Nei Gong Notes, May 10, 2022

May 10 2022

This week’s lesson was on a smaller version of the Microcosmic Orbit, with the rotation within your abdomen. Damo warns that there’s a good chance that we’re not quite ready for it yet, and says, if you’re not able to trigger the orbit, then you shouldn’t try it out every day, instead maybe every third day? (Maybe practicing Mixing Kan and Li and Anchoring the Breath the other two days.) So that’s what I’ve been doing (working in some Bellows Breathing and occasional Advanced Dantian Gong, too); I imagine that I’ll keep up that routine for the indefinite future, though we’ll see what the next two lessons (on preparing for and actually doing the Microcosmic Orbit) contain.

As for standing work, I’ve mostly been doing the Qi Mobilization lessons, and haven’t done the non-advanced Dantian Gong the last week or two. In general I feel like right now I want to spend most of my time on seated work, though I’m still doing some standing practice each day. And my energy levels still aren’t great; hopefully the TCM treatments will help with that.

Also means that I haven’t done as much Tai Chi as I’d like; it would be good to get back to that? Still chipping away at the Hunyuan 48, but at least I feel like I’m not falling further behind: kind of in a steady state where I don’t feel great about the last 2-3 weeks but the stuff before that is solid enough.

When I was going through the Dragons on Saturday, the first one felt off, so I watched the video, and I really had forgotten a few of the details. So if I do pause on new lessons in the class while trying to get the Microcosmic Orbit going, I should consider reviewing those videos to get those in a better shape.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 3, 2022

May 03 2022

I decided not to do a new Nei Gong lesson this week, to try to build the Qi in my Dantian back up. Which I think I’m making progress at, though Mixing Kan and Li still isn’t feeling like was when I first learned it. So, most days, I’ve been doing Bellows Breathing, with some Advanced Dantian Gong and some Mixing Kan and Li mixed in; and some days I managed to work in a second sitting session, even during days when I don’t normally do that.

I also asked a question about what sitting practice Damo was referring to when he said in a recent video that his school had one key standing and one key sitting practice; it turns out that the sitting practice is Anchoring the Breath plus applying attention.

Pretty normal Tai Chi; I’m still hanging in there on the Hunyuan 48. We did get back to push hands this week, continuing through the single handed set; this time, doing Ji and Lu with the inside of the arm, and I really was not able to do the Lu part. Hopefully we can review that on Saturday.

I went to a TCM doctor today, hoping that I can get help with my tiredness issues. He said that I have Liver Heat leading to a Spleen deficiency; hopefully the acupuncture will help. And I talked to him about some of the body stuff I have (weirdness in my right foot / leg in particular), he gave me some body positioning suggestions for that.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 26, 2022

Apr 26 2022

This week’s lesson was on Mixing Kan and Li. It’s pretty interesting, moving Qi a bit higher in your abdomen and then letting it sink back down. And that gave me a much more concrete appreciation for what thickening the Qi means than previous exercises: there was a real tangible feel to it when it was thick, it was moving at its own velocity. And, some days, when I did the exercise, I felt like my Dantian wasn’t doing great to start and I had a hard time feeling the Ming line, and then usually the exercise kind of petered out after a few minutes.

So Qi is starting to feel more concrete? Or at least that kind of Qi? I was actually even feeling it move around this morning when I was just sitting and breathing: I’m used to feeling a certain sensation sink, but it felt a lot more concrete / substantial this time, like there was a substance instead of just a feeling. So hopefully I’m building things up in a way that makes the Microcosmic Orbit possibly within reach?

I’m not going to do the next lesson this week, though: partly because I could use more practice mixing Kan and Li, and partly because I’m planning to get my shingles vaccination tomorrow, and that will probably mess me up. The Microcosmic Orbit lesson is the third one after this; I would like to make it through that lesson before the workshop, because I feel like the workshop might be a place where I’ll be able to accomplish that. But that’s not until June, so I’ve got a couple of spare weeks.

I am also feeling that I could use some more work on my breathing. So, once I make it to the Microcosmic Orbit lesson, I might just take a month or two off from lessons and work on that? Not sure yet.

Not much to say about Tai Chi. No push hands this week, which was disappointing, I hope we don’t stop doing that… And I really should review the Hunyuan stuff more, I’m on the edge of not being able to keep up solidly with that.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 19, 2022

Apr 19 2022

This week’s lesson was on the Line of Ming. Which I had definitely been building up to for a month or so: I’d been feeling my Qi Hand and a point on my back, so now I had to feel the line between them.

Which mostly went well? At least it did while I listened to the lesson; not so well in my first practice after that. And then I listened to the lesson again, and realized that I’d forgotten the mudra, but also I think listening to Damo puts me in a mental space where I can practice well? Anyways, I had some decent practices after that, where I was starting to get absorbed in the line; not always going well, sometimes I wasn’t feeling the line, but all in all a pretty good week.

Not a ton going on other than that in my practice. I practiced a decent amount, and like I said last week, I started going on walks a bit more and also frequently reviewed the spine stretch exercise. Still not feeling completely great, but I think not a bad idea?

I also started rereading the Complete Guide. One thing I noticed during its section on Wu Ji was that it talked about sinking your elbows; I realized I wasn’t doing that quite enough, and it did have an effect. Also, while doing abdominal breathing, I might be breathing into my navel instead of my Qi Hai, I should tweak that. And one thing that I happened to notice while doing my Wu Ji one day was that, when I turn my feet in a bit more, I feel more floaty (but in a good way, like my body is supporting itself with minimal effort from me; I’ll want to keep that in mind.

Normal Tai Chi week, nothing in particular going on. The Hunyuan form is sometimes being a little hard for me to memorize, but I’m still pretty much keeping up. And the thing I talked about last week where you open your left foot when stepping forward to Jing Gang is definitely a good idea, it helps me on both of the first two times I see that move.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 12, 2022

Apr 12 2022

Pretty solid week, my best in a while. This week’s lesson was a continuation of the one that I’d been working on for the last two weeks, getting your Qi Hai into the action; and I think I’m getting the hang of it, my Dantian is starting to buzz a bit? Which it was doing a month ago, so in some sense I’m just regaining ground that I’d lost; but still.

And the practice on Wednesday went well. I actually didn’t have a huge amount of energy, so while I wasn’t feeling awful, I thought I’d do a standing bit that didn’t take a super long time, and maybe that moved some. But when I got into my Wu Ji at the start, I felt like my legs were solid and my torso was light, so I decided to just stay in Wu Ji; and I actually lasted an hour, for only the second time. So that was really good. I’m still not back up to my 3+ hour practice sessions, but significant progress.

I’m actually thinking I should rethink my Wednesdays and Fridays: maybe I’d have more energy if I went for a walk and/or had a bit of a snack? Not sure, I’ll probably experiment with that some. Also, I should probably review some of the back exercises, and add that as one of my components on my day off, my back feels like it’s not doing as well as it sometimes has.

In terms of Tai Chi, while practicing the Lao Jia Dao, I noticed that, in the step up into Jing Gang, the Dao movements encourage me to open my left Kua more, and that feels better. When I talked with my teacher about that movement, he also mentioned that your left foot should be open instead of straight forward during that movement, I should experiment with that as well.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 5, 2022

Apr 05 2022

I repeated the previous lesson from Damo’s course, on Alchemical Breathing, this week. And I’m glad I did: there were a couple of bits about reverse abdominal breathing that it was good to get clarification on, and the extra week of practice was useful. I won’t say that I’m doing it perfectly now, but it feels better, and yesterday I felt an unusual amount of connection between my Huiyin and Dantian while doing it.

So-so week practice week. Pretty good practice on Wednesday, iffy practice the rest of the week. Still trying to figure out what’s going on with sleep stuff; I did review the Shui Gong 2 video, since I felt like I’d been making progress there, and that was kind of interesting. The vibration that you’re supposed to feel is faster than the one I noticed, but also more localized, and he did talk about feeling shaking down your spine, so I might have been feeling the latter? And Shui Gong 2 is target at having you sleep more restfully, so if I can get it to work, it would be really useful; I feel like what’s going on right now is mostly mental rather than physical?

But the flip side is that, if you focus too much while doing it, then you bring Qi to your head, and that can make it harder to sleep more restfully. So it’s possible that, the way I’ve been doing it, Shui Gong 2 is actually counterproductive? At any rate, I’m going to experiment with seeing if I sleep any differently on nights when I do Shui Gong 2 versus nights when I don’t, and also I’ll try to dial back my attention when I am doing it.

In Tai Chi, I got enough people to agree to do Push Hands that my teacher was willing to restart that on Saturday. So that’s good; and I definitely have a lot to learn there…

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Nei Gong Notes, March 29, 2022

Mar 29 2022

Not a lot to talk about this week. Though actually this week’s lesson in Damo’s course was kind of surprising; it was another seated exercise involving pulling up your Huiyin, which sounds straightforward enough? But then he also talked about not letting stuff escape through the top of your Dantian, and I realized that I was in fact not closing that off. So I think that I’m going to watch that lesson again tonight instead of moving on to a new lesson; he said that this one was harder to get in place in your body than you’d expect, and I think that is proving to be the case.

Not great Nei Gong practice. The sleep stuff has taken yet another turn; I think that now with some bedding changes I’m actually not feeling too allergic overnight? So I can breathe okay, and I haven’t woken up startled for a while. But I’m still not reliably sleeping solidly. Not sure what’s going on there; maybe it’s my brain being funny, maybe it’s Widget spending more time in the bed than he had been, maybe there’s something else physical going on. For now I’m just letting it be; but at any rate I was doing minimal amounts of practice a lot this week.

Though there was one interesting thing related to going to bed – after sporadically trying the Shui Gong 2 exercise once every week or two for a year or so, I started to feel something going down my spine. My memory was that he talked about shaking going down your spine, whereas what I felt was fairly slow waves, so I’m not completely sure that what I was experiencing was what that lesson talked about. I guess it’s time for me to watch that lesson again.

Tony went over my form this Saturday; a bit of a let down, I kept on having Xin Jia leak into my form. We talked a bit about other stuff for me to do, though; he said he was willing to do Push Hands if I could get some people to commit to that. So I’ll give that a try.

I hadn’t been working much on my Silk Reeling notes; not sure how much is being past the initial flush of ideas and how much is that Damo’s generating a new set of videos from his current retreat that are keeping me busy on Thursdays. Having said that, I did realize that I wasn’t making as much progress as I’d like, and I put in some time on that on Saturday. So that’s okay; my goal isn’t to put in huge amounts of focused effort, I just want to chip away at it.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 22, 2022

Mar 22 2022

No new Nei Gong lesson this week, because I’d had an interrupted week the previous week and figured I could use the extra time with the current exercise. (Advanced Dantian Gong.) I didn’t get quite as much extra exercise as I would have liked: I was on call, and that interrupted my Wednesday Nei Gong session, so while I did have a good session with the seated Wu Xing exercises that day, I didn’t manage to continue with an Advanced Dantian Gong. But I did spend an hour on it on Friday, and of course I had more shorter sessions.

So, pretty solid week practice wise; nothing stellar, but it was fine. One thing that I noticed when practicing was doing the regular Dantian Gong: at the end, I feel kind of reluctant about doing the Wu Ji at the end, and it’s because I feel that it’s going to make me sink my torso in a way that feels different / tired. And that in turn probably means that I’m holding my torso wrong during Dantian Gong, that I’m not relaxing enough, because I don’t think the feeling in my torso should change significantly in that particular way.

I’d also put off the next lesson in Damo’s Tai Chi course for another week, because it felt like a useful one and I hadn’t really spent much time with it. I spent a bit of time with it this week; but, honestly, my conclusion is that I need everything to go right for me to spend even a vaguely acceptable amount of time on that course, and I basically never actually dive into it. I’m glad I’ve spent the time that I have with that course, but a big part of what I’ve learned is an understanding how the Tai Chi system he teaches is different from Chen Tai Chi (significantly more/different emphasis on Song, significantly less emphasis on the Dantian); so if I really want to learn Damo’s system, it’s not just going to be learning a few forms, it’s going to be putting in significant effort like learning a different martial art. And I don’t want to spend that kind of time on it now; if I were to spend more time on something on my days off, I’d rather spend it playing piano. Or, if I’m going to do something Tai Chi related, maybe find a way to spend time on push hands.

Not much to report on my regular Tai Chi: continuing to chip away, the Guan Dao and the Hunyuan 48 both continue to be a bit hard to learn in real time, but I think I’m keeping up with them pretty well by reviewing videos. I’d hoped to have my teacher look at my form last Saturday, but he was busy; hopefully that will happen this Saturday.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 15, 2022

Mar 15 2022

This week’s Nei Gong lesson was on a new form of Dantian Gong; this one, instead of being focused on building up the Dantian as a container, was focused on adding more Qi to your Dantian. Which, interestingly, meant that you don’t want to stretch you Lao Gong as much during this exercise: you need to stretch it a bit to build the connection between your hands and Dantian, but if you stretch them too much, apparently that makes the boundary of your Dantian hard to pass through.

Anyways, interesting exercise: when learning it, I was pretty surprised how quickly / strongly my hands locked into my Dantian, given how far apart they were, and in general it got my Dantian feeling kind of buzzy? warm? Not sure how to describe it, but unusual at any rate. I won’t necessarily chalk that all up to this exercise, since I was feeling some of that after the previous exercise, but this one is definitely helping.

I was hoping to do it more, because it sounded like something you could do for a while. Unfortunately, my practice routine wasn’t great this week; I was working M-W this week and taking Th-F off, but unfortunately I felt mildly sick on Thursday, so I didn’t get serious Nei Gong practice in either day. (I think either a cold or just side effects from being tired; I took a COVID test on Friday and it was negative.) That also meant that I didn’t spend more time practicing stuff from Damo’s Tai Chi course this week, which I’d been hoping to do. So I’m not going to do new lessons in either course this week, to give them more time.

Saturday Tai Chi was good; I led Silk Reeling, which surprised me a bit, I thought it hadn’t been that long since my last turn? I’d been thinking I should ask Tony for advice on what to work on next, though, so it’s good timing. And we had Sunday Tai Chi this week as well. It continues to be the case that both the Hunyuan 48 and the Lao Jia Guan Dao are being surprisingly hard for me to pick up on the fly, but I’ve got good videos of both, so I’m managing to keep up with them both. And I do enjoy both forms; they make sense once I’ve learned them, they just take a surprisingly long time to learn.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 8, 2022

Mar 08 2022

This week’s lesson in Damo’s course was continuing the Qi Mobilization series, this time doing the sixth Ji Ben (Diagonal Flying). Pretty interesting one: he was pointing out how that one reinforces your central channel, and indeed if I focus on that during the rest position in the exercise (e.g. stretching my middle fingers), I feel a bit of a stretch in the middle of a body and a tingling at the top of my head. And then when I do the forceful version of the exercise (as with all the Qi Mobilization exercises, there are three versions), I get this interesting feeling like there’s a sheet stretching out. And then, in the final version, it’s nice feeling my arms mostly stretch out on their own.

In terms of general practice, another very good week. I got in three hours on both Wednesday and Friday; and on Wednesday, I did the full Dantian Gong set in a single session. So that’s more than an hour of standing; I need to keep on working on long standing sessions, but that’s an accomplishment. Nothing else that was particularly notable individually, but it’s good to feel like chipping away is helping. And in general I’m feeling like my Dantian is ambiently buzzing a bit more, so hopefully that’s a sign that I’m building things up too. (I did also keep on going with the previous sitting exercise, doing it most days, maybe even every day.)

A new lesson in Damo’s Tai Chi course; it covered Wu Song Shan Fa 3, another way to get at that system’s take on Song. And it felt maybe a little more effective than some of the other ones, I could feel stuff moving across my chest? I am starting to feel like it would be good for me to put in more time into those classes; e.g. I feel like I haven’t been doing Taiyi standing enough, and then actually I realized I’d forgotten the details of that exercise. Not entirely sure where to fit that in; at the very least, I should put in a more serious practice on Sundays, probably going through a couple of different exercises.

My regular Tai Chi is going okay; I feel like my Xin Jia has stopped improving and is in danger of degrading, though, so I should put in a little more effort to shore that up. And I should also find a good Xin Jia video to help with that, the ones that I’ve been using so far are a little hard to learn from…

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