Archive for November, 2022

Nei Gong Notes, November 29, 2022

Nov 29 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Surprisingly interesting week. Health-wise, my sleep has been okay, but not as good as it was the previous two weeks, which was a bit of a disappointment. Though on Wednesday my stomach felt surprisingly good, even though I’d eaten spicy food for dinner; I’d done a 40 minute Liver Hui Chun session that day, I wonder if that was linked? And then my stomach felt surprisingly off on Thursday, though actually I think “surprisingly off” meant “back to my baseline of how I’d been feeling for the last few years”; I wonder if what I ate for breakfast was relevant, I might want to pay more attention to how food is affecting me. Also in terms of things that were a bit of a disappointment, I did a decent length Jing Gong session on Friday, and I didn’t really feel any bouncing inside.

But then when I went in for my appointment on Friday, Dr. Yang said that my Liver was doing very well, so that was good to hear? Hopefully that means that my sleep will get better again soon.

He also mentioned that one factor in my Kidney issues was that there was a place in my spine where it was getting blocked. Which didn’t surprise me, I’d noticed a couple of months back that there was a spot at about where Dr. Yang was pointing where I didn’t have the flexibility / sensation that I expected. So that was something I’d been thinking anyways that it would be good to have fixed; and I’m happy to have Dr. Yang help with that.

That reminded me of the video on the Clipping Passes from Damo’s public Microcosmic Orbit series: I remember that making my back feel good when I went through it before, and I thought one of the clipping passes was in about the right place. So I watched that on Sunday, and I figure I’ll try going through that most days for a while. Which actually does mean that I’ve got a bit of pressure on what I do with my practice time, because I also want to keep on doing Hui Chun exercises and to do Self-Healing exercises; I am managing to do two sitting exercises on some days, but still, maybe not great? In practice, I think it means that I’m not doing nearly as much Hui Chun as I have been (though I’ll still make sure to do a couple of 40 minute sessions a week); we’ll see what comes of that. Hopefully I’ll be able to open up my spine soon and then I can stop doing that one. (And hopefully opening it up will help my energy levels!)

As to the Self-Healing exercise, I haven’t been doing it every day, and when I’ve been doing it, I’ve switched it to my knee sometimes and my ankle sometimes. I’ve actually been getting unusual ankle pain this last week; first in my right ankle, though that went away after a bit, and more recently in my left ankle. I think my posture has maybe been changing a little bit, at least when I’m doing standing practice; hopefully the ankle issues are just a temporary reaction to that? They don’t seem to be particularly chronic, so that’s good, at least; and actually my right knee is doing better recently too. But I can’t give any credit to the Self-Healing exercise for any of that, I haven’t been doing it enough on those body parts to have any real effect, I think. (And that also means that it’ll be hard for me to tell if it has any effect at all, because clearly the baseline level of variation in the aches and pains in my body is high these days!)

In terms of standing practice: that has been very interesting. I mentioned a posture change above; I’m sinking into my left Kua more, and I think that’s helping me be less shifted to one side while still feeling like my weight is balanced between both feet. So hopefully I can develop that habit, and maybe it’ll even help with my spine alignment.

And that had me paying more attention and experimenting more with where my weight was landing, and one day, at the end of my Wu Ji, I noticed that, when I landed on my Yongquan, I felt a noticeable amount of upward force in my legs. (Enough that I actually felt a little uprooted; makes me wonder how I should balance that with sinking.) So the next day I did a longer Wu Ji session and I started trying to recapture that feeling right from the beginning; I did manage to get to the right weight location fairly quickly. And, as I stayed there for a while, my legs started feeling really energized: staying up on their own, and I kind of felt like a stick figure with lines of force going through them.

So that was pretty interesting, but it was also localized in the lower half of my body more than I would have liked. So, after 20 minutes or so, I decided to stretch up my head a bit, and rotate it forward slightly as well. And wow, that was surprisingly effective: I started feeling the same sort of energy in my head, arms, and upper torso. And my arms and the tops of my shoulders wanted to spread in response to that pull; so I just let them, and I ended up feeling like I had a ton more space in my shoulders / armpit. (And my arms ended up pretty wide, too.)

With that, both the top and bottom of my body felt more energized than they ever have while I was doing Wu Ji. There was a gap, though, which was basically my back / spine. I did wonder if some of that was related to the spine blockage I mentioned earlier; I did try pulling my head up more and I could feel the energy make it further down my spine, so that’s another thing to try, it might just be garden-variety collapsing.

At any rate, I definitely want to experiment with that more; I’m going to do Wu Ji as the standing part of my daily exercise almost every day this week, to see if I can build on that. Today was interesting; I didn’t feel as strongly energized as on Sunday, either on the top or bottom of my body, or feel as strong a stretch in my arms, but I did feel some of both. But what I did feel was the energy starting to make it up my spine from the bottom, not just down from the top; and when I relaxed more, my spine stretched up on its own more. (Which is something I’ve felt, Qi inflating it.) That seems like a better way to get energy going through my spine than yanking on it from the top, so I’ll definitely want to try to keep on doing that; though if I can get my whole spine feeling energized by yanking on both ends, then that’s what I’ll do!

So a good Nei Gong week. As for Tai Chi, I didn’t do a ton of practice last week because of my right ankle. (Probably the right choice, because my ankle felt a lot better by my Saturday class.) On Saturday, during the Jian practice, I realized that I’m probably not supposed to actually be shifting how I grasp the Jian when you stab down to the right near the start: I should just be turning my wrist while maintaining my grip. So I’ll have to work on that. And I’m caught up on the Guan Dao, which is good; I might even try to get a little bit ahead over the next week and a half, before the December Sunday class.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 22, 2022

Nov 22 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

When thinking about my knee twinges, I remembered that Damo had a lesson in year 2 about that, so I went looking for that. It’s called “Self-Healing”, and actually turned out to be the last lesson that I watched before I put a pause on new lessons; at the time, I didn’t try it out, but I guess now is the time. Pretty simple concept: if something’s wrong with a part of your body, do calm-abiding with your attention on that part of the body.

I’m actually not doing it on my knee right now, because I got a new bit of physical weirdness elsewhere; the joys of getting old. And I haven’t done it every day, because I still want to keep up with the Hui Chun exercises; I have been doing it most days, though, because it’s been easy enough to find days when I can do two sitting exercises. I haven’t seen any particular clear effect yet: the new bit of physical weirdness is probably a little better than when I first noticed it, but I suspect that’s just random variation? Who knows. And I also haven’t been doing super long sessions, most of them have been around 20 minutes. Hopefully I’m at least doing the exercise more or less correctly, I feel like I am getting sensations in the target area that could plausibly be labeled as manifestations of Qi, but who knows.

Some Tai Chi notes: when stepping out to the left in Dantian Change, I should keep my weight on my right foot until my left touches down. When punching, I should involve my Kua more. And I’ve got a few things to work on during the Guan Dao form: when turning the Dao on the right side (e.g. in Martial Flower bits), my arms feel a little twisted up, I should figure out how to avoid that; when turning over the Dao in Embrace the Crescent, it feels like it requires a little more energy than is ideal, my balance point might be off; there’s a part at the end of the left side of Martial Flower where Tony holds the Dao with one hand, I should experiment with that; and I still need to make sure I’m more secure with the details of the cartwheel bit.

Anyways, a mellow week in general. I had my COVID combined booster on Saturday, so I didn’t do any practice at all on Sunday, but I was back to feeling completely normal on Monday, so fortunately I don’t have to worry about building back up there like I would if I were actually sick.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 15, 2022

Nov 15 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

It was a good week overall. On Wednesday, I did the Liver Hui Chun; I’d been a little worried that that would make my Liver Heat situation worse, but I figured I should give it a try, because if it helped regulate my Liver Qi, that would be good. And I’m glad I did; I was worried for a bit because, after the first three parts of the middle section, I was feeling kind of buzzy. But then when I got to the last part of that section, where I’m encouraging the Qi to go down, it did; I was glad I was doing 5 minutes per section, because it took a minute or two to get started, but eventually the sensations moved from the top of my head to the middle of the back of my head to lower down in my body, and while they weren’t all the way down my body, they were far enough down to make a difference, I think, because I slept pretty well that night. (Which hadn’t been the case earlier that week.) So I’ll definitely keep that up; not sure yet if it will be an every week thing or every other week or what, and I don’t think I’ll do 25 minute sessions on work days of the week, but I do want to experiment with that one more.

On Friday, I did Jing Gong for the first time in a while. And there was noticeable bouncing in my Dantian; it came and went a bit, and when it was present it wasn’t intense or anything, but it was definitely strong enough to be noticeable, probably actually a little stronger than I’ve felt it before. So it’s nice to see another piece of evidence that my Dantian is filling up; not sure how often I’ll do the Jing Gong, but I’ll probably return to it occasionally.

In general, right now, I’m actually not sure what I should be doing as my set of standing exercises; though the good news is that I’m continuing to feel that Wu Ji is more productive than it has been, so defaulting to that is probably a fine thing to do! One thing I was noticing during this last week is that my stomach muscles are starting to relax more while I do Wu Ji, and I’m feeling a sensation like a fairly large mass of liquid is going down my torso (more like a big ball going down than fluid seeping down); I guess that’s the liquid center of mass that Damo sometimes talks about? I’m still not 100% sure whether or not it’s going down quite to the right level or if it ends up an inch or two too high (maybe around my belly button height instead of my Dantian height?), but it’s either in the right position or close to it.

Acupuncture on Friday went well: it felt surprisingly refreshing, and I slept through the whole night after that. And my doctor said that he saw improvements from his side; in particular, he mentioned that my neck was doing much better, which he thought would help with sleep issues. Which links with what I’ve been feeling: I had been feeling that my neck was occasionally wanting to stretch on its own, and while I’m not feeling that so much these days, I’m now feeling much more often that my head is just floating (and, even when I’m not feeling that, if I just relax a bit, I can get it to float), so I think it’s pretty plausible that the stretching open has had an effect and now my neck is doing a decent job of maintaining an open state.

I’m also noticing other parts of my body feeling more open. In particular, when I’m doing Tai Chi, by body is also feeling more spacious, so it’s not just a Nei Gong thing now. Which is probably helping with my Tai Chi, and it’s certainly making it more interesting, giving it a bit of a Qi Gong feel.

On my Saturday Tai Chi class, my teacher told me that I should get my Kua involved more when I’m punching, so I should work on that. He showed a couple of ways of doing that, once of which involved spiraling energy up my leg that involved a knee shake; I think I’m going to avoid that second method now, though, because actually my knee is giving me noticeable problems when I’m doing Tai Chi. I don’t know that it’s gotten any worse, but I’m wanting to sink more, and when I do that, even with good posture, I think it’s a bit more than my knee is comfortable with. It would be nice to find a way to improve my knee, but for now I think I should probably not sink as much as I would like.

I’ve made it through Damo’s set of recordings from his various summer classes; there’s probably more stuff in the library that I haven’t watched (though I have gone through a fair amount of it), but I think I should probably react to that by spending Thursday evenings working on my Silk Reeling notes. Because I’ve been stalled on that, but I still think it’s a good idea, so I do want to get it out there.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 8, 2022

Nov 08 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Pretty solid week. On Wednesday, I went through an hour-long Spinal Dao Yin video from Sweden; it was more internal than I expect from Dao Yins, but it seemed pretty effective in opening up my spine, I think I’m going to do that once a week for the next while. On Friday I did a 45 minute Wu Ji session; I’d been planning to do an hour, but for whatever reason I didn’t, in retrospect I think I should have pushed on? Still, the longest session I’ve done for a while. My energy level did start to dim after maybe 30 minutes, and I was getting some unexpected pressure on the inside of my thighs towards the end; nothing bad or anything, though. And on Sunday, since I’d already done long versions of the Kidney and Spleen Hui Chuns that week, I decided to do a long Calm Abiding session, for the first time in I don’t know how long. That one I did manage to keep going for an hour; I was worried that I was going to fall asleep partway through, but I got a second wind maybe halfway through and then kept it up. I did have a weird feeling where I wasn’t sure pretty much the whole time whether my attention was quite on my Dantian, but also my attention was staying surprisingly well fixed in approximately the right area, so that was good.

And yesterday and today were the monthly full moon practice. Though my sleep wasn’t that great last night, so I worked from home instead of going into work, and I decided to use the extra commute time by doing a 40 minute Kidney Hui Chun instead. I am getting worried that I might be backsliding on my sleep, so I did the Liver Wu Xing this afternoon; I might try out the Liver Hui Chun tomorrow morning to see how that feels?

I got an email about the next local Nei Gong workshop, in January; glad that those are happening regularly again. I’m still really getting a lot out of the last one, my Wu Ji is continuing to be much more interesting and, I think, productive. (Also, in terms of random recent changes, I feel like I’m relaxing my stomach more while standing and letting stuff sink in a productive way as a result?)

In terms of Tai Ji: I was thinking about something Damo said about moving via releasing, and I’m thinking about where that might apply in the form that I’m doing. One place I had in mind was Reverse with Spiraling Forearms, where I feel like I can push out my arms via Songing; I asked Tony about that, and he said that you can either do as a Fa Jin, so more of a strike, or you can do it as a push, with the energy going out to your palms. Also he mentioned again on Saturday that, when kicking with one foot, you should use your back arm to balance the kicking foot; I think I’ve been having both arms be behaving similarly instead, doing it as he suggests definitely helps with my balance.

And the Jian continues to be interesting. I was noticing a lot on Saturday how it feels in the curve of my arm, especially the arm that’s not holding the sword. In general, a lot of the moves feel like that; some of them are more Fa Jin (and those are the ones I have the most trouble with), some are moving like they’re creating more of a plane rather than a curved line, and there are a few where you turn your hand that I should probably think of as more of a spiral?

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Nei Gong Notes, November 1, 2022

Nov 01 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week. Not an abnormally large amount of practice or anything, but a decent quantity, and my body is doing well. In terms of stuff that I’m getting TCM treatment, this weekend I slept through the night once for the first time in ages; sleep had been getting better, but still, nice to see that. And I’m also not feeling like I need to pee as often, which can be a problem if your kidneys aren’t doing well. On which note, Damo posted a public video about the Kidney system in TCM, and it’s really interesting, makes me wish I could watch all of his TCM videos. (But it doesn’t make me wish it enough to actually sign up for that course!)

And I like how my body is responding to Nei Gong. It was definitely feeling active over the weekend, and today was interesting too: I was doing the Kidney Hui Chun this morning, and for whatever reason I felt an unusual (but, I think, good?) sensation on the front of my forehead, at about the level of my upper Dantian, so I sat with that for a while longer. And I was doing Wu Ji at the end of the day today, and that felt really good: energetic stuff going on in my body, good connection and relaxation, and my mind is doing better at sinking and paying less attention to the physical details of what’s going on in my body.

A couple of times over the last week or two I’ve done other sitting exercises, like Anchoring the Breath. At first I was wondering if I should stop the constant Hui Chun and go back to my prior practice regimen, since things are going better. But I think that what I should do instead is mostly keep up with the push to get better: I don’t want to backslide from the current state, and my energy levels could still use a boost. So I should keep things up, and try to get things to a level where I can stop the TCM treatment: I certainly don’t want to be doing that forever!

Oh, and one other thing I’ve noticed over the last few weeks but I’ve forgotten to write about: when working on reducing my intensity when paying attention to things during my practice, I’ve realized that my default state has my brain feeling like it’s going forward pretty much all the time. When I relax it, my eyes also go back a little bit; I wonder if it’s related to my vision? Something to work on when I’m relaxing, at any rate.

In terms of Tai Chi, Saturday’s class was fine but nothing special. But then on Sunday, I went through the first form; I’d occasionally been noticing that I was leaning forward a bit, but this time I realized that I’m literally doing that in almost every single move. Which is a little embarrassing to only notice this now, given that I’ve been doing this for seven years! But hey, good to be getting more in touch with my body. So I did the form a couple more times trying to fix that. I realized that, if I don’t lean forward, I feel like I’m not going forward enough, so apparently I’m doing that to try to lower myself in a way that avoids my legs, for whatever reason. But once I was aware of that, I started lowering myself with my legs more, and it felt fine, not sure why my body didn’t want to do that? And actually it felt better: I’d been feeling stress on my right knee some while doing Tai Chi, and when I didn’t lean forward, that went away. So hopefully making this change will actively help reduce the strain on my body; that would be nice.

And I think I’m more or less caught up on the Guan Dao form? (At least up to where we were two months ago, but I heard that we didn’t do anything new last month.) I’m getting to the stage where I forget bits but can then make sense of what I’m doing wrong on my own, which is a good sign in terms of actually solidifying my knowledge of the form, it gets it in a better state in my memory than when I do it right but can’t, for example, replay it by memory in my head.

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