Archive for January, 2021

Nei Gong Notes, January 26, 2020

Jan 26 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week for practice. This week’s lesson was on Song breathing, and it was a follow-up from the previous week on anchoring the breath; basically, start from the feeling you get from the previous week, and then try to release on outbreaths, using your hands to help. This depends on building up the mudra from anchoring the breath, which I can’t say I think I have super well established, so I did both parts most days.

Damo also talked about some of the physical signs you’ll see when doing Song breathing, once you get good at it: vibrations in the hands, then feelings in other parts in your body as you release tension and clear blockages. He says it doesn’t take too long to start getting to that stage, maybe a few weeks; I’m certainly not there yet, but I feel like it’s probably worth trying to get there? So I’ll try to work both anchoring the breath and Song breathing into my practice routine, instead of always doing Calm-Abiding. (But I really do want to get back to Calm-Abiding, I hope that this week’s lesson isn’t yet another seated meditation…)

Practice-wise, I’m adding in the Tai Chi form (three times through the first form, once in the middle of the week); actually, it felt good enough this time that I went through the form a fourth time. And this weekend I did Wu Ji for 40 minutes on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday felt good, probably because I’d gotten a quite solid sleep the previous night; I might have been taking it a little easy on my height in the Wu Ji, but in general my body felt like it was doing interesting things? Sunday didn’t feel quite as good, which I suspect is because I was a little sleepier. I have actually been thinking that I’d get something interesting out of Wu Ji if I push myself until I’m more tired than I’m comfortable, but, if so, I don’t think being sleepy helps, I think it’s just physical tiredness that might help me relax muscles in useful ways.

I’m also thinking I should spend more time doing seated work: I’m kind of ignoring most of those lessons, but e.g. for the Song breathing, maybe the exercise from a month or so back about moving energy through your fingers and arms would be useful? And I’m only doing standing Dantian Gong, but some people in the Facebook group were saying that both seated and standing are useful, for different reasons. I used to do more seated work when the course started, but I’ve stopped other than my morning meditation; the main reason for that is because seated work is harder to focus on when I’m tired, and that’s true and still something I have to worry about, but on days when I’m not so tired, I think I should try to work in some of the seated practice.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 19, 2021

Jan 19 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Last week, my Nei Gong really wasn’t going well; I wasn’t sure whether it was because I was tired or because my back was hurting or because I was standing two low, or maybe those factors were related. So I tried to work on all three; only so much I can do about being tired, though I did at least talk to my allergist and get one idea. Back-wise, I skipped doing Dantien Gong last week (hard to do when I’m feeling achy and tired anyways) and did Tai Chi over lunch two or three times; that felt good. And also I did some Coiling Snake most days; I really do feel like that helps my back, I had several times when I was out for a walk and my back felt actively happy. And, finally, I actively tried to stand higher.

And it helped! I was quite iffy at the start of the week, but by the time the weekend hit, my back was basically feeling fine, and my brain had stopped recoiling at the idea of doing Wu Ji for more than 10 minutes. So on Saturday I planned to do it for 25 minutes and actually did it for 30, and on Sunday I did it for 35; and on one of those days I followed it up immediately with 10 minutes of Coiling Snake and 5 more minutes of Wu Ji. And it felt good: nice tingly feelings, basically comfortable the whole time, and I got back into a feel where the dominant feeling was more my bones fitting together into a nice framework and being kind of floaty.

So hopefully I can stick with that feeling; and I’m also kind of feeling that, at a low-key level, I really am tensing my legs basically all the time without realizing it? If I can hone in on that feeling enough to relax my legs more, that will be useful. Anyways, back to my normal routine now, though I’m thinking I’ll try to do Tai Chi over lunch once a week midweek as well.

As for Damo’s class, this week’s class was on “Attention Vs. Intention”, which was a sitting breathing exercise that I think is the same as the Anchoring the Breath that he and his students frequently recommend? So I was glad to have learned that, and I’ll probably try to keep on working it into my practice a couple of times a week. To jog my future memory, the sequence is nostrils, sinus cavities, throat, collarbones, chest, diaphragm, abdomen, then link it all together, and then add in a mudra.

Sunday Tai Chi; I should sink more when doing Wrap and Change to Cannon. (Not just sink inside my body, but actually squat down more when doing the change.)

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Nei Gong Notes, January 12, 2021

Jan 12 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

This week started off okay; Damo’s lesson was on an exercise for stretching your diaphragm, which I’d seen him talk about in a Zoom class, vaguely thought “I should probably do that, my diaphragm is a little tight”, and then forgotten about it. So it’s good to see it again, and it’s good to have a small thing to work on.

And then the first half of the week, I did my usual exercises and stuff, and that was fine. But then I had a day when I decided to try a longer Wu Ji over lunch, and that really wasn’t happening: I was sweating and had my heart racing before I hit 10 minutes, and aside from being unpleasant, that’s a sign that something is seriously off in my body positioning or behavior or something.

Exactly what was off wasn’t so clear, though. I was tired; maybe that has that effect? And my back had been hurting; maybe that was making my muscles tense up in ways that prevented me from relaxing correctly or had me unconsciously standing in a bad position. Or maybe I was just standing too low.

I’m still not sure what was going on, but the weekend wasn’t any better; and even my upper torso felt off, I wasn’t managing to get a good effect from trying to relax the top of my shoulders. The back pain is clearly bad, though: I don’t know if it’s causing problems with my Wu Ji (and actually in the past sometimes Wu Ji has helped with it, now that I think about it), but it might be, and it’s not pleasant either way. Not that it’s horrible or anything, but still, worth fixing. And actually it wasn’t really just back pain: part of it was in my right kua, which feels like it might have been triggered by me trying to relax that more and change my positioning? That part feels worth waiting out, though who knows.

So I’m thinking I should maybe do a bit more Tai Chi: I actually did that over lunch today instead of doing a real Nei Gong session. But also I’m thinking I’m probably standing too low again: that’s certainly reliably led to that sort of sweating in the past, and maybe it’s also causing muscle pain? So I’ll experiment with standing higher; and actually the little bit of Wu Ji I did today was better, my upper torso in particular felt better.

One other thing I was thinking of was that the time when I was feeling like things were going well a few weeks back happened to coincide with when I was doing Coiling Snake, and in particular my back felt actively good then. Maybe that’s not a coincidence? So I’ve been trying to work that into my end-of-the-afternoon practice more often than not; short sessions, since I’ve been feeling bad, but hopefully it will help.

One thing I noticed doing Tai Chi today: the last time my teacher reviewed my form, one of the things that he pointed out was that my arms weren’t properly going over my head during Thrust with the Right Foot and/or Thrust with the Left Foot. I’ve been working on it, and noticed that it went better in Left Foot than Right foot; and today I noticed that I wasn’t turning my torso as much on the Left Foot as on the Right foot; when I turned it more, my arm seemed to arc over the top more naturally.

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VGHVI Minecraft, December 2020

Jan 10 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

The December Minecraft session was our last regular one; I decided that I would build some nether train tracks (nether to compress distances) between the main area and Pat’s floating city, because his city was far enough away that I didn’t really know how to get to it otherwise.

We then ran into a wrinkle where Pat wasn’t online and I didn’t have the coordinates written down; I ended up spending up most of an hour understanding the binary format used for player saved data files, so that I could figure out what the last coordinates were of his avatar. (If you end up in this situation in the future, the first thing to know is that it’s gzipped…) Which was kind of fun! And, fortunately, it left me just enough time to build the tracks, things really are a lot shorter in the nether.

One last view of the main city.

Yay, I teleported to the right place!

There’s an island in the water below the city, so I ended up putting the portal there.

This creature was new to me, it must have been added since the last time I wandered around in the nether.

Here’s the end of the train tracks at the portal connected to the floating city.

And here’s the other end of the tracks, connected to the train station by the portal near the spawn point.

Three train lines running in parallel; the middle one is the new one, the other two are two separate lines leading to the forest city.

A closer view of two of the train tracks.

One more view of the floating city, at sunset.


Ariel added some stained glass windows to their castle.

Contemplating in the greenhouse.

Side one of stained glass windows.

Side two of stained glass windows.

Side three of stained glass windows.

Side four of stained glass windows.

I like this little pond here, would be fun to do something with it.


So, with that, we’re pausing the Minecraft sessions; I’m not deleting anything, I imagine we’ll come back occasionally, once or twice a year, but who knows. I’ll see if I can generate a map of the current state of things, it’s been a while since I’ve done that.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 5, 2021

Jan 05 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Damo’s lesson this week was on eating. Interesting enough, but I don’t think it’ll particularly change my behavior at all; food is a group thing, and nothing I saw made me want to lobby for changes in what we eat.

Two extra days off again, which was kind of interesting; I really don’t manage to do as much Nei Gong as I’d like on Saturdays or Sundays, because of the habits around how we spend our weekend mornings, whereas Thursday and Friday were good days, even though I had to do a little extra napping / sleeping in so I didn’t feel tired. I did 40 minutes of Wu Ji on one of them, and in retrospect I wish I’d gone for 45 minutes, I wasn’t so exhausted or anything.

That was actually a kind of surprising Wu Ji session, because my legs weren’t happy from fairly early on. Normally, when that happens, I don’t last much longer, but this time, I kept on going for another 25 minutes or so. So maybe my stance and levels of habitual tension and what not have changed in such a way that, even though I’m standing lower and my legs notice that, the parts of my legs that are getting stressed are ones that have more of a reserve?

The down side is that my energy level was low enough over the weekend that I didn’t manage a second long session. And the other downside is that my legs are still feeling like they’ve been stressed a bit; though that’s probably as much upside as downside, because that’s how muscles adapt. I also still don’t feel like my stance is quite right in the shorter sessions: things get into place on the longer sessions in a way that I haven’t really learned to capture.

The other good thing this week is that I’m starting to get a better feel for an imbalance in my body: I’ve known for a while that my Wu Ji is tilted in a way that I can fix by relaxing my right kua, but now I’m realizing that that imbalance is present even when I’m basically standing straight up, and that’s helping me feel it better. So, still something I have to actively work on, but at least now I’m starting to be able to feel it better instead of depending on the mirror, which should help?

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