Archive for March, 2023

Nei Gong Notes, March 28, 2023

Mar 28 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Pretty solid week. In terms of Nei Gong, there’s a workshop with Rick coming up in a few weeks, so I figured I’d get back to stretching my arms by moving my attention in and out of my arms instead of by using physical force; surprisingly strong, I’ll keep that up. And I did a Line of Ming practice that might be starting to have an effect beyond just feeling where the line is, it felt like my back was moving in a bit when I did that. So nothing super spectacular or anything, but it felt like quiet progress.

Also in terms of progress, I’m doing a better job of feeling when my body is asymmetric from side to side. Which is progress, but it’s kind of annoying progress, because it’s basically always the case (it’s my body’s default resting position these days) and because I don’t really know what to do about it. For now, I’m just trying to be at least somewhat correctly positioned while in Wu Ji and hoping that the Spinal Dao Yin loosens up my spine and adjacent muscles in a way that helps with the situation. (Which I’m somewhat optimistic about, because when I was doing that solidly a few months back, I had a week or two when my spine felt loose and it seemed like other things were hanging better from it.)

As to Tai Chi, I made progress on the Guan Dao; I’m back to caught up with where I had been, and I’ve started learning the next section. So I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll be caught up with the class by the April Sunday class. And I also had a decent practice of a few of the other forms; my goal has been to go through every form I know every week and to focus extra on the new forms, but, with all the rain this winter (and with me not always feeling good), it’s been ages since I’ve done that. And I didn’t do that this past week, either, but I’m coming closer than I had been, maybe I’ll even manage it this week? Depends on the rain and on how I feel…

And on Saturday I gave a speech to try to convince more people to sign up for the push hands course; hopefully it had an effect. And we did some push hands at the end of the class, with a decently wide range of people participating, good to see that.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 21, 2023

Mar 21 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Quite a good week. On Wednesday in particular I had a very good Nei Gong session: I did my normal Spinal Dao Yin and Kidney Hui Chun for Wednesdays, but then, later in the day, I felt like practicing more, so I did a longish Advanced Dantian Gong session. And it felt like it was useful: I relaxed my abdomen in a way that seemed to help stuff get in there more. So I feel like I’m getting more out of that than I was when I was trying it last summer; I’m still not at the Qi swallowing stage of that exercise, but this felt like a step in the right direction.

And also, over the course of the week, I’ve reminded myself of how the various MCO preparation activities went. The previous week, I’d gone through the Bellows Breathing / Huiyin plucking video, and this week, besides practicing Advanced Dantian Gong, I went through the Line of Ming, Mixing Kan and Li, and Lesser Orbit videos, and took notes. I think that’s a good set of practices to remind myself of; and, for now, I think I should be focusing on Advanced Dantian Gong, Bellows Breathing, and Line of Ming. (As well as Anchoring the Breath and the Kidney and Spleen Hui Chuns.) And once I feel like those are in a good place, I’ll add in Mixing Kan and Li and the Lesser Orbit, and then a couple of longer sequences from the Maryland retreat.

And my Tai Chi was okay this week. We had Sunday Tai Chi this weekend, and so I wanted to work on my Guan Dao; and I did get back to where I was before going on vacation. So I still wasn’t caught up to where the class was, but I was only a month behind; hopefully I’d be able to follow along well enough on Sunday and then get completely caught up before the April class.

But it turned out to be raining on Sunday, so we didn’t do Guan Dao at all! So I have less catching up to do than I expected, I should be completely caught up in a couple of weeks, I hope. Instead, we did some push hands; nice to get some pointers from Tony, but also it was nice to do push hands with somebody other than my normal partner. (Not that I don’t like doing push hands with him, he and I are actually well matched, just that variety has its virtues too.) And in particular, with one of the other people I was pushing hands with, I started to feel like something was moving around in interesting ways; I should try to capture that feeling more often.

Though, having said that, I’ve been watching a few videos of Damo or Adam Mizner doing push hands, and either those videos are fakes or they’re doing something that is fundamentally different from what my teacher is teaching. Not necessarily fundamentally different from what he can do – one of my fellow students was saying on Sunday that, when my teacher does An, he feels incredibly heavy, which seems consistent with the videos of Damo doing An? But I don’t really see how to get there from what I’ve seen my teacher teach. Though maybe that’s just that, so far, he’s been teaching push hands at a basic level because we’re starting out, so maybe I just have to stick with it more.

But it is getting me to think again that I should get back to Damo’s Tai Chi course and follow it along seriously, because I think he has things to say about Jin and how to develop it that I would really like to learn. Having said that, I’m also not convinced that I have the energy / motivation in practice to stick with that: I’m already not reviewing the Tai Chi forms that I know or am learning frequently enough, and so I’m hesitant to add in another commitment on top of that. (Because I don’t think I’d learn Tai Chi from Damo’s videos without really committing to it; just watching the videos and trying out the exercises a few times won’t be enough.) So, for now, I’m not picking those videos up yet, I think the real issue is that I need to make more time for various kinds of Internal Arts practice. But once I’ve made more time (and maybe once I’ve gotten to where I can activate the Microcosmic Orbit outside of a workshop) then that is something I’m considering doing.

So: good week. The one bump in the road is that I had a colonoscopy on Monday; the prep during most of the week wasn’t bad, I just had to avoid a couple of kinds of food, but on Sunday and Monday morning and afternoon I was on a liquid diet, and Sunday afternoon and Monday morning I had to take something to empty out my system. So, while I was fine during Sunday Tai Chi, it was also good that it was Sunday morning rather than Sunday afternoon; and it didn’t feel wise to practice on Monday. But the procedure itself was totally fine, and I had a good dinner on Monday evening, and I felt back to normal today. So I’m not worried about that going forward, I should be fine the rest of the week.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 14, 2023

Mar 14 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Decent Nei Gong practice week. I did solid practices on Wednesday and Friday (and I got back to doing the Spinal Dao Yin video on Wednesday); I’d hoped to ramp up still more, but I was happy with what I did, probably close to two hours on Wednesday (at least if you include the stretching) and an hour and a half on Friday? And weekdays were fine, too.

I’m actually thinking that I want to get back to Microcosmic Orbit prep: maybe for seated practice I’ll do 40-minute Hui Chuns three days a week, Anchoring the Breath one day a week, and MCO-related stuff the other three days? (And ideally I’d get in two seated practices on at least some Wednesdays and Fridays, letting me work in more MCO stuff.)

It’s been a while, though, so I have to remind myself what the MCO prep exercises were. I watched the video today that’s a combination of Bellows Breathing and plucking up from the Huiyin. And I’ve got notes about Advanced Dantian Gong, so I can do that. I should probably do something about mixing / thickening Qi; looking through the academy, I see one about The Line of Ming and one about Mixing Kan and Li, which both seem relevant, I can’t remember if the second of those is an evolution of the first one or what, I should rewatch them. And maybe the Lesser Orbit one is also about mixing / thickening? And if that goes well, then maybe after a month or so I can go through some of the hour-long sequences from the Maryland retreat; there’s a video of one of those in the library, and I have notes about another one. We’ll see how it all goes.

My sleep, unfortunately, hasn’t been as good as it had been the previous week. Not sure what’s going on there, but if I had to guess, there’s a game I’ve been playing on my iPad a little bit too much, I should probably stop playing that earlier and in particular just read in bed instead of playing it, maybe that will help.

I haven’t been practicing a ton of Tai Chi, mostly because it was raining a decent amount on some of the days when I would normally practice. When I did practice, I spent my time on the Guan Dao; hopefully I’ll at least be able to get back to where I was before I went on the trip before this month’s Sunday class (which is this weekend); I’ll still be behind, but only one class behind, which should be manageable. And at least it wasn’t raining on Saturday, so we had a full Tai Chi class, that was nice.

My Tai Chi teacher is holding some Push Hands workshops in April; it would be nice if enough students from the Saturday class came that we got a critical mass, but that seems a little optimistic; we’ll see. Maybe I should lobby people to join, trying to convince them that there’s more to Tai Chi than memorizing form after form. And Rick has announced a workshop in April; unfortunately, it overlaps with the Push Hands workshop, so I’ll have to miss one of the days, but still, two days of workshop should be useful.

I haven’t been working on my Silk Reeling notes, but I’ve still been thinking about that; I’m actually now leaning towards having the next step to be to see if any of the people in the Saturday course would be interested in me running a Silk Reeling course before the regular class for half an hour for five weeks, as an experiment. Not sure; if I do that, it wouldn’t be until May, because March and April are pretty busy.

I get to have my first colonoscopy on Monday; the joys of getting older. So my diet is even a little more restricted this week compared to the gluten-free diet that I started the previous week. Not too bad, though, there’s only a day and a half when I really have to restrict it, hopefully the procedure itself won’t be too annoying.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 7, 2023

Mar 07 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m finally back to my normal practice: I stayed inactive through Wednesday, but I restarted practice on Thursday. And sometimes in the past when I’ve been actually sick, I’ve had to spend a few days ramping up, but I didn’t have to do that this time: I had a normal workday practice on Thursday and on Friday I had a 40 minute Wu Ji plus arm stretching Dao Yin session followed by a 40 minute Hui Chun, and it went fine. And decent practice over the weekend, too.

The arm stretching Dao Yin was kind of interesting: I was in a part where my arms were stretching diagonally down, and then at some point I felt like something was releasing out, like I was pulling and some lines were pulling over my shoulders. Though I also realized that I was leaning forward more and more as I did that, so I’m not 100% sure how much something was actually stretching internally and how much the movement was external.

Also, my sleep stuff is getting better. Over the trip, I was feeling like sleep was correlated with food; so, since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been putting less food on my plate at dinner. And it has been definitely helping: I’ve switched from normally waking up twice in the middle of the night to normally waking up once in the middle of the night, with me sleeping for about 6 hours, then waking up briefly and going back to sleep. So that change is great. (And it’s not like I feel hungry or anything: I’m full when I stop eating, I’m just not eating past that point. Heck, for all I know I could eat even a little less?)

And that made me wonder whether my overall energy problems were also sleep-linked. While I was wondering that, I had a random conversation with a coworker who mentioned that a friend of his had felt like he had a lot more energy after going off of gluten, and that’s not the first time I’ve heard that sort of thing. So I decided to experiment with going off of gluten for a few weeks to see if that has any effect; I’ve started that experiment this past Sunday, we’ll see how it goes.

If that does fix things, I will have mixed feelings, because I really do like having a bit of baguette for breakfast in the morning once or twice a week, and because we cook a lot of pasta; hopefully gluten-free pasta tastes okay? And it turns out that soy sauce generally has gluten in it, which isn’t great for eating Chinese or Japanese food. Still, there will be a ton of things I can eat without gluten, so if it does give me a lot more energy, then that would be a good tradeoff.

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