Archive for February, 2022

Nei Gong Notes, February 22, 2022

Feb 22 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

This week started out as my best practice week in a while. I liked the lesson in the Nei Gong class: continuing the seated bellows breathing / huiyin lesson from a few weeks earlier, with a change in the mudras; I’d been continuing the earlier lesson some of the time anyways, so I’m glad to have a way to level it up slightly.

And then on Wednesday morning I had a quite solid practice, over three hours; first time I’ve done that in weeks, and it felt good.

But then on Wednesday afternoon I got a shingles vaccination, and it unfortunately turns out that that messes you up in a similar way that the COVID vaccination does. So on Thursday and Friday I did minimal seated work and no standing work or Tai Chi; ditto for the Nei Gong on Saturday, though I went to most of the Saturday Tai Chi class.

But on Sunday I felt pretty normal; I didn’t do quite as long a practice as my regular Sunday morning practice, because I figured I should ease back into things, but I did at least do a solid 20 minutes of Wu Ji and the new seated lesson. And then things were normal after that; I had a good 45 minute Dantian Gong session over lunch today.

I’m not going to do a new Nei Gong lesson this week, though, and I also won’t do a new lesson in Damo’s Tai Chi course: I don’t want to rush stuff, and I definitely don’t feel like I’m ahead of the expected progress in the Nei Gong course.

In terms of my Tai Chi practice, I’m finding both the Guan Dao form and the Hunyuan 48 to be surprisingly hard to learn just in class. Fortunately, I’ve got videos of my teacher doing both of them, so if I go over the video enough time, I can learn them. I think the Hunyuan 48 video is only the beginning of that form, but it’s enough for now, and it turns out that my teacher has a DVD of that form, so I’ll be able to get the whole thing by the time that we reach that stage.

The other thing that’s going on is that I’ve decided that I spend enough time thinking about how to do the Silk Reeling Exercises well that I really should write something about that down. So I’ve started writing some notes that I’m planning to turn into a standalone website. We’ll see whether I really manage to find time for that, and how it turns out; I don’t actually want to explain the exercises, I want to assume that people already know the basics of those exercises, and that probably limits the audience to people who are students of my teacher and who like to read about that sort of thing, which isn’t a lot of people? But I do want to get this out of my head, so I think it’s worth doing anyways…

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Nei Gong Notes, February 16, 2022

Feb 16 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Better practice this week than the last couple: my Wednesday / Friday Nei Gong sessions weren’t quite as long as I’d like, but they weren’t bad, and on Monday and Tuesday I had solid practice over lunch at work. So hopefully I’m on an upswing from the recent dip.

This week’s lesson in the Nei Gong class was on settling the shoulders. Which is something I’ve been thinking about recently, and feel like I’m doing pretty well at; there was one new idea in the lesson, but in general, much less new in that lesson than normal. In fact, for the first time maybe since I’ve started the course, I actually didn’t do the new exercise every day during the first week after the lesson: there was a full moon, so I wanted to work in that practice, and I didn’t always have time to do a second meditation practice.

At first, the full moon practice felt basically identical to how it felt when I’d done it a week or two before the full moon: same stretch inside the body. But then I kind of relaxed and it actually felt milder? Not sure if that different feeling meant that it was more effective or less effective or just different, and I’m also not sure if it was related to the full moon or just a coincidence. Anyways, I’ve rescheduled my reminder for next month.

In Damo’s Tai Chi course, we did Wu Song Shen Fa 2 – another exercise on using Song to generate movement. I haven’t practiced it much, hopefully I’ll be able to work it in a few times this week.

We had the Sunday class in my regular Tai Chi course this week; we started the Guan Dao. So now I’m learning two completely new forms (that plus the Hunyuan 48), and getting the spear form back into my memory; hopefully that won’t be too much? I can report that the Guan Dao is heavy; and that when reviewing even the small bit of it and the Hunyuan 48 that I’ve seen so far, I basically immediately forgot what I just learned. Fortunately, I have good movies of both of those (though the Hunyuan 48 video is only the beginning, I think), and I think after watching those videos enough, I’ve more or less gotten those bits into my memory? We’ll see.

I also noticed that my legs ached a bit on Monday; not sure if that was caused by the Guan Dao, but it might be. And my body felt different on Monday in a different way. When walking, I felt a little like my feet were sticking well to the ground, and movements through my hips / butt / kua were more present? And also my torso felt like it was sinking more. If I’m optimistic, it might be a sign that I’m finally starting to get to the stage of flesh separating from bone that Damo talks about? I will continue to monitor it.

Damo’s having a 9 day Nei Gong retreat in June, and I did manage to get signed up for that; I’m really looking forward to it. It’s in Maryland, so I’ll have to fly across the country, but maybe being isolated will make it more effective as a retreat? Anyways, not much I can do about that: he’s not coming to the Bay Area this year, I’m just glad to go to an event of his at all.

It gives me motivation to get stuff in order so I’m prepared well to benefit from the retreat. So I’ll have to think of ways in which I want to go on a diet, mentally and physically. Speaking of which, I happened to listen to an interesting interview on the Ezra Klein show, talking to Johann Hari; among other things, they talked about just having more time to have your mind wander. Which made me think that I should do that more, especially while walking; means I should wean myself off of FlipFlop Solitaire, though…

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Nei Gong Notes, February 8, 2022

Feb 08 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a lot to say about Nei Gong this week. The lesson was titled “Full Moon Practice”, and I assumed it would be something that I didn’t care about, but actually I liked it: it was about a seated practice for opening up the Chong Mai, and it felt pretty interesting even when practicing it this week when the moon isn’t full. Damo says that it’s more effective right around the full moon, and that you feel some of that effect even doing it at home during the day (but you get more when doing it outside at night in view of the moon); honestly, I’m dubious about that sort of linkage, but I’ll be glad enough to have an excuse to do this practice a couple of times a month, so I’ll probably follow that recommendation anyways.

Other than that, I probably did the least amount of Nei Gong practice this past week that I have over the last couple of months; partly because of a dentist appointment last Wednesday, but also I’ve just been more tired than I would like. Though I have sometimes been doing a second seated practice even on non Wednesdays/Fridays, because the practice from the previous week seemed important and it only takes 15 minutes.

Tai Chi went well, though. I’m continuing to feel my Dantian as being more present, and feeling connections from it to other parts of my body, so I think I’m finally starting to understand this whole Silk Reeling concept. And I think I’ve figured out some things as well. In the step forward in Jing Gang that I’ve been thinking about over the last month or so, I think my perception of a symptom last week was right but the fix wasn’t, and my fix from a few weeks back also wasn’t right: it’s not so much that I should close my left Kua, but instead I should open up my right Kua. That way, I get in the correct position before stepping, and I feel a lot more stable. And in Oblique Posture, I think that, when coming up while opening my arms, I should pivot my body from lower down than I had been, closer to the pelvis instead of the middle of the back. That way, my tailbone naturally goes under the body, instead of requiring me to tuck it after the fact.

We’ve started the Hunyuan 48 form; unsurprisingly, the beginning is just like the beginning of the Hunyuan Dao form. I’m glad we’re doing that, it’s an interesting experience, much more flowy. And I’m also enjoying the spear, it feels fun in a way that’s different from the other weapons forms that I’ve learned.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 1, 2022

Feb 01 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Interesting week. In the Nei Gong course, we covered an exercise connecting your Huiyin to your Dantian; seemed similar conceptually to one of the earlier bits of his sequence of Microcosmic Orbit lectures, so we do seem to be getting closer to that. (I kind of doubt I’m really prepared for it, but who knows.) One thing that surprised me about this lesson was that Damo was pretty explicit about only doing it for 15 minutes; not used to that kind of recommendation.

Also, the previous week I finished reading Anatomy Trains; I honestly mostly skimmed it after about the first third or so, but I’m glad I read it. Not sure if it’s coincidence or if the book has had an effect on my perception of my body, but I’m noticing stretching caused by relaxation in a bunch of places in my body now; that certainly seems to be a good thing?

Not great Nei Gong practice this week in general: I continue to be more tired than normal, I’m not sure why, so I didn’t put in as much time as normal. Because of the new seated exercise, I also didn’t do the concentration exercise every day; more disappointingly, I had a hard time keeping it going when I did do it, probably because of the tiredness? Not sure if I’ll keep up that exercise or not; I was thinking that I’d do it for a couple of months, but now I’m wondering if it would be better for me to go back to one exercise from the first year about choosing which mental seeds to water, because that certainly seems relevant. Though, thinking about it a bit more, the issue right now is I think mostly just that I’m tired, which would have an effect no matter which one of those I do, so I should probably work on that and try to spend time on the Concentration exercise when I have good days.

(And I think I’ll continue to work in this week’s new exercise fairly frequently from now on, too.)

In Damo’s Tai Chi course, we continued with the four energies drill, this time having our body movements coming from relaxing to generate release. Which is a pretty interesting way of doing things, and one that doesn’t seem familiar from my regular Tai Chi course? Which, in turn, raised the question of whether I should work it into my regular Tai Chi as well or if I should treat that as a Yang thing that isn’t applicable to Chen. In particular, I think Chen is more focused on everything coming from your Dantian.

Thinking about that a bit more, I got to wondering about Cover the Hand Punch in Chen: Tony sometimes talks about that going from your foot to your kua to your hand, which is potentially consistent with having it generated by release but isn’t so consistent with having it come from your Dantian. So I asked Tony about that; he said that, actually, that was just a beginner way of doing things, it really should originate from your Dantian, going down both your arm and foot. So that’s making me pretty sure that I should try to keep the Yang and Chen stuff separate, and that using release to initiate movements is on the Yang side of things.

The other thing I was noticing on Saturday was that my body felt different inside; maybe another side effect of reading Anatomy Trains? In particular, I really was noticing my Dantian, having it feel like a ball; that’s happened to me sometimes before, but it was more present and persistent this time. And there was also more of a feeling of direct connection between it and other parts of my body; maybe that’s the silk reeling stuff, reflecting fascial restructuring. Definitely something I want to keep on playing with.

Going through the spear, I’m realizing that the second circle on the right side of the Full Martial feels wrong. Playing around with that more on Sunday, I think I need to let go a bit and let the spear swing around more, I’m restricting my arms a bit. Something to work on.

And we’ve finished the Xin Jia first form now: I’m sure I’ve got details wrong but now I feel like I’ve at least learn all of it. Speaking of details, I feel like I’m skipping over a step (or combining two steps) right after the second Gao Tan Ma, so I need to figure that out.

And on Sunday I was going through the from while paying attention to the Dantian, and I noticed something feeling odd right at one of my regular trouble spots, when stepping forward in Jing Gang. Basically, it felt like my Dantian was kind of falling off the front? Experimenting, tucking my tailbone there seemed to help; honestly, seems like a slightly odd thing to do in that movement, but maybe it’s the right thing to do? Or maybe I can find a different way of moving that will make more sense. Something else to keep on playing with.

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