Archive for November, 2021

Nei Gong Notes, November 30, 2021

Nov 30 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in Damo’s course was another Qi Mobilization exercise. I was curious about what the next one of those would be, because the previous three had been based on gathering Qi in your Dantian by doing the first three Ji Ben Gong exercises (and then letting that Qi spring out into your limbs), but the remaining Ji Ben exercises don’t have the same Dantian focus.

It turns out, though, that the next one was doing the same thing with the fourth Ji Ben Gong exercise, and that I’d been misinterpreting something in the prior ones: the first one was using your Dantian as a pump, but the second one uses your sacrum and the third uses the base of your torso. (Which explains something that I’d been wondering about, it felt like I’d been gathering Qi a little lower in my body when doing the third one and, yup, that’s indeed true.)

So the fourth one is doing that as well, using your spine as a pump; the mechanics feel noticeably different, but the principle is the same. Though that pattern will apparently stop after the first four, Damo says that the second four Ji Ben exercises are doing something different.

Also, most of the time I put all four of those together, and sometimes I even did 5 minute segments instead of 3 minute segments, so it’s either 51 minutes or 85 minutes; good to have another long exercise set, though actually now I might be getting to have enough of those that it’ll take a while for me to cycle through them!

One thing that I forgot to mention last week was that Damo had posted a video giving some Tai Chi theory that finally pushed me over the edge to start his Tai Chi course. I’m not entirely sure that that’s wise, maybe ideally I would have made it through one or two more forms in my regular Tai Chi course before adding in a different version of Tai Chi, but hopefully it’ll be okay? And I’ll probably take the course more slowly, targeting a lesson every two weeks instead of a lesson every week.

Anyways, the first lesson was on the Tai Chi version of Wu Ji. Which I’d been wondering about for a while, so I was quite glad to see that right at the start. I knew the arm position was different; it also looks like you stand higher, instead of emphasizing the sinking into your kua? And there were some other more subtle principles; e.g. when sinking my tailbone, it feels like more of a Yao stretch rather than a neck stretch, and sinking my shoulder blades ends up feeding into my elbows a bit?

(On the note of sinking my tailbone, it feels like something has changed there, where I’m doing it more naturally now, and where I’m really feeling like things are lined up vertically in a different way, even when I’m not doing Wu Ji or something.)

In my regular Tai Chi course, the main new thing is working on push hands. We’re going through the single hand forms for now; I’d been thinking this week that I’d spend more time focusing on sinking into my feet, and I still think that’s a good idea, but actually the most interesting thing that happened was that I started feeling like there was a ball in my Dantian, and that it was rolling around a bit with incoming energy slipping off of it. That definitely seems like it’s worth pursuing, hopefully I’ll be able to build on that.

We’re having significant work done on our house for the next week or so, so who knows how much I’ll be able to practice this week; hopefully some but certainly not as much as normal, I don’t expect to have a long practice on either Wednesday or Friday this week in particular.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 23, 2021

Nov 23 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Busy week: I had to drive to an offsite on Wednesday afternoon and was there all day on Thursday. I got a decent Nei Gong practice in on Wednesday, at least, though Tai Chi suffered, and I did at least manage to do a little bit of practice on Thursday before the meeting started, so that’s something. And, in general, it was a fine practice week? I was mostly still working on the Hong exercise from last week, and I did manage to get the buzzing down into my Dantian at least some of the time, so that was nice. I still don’t feel like everything in that exercise is going super well, though, so I’m planning to try to keep returning to it periodically; we’ll see if I follow through with that in practice, though.

I also did the Jing Gong exercise again on Sunday; and I really did feel something bouncing around in my Dantian this time. At first, I thought it might just be mild muscle spasms or something, but it kept on going, and I’m pretty sure something more interesting really was going on. The bouncing wasn’t super strong or anything, but it was definitely there, in a way that I wasn’t feeling this summer.

This week’s lesson was on when to follow your instincts / dreams; pleasant analysis, though it honestly felt like it could have been a podcast episode? But I pretty much agreed with what Damo said; and I do also think like I’m doing a reasonable jobs of following my instincts in the situations where he recommends but not otherwise.

We started doing push hands in the Saturday Tai Chi course. And my main reaction there is: I have a lot to learn! If I had to pick one thing to work on, it would be in making a connection with my feet when my partner pushes on me.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 16, 2021

Nov 16 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Not as much Nei Gong this week as some previous weeks – Wednesday was an okay practice day but I had some house-related stuff which prevented me from doing a long practice. I had a long practice on Friday, though; I did the long version of the Metal exercise, so now I’ve gone through the long versions of those at least once. As expected, that one was a bit strenuous, so I didn’t manage to hold the second arm-raised position for 10 minutes, but at least I did the full 10 minutes on the first position.

I think I’ll do the concatenated short version of all of them, maybe once a week until I decide to stop that? And also my back isn’t feeling quite as active, so I might try to work in just the introductory bit into my practice a few other days a week, I really did feel like that helped with my back. Not that my back is doing badly or anything, it’s just not feeling actively good this past week.

Or maybe I just need to practice a bit more; my Dantian isn’t buzzing the way it had been, either. Hard to say. This week might not be great for practice either: I’ve got a work thing on Wednesday afternoon/evening and all day Thursday, so I probably won’t get as much practice done those days.

This week’s lesson was on a sound exercise, building on Bellows Breathing to get your Dantian buzzing. Which was pretty interesting, and I had glimpses of it doing something useful; but I also learned that I can’t sustain that sound for nearly as hard as I would have liked, and that it was hard getting the buzzing to the right place. I did at least make progress on that latter problem; I think I’ll probably just keep up the exercise for a second week in a row, since I think the next lesson is another theoretical one?

In terms of Tai Chi, I asked my teacher if we could start doing Push Hands on Saturday, and he agreed to that, so we should start that next week. And we did finally do the Golden Rooster section in Xin Jia, and I don’t think that will be too hard to firm up. So I’m almost done with that form, there’s just the bit at the end that I need to solidify; though based on recent experience, it’ll probably take a couple of months to get to that. (We actually did the Golden Rooster bit on Sunday instead of Saturday, so maybe that’s my teacher’s plan for helping us finish the form.)

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Nei Gong Notes, November 9, 2021

Nov 09 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

The good weeks continue. Last week I was thinking it was time to get back to 45 minute Wu Ji sessions; I did that on Wednesday, but I actually felt fine after 45 minutes, so I stayed in Wu Ji for another 15 minutes, making it the first time I’ve had an hour-long Wu Ji session. I don’t think I sunk quite as much as in my best sessions, and maybe I should have been a bit lower, but I also wasn’t phoning it in. And I actually could have gone a little longer if I’d wanted to; I should probably do this another time or two first, but maybe I should try a full 10-exercise Dantian Gong session pretty soon?

Also, on Sunday, I tried out the Jing Gong exercise from near the end of year 1 for the first time in a while. And I’m pretty sure I did feel something bouncing around in my Dantian while doing that? Not super strong, but distinct enough that I’m fairly sure I wasn’t imagining it. So I should start doing that once a week or so, to monitor (and hopefully advance) my potential progress there.

This week in the course was a theoretical lecture, on Clinging; interesting enough. It looks like those will be showing up every other week for the next couple of months; encouragement to work on consolidation, I guess, which is certainly fine with me. It was good to not have a new seated exercise to work on, so for the first time in almost two months I could get back to my previous seated exercises. Which I’m glad to be doing, they were good exercises! I’m still going through the longer versions of the seated five elements exercises, I did Fire and Earth this week; I’ll certainly go through Metal but then maybe I’ll switch to doing all five in a single stretch with a 3-minute timer once a week?

As for Tai Chi, in the posture in Hunyuan Dao where you do sort of a skewer motion over the left side, I should go forward somewhat, not straight over the side. And the corresponding posture in Laojia Dao is a block, up and a little forward.

I’m trying to spend more time working on my Xinjia when practicing at home. Which, on the one hand, is good, because I’ve got bits to improve! But, on the other hand, I’m getting a little frustrated that we seem to be stalled out on that in Saturday, I think it’s been two months since we’ve advanced in the form, and my teacher has started going back to the beginning of the form. I think he intends to continue with the final bits, but he hasn’t been finding time in the class to do both… I’m really close to the end, though, maybe I should just look at videos and read books and try to solidify the rest on my own?

We’ll be starting the spear next week, it’ll be good to learn that. I probably learned three-quarters of the form last time, though I haven’t been practicing it so I’ve forgotten how it went; should be well within reach to learn the whole thing this time.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 2, 2021

Nov 02 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Another good week for Nei Gong; maybe not quite as good as last week, but very solid. I’m finally done with learning the new Wu Xing seated sequence; this week’s lesson was on Bellows Breathing, a way to build up Qi in your Dan Tian. Kind of reminds me of the Nourishing the Jing exercise from a month and a half back, just with a different focus? And I tried doing an 80 minute version of the first two elements of the Wu Xing sequence on Wednesday and Friday; Wednesday was fine, but Friday was the Wood element, and some of the postures were a little physically strenuous, so I didn’t manage 10 minutes on every one of them. Still, it went pretty well; I’ll keep on going through those, though I imagine that, when I get to Metal, I’ll have a similar reaction. But once I’ve gone through the long version of each of them once, I think I might go back to doing them all in a row: I didn’t feel my Dantian buzzing quite as much after that exercise as I had when doing them all, and maybe it’s a little easier to maintain concentration when I’m changing moves every 3 minutes?

In general, though, between those longer exercises and the Bellows Breathing, my Dan Tian is feeling noticeably more active than normal. Not sure how much is due to what; I’ll probably want to keep on mixing in Bellows Breathing to keep that up?

I forgot to mention that, last week, my back felt really good; it’s fine this week but not quite as actively solid. So, when doing standing work, it takes me a little while to get to where things feel quite right, but I do get there eventually; in particular, yesterday and today, I did Dantian Gong even though I was feeling a little sleepy, and in the past that would frequently have caused me to do a short session, but now my legs are clearly up for it, so I ended up doing a longer-than-normal session instead of a shorter one, and in the Wu Ji at the end, my body really did feel like it was working together. So that was cool; probably means that I should try out a 45 minute Wu Ji session and see how that goes.

In terms of Tai Chi, we finished the Hunyuan Dao; we’ll be reviewing it for the rest of the month, but I feel pretty solid about it. Also, looking at the DVD, I think that, when doing the Kick with Two Legs in Lao Jia, I shouldn’t emphasize landing on the left leg: yes, I should land there than on both, but the right leg comes down soon after that, unlike in Xin Jia. In general, there’s stuff right around there that I should work on with Xin Jia; I’ve got the basic idea, but there are some details that I need to practice.

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