. But, I hope, not awful? I need to catch up with the Spear, but but that’s not so bad; I need to catch up more with the Guan Dao, but that seems like not the hardest form, and I’ve got a good video of that. I’ve basically given up on actually memorizing the Hunyuan 48, though; I’ll try to get a feel for it this round through, and hopefully that will let me actually memorize it next time.

It would be nice if it weren’t quite so hot, though; I’m not sure how much Tai Chi practice I’ll be able to do tomorrow. (Especially given that I need to do weapons practice; I can’t very well swing around a Guan Dao inside the house!)

And I’ll start back up on Damo’s lessons. Though I really do want my focus right now to be on the Microcosmic Orbit and exercises related to building that up; so I’m kind of hoping that he doesn’t have any new seated exercises to learn. I do at least one seated exercise and one standing exercise a day, and on four or sometimes five days a week I don’t have time to do anything beyond that; so, right now, swapping out the standing bit is fine, I’m just nervous about swapping out the seated bit. Also, I want to spend some amount of time on the Kidney and Spleen versions of the Balancing exercises: in the course, Damo said that those two were more effective than the other three elements, and so we had a long session of one or the other of those most days in the course, and they seem like exercises that are both directly relevant to my energy issues.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 14, 2022

Jun 14 2022

I’ve been at an in-person workshop with Damo for most of the last week; it’s been good! Good to get some in-person correction on my form (from various senior teachers, not just Damo); good to have Damo guide us through some bits that are related to stuff from the online course but more in depth; and good to get pushed a bit more. (In particular, to do stretchy Dao-Yin-type stuff more.)

In terms of correction on my Wu Ji: one person gave me advice (a couple of times, all these examples are repeated advice) that I should work on dropping my tailbone straight down, it’s curving forward too much. Which is useful: I’d been feeling like I was going over my toes if I wasn’t paying attention, but if I go straight down, then my positioning seems a lot better. Another person told me to rotate my head forward a bit more: so I’m looking down more than I had been, but also the back of my neck stretches up still more. Which seems useful, once I try it out, I guess I’d been compressing my neck in the back a bit? Another person told me to work on “bones up, flesh down”; more on that later. And another person told me that my rib cage is drifting to the right a bit much; I guess that’s how my ongoing right Kua alignment issue is manifesting itself.

In terms of stuff Damo was focusing on that was a little more in depth: he talked at the start of the course about how he was planning to do a fair amount of seated work, in ways that made me hope that we’d be working on the Microcosmic Orbit. Which is great, that was my main hope for the course coming in but I had no reason to believe that that’s what he would do.

And, indeed, we have been moving in that direction. We’ve been going through some focused exercise sequences on thickening the Qi, and also setting the Qi rotating within your Dantian has come up a lot. Which are two preparatory steps for the Microcosmic Orbit that I definitely could use help on. I’m not actually sure if we’ll make it to the full Microcosmic Orbit by the end of the workshop; we have three days left, and that seems possible but a little tight, and it feels like Damo had been planning to spend more time on seated work than he actually has? We’ll see how the next three days go; but, even if we don’t quite reach that by the end of the workshop (or if we do cover that but I can’t put it into action), I feel like I’ll be in a better position to work on that on my own when I get back home.

I had been worried about my energy levels coming into the workshop, because I’ve had two separate colds or COVIDs or something over the last couple of months, so I was worried that I was going from an energy level of being able to keep up with what I expected from the workshop on all but the worst days to an energy level where I just wouldn’t be able to do stuff some days. And, in fact, I really did hit a wall on the afternoon of the first day: I’m just not up for standing in Wu Ji for long periods of time, or doing other standing exercises with my legs in that position.

The second and third days were better, though: I suspect that, compared to other people, I’m worse than average at that sort of standing but that my endurance is fine for exercises that have me stretching out my joints? So I was optimistic that things would be fine; though, as I tried to put into practice the recommendations to tilt my head and sink my tailbone, I felt like my Wu Ji was getting a little harder to keep up, so there was something to do there.

But then I felt bad last night; so I set my alarm late and, when I woke up, I decided to do today’s class over Zoom. (A Zoom link has been set up because some people got COVID and wanted to participate while isolating.) Which I participated in some, but I wasn’t up for most of the standing exercises, so that was a good choice.

And then we got to the theory part of the day; Damo had mostly been talking about Mind and Soul, but today was on something completely different, about separating the flesh from the bones. (Basically, the same as the “bones up, flesh down” point from above.)

And, what he said there was that, if you can separate your flesh from the bones, then that stretches the fascia in that area in a way that gives you more energy. Whereas if you sink your bones along with your flesh, then you have less energy. And the way that this specific energy is categorized is Spleen Qi.

This is interesting, because I am low on energy, and because my diagnosis is Liver Heat leading to Spleen Deficiency. I think my TCM doctor had been focusing on the Liver Heat side of things, but maybe I’m actually causing the Spleen Deficiency problems directly? Which, actually, relates to something that I’ve been wondering: I have been feeling like my energy levels are lower since I started the Internal Arts Academy, and while I expected that was probably just a coincidence (the same time period begins at the start of COVID, so it could be related to that, to being at home, to dust allergies at home), it actually isn’t crazy to think that my Nei Gong is hurting my energy rather than helping.

So then Damo had us stand while focusing on having our bones kind of expand out in all directions (up, sideways, down, depending on their location), and then trying to maintain that while having your body sink. And I felt a lot better when I did that! Enough so that I went into the class in person in the afternoon, and I felt totally fine while doing that.

So I’m definitely going to work on that; probably initially it’ll mean that I’m standing a little high in Wu Ji, but hopefully once I get used to it, I’ll be able to come to a position that keeps the good aspects of what I had been doing while also adding a new good aspect to it. And, of course, if I had to choose between having more energy versus being at the right height, then I’d choose more energy. If that pays off, then that alone will make flying across the country to the workshop worth it, I think.

Three days left; we’ll see how those three days go.

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