Archive for June, 2020

Nei Gong Notes, June 30, 2020

Jun 30 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in Damo’s course was on Thickening the Qi: some exercises where you move your hands up and down your torso with Lao Gong open. At first I thought that my Qi, unsurprisingly, wasn’t yet concentrated enough to notice that, and I’m not getting the kinds of physical movements that he does. But, actually, if I do it after something else to gather the Qi, then I feel something inside, and even pretty strongly, enough to make me somewhat nauseous. So yay, stuff is getting connected inside and Qi is thickening, or something.

And I’m still working on the previous exercise, about extending your awareness past your skin instead of inside your body; I still don’t feel like I’m good at doing that exercise, but I’m getting something out of it, it’s being more interesting than it had been the previous week.

Still having trouble with my stamina during Wu Ji. Last Thursday went well (at least by current low standards) I managed 15 minutes, but then Friday was quite rough, and Saturday’s class was rough too. Yesterday went well, but it also felt like a bit much, and I had rough sleep last night and felt like I was coming down with a cold. So: still pushing away, and I don’t really understand what happened yesterday / last night…

In the Saturday Nei Gong class, we went over the third and fourth Ji Ben; and this week was Sunday Tai Chi, I skipped the second form (I needed to walk Widget), but did the Xinjia.

And I’ve listened to the first two lectures on the Microcosmic Orbit course. Interesting stuff; too advanced for me right now, but I’ll probably listen to the rest?

And one point from that: I really do need to get my breathing better. In retrospect, I think I actually need to work on having it be consistently low (“At Ease”), that’s my next step rather than slowing it. Doesn’t really matter too much, it’s not an active process, I just need to observe consistently…

On a related note, one of the things I really like about Damo’s course is how focused he is on getting basic concepts / capabilities down. The in-person courses from local teachers are very useful for getting my positioning and the like correct, but my experience of them feels more like collecting random forms. Whereas the weekly lessons from Damo feel very different: yes, you’re learning different movements every week, but there’s also this consistent throughline of working on more fundamental capabilities: work on your breathing, locate your Dantian, improve your Dantian’s ability to contain Qi, build Qi in your Dantian, start moving it around. That helps me think, and also helps give me guidance on what to work on next, how much time to spend on different activities.

My back is mostly over the problems it had a week ago: I think changing shoes helped. And I’m also still definitely feeling like I should be getting back to doing more Tai Chi; I put in some good practice yesterday, at least.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 23, 2020

Jun 23 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Rough practice this week. I’ve been trying to stand a little lower when doing Wu Ji: paying attention to my hands during Compressing the Pearl, I think I had been moving my center of gravity down to my navel instead of my Dantian. (This week I was also trying to pay attention to the inside of my body and see if I got the sort of bright sensation I get when contacting my Dantian there; sometimes I do?) And, for whatever reason, that is making Wu Ji a lot more tiring: I’m more tired after 10 minutes of standing than I had been after 25 minutes. And, to make matters worse, I’m also trying to fold in my right Kua a bit more, which sometimes makes it ache, and also my shoes had been wearing out in ways that affected my back. So, basically, practice was more painful this week than normal, which meant it was shorter.

I think it’s getting better now, though? I’m realizing that yeah, I have to build my stamina back up: if 10 minutes is where I’m at (and based on how bad I smell from sweating after those 10 minutes, it’s not entirely me being wimpy!), then that’s where I’m at, I just have to get it up to 11 minutes, 12, 13. Which is where I’m at today, and actually the first 10 minutes weren’t so bad today, so that’s an improvement?

But I also do feel like I’m out of in other ways: e.g. it had been the case that I’d felt surprising internal sensations when doing silk reeling, but now that’s not happening any more? And, in general, I haven’t been doing as much silk reeling during meetings or as much Tai Chi. So I need to spend more time on those.

Which I’m doing a little? And today was pretty good: more Wu Ji than I had been doing, did a few other kinds of meditation, did a bit of Tai Chi. My start of the morning meditation has been going well in general: I’ve settled on a routine of sinking down to my Dantian for maybe 5 minutes then just trying to leave my attention there while I calm down my breathing. And I’ve been working on the exercise from the last couple of weeks of expanding my awareness out from my body; still not good at it, but I’m better than I was, so that’s good.

One thing I noticed while doing Tai Chi: at the end of Dantian Change, when moving your hands apart, my right knee was collapsing slightly, I should fix that.

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VGHVI Minecraft, May 28, 2020

Jun 20 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I didn’t do any building last month, and didn’t even take many pictures, we were mostly talking a bunch. A few random pictures from flying around:

Some of Dan’s older structures that I’d forgotten about.

I’d forgotten that one of the library buildings had this pretty roof on it.

That horizontal slab looks more threatening to me each time I see it, now it reminds me of a Star Destroyer. And then there’s the vertical wall next to it; not sure if I read it as threatening or defensive or just there…

I think I took this picture because of what looks like a cloud of gnats or something on the horizon. (It’s probably smoke?)

Roger has added a window at one end of the cathedral.

I had some visitors!

That really does not look very safe.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 16, 2020

Jun 16 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

The topic in the Academy this week was a seated exercise sending your awareness outside your body, stretching farther beyond your skin a few millimeters at the time. Which I’m finding surprisingly hard to do: my awareness keeps on getting stuck just behind my skin, on places like the hairs on my arms.

Though I haven’t practiced it as much as I’d like: I felt on Thursday like I was on the edge of coming down with a cold. I ended up being fine (though I was very sleepy on Friday), but I only did maybe half of my normal practice the next few days, and I didn’t participate nearly as much in the Saturday Nei Gong class as normal. Getting back to normal practice now, though standing is being hard; some of the latter might be because I’m trying to stand lower than I had been, admittedly.

Because of that, I think I’m not going to start a new lesson this week: I’ll take advantage of the somewhat self-paced potential of online course and practice the current set of stuff for another week.

When doing seated stuff, I’ve often been working on just sinking, and that’s been a good choice. Partly because the sinking can sometimes be very intense: it creates a quite strong tug on the back of my neck, and gets my mind in interesting places. But also it seems like it might be being helpful on building up my Dantian: I was feeling an unusual amount of tingling around there today, for example. Might be a coincidence, but it seems like the direction I want to go in?

One thing I noticed while doing Wu Ji over the weekend is that I looked a little bit turned sideways in the mirror, even though my feet seemed like they were lined up appropriately. I think what’s going on was that I’m not folding into my right Kua quite as much as my left? So I’m working on that.

Not doing as much Tai Chi as I’d like, but I’ve done it a couple of times while Liesl was walking Widget. And I’m trying to alternate between starting with the Lao Jia first form (hopefully going through it three times) and following up with the Lao Jia second form, versus starting with the Xin Jia first form and following up with the Jian. I’d been skipping those last two too much; hopefully I can get back to where I finish off the Jian form and at least don’t slip further back with Xin Jia…

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Nei Gong Notes, June 9, 2020

Jun 09 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s topic for the Internal Arts Academy was some standing exercises for building the Dan Tian. Which is good: building that is something that I definitely need work on, but I could also use more standing practice, just to work on my ability to stand in Wu Ji or similar postures for longer. The new exercise had four parts, so I’m doing 5 minutes of Wu Ji, 5 minutes in each of the parts, and then maybe another couple of minutes of Wu Ji; so 25 minutes or maybe a little more, good to have that bumped up from the 20 minutes I had been doing the last few weeks. And most days I’m doing a couple of the Ji Ben Qi Gong exercises after that; and frequently at the end of the work day I’m fitting in some time for the seated Dan Tian exercises.

Still not seeing a particular effect of this Dan Tian work most of the time. In the start of the morning sitting, I’ve been going back to just working on breathing, because I’m still nowhere near hitting the stage where I’m having my breathing get naturally longer. Though today I decided to work on sinking my awareness first, and that was kind of interesting; felt like the breathing was naturally deeper, and more twinges on my Dan Tian than normal? So I’ll stick with that for the next week and see how it goes.

One surprise that I noticed this week is that I’m naturally starting to tuck my pelvis more: e.g. when I go down into a squat, my butt starts curving under a little instead of going out back. So that’s cool, and presumably a sign that I’m starting to relax more there.

We had the second week of the online Nei Gong classes from our local teachers. We were going over Compressing the Pearl, and I asked about the fact that my hands lose contact at the bottom of the arc. They said I wasn’t going deep enough, so I guess my sense of how high I am needs to be a little more tweaked; and when I went a little deeper, I did keep contact further, but I also noticed that some of that contact manifested in feeling like I was spreading sideways in my Ming Men. Which seems like a good thing?

Haven’t been doing Tai Chi as much: I didn’t do it at all this weekend, in fact. Though I did do it on two weekday end of the afternoons; I’ll try to keep that up? And one unrelated thing that I had been doing on Sundays has now come to an end, so I’ll have a little more time on Sundays, hopefully I’ll be able to slot in Tai Chi there. My back was feeling a little achy today, which made me think that I would probably be helped by exercising a bit more, even setting aside the other potential benefits of Tai Chi.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 2, 2020

Jun 02 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Feels weird to be writing this now. But anyways: my local Nei Gong teachers have decided to hold online classes over Zoom for an hour and a half for the next few weeks, this Saturday was the first one. They were focusing on the kua, so they had us spend a lot of time standing, folding into the kua, and seeing what that felt like. Which was surprisingly interesting; I got a much better feel for the pressure of my hip on my kua, what that feels like; and I think it probably also means that I’m doing a better job of relaxing that part of my body?

This week’s lesson on the Internal Academy was about shutting down at the end of practice; not a big topic, and one I’d seen before. So it’s not changing my practice routine particularly, I’m focusing on my breathing and locating / building my Dantian, mostly the former.

And the recommended side lectures for this part of the course are on the Heavenly Streams, i.e. channels. I went through a few of them; interesting, theory so far instead of practice, the one on the Five Pulses was material that wasn’t at all familiar to me and seemed like it might be interesting to experience internally? And then it talked about a set of Qi Gong exercises that I haven’t seen before, and I liked the conceptual framing. Looking ahead in the main course, I see those will show up there a few weeks from now, so I’m pausing watching those lectures; just as well, I’d been thinking I should rewatch some of the earlier parts of the main course, so this is a good excuse.

I’ve been slacking off on my Tai Chi: done it a little bit, but only a very little bit. Silk Reeling is starting to feel reliably fairly intense, though, so that’s something.

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