Nei Gong Notes, June 21, 2022

Jun 21 2022

The workshop is over now; I’m very glad I went. It was good to get some in-person correction on details of postures; it was good to get pushed quite a bit more than I push myself at home. (Sometimes, I think three or four of the nine days, I took a break in the middle of a session; but on over half the days, I made it through the whole thing.) But also in terms of things that I was less sure of coming in: it was very good to, as I mentioned last week, get an idea about what I should do differently to help with my fatigue (basically, bones down flesh down leads to depleted Spleen Qi, whereas bones up flesh down leads to an increase in Spleen Qi). And we did indeed spend significant amounts of time on the Microcosmic Orbit in the last two days, and I did in fact manage to get it going.

Which did not feel at all like what I expected! I’m not sure if I wasn’t reading things correctly or if a lot of the descriptions that I’ve seen don’t actually map accurately to how the Microcosmic Orbit actually feels. (Though, as Damo points out, it feels different at different levels in your practice: if you have very thin Qi, then it’s just a mild sensation going around; once you start thickening the Qi, you get to the state that I’m at this time; if it gets still thicker, it sounds like your body gets tugged apart and moved around more; and eventually you get to stages where your glands start producing substances. So that could also account for the discrepancies.)

Concretely, when going up my back, it didn’t so much feel like a discrete bit of Qi going up my back as fluid filling up my back; so yeah, there’s a point that moves, but that point feels more like the top of a rising column of liquid. And it doesn’t go up a particularly narrow channel: it’s centered on my spine (or, I guess, my Du channel), but it flows through a wider channel. (Maybe moving around blockages, I’m not sure.) And, when going down, it doesn’t actually go down the very front of your body, where the Ren channel is: it’s further towards the interior of my body. So different enough from what I was expecting (especially in the going down part) that, honestly, if I hadn’t been at the channel, I’d wonder if I was doing something wrong or had only opened up half the Orbit or something; but Damo did talk about what it actually felt like and where you felt it moving, and my experiences did match what he described.

So: yay! And an interesting experience: not just surprising, but also good to feel my body want to move around and open up and what not. And I started feeling kind of chill, too. I’ll definitely want to keep that up; I’d actually be tempted to do it pretty frequently, but Damo said that, for now, we should only do it about once a week. So I’ll stick with that, but I’ll try to make that one day a week really count, and to support it with related exercises other days a week, so that my practice of the Orbit gets better instead of fading away.

In general, we’ll see if this leads me to practice more or not. If I really can get my energy levels up, then that will help. And it also gave me a nudge in the direction of doing more Dao Yins. Also, there are some ambient changes: I feel like my spine is wanting to stretch (and occasionally move) every once in a while, which feels like a healthy thing? (Especially given my history of back problems: I do have compression damage there that I would like to undo.) So I hope that will continue (or, if it stops, to stabilize in a condition with a more open, healthier spine), rather than dying down in a few weeks; we’ll see.

Other notes on positioning: when doing Wu Ji, I got some correction to hold my hands lower. I’d been letting them float more ever since I started doing the Qi mobilization versions of the Ji Ben Qi Gong; but maybe I was overdoing that, because I can’t really say that I feel the weight of my hands in my feet? Letting my shoulders expand out is probably good (though I do want to make sure I feel the weight of my shoulders in my feet, but I think my shoulders really do sink even when they expand sideways), but I should be more careful with my hands. And also it was good to get back home so I can practice in front of a mirror and see the torso misalignment that various people were trying to fix; I should either shift my weight left on my feet or move my torso right, and once I’ve done that I should rotate it a little bit to the left.

Hopefully the acupuncture and physical work that my TCM doctor is doing will help with that; it’s definitely improved my physical alignments, but there’s clearly work to be done there. He was pleased in my appointment today that both my Liver Qi and Spleen Qi problems had significantly improved, so that was good to hear.

I did almost no Tai Chi the week I was gone; I did go to the course this last Saturday, but I actually skipped out at the end. So I’ve got some catching up to do there; and I’m going to be out of town in July and I’ll have to miss two weeks of classes (including missing a second monthly Sunday class in a row); not great. But, I hope, not awful? I need to catch up with the Spear, but but that’s not so bad; I need to catch up more with the Guan Dao, but that seems like not the hardest form, and I’ve got a good video of that. I’ve basically given up on actually memorizing the Hunyuan 48, though; I’ll try to get a feel for it this round through, and hopefully that will let me actually memorize it next time.

It would be nice if it weren’t quite so hot, though; I’m not sure how much Tai Chi practice I’ll be able to do tomorrow. (Especially given that I need to do weapons practice; I can’t very well swing around a Guan Dao inside the house!)

And I’ll start back up on Damo’s lessons. Though I really do want my focus right now to be on the Microcosmic Orbit and exercises related to building that up; so I’m kind of hoping that he doesn’t have any new seated exercises to learn. I do at least one seated exercise and one standing exercise a day, and on four or sometimes five days a week I don’t have time to do anything beyond that; so, right now, swapping out the standing bit is fine, I’m just nervous about swapping out the seated bit. Also, I want to spend some amount of time on the Kidney and Spleen versions of the Balancing exercises: in the course, Damo said that those two were more effective than the other three elements, and so we had a long session of one or the other of those most days in the course, and they seem like exercises that are both directly relevant to my energy issues.

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