Nei Gong Notes, June 14, 2022

Jun 14 2022

I’ve been at an in-person workshop with Damo for most of the last week; it’s been good! Good to get some in-person correction on my form (from various senior teachers, not just Damo); good to have Damo guide us through some bits that are related to stuff from the online course but more in depth; and good to get pushed a bit more. (In particular, to do stretchy Dao-Yin-type stuff more.)

In terms of correction on my Wu Ji: one person gave me advice (a couple of times, all these examples are repeated advice) that I should work on dropping my tailbone straight down, it’s curving forward too much. Which is useful: I’d been feeling like I was going over my toes if I wasn’t paying attention, but if I go straight down, then my positioning seems a lot better. Another person told me to rotate my head forward a bit more: so I’m looking down more than I had been, but also the back of my neck stretches up still more. Which seems useful, once I try it out, I guess I’d been compressing my neck in the back a bit? Another person told me to work on “bones up, flesh down”; more on that later. And another person told me that my rib cage is drifting to the right a bit much; I guess that’s how my ongoing right Kua alignment issue is manifesting itself.

In terms of stuff Damo was focusing on that was a little more in depth: he talked at the start of the course about how he was planning to do a fair amount of seated work, in ways that made me hope that we’d be working on the Microcosmic Orbit. Which is great, that was my main hope for the course coming in but I had no reason to believe that that’s what he would do.

And, indeed, we have been moving in that direction. We’ve been going through some focused exercise sequences on thickening the Qi, and also setting the Qi rotating within your Dantian has come up a lot. Which are two preparatory steps for the Microcosmic Orbit that I definitely could use help on. I’m not actually sure if we’ll make it to the full Microcosmic Orbit by the end of the workshop; we have three days left, and that seems possible but a little tight, and it feels like Damo had been planning to spend more time on seated work than he actually has? We’ll see how the next three days go; but, even if we don’t quite reach that by the end of the workshop (or if we do cover that but I can’t put it into action), I feel like I’ll be in a better position to work on that on my own when I get back home.

I had been worried about my energy levels coming into the workshop, because I’ve had two separate colds or COVIDs or something over the last couple of months, so I was worried that I was going from an energy level of being able to keep up with what I expected from the workshop on all but the worst days to an energy level where I just wouldn’t be able to do stuff some days. And, in fact, I really did hit a wall on the afternoon of the first day: I’m just not up for standing in Wu Ji for long periods of time, or doing other standing exercises with my legs in that position.

The second and third days were better, though: I suspect that, compared to other people, I’m worse than average at that sort of standing but that my endurance is fine for exercises that have me stretching out my joints? So I was optimistic that things would be fine; though, as I tried to put into practice the recommendations to tilt my head and sink my tailbone, I felt like my Wu Ji was getting a little harder to keep up, so there was something to do there.

But then I felt bad last night; so I set my alarm late and, when I woke up, I decided to do today’s class over Zoom. (A Zoom link has been set up because some people got COVID and wanted to participate while isolating.) Which I participated in some, but I wasn’t up for most of the standing exercises, so that was a good choice.

And then we got to the theory part of the day; Damo had mostly been talking about Mind and Soul, but today was on something completely different, about separating the flesh from the bones. (Basically, the same as the “bones up, flesh down” point from above.)

And, what he said there was that, if you can separate your flesh from the bones, then that stretches the fascia in that area in a way that gives you more energy. Whereas if you sink your bones along with your flesh, then you have less energy. And the way that this specific energy is categorized is Spleen Qi.

This is interesting, because I am low on energy, and because my diagnosis is Liver Heat leading to Spleen Deficiency. I think my TCM doctor had been focusing on the Liver Heat side of things, but maybe I’m actually causing the Spleen Deficiency problems directly? Which, actually, relates to something that I’ve been wondering: I have been feeling like my energy levels are lower since I started the Internal Arts Academy, and while I expected that was probably just a coincidence (the same time period begins at the start of COVID, so it could be related to that, to being at home, to dust allergies at home), it actually isn’t crazy to think that my Nei Gong is hurting my energy rather than helping.

So then Damo had us stand while focusing on having our bones kind of expand out in all directions (up, sideways, down, depending on their location), and then trying to maintain that while having your body sink. And I felt a lot better when I did that! Enough so that I went into the class in person in the afternoon, and I felt totally fine while doing that.

So I’m definitely going to work on that; probably initially it’ll mean that I’m standing a little high in Wu Ji, but hopefully once I get used to it, I’ll be able to come to a position that keeps the good aspects of what I had been doing while also adding a new good aspect to it. And, of course, if I had to choose between having more energy versus being at the right height, then I’d choose more energy. If that pays off, then that alone will make flying across the country to the workshop worth it, I think.

Three days left; we’ll see how those three days go.

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