Nei Gong Notes, July 16, 2024

Jul 16 2024

More tired than I’d like this week; I often feel good at the start of the day but then run out of energy partway through the day, which is kind of annoying. I’m trying out nasal strips, on the hopes that breathing more at night might help, but it hasn’t yet. And I started some Heart-related herbal medicine that might help; no effect yet that I’ve noticed, but it’s only been a day and a half so it’s too early to expect anything from that.

Last week was a Tai Chi lesson, we covered Wu Song Shen Fa 4; I’d been feeling sad that, because of the heat and my tiredness, I had been neglecting my Wu Song Shen Fa, and number 4 seems pretty interesting, so I should definitely get back to those. Nice to feel stuff kind of bouncing off of the bottom of my feet when I do it.

I’m continuing to think that Calm Abiding is a good thing for me to do: my mental state feels better after doing it, and I was feeling my Yellow Court being more active on Sunday after doing it. And on Saturday I was doing some Advanced Dantian Gong and my Ming Line was pretty noticeable. So hopefully I’m building some amount of Qi, despite the tiredness?

My Tai Chi feels pretty good, I like how my body is working together. Also on the note of my body, I’m putting in more time on stretching my hamstrings, and they’re aching in a way that makes me think maybe it’ll help? We’ll see, though, I don’t yet have a noticeably longer range of motion…

I’m enjoying the Xin Jia review sessions in preparation for the Chen Xiaowang workshop, the form is starting to feel good, and I’m picking up on subtler points.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 9, 2024

Jul 09 2024

Annoyingly tired week. (And strangely so, some days I’d start out fine and then just run out of energy halfway through the day.) Not sure what was going on, but my best guess is that it might be something related to the heat, because Monday was fine and it was noticeably cooler the previous night and that day compared to the rest of the week?

Anyways, last week was a Nei Gong week, and the lesson was Forgiveness 1. Seemed like a potentially useful exercise, but I’m actually finding myself not annoyed at very many things right now, so I was having a surprisingly hard time coming up with slights that I wanted to forgive? I’ll keep on chipping away at it.

I didn’t practice nearly as much Tai Chi as normal this week, because it was so hot out and because I was tired enough that I wasn’t going to exert myself a ton. Class was fine on Sunday, though, and we’re starting the staff; happy to be reviewing that one, I’m kind of on the edge of forgetting bits of it. And today I went to an extra Tai Chi class, going through the Xin Jia first form in preparation for a workshop with Chen Xiaowang next month, good to pick up some pointers.

I taught my Silk Reeling course on Sunday; people continue to be very involved and have a lot of questions, which is nice. The topic this time was using your Kua to move back and forth.

Good Calm Abiding on Sunday, I should find time to do that more often. Honestly, right now I should prioritize it over MCO prep, until I get to where I’m feeling energetic enough that MCO prep is actually going to turn into successfully doing the MCO.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 2, 2024

Jul 02 2024

The week started off iffy, with me tired more than I’d like; I think I got my food out of whack during the workshop? Nothing horrible or anything, but between working a normal day on Wednesday and being a little tired, I didn’t do as much Nei Gong as normal. Though actually on Wednesday I did make time for a decent length Calm Abiding session, and I think it went well; good effects on my mind and body, and I think I’m getting a better feel for what it means to relax my mind?

And my practice on Sunday was quite good: almost an hour of standing practice (mostly Wu Ji but a decent amount of Channel Opening 1), about an hour of Calm Abiding (admittedly, a little sleepier than I’d like), and an hour of MCO prep (nothing super exciting there but it felt solid enough). And yesterday and today my practice has gone well too (though I’ve been working so I only had so much time), and my energy levels have been pretty good.

The other interesting thing this week is that I’ve felt Zi Fa Gong for the first time, which I’d never really felt until now. It’s been manifesting itself as brief, sudden spasms; no particular effect beyond that, and it’s not happening particularly frequently, though it did happen more than once this week.

Anyways, this week’s lesson was a Nei Gong lesson, finally making progress again on the 37 Form: Return Tiger to Mountain this time. I’m actually feeling slightly rusty on the form, I guess I wasn’t practicing it enough?

I got some beef pills that Rick recommended for Kidney stuff; they are definitely beefy, my dog is interested in them. Not sure if they’ve been helping, but they might have; like I said, I’ve been feeling decently energetic since the end of the week, maybe that’s related? Hopefully that will continue; we’ll see what my TCM doctor say when I see him on Friday. And I’ll ping Rick soon to see if I can get some Heart-related herbs.

We’re starting the Staff form in my Chen Tai Chi class, it’ll be good to have a refresher on that. And I definitely need to work on the Hunyuan 48 – I’m keeping up, but only just barely, and we’re getting to the part of the form that I don’t really know as well. But at least I did enough practicing along with videos during evenings of the workshop that I’m not behind, so that’s good.

Quite hot week, so we’ll see how much Tai Chi practice I can do, I don’t really want to practice outside when it’s in the mid 90s. Should be fine for Nei Gong, though, and I can work on the Yang 37 and the Hunyuan 48 inside if I have to.

I’m teaching the third lesson in my Silk Reeling Principles course this week; this one will be on moving using the Kua. I think my notes are good, so I’m optimistic that it will go well, but we’ll see; talking to my students on Saturday, they reported that they’re continuing to appreciate the course, so that’s good.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 25, 2024

Jun 25 2024

Back home now after the Nei Gong workshop. Not much to say here; I’m glad I went, I think I should spend more time on Calm Abiding, and I might want to work the Firing Process into my practice once a week? I’m not 100% sure where to find the time for that, and also I’m not 100% sure if once a week is enough to make any progress at all with the Firing Process, though; but I got convinced that Calm Abiding is pretty important and would be useful at my current stage, and I did manage to do Scholar Breathing on one of the workshop days, so it would be nice to be able to maintain that and progress to Martial Breathing. But I think that, if I have to choose between the Firing Process that and MCO work, I’ll stick with MCO work for a while.

Back to going through lessons now that that’s over, I think it’s a Taiji week.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 18, 2024

Jun 18 2024

I tried out the new Dao and Jian some more, and I am glad that I got them. (Though I’m not convinced yet that I like the handle wrap; but it’ll be fine if I decide I don’t like that, not a big deal either way.) They’re enough heavier that it will take me a little while to get used to them: the Hunyuan Dao set in particular has a bunch of moves where you use your wrist to spin the Dao in various ways, and I can’t yet do those at full speed; but even given that I feel like a heavier Dao is more honest. (And I still have two other Daos that are lighter by various degrees if I want to show off.)

I mentioned last time that my energy levels were uncomfortably low, so I did noticeably more Wu Ji over the last week than I had been, 30 minutes most day. And yeah, it’s probably bad that that’s noticeably more than I had been doing! It’s understandable on days when I work, at least if I’ve got another standing exercise that I’m working on; but on my days off, I think I haven’t been putting in enough time towards standing work, I should be able to put in 30 minutes of Wu Ji and 30 minutes of some other exercise just fine, and I should be putting in an hour of Wu Ji sometimes too. And hey, if I actually succeed in getting my energy levels up, maybe I’ll respond by doing more than two hours of Nei Gong a day; that’s what happened when my energy levels were high back at the start of the year.

I didn’t do quite as much Tai Chi last week as I’d hoped I would, but still a reasonable amount; I’m caught up on my weapons, and did almost everything else at least once. (I kind of ran out of energy at the end of my practice session on Friday, otherwise I would have done everything at least once; but I’m feeling like I shouldn’t push my body right now.) The one thing that I’m worried about is the Hunyuan 48: I really do want to learn that this time, and I already wasn’t solid at the very last bit I’d learned, and I’m missing two Saturdays because of the Nei Gong workshop. So I should try to spend some time in the evenings working on that; fortunately my teacher just posted a video of the bit I wasn’t solid on plus the next bit that he did this Saturday, so if I put that on loop then that will help a lot.

Anyways, I’m two days into the workshop now. I was a little worried at the start because I was coming down with a cold or something on Sunday, but fortunately it seemed to be very mild, and it cleared up Sunday night, so I think I’m okay. And the first two days have been very good indeed. Mostly so far because of the lectures: Damo’s planning to go into Alchemy, I think, but the first two lectures have been on foundational material that is very useful to me. Monday’s lecture was partly on what it means for your mind to be inside and partly on the Jing system; and in the latter bit, the bits about not believing your emotion, about strengthening willpower, and avoiding addictions all seemed directly relevant to me. Not that I have an addictive personality; I actually think I’m relatively good on all three of those fronts compared to many people! But also, I do spend time playing puzzle games on my phone that honestly isn’t well spent; fighting back against that sort of thing, and trying to strengthen my willpower in some other areas feels like it would be useful. And if doing that has some of the consequences on the rest of the Jing system that he describes, then that would be directly useful for me as well (strengthening my spine, nourishing my brain, increasing my physical energy level); and the alchemy consequences are interesting too.

And today’s lecture was about Calm Abiding: he was making a case that this is absolutely fundamental across a whole range of internal arts, because it enables both your mind and body to strip away a lot of bad habits and start reshaping themselves in healthy manners. The way he presented it is pretty different from the Year 1 IAA Nei Gong lesson on the topic; but, for a short version, you want to relax your body and mind (though with your body in a good structure to begin with), let gravity pull your mind down, and have your mind fill your entire body. (But with your center of consciousness more in your Dantian rather than looking down from above; that latter bit is something I’ve actually experienced before, with the help of one of the techniques from my Silk Reeling Principles course; I should get back to that technique again, to see if it helps me get to that location more easily, and, if so, if it links up to Calm Abiding or if I’m only reaching it via a technique that doesn’t help with the broader goal.)

So I should spend more time on that. I’m not sure when – right now I’m doing Hui Chun twice a week, Advanced Dantian Gong once a week, MCO prep three times a week, and that only leaves one day, which isn’t enough to really work on something new. So I either need to cut back on one of those or double up some days; both of those seem plausible, but I’ll have to think about it.

We’ve done much less standing work compared to other Lotus Nei Gong courses I’ve been to; in general the days have actually been a little shorter, but also we’re doing quite a bit more seated work. (So, basically, one third seated work, one third lecture, one third standing.) So we haven’t yet had a non-perfunctory Wu Ji session, for example; though today’s session had us spending an hour on a shoulder opening exercise, so it was strenuous enough! (Holding your arms out forward and then moving your shoulder blades in circles.) I was really surprised how it turned out: I was in a decent but manageable amount of pain 10 minutes in, and with that arm positioning I wasn’t able to get the kind of inflation via relaxing that I normally do to have my arms feel buoyant, so I was expecting it to get more and more painful over the course of the hour. And it would have been fine if it had, Damo even showed us a way to rest our arms without completely stopping the progress, but actually, the rest of the hour my arms didn’t feel any worse, so I made it through the hour just fine? I do wish I’d felt a stronger feeling of shoulder opening, though; there was some, but not as much as I’d expected, given the length of the exercise, I’m not sure what’s going on there.

Definitely looking forward to the rest of the workshop: it definitely seems like interesting information that I’m hoping I’ll be able to build on, and while I’m a little surprised that it hasn’t been more strenuous, that will probably change, and also I’ve been to enough workshops that I don’t know that I need to spend more time seeing the same exercises over and over again, I mostly need to do them more myself, so having a workshop that’s skewed more towards learning thing that are new to me but not too far out of reach seems like a good idea. And presumably the Foundations courses will give me more back-to-basics stuff, so I won’t be missing that side of things over the next couple of years.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 11, 2024

Jun 11 2024

I did the first lesson of Year 3 of the Nei Gong course last week, on Channel Opening 1. Seems potentially interesting – I don’t think I’ve quite gotten past the first stage that he talks about in the video, but I feel like I’m making progress, so hopefully that’ll happen pretty soon? Also I watched the fifth lesson from the 2023 Maryland lectures that were posted a couple of months back; went into more detail about what Shen Up, Qi Down meant, in a way that hopefully I can understand better. And yet another data point that I should spend more time working on attention.

My MCO work is regressing, unfortunately; I wasn’t up for doing it at all on Wednesday, and on Friday I was tired enough that I decided to switch to something else. And it’s been a few weeks since I’ve felt nice and tingly inside my Dantian; and I had an acupuncture appointment on Friday and my doctor said my Kidney Qi was slipping slightly. I think that I’ve been slacking on building Qi, I’ve been spending too much time moving stuff around or thickening or whatever instead. So, the last few days, I’ve been spending more time doing Wu Ji, I tentatively think that’s been helping? And I’ve asked for advice about seated exercises to build Qi, too.

We had Sunday Tai Chi this month; during Pao Chui, I realized that, even though there are lots of moves in that form that have you storing and releasing, I’m only doing that effectively in maybe half of them. Like, right at the start of where the form diverges from the first form, I do okay in the first two flashes of the arm, connecting them to my Dantian, but then there are a couple more right after that that I’m really just doing in my arm instead of having it reach my torso. So I’ll have to work on that.

I got a new, somewhat heavier Dao and Jian, from the Mushin Martial Culture store. Expensive enough that I was nervous about getting them, but I’m pretty sure I like them – heavy but not unmanageable so, and they’re balanced well. I haven’t tried them out much yet, but I’ll work on them some this week.

I think I’ll skip doing a new lesson this week: I’m going to the workshop in Houston next week, so I won’t have much time to practice. (Or maybe I’ll do one of the recently added Year 1 lessons.) And spending the week trying to build up Qi and working on Channel Opening seems like a pretty reasonable way to spend time. Also, I should spend more time on Tai Chi this week – heat and having to be inside the house because of house repairs have meant that I didn’t do as much Tai Chi practice the last couple of weeks, so I should spend time firming up my staff form, trying out the new weapons, and hopefully getting a little ahead on the Hunyuan 48 given that I’ll miss the next two Saturday classes.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 4, 2024

Jun 04 2024

I was planning to do some of the recently added Nei Gong Year 1 videos last week, but when I got done with other stuff, I only had half an hour, and they were all too long for that; so I did the next Tai Chi video instead, Taiji Standing 2. Pleasant enough, but also not something I’m likely to focus on too much in the short-to-medium term. But then I found time on Wednesday morning to do the Reverse Abdominal Breathing live class, and I even found a couple of hours on Friday morning to do the Wuji Standing live class. Nothing I didn’t basically know in either of them, so I’m fine with having done a couple of them in a week, but I was happy to have gone through them. Hopefully I can move on to the first lesson of Nei Gong year 3 today. (Though I still need to spend more time on Solar Qigong; it’ll probably be too hot outside tomorrow for me to want to do it then, but hopefully on Friday at least I can do it.)

The usual three hours of MCO-related stuff this week; nothing much special happened, I feel like my Dantian is more full than it was a month or two ago but still needs more juice. But hopefully if I keep on chipping away at it, it will build up more. Though I feel better in a different way: I slept through the night multiple times this week, I think I probably literally had my best week of sleep in the last decade or more? So that’s pretty cool; I don’t know what caused it, but hopefully it will keep up? I’m getting more of a sense as to the layers of tiredness that I have: I’m feeling less tired with the better sleep, but even on nights when I get quite good sleep, I’m still more tired than I’d like during the day. Not enough that I need to nap, and I can generally do Nei Gong fine as long as I’ve slept well, but there’s another layer that I have to work through, probably related to Kidney Qi still being low.

I taught the second class in my Silk Reeling Principles course; this time it was on Sink Into Your Kua. Got one more person in the course; still small but it’s good that people came back, and people seemed pretty actively involved. And I think I did a reasonable job of presenting things? Hopefully people got something out of it, we’ll see how they report back next month; and actually I was pleased with what people had to say about their experiences since the previous class, it might actually be helping?

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Nei Gong Notes, May 28, 2024

May 28 2024

Tai Chi week this week; I reviewed the next-to-last lesson from the First Road, and then on Friday I reviewed the last lesson, so I can get back to new lessons from that course now. I actually realized in the middle of the week that I forgot to hit the blue button on the Nei Gong course, so I could potentially do Tai Chi today; but given that there were new year 1 lessons released recently for the Nei Gong course, I think I’ll do one of those instead.

I wasn’t feeling 100% on Wednesday so I didn’t do my MCO prep exercise then; I did it on Friday and Sunday, though, and Monday was a holiday, so I took advantage of that to try kicking off the MCO again. I wasn’t super optimistic at the start of that (I felt fine but not any more energized than the previous week) but actually my Dantian got pretty tingly during the prep? Unusual feeling when I got to the bit while I was actively trying to kick it off: felt like there was a massive blob of stuff going up my back. It didn’t go up particularly far, though; not sure what was going on there, not going to spend much time thinking about it. My Dantian did feel nice and active this morning while doing the Kidney Hui Chun, though, which was nice; we’ll see how this week goes.

As to Chen Tai Chi, I went to a workshop on Saturday with Zhu Tiancai and Zhu Xiangqian. They’re from Chen village; their form was a little different from my teacher’s (Zhu Tiancai is from the same generation as my teacher’s teacher), but basically the same Lao Jia first form. Most of the class was talking about Silk Reeling; their take is interestingly different from what I’m used to, with sudden Fa Jin followed by relaxation in the middle of each movement. I’m not entirely sure what I think about that, but it feels worth poking at to understand the pros and cons; and my shoulders and elbows were aching a bit the next day or two, so it was opening things up. I don’t think I’ll make time to try that out any time soon, though, because I’ve got enough else going on; I do have a video of the set saved on my phone if I want to do so at some point, though.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 21, 2024

May 21 2024

Nei Gong week this week, and I reached the last lesson of Year 2, yay. I’d been hoping that it wouldn’t be a long seated lesson, because that would interfere with my MCO prep, so I was a little nervous when I opened the lesson and saw a decent length seated exercise! But it turned out to be an outside practice, to do during sunny days; so it was something that I would want to fit into my afternoons when I’m out in a park doing Tai Chi there instead of something that I would want to fit into my morning Nei Gong at home.

I tried the exercise a couple of times; no particular effects yet. It is interesting when doing it how noticeable the different aspects of the exercise are, though: yes, there’s one point on my forehead that stands out, yes, I can leave my gaze far away but move my attention along a line, yes it goes inside my head when I do that, and yes there’s one point in my head that feels distinctive in a way that plausibly seems like having my vision become a little lighter. So I’ll keep on poking at that a couple of times a week.

On the MCO prep note: I had a bad practice on Wednesday; I didn’t feel quite right going in but I decided to practice anyways and that was a mistake. Not a horrible mistake or anything, but now I know to listen to my body when it’s doing that. Did MCO prep again on Friday and then tried kicking it off on Sunday; better than the previous week, but the Qi was only making up to just above the middle of my spine. Still, things are feeling more active in my body: e.g. when doing the Kidney Hui Chun yesterday, stuff was moving around quite noticeably even in the preparatory hand movements of that set, and today I did just a bit of Wu Ji as a preparation for a different exercise and my body started tingling almost immediately. So I’m pretty optimistic that I’ve hit upon a practice routine that has me actively building up Qi.

I also went through the third Zhan Zhuang lesson in the Taiji course. Still no putting the hands up; I guess that only shows up in the third year, but I’m not going to try to skip ahead to that. A very interesting lesson, at any rate, adding releasing from the feet to the mix; and it did indeed add another aspect to the interior stretch. On Saturday I did Zhan Zhuang with my arms up; hard time sinking my mind through my body in that position, but I still felt a good amount of inflation as I relaxed my arms, tried to sink my mind, and tried to relax my feet.

And on Sunday I did Zhan Zhuang as in the new lesson, I got a lot of inflation then. And actually on Sunday afternoon, the insides of my elbows were aching a bit; I’m not sure that was caused by the inflation from Zhan Zhuang or if that was caused by something else, but nice to feel that my body was working. If it was caused by something else, it’s probably that my Tai Chi teacher was having us do an exercise where you used your Dantian to flash your arms up and down, and I did a hundred iterations or so of that on both Saturday and Sunday, so that would also have put stress on my arms. Interesting exercise, one which I’d done before but not as effectively in the past: one I did it enough, I started to get a time delay where the movement was moving from my arms on down. Which is a good sign because it’s showing force moving from one part of my body to the other (setting up a causal relationship instead of muddling all the different parts together); but then when I asked my teacher about it, he said that it should go from my legs to my Dantian to my arms, so I had the causality reversed! Something to keep working on.

Also on Saturday I worked through an exercise about grounding your opponent’s force from Ken Gullette’s Internal Body Mechanics book; interesting to feel it both within my body when receiving force and within my partner’s body when I was giving force, I could tell when he was adjusting. And there was a Sunday Tai Chi class this week; we finished the staff form, yay. Next month should be a staff review, but then we’ll start the double dao after that; I think that’s the last weapons form that my Chen teacher teaches? Still a few empty hand forms to learn, though, and at some point it would be nice to see the Taiji ball.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 14, 2024

May 14 2024

Just Taiji review on Tuesday; I think only two sections to review and then I’ll be back to progressing on those lessons? I would say that I should try to review more sections midweek, but I’ve been spending that time on watching the Zhan Zhuang lessons; hopefully I’ll do the third of those this week. I’m definitely glad that I went through the Zhan Zhuang prep lessons: yesterday in particular I had a quite strong internal stretch while practicing that, and while I didn’t feel as strong an inflation today, I felt like maybe my mind was stabilizing a little more inside my body? Also I’ve been feeling random tingling (in a good way) in my back pretty often, and I’m continuing to feel bits of my back want to relax and expand at random points during the day.

I had an acupuncture appointment on Friday, and my energy levels have been a little better since then; not sure if it’s the treatment or getting restocked on my herbs or random chance or what.

I’m trying to get back into MCO work. I did a one-hour MCO prep set on Wednesday, then tried out the MCO on Friday. Didn’t make it very far, though; I clearly didn’t have much juice, which didn’t surprise me. But I did the prep exercise on Sunday, and then when I was doing the Kidney Hui Chun on Monday, it went really well, in a way that made me think that stuff is starting to build up. I’ll try to keep up that routine, doing the prep twice a week and trying to kick it off on a third day during the week, plus some other exercises that hopefully will help out some. We’ll see if anything happens that interferes with that; and hopefully I won’t come across any long seated Qigong exercises in the course for the next few weeks that I have to spend time on.

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