Nei Gong Notes, April 11, 2023

Apr 11 2023

Pretty solid week. On Wednesday, I did more Nei Gong than I have in months (outside of workshops): 10 minutes of stretching, 1 hour of Spinal Dao Yin, 40 minutes of Kidney Hui Chun, 25 minutes of Full Moon practice, and 35 minutes of Advanced Dantian Gong. A sign that I’m making progress on recovering energy; still not particularly close to where I’d like to be, but progress is good. And progress on Nei Gong is good, totally aside from my energy levels.

I had some neck strain Wednesday night; it reminded me of when, last year, I had arm problems that were related to neck issues. And both times I think it happened when my Nei Gong was going well. So my tentative theory is that Qi going up into my neck (which was certainly happening on Monday during my Anchoring the Breath) strains some of my tissues up there, in a way that gets them inflamed; at any rate, I’m taking some ibuprofen to try to keep that under control. Hopefully with that I’ll manage to stretch out the spaces between my neck vertebrae without having any particularly bad side effects; we’ll see.

One thing I forgot to mention about that session last week: I think I finally understand (or at least am starting to understand what Soft means while breathing). Because, while I was doing that, it felt like boundaries were getting less strict, between breathing in and breathing out and in terms of where the breath was ending up in my body. And that last feeling in particular did seem like it could plausibly be described as softness.

Not a lot to report about Nei Gong for the rest of the week. Though I was experimenting with my arm positioning some during Wu Ji and I realized that, when I let my arms expand, I could feel my elbows sinking, so it was nice to be making progress in that way too.

In terms of Tai Chi, I did a solid job of practicing during the week: I still didn’t quite do every form I know (this time I skipped the spear form), but I did all but one, and I did try to get caught up with the class on the Guan Dao.

In the Saturday class, I remembered my teacher telling me to sink into my back Kua more during the Push Hands seminar, so I tried doing that during Silk Reeling; sure enough, I really can sink into my Kua more than I have been. So I need to keep on working on that; I worked on that during the first form as well, but I have to work on it more during push hands, more during Nei Gong. (With luck, this will help some of my body’s asymmetry, I think my left Kua is relevant there.)

My teacher, when watching my Jian form, also gave me a pointer on the Support a Thousand Pounds move: he showed me the energy moving to the tip of the Jian there. Which is actually related to something I’d been wondering about when rewatching Damo’s intro Jian video last week, since Damo had talked about energy going up and down the Jian; I was surprised to see my teacher demonstrate it in that move, though, since the Jian is going a fair amount to the side instead of straight out! Definitely something to work on; I don’t really understand what my teacher was actually doing, but now that I know it’s possible, I can experiment with things. (And probably my teacher wouldn’t have shown me that if he didn’t think there was a chance that I’d be able to get it.)

And then on Sunday we had the monthly Tai Chi class. Sure enough, I actually was caught up with the Guan Dao form; and I think I’d picked up things decently well from the videos? (Either that, or I was missing the same subtle points in class that I was missing from the videos.) And we went a bit further; honestly, basically we went to the end, though I think we’ll go through the form for one more month. I’ll definitely have to keep up my review, because on some of the new moves, I could do them right after watching somebody but they went out of my head pretty soon after that. But I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll have the form down decently solidly. Also, when doing the Lao Jia Second Form in class, I felt like I was getting better at that; my Sweeping the Hall Leg is no longer completely pathetic, and I think I finally know the right sequence of moves in the bit at the end where you’re doing a bunch of punches and fakeouts in a row while advancing.

Unfortunately, my sleep wasn’t great on Friday night, and I was feeling a little off on Saturday, and on Sunday I was pretty sure I was coming down with a cold; it was a pretty mild one (otherwise I would have had to skip the Sunday class), but it was definitely present. So I didn’t do much Nei Gong on Sunday and none yesterday and today. I was feeling almost better most of today (though I’m definitely not feeling 100% this evening), so I think I’ll do some Nei Gong tomorrow; not as much as I do on a normal Wednesday, probably, let alone the amount I did last week, but maybe the amount that I do on a normal workday. And actually my body today has felt like it’s sinking on the inside, so that’s also a good side, I would seem to be making progress.

And this weekend I’ve got a Nei Gong workshop with Rick on Friday and Saturday, I’m definitely looking forward for that. Unfortunately I won’t be able to go on Sunday, because the Push Hands workshop is all day on Sunday, but I’m looking forward to that too!

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