Nei Gong Notes, September 19, 2023

Sep 19 2023

Probably my best Nei Gong week since we got Velvet? On Wednesday, I did a good length Advanced Dantian Gong session in addition to my now-regular Hui Chun; and I did a more-than-minimal amount of Tai Chi that afternoon, too. On Saturday I did a decent amount of Spinal Waves, of Tai Chi Wu Ji, and of Taiyi Standing; and on Sunday I did some Bellows Breathing in addition to my Hui Chun. (And Hui Chun on Friday and Saturday, too.) So I’m finally starting to get back to MCO prep stuff; no huge effect or anything, but I was reacting to the Advanced Dantian Gong, and also I was feeling energy at the ends of the Ming Line during some of the sessions.

I’d tried getting back to Ma Bu a week or two ago; I was trying that some this past week, but it kept on going not so well, I kept on slipping. Which had always been an issue; it was manageable if I practiced in bare feet on a yoga mat, but that’s harder with Velvet around. So maybe it’s just that my shoes are too slippery (I’ve ordered another set of Tai Chi shoes, we’ll see if they help); but also I’m not relaxing enough, and it’s possible that, if I relax more, then the extra sinking will help more of the force to go downwards. Something to poke at.

I’m seeing the doctor tomorrow, hopefully they’ll give me permission to not wear my brace most of the time. It’ll be good to get back to Nei Gong Wu Ji, if so, and in general to various Nei Gong standing exercises; though I also do want to keep up my Spinal Waves while I’m working on keeping my TCM doctor happy with me. (One solution to that is to do the Spinal Dao Yin sequence, though that’s probably only a once-a-week thing.)

Though I probably won’t have as good practice this upcoming week as last week: I’ve got multiple appointments in the middle of the day tomorrow, so I won’t have as much practice time, and in general my sleep’s been a little bit off because of a puppy transition. But hopefully I can improve my practice in general over the next month.

I got confirmation that I’m registered for Damo’s workshop in Texas next summer, so hopefully I’ll be there.

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Nei Gong Notes, September 12, 2023

Sep 12 2023

Good week, at least by post-puppy/broken hand standards. I felt like either the extra Hui Chuns, the longer spinal waves, or both are paying off: awake much more during the days. And when I went to see my TCM doctor, he said that my Kidneys were being well behaved, a noticeable difference from the previous week. So I’ll keep that up; I’m actually hoping that I might even have enough energy on Wednesdays / Fridays / Sundays to work in some more seated Nei Gong beyond whatever Hui Chun I’m doing that day? We’ll see how it goes, though, both in terms of my energy level and in terms of whether Velvet is being mellow for long enough. (It also helps that her housebreaking is improving significantly, that makes a big difference with my sleep and also means fewer distractions during the day.)

And I’m getting more energized about Tai Chi. I still didn’t do it a ton last week, but I did do some Ma Bu for the first time in a while, so hopefully I can start working on my conditioning. And on the monthly Sunday Tai Chi class I was pleased to see that my left hand let me work on the staff, so I should be able to practice that; and we did some Xin Jia practice that went over some bits that I could use review on. So my hope is that, this week, I’ll be able to review the staff and the Xin Jia first form some, instead of just the Lao Jia first form.

Also I was paying attention to my Kua while doing Tai Chi; I’m doing a good job in terms of relaxing it in a way that has my pelvis slide under to some extent. So I think I’m starting to fairly reliably do what people refer to as tucking my tailbone; and my tailbone does end up being tucked, it’s just that it doesn’t come from a tucking impetus or even a relaxing impetus. At any rate, very useful, I feel a lot more stable while doing that.

And something during one of the Tai Chi classes made me think that I should pay more attention to the way my Dantian gets involved when doing the form, so I’ll try to spend time on that next.

Also in terms of random stuff: my legs are not behaving how I would like in multiple ways, not enough sinking, not good enough balance, etc. Nothing new, but I should work on that; in particular, I want to work on relaxing them more while standing. (Though sinking into the Kua / tucking my tailbone is helping.) And I read through Byron Jacobs’ Xing Yi book; interesting, even though I’m not actually doing Xing Yi, but if I were, there’s definitely stuff there that I would want to pay attention to. And, among other things, it gave me a nudge to think about having my tongue touch the top of the mouth; I’d been thinking that I didn’t feel anything when I did that, but actually I do, it’s just kind of subdued? So I should do that more, or at least think about whether or not I’m doing that; I think I might actually be doing it by default some of the time.

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Nei Gong Notes, September 5, 2023

Sep 05 2023

Pretty good week. To be sure, it started off with some warning signs: puppy-related sleep problems, and my TCM doctor said that my Kidney Qi is backsliding. And I think those are related (and of course it didn’t help that I couldn’t use my hands properly for a month): I think (in part because of my tiredness) that I haven’t been spending enough time looking after my back (there was one part that was unexpectedly sore, in particular), and also I need to do more nourishing Qigong.

So I’ve been being better about stretching out my back a bit in various ways during the day (e.g. touching my toes in a way that gives a bit of a back stretch), and I’ve switched my standing practice to not only always include some spinal waves, but to switch from a single 5 minute session of that to 15 minutes on it, normally then slowly then not moving but sensing and actively Songing up my spine. And I’ve also been doing more Hui Chuns, I did 40 minute Kidney and Spleen ones twice each this week.

And I think it’s helping. My sleep last night was fine by post-puppy standards but iffy by historical standards, but I still had a decent amount of energy today, I certainly didn’t feel like I needed to take a nap in the middle of the morning. And Velvet’s housebreaking has improved noticeably and we’ve come up with a plan for working on overnight specifically, so I’m pretty optimistic there.

Last week I’d strained myself a bit much at Tai Chi; I decided to go to class this week but take it really easy, and that worked fine. And I did some single hand push hands with my right hand after class, nice to get back to that. I also talked to one of the other senior students about my vague idea to get some sort of senior student study group together; she had some ideas but it unfortunately didn’t work too well with what I wanted. I think I’m going to listen again to the podcast with my teacher that kicked off my thinking about that, and if the bit there about having a mutual study group that comments on each other’s forms does actually sound like he recommends then I’ll see if people are up to that as a one-off thing.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 29, 2023

Aug 29 2023

I forgot to mention in last week’s post that I’d watched the Ping Heng Gong video in the previous week: it was actually the next one for me to watch when I stopped going through new videos in the class while trying to work on MCO stuff and then getting my energy levels in order, but I figured that being outside more would probably do me good now. Unfortunately, the Qi Gong sequence that it comes with won’t work for me, so I’ll have to come back to it; I did do some Qi Gong in a grove of redwoods in a park that week, and I was glad I did that. Probably still too much people stuff around to really fit Damo’s recommendations there, though? But being near those redwood trees really did feel nice; not necessarily nice in an energetic way, but also I’m willing to believe that enormous redwood trees are more powerful than a small grouping of normal trees in a park.

Anyways, I went to see the doctor last Wednesday, and things are healing. So I got to switch to a smaller brace; it leaves all of my fingers free, which is a help both for daily life and for internal arts. I’ll go back again after four more weeks; after that they’ll take an X-ray and, if it looks good, the splint will be optional. I still won’t be completely healed after that, but most of the way, things might be back to normal after another month? (Good timing, I should be fine for Rick’s rescheduled course in November.)

I can do significantly more with the brace; not everything, though, there’s a metal piece that goes from my arm to the back of my hand. So I can’t bend my wrist much; things that actively have me bend my wrist are completely out (e.g. no lotus mudra, so I still can’t do the Ping Heng Gong sequence, and no Nei Gong Wu Ji), but even moves that involve more gentle curves to my wrist feel unnaturally forced.

Still, I can do the Water and Earth Hui Chuns, which is great; that certainly felt good. And I tried going through the Tai Chi first form; not a performance that I was proud of, but I could do it well enough for me to be glad that I’d done that. So I went to Tai Chi class on Saturday; Silk Reeling was mostly fine (though probably slightly iffier than the form), and the Dao was fine too.

Having said that, I probably moved around my hand forcefully a little too much, because my hand was aching after that more than it had in a while? So I went home and iced things up; it felt basically fine after that, though I’m feeling slight aches even this week? So I should probably take it easy; I think I’ll still try to do a bit of Tai Chi tomorrow and/or Friday, but if things feel worse after that, then I’ll probably skip class on Saturday, and otherwise I’ll probably go but I’ll try to take it easier.

Also, one day after getting the brace off, when I was doing Tai Ji Wu Ji, I felt something vibrating in my left wrist; I wonder if some stagnation was clearing out there?

Other than the improved hand situation, it hasn’t been 100% the best week: my sleep has been off, for puppy-related reasons. So, honestly, on many days my practice has looked like it did before I got the new brace. I’m working on that, hopefully it will improve soon… (And she’s a very good puppy; but she is still a puppy.)

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Nei Gong Notes, August 22, 2023

Aug 22 2023

Pretty similar to last week. I did manage to start working in Tai Chi Wuji and Taiyi Standing at the start of the week, but then I had some tired days and didn’t keep it up later on. Hopefully that will get better; it’s still a good idea, after all. And I got some more signs that I should work on my back more; not doing my full routine for several weeks now is showing its toll.

I’ll see the hand doctor again tomorrow, hopefully I’ll have a smaller brace on my hand and will be cleared to do more with my hands…

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Nei Gong Notes, August 15, 2023

Aug 15 2023

Not much to report. Same sitting exercises as last time; standing I’ve been good about doing some spinal waves, and I’ve started adding in the Tai Chi version of Wuji. I should probably start alternating that with Taiyi Standing, that also shouldn’t do anything to my hands. And I should probably think some about the more awareness based non-sitting practices, like the ones about walking.

I’ll see a doctor again a week from tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be on a smaller brace then. We’ll see how much freedom of movement the hypothetical new brace gives me; and I’ll ask the doctor if there’s anything particular I should avoid.

Speaking of doctors, my TCM doctor thinks my kidneys are in good shape. He wants to get back to my liver for a few weeks, but hopefully I’ll have a clean bill of health by the end of September.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 8, 2023

Aug 08 2023

I went to see a hand specialist on Friday; things are going fine, nothing to worry about. I’m in a removable splint now that leaves three fingers free, so it’s easier for me to do more things (including typing) and I can take it off to shower. So that’s nice; and my abrasions are healing noticeable, I’ve gotten rid of more than half my bandages. I’ll go back for another look in two and a half weeks, hopefully I’ll get a still smaller thing on my hand then.

In terms of practice, I’m basically avoiding anything with my hands. So I’m alternating between Observing the Breath, Anchoring the Breath, and Calm-Abiding; and I’m trying to work in a Self-Healing as well, though I’m only finding time for that maybe half the days?

I’m actually a little nervous about that one: the lesson talks about how, if you apply too much intention, it can cause problems? Having said that, I haven’t had it cause more pain when I’ve tried it out this week, and sometimes there’s been a relaxed, slightly liquid feel that seems to me like it’s in the right direction. So tomorrow I’ll see if I can do a longer session and poke at that more.

I also don’t want to backslide more than necessary on other parts of my conditioning. I was thinking I should do Silk Reeling, but most of those moves involve my hands too much. There are some I can do, though, and that also reminded me that Spinal Waves should be fine. So I’ll try to spend time doing that for a while each day, hopefully that will help.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 1, 2023

Aug 01 2023

This post will be terser than normal because I broke my left pinky today and am typing one handed. So don’t expect much from me this month!

In Lao Jia Dao, when doing the skewer up under your left arm, be clean about turning the Dao and then curving up fairly close to your arm

Good Spleen Hui Chun on Sunday: my insides were active, I was paying attention better than normal.

Push hands on Saturday; felt a little bit of the internal restructuring when pushing that I’ve been noticing while going through the four energy drill from Damo’s course. But I was also getting the basics wrong, though, I need to sink into my Kua to create more space to maneuver.

Wu Song Shen Fa 3 is a good one, maybe my favorite exercise from that course so far; I really do feel the Jin go up, touch my shoulder, and go into my arm.

I’m very frequently relaxing my body during the non-practice parts of my day.

In the push in Six Sealing and then in Dantian Change, let your pelvis slide under / sink into your Kua so your pelvis is like a seat. Much less knee strain in Dantian Change that way.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 25, 2023

Jul 25 2023

Another week dominated by having a new puppy; no long practice sessions, and sleep was interrupted that even my shorter practice sessions weren’t great! They did happen, though. But I should be careful with not backsliding on my back; e.g. I’d been letting up on stretching my back while touching my toes, I should get back to that. Though actually I’m doing a decent amount of stretching my back by squatting, there’s frequently time to do that while Velvet is sniffing around outside.

My TCM doctor thinks things are going well, at least; he says that my right Kidney is at the target level that he’s looking for. Hopefully the left Kidney will be there soon; I think probably either way I’ll stop soon, or significantly slow down my rate of appointments.

I had something interesting happen when I went through the Dragons on Saturday: during one of the Wu Ji sections during that, I felt a pretty strong line on both arms, going up from my thumb. Looking at diagrams, I think it was probably related to the Lung channel? And there was a quite noticeable feeling of wind inside my body along my hand, near the base of the thumb / wrist, especially on the right side. No idea what triggered that, but presumably it’s useful progress.

I did a decent amount of Tai Chi practice on Sunday, at least; not sure if I’m going to hit every form this week but it was a good start. One thing I noticed was that I was off balance when stepping up in Jing Gang but I could fix that by turning forward / closing my left Kua and opening my right Kua before stepping up. Which I feel like I’ve noticed in the past, but it’s time for me to notice that again!

In Damo’s Tai Chi course the lesson was Wu Song Shen Fa 2, which also has the first Push Hands video, on receiving force. I don’t know that that Wu Song Shen Fa exercise had a big impact on me; maybe I’m doing a slightly better job of releasing my feet, but I’m still not great at that? I should try out the receiving force exercise with my Tai Chi partner (we’ve tried it out once before but haven’t made it part of my routine), but we had other stuff that we wanted to work on last Saturday and probably will this Saturday as well.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 18, 2023

Jul 18 2023

Not a ton to say: because of poodle care and my wife being out of town most of last week, I was doing more maintenance levels of practice. Mostly Hui Chuns for the seated part (and the days when I tried to do something else happened to be the days that I was sleepy enough to interfere with the work); for standing practice, I was actually mostly doing stuff from Damo’s Tai Chi course.

That part was interesting. Usually I did 10 minutes of either Wu Ji or Taiyi followed by 10 minutes of Ba Men 2. And I did like the Ba Men 2; for whatever reason, I felt like I was sinking a lot more effectively there than during other exercises I do. And I was starting to feel the release when I shifted my weight off of my foot; though, oddly, it seemed like I was feeling the release and expansion a little more during the first half of the week than the second half of the week. Not sure what the deal is there, I’m not going to worry about it too much.

I didn’t do almost any of my regular Tai Chi practice: I went through a few forms one day with Velvet on a lead, but I didn’t practice on other days. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to that this week, and I should go to my regular class this Saturday.

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