Nei Gong Notes, April 18, 2023

Apr 18 2023

Mixed week: it started not great but ended up quite good. I’d been getting over a cold, and Tuesday morning had been pretty good, so I figured I’d get back to Nei Gong practice on Wednesday. Which, honestly, I should have known was a mistake: I didn’t feel as good on Wednesday morning as I had on Tuesday morning. But I decided to do some Nei Gong anyways, not my full Wednesday routine but still a noticeable amount, and that was probably a mistake? Certainly I was feeling worse the rest of the day on Wednesday and on Thursday; it’s possible I would have been feeling just as bad without the Nei Gong practice, but I don’t think it helped.

Which was unfortunate because Rick was running a Nei Gong workshop starting on Friday. I actually was feeling noticeable better on Friday, but I didn’t want to repeat the mistake from Wednesday, so I stayed at home and didn’t practice that day. Though I did have an interesting time when I went for a walk and felt my lower back spreading and curving forward around the sides a bit; that had been happening to me some recently, it was nice to see it happening then even though I’d been sick recently. So at least there was something good still going on inside my body.

I was continuing to feel better on Saturday, so I went to the workshop; I figured I’d bail halfway through if I started to feel worse, but I felt good enough to stay the whole time. Apparently the theme of this workshop was placing your attention an inch outside of the skin of your body, and doing the Wu Dao Yins while in this state, to help shape your tissues. Which is related to the arm stretching exercise that Rick had been teaching in previous workshops, where you stretch your arm by putting your awareness above your arm (after first putting it inside); I’d been having good results with that, so I was happy to build on it.

I don’t know that I had super spectacular results doing that with Dao Yins during the workshop; even Pushing the Tides was going sort of mediocre for me? But it was very interesting doing Wu Ji that way: it really helped my body spread out more inside. (Including my shoulders, interestingly enough.) Also, one thing he said was, when you create space during Wu Ji, you should sink through the space that you’re creating; so, in particular, my arms were sinking pretty heavily as my shoulders opened.

Also, we did the three snowball exercise that he’d showed us in the previous workshop, and I learned a few more details. You should feel it through your body as your hands are moving in all three snowballs; e.g. in the middle snowball, you should feel it going through the space between your ribs. Also, the middle one goes to the height of your collarbone, not to the height of your middle Dantian. And stay sunk in your Kua the whole time, don’t come up in the middle / high ones.

Definitely glad I went to the workshop; I’ll play around with doing the Dao Yins that way, and I’m finding it very natural to expand during Wu Ji, so I’ll keep that up as well.

I didn’t go to the Nei Gong workshop on Sunday because my Tai Chi teacher was holding a Push Hands workshop, and given that I’d been asking for him to do more Push Hands for a year, I wanted to make sure to go to that. And, fortunately, the Nei Gong didn’t make the cold come back or anything, so I was feeling fine doing push hands. I mean, mostly fine: it was two and a half hours in each of the morning and the afternoon, and I was feeling a bit beat by the last half hour or so! But that’s a lot of push hands, so that’s understandable.

In the morning, we started by continuing the two hands fixed step drill we’d been doing, and then moving on to the moving step. I spent most of the morning (maybe all of the morning) working with people who were new to push hands (and who had less Tai Chi experience than I have); that was a pretty good experience for me, it got me being more analytical which solidified my knowledge of what was going on at each step. And it also got me thinking about what kind of energy to give people, how and where to push them, which was a useful learning experience as well. And then, towards the end of that, I got to work with somebody else who was at about my level who wasn’t my normal practice partner; that was useful, too.

Then, in the afternoon, we did the Dai Peng Dai Lu exercise; I’d seen that before and could mostly do it, but I definitely felt a lot more solid after learning it again. And I also was trying to go down lower than I had been; I feel like I’m better at going low than I used to be? Then we did the five step and the three step exercises; those were new to me. In the afternoon, I was mostly / entirely working with my regular practice partner; useful to make sure that we can do them together, hopefully we’ll still remember them on Saturdays.

Not this Saturday, though, because I’m on vacation visiting relatives; we’ll see how much Nei Gong and Tai Chi I do this week, but presumably it’ll be noticeably less than normal. Hopefully I’ll be able to do at least a bit of Nei Gong every day?

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