Archive for May, 2020

Nei Gong Notes, May 19, 2020

May 19 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in the Nei Gong course involved an exercise called “Connecting the Hands” where you rotated your hands in a way that’s supposed to help build up the Dantian. Damo said this week was particularly important, so I’ve shifted some of my seated meditation time over to this. Maybe it’s helping a little bit, I might be getting a little more of a tingle down there than I was a week before? Hard to say.

And then in the parallel track of stuff from the library, I’ve finished the videos going into Wu Ji in detail and gone through the Ji Ben Qi Gong. Lots of stuff there that I’ve been doing wrong: e.g. in Flying Hands, my hands were flying too much, and my hands going up are supposed to be close to my body with my Lao Gongs facing the body. Or in Upholding the Moon, you’re supposed to really bend your spine and neck going forward, and have your hands cross over each other so the Lao Gongs are on top of another, and then going up you’re supposed to bend your spine in the other direction so the front of your spine opens up. There’s more stuff I was getting wrong, e.g. in the ones in the second half I feel like I was behaving too much like I’d expect from Silk Reeling. So I’m trying to do them differently now, but I’ll probably want to return to those videos in a month or so.

There’s also the question of how to find time for all of this, since even only six weeks into the course I could fill up an hour of practice time even without Ji Ben Qi Gong. I asked about that, and was advised to think about my practice routine on a weekly basis: don’t try to practice everything every day, but do try to loop back over the week. So I’ve squeezed things a bit to find some time to do a couple of the Ji Ben each day, that seems workable for now. (But I also feel like maybe I should be spending more time on the Connecting the Hands exercise…)

I’m also trying to pay more attention to the height of my center of gravity: the Wu Ji talks mentioned that, and that’s pretty key to the first three Ji Ben exercises, too. And I think I am starting to get a better feel for that; and I also feel like my Wu Ji stance had been a little bit high, with my center of gravity more at the height of my navel than my Dantian. So I’m trying to stay lower (though I keep on popping up!); it feels like it’s helping my breathing be in a better location? Though, honestly, Wu Ji is still kind of strenuous to me, so my breathing is basically never super relaxed… I’m also trying to pay a little bit more attention to the connection between my shoulders/elbows/hands and my feet, and I thought I was doing okay at that, but then today I realized I could relax my shoulders noticeably more and then the connection felt quite a bit stronger. So I guess I hadn’t been doing okay at that!

We had the Sunday Tai Chi class this week. My notes from the Pao Chui section of that: in the Large Forearm Fist / Small Forearm Fist moves, you should tense while your hand is going out and relax while it’s going to the middle. (So this is different from Hand Maneuvers in the first form, where it’s tense on the bottom and relaxed on the top.) In Large Forearm Fist it’s more the upper part of the arm that gets the energy (going as high up as the shoulder), in Small it’s more the part of the arm near the hand. Also, when shaking after Ride the Dragon Backward, I realized my right foot was moving a little forward, I think I should work on having my right foot land next to my left foot so I can stay vertical.

Haven’t been doing Tai Chi on weekdays or Saturdays over the last couple of weeks; that is a gap. The lockdown might ease up here soon, hopefully we’ll be able to safely restart the Saturday class, though even if the Tuesday class restarts I’m not sure I’ll join it. (At least if it’s inside, though in the late summer it’ll probably be outside.)

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Nei Gong Notes, March 12, 2020

May 12 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s topic in the Nei Gong course was about locating your Dantian. I won’t exactly say that it was farther back than I expected, since I’m used to it being towards the middle of your torso (and maybe feeling farther back than that), but it’s farther back than I’d been paying attention to during breathing exercises. And I also won’t say that I 100% have it located: at first I was happy because I’d found one of the three possible signs Damo mentioned (feeling nauseous) when I put my attention in the right place, but then I realized that I felt slightly nauseous whenever I move my body far enough back in my abdomen, so that didn’t seem associated with a single point. I still think the farthest forward where I feel nauseous is probably basically the right place, and sometimes I think there’s a little vibration there, or sometimes other sorts of oddness, but I’m not 100% sure I’ve got it right.

Anyways, these days when I sit at the start of the day, I’m starting off by working on quieting / sinking my breathing, and then locating my Dantian. No particular progress on the breathing front, it’s not getting any longer or anything. It has sometimes been interesting walking after that, because sometimes my mind does get a little stuck down there; on the Dantian, in particular, which I guess is another possible sign that I’m finding the right place?

And I’ve made it through the videos in the library breaking down parts of Wu Ji; that’s been quite interesting. The discussion of your shoulders talks about sliding your shoulder blades so they line up flush with the back of your rib cage instead of jutting out; I’m realizing I can do that, and it helps the top of my torso feel good. In general, the shoulder blade rotations are paying off; it had been the case in the past when doing Wu Ji that I felt like something was going on in my shoulder blades, but also it was causing them to ache, whereas now I feel much less ache and much more movement. (When I’m doing the shoulder blade rotations now, my shoulder blades come pretty close to touching!)

But also I’m continuing to pay attention to sinking my pelvis (and it’s going pretty far down, though it takes a while), having my neck go up and out, and also I was reminded about sinking my Tian Tu. And I’m managing to do that last one much more effectively now; I get a pretty serious stretch on the back of my neck (both up and down, I try to maintain an active up component but sinking my pelvis pulls it down pretty hard), and a good sink on the front of my rib cage as well. I think the shoulder blade positioning helps the sink in back be in the right place, too? It really does feel like parts of my spine are opening up, especially my neck; and on Saturday in particular all afternoon I was noticing my body feel different.

In the section about your hands, he mentioned feeling the stretch start to go up your arms, so I’m trying to use that as a guide for how much to stretch. And, in feeling out the center of gravity stuff, I’m thinking that I should probably be a little bit lower than I had been? Also, when tilting my torso forward (for spine purposes, not for purposes of where weight hits my feet) I should tilt from my Kua instead of my feet.

And then there’s this stuff about feeling connections from your shoulders / elbows / hands to your Kua / feet. I feel like that’s the next thing to explore; it might even be the topic of this week’s lecture in the main course? I’ll find out…

I’m also getting tired of having tight hamstrings, so I’ve gotten in the habit of trying to touch my toes when my watch tells me to stand up. I think it’s having an effect, though I also don’t feel like I’m super close actually being able to touch my toes.

I did do some Tai Chi one evening last week while Liesl was walking Widget; and I practiced on Sunday, too. And I watched a Jian video; I really am very close to the end of that form, I should just go learn the last couple of moves.

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VGHVI Minecraft, April 30, 2020

May 10 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Pictures from April:

 

I’d been working on a cave with natural stairs last time; I’d cleaned up the stairs, so the question is what to do next.

First, I looked around some:

Here are the stairs.

There’s a neat garden up the stairs with a sunken tree.

Looking back from above the stairs, so you can see the other buildings in the area.

There’s a little nook on the right side of the entrance.

I don’t have the before pictures, but I had to push out the wall on the left side in this picture by a few blocks so it matched the right side.

There’s quite a bit more cave on the other side.

 

So that’s me taking the lay of the land. (And bumping out one of the walls a bit.) But I wanted to do something with the stairs: maybe add in colors or something? I experimented with a few different blocks:

How about blue steps?

Or maybe red steps and blue on the sides?

Darker sides look better.

Or I could add in some gold to make it flashier.

While I’m in the area, let’s put in some furniture in that nook.

I didn’t like the gold, so I went back to the darker sides.

Honestly, I’m not super in love with that; I might get rid of the red and go back to something plainer. Or maybe it would look fine if I put more exciting stuff on the ground inside?

 

Roger was with us for Minecraft for the first time in a while, chipping away again on his cathedral.

Here’s what the cathedral looks like.

Adding some wood on the top.

Here’s the view at the other end.

A picture from further out.

Starting to make the top level wider.

Some random picture I took in the area; I think it’s maybe near that weird cliff with lava in it? At any rate, a view of sunset through a hole going through a mountain.

 

Meanwhile, Dan was continuing his more abstract shapes.

A cube and a line. Which raises the question: shouldn’t there be a square? Like, we’re skipping straight from one dimension to three dimensions? (Hmm, maybe also a single block somewhere to be the zero-dimension case.)

A closeup of the cube.

A view up the pillar.

The cube has sprouted; I guess it wasn’t supposed to be a geometrical abstraction after all…

 

And Ariel was continuing to work on their palace.

Approaching the palace; I now know where it is well enough to be able to fly there instead of just teleport.

A view from a higher angle.

More structure on the lower floor.

Starting to work on some spiral stairs.

Now the stairs go all the way up.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 5, 2020

May 05 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Not much to say this week. This week’s lesson in the Nei Gong course was on Wu Ji; so not a new concept, and in fact something that I’d already been going over because of the supplementary material, but an important one. One thing I was wondering about there was whether I should have my knees quite so wide: I’d been thinking they should be a little wide, but it sounded like maybe my legs should be going straighter from my hips?

Still working on my breathing, and I’m still feeling it’s not as locked in as it sometimes felt the first half-week I was working on that lesson. My breathing is going fairly far down, but it seems like it wants to be at or just above my navel instead of a little below that? Eventually it usually gets there, but it takes a while. Though something interesting happened today: it got to a reasonable location, then I was just kind of sitting there, then all of a sudden it felt like my consciousness was expanding and my breathing slowed way down. Observing more, my consciousness wasn’t necessarily expanding: it was rising, but not out of me, more rising from my Dantian to my head. So it actually ended up where it normally lives; it did feel broader than normal, though. And the slowed breathing was definitely unusual.

I actually didn’t do any Tai Chi all week: normally I’m managing to do some on Sunday, but for various reasons it didn’t quite work out this past weekend. I’m okay doing it a little less, but I’m not okay not doing it at all; and I’m actually vaguely wondering if the reason why I’m not feeling as much interesting stuff during Wu Ji might be linked to me not doing as much Tai Chi? So I’m thinking that, on evenings when Liesl walks Widget instead of me, I should do some Tai Chi then; also, I’m close to being done with one of the things I’ve been spending time on during the weekends, so towards the end of the month I should have a little more time.

As far as Wu Ji goes, I’m still mostly doing 25 minutes, though I did 30 minutes on Saturday without a problem and would have been fine doing 30 minutes on Sunday as well if I hadn’t been busy. Some days I’m too sleepy to be up for 30 minutes or even 25 minutes, and also 25 minutes works a little better with my sleep schedule, so for now I’m mostly sticking with 25. One thing I have noticed is that I seem to be getting better at stretching my spine in what I think is the right way during Wu Ji, and that’s actually carrying over to other aspects of my life: sometimes when I’m just out for a walk I’ll notice that my spine feels solid, and even energized. So that’s nice, that my spine is going from being actively problematic to potentially actively healthy.

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