Nei Gong Notes, April 4, 2023

Apr 04 2023

The week started off kind of meh but ended up pretty good. I got in okay practice on Wednesday and Friday, but there wasn’t any day where I felt like that was a really good practice. A few months ago (or maybe the end of last year), I had these times where I had unexpected amounts of energy in my Dantian and spine, and while in some ways I feel better now, I also am not feeling like that at all frequently. So, while I feel like I’m doing better in some ways (both with my health and my Nei Gong), maybe I’m overestimating that progress. (Though, the previous couple of weeks, my TCM doctor was happy with how things were going, though he did say things had slightly backslid this week.)

It might be a side effect of not doing the Hui Chuns so constantly? And I do want to spend most of my time doing other stuff, but still, maybe doing one Kidney and one Spleen isn’t enough? I’ll try mixing in a second Kidney one and see how that helps.

Another hypothesis is that I should work on my form. I feel like I’m not relaxing my spine and neck as much as I had been when things were going well; easier to do when my Qi is going well, but still. I should expand more, to get more Spleen Qi, while working on hanging flesh. And I should make more space in my back, move my ribcage a bit back, and tweak the curvature of my lower spine to get my Ming Men full.

Anyways, that was Nei Gong last Wednesday through Friday. I did do a decent job of staying with my Tai Chi practice; I didn’t do the Xinjia first form but I did go through all the other forms I know, and I made it a bit further in the Guan Dao. And the Saturday Tai Chi class was fine.

And then there was a push hands workshop on Sunday. Lots of people there, which was great to see, I hope that gets both my teacher and my fellow students interested in keeping it up. It was good to practice with people other than my regular push hands partner; mostly the people were new to push hands, but that’s fine. I got reminded of a couple of single hand exercises that I learned last summer but haven’t done much since then, I should get back to practicing that one. I was working on relaxing and maintaining Peng, which seems like a good direction to go in (and which is also consistent with some of the form stuff I was mentioning on the Nei Gong side). And my teacher pointed out some situations where I wasn’t sinking enough into my back Kua, I should learn from that. (And I should also finally get around to taking a video of my Lao Jia first form, to help catch stuff like that.)

Also, a couple of weeks ago I watched a video where Damo was mentioning using Ma Bu as a diagnostic and as a foundational Gong Fu practice. So I watched a video he made on that; he actually showed the basic Ma Bu plus three follow-on moving exercises. I’m glad I watched it both because of the extra exercises and because of how he showed doing the form: wider than I’d been doing it, with a useful way to figure out the correct width and height.

When showing the first of the moving exercises, he said that you should make sure you can do the static version for 5 minutes first. Which, it turned out, I could without any particular problem, so that was good news. But I also figured there’s stuff in the static version for me to work on, so I’m going to do that regularly for a week or two before adding in the moving stuff; I did it several days in a row, though I forgot it yesterday and today, maybe I should add in a daily reminder for that.

And then yesterday’s Nei Gong practice was surprising. I sat down to do Anchoring the Breath; it seemed like it was going pretty well, my breath in particular was feeling surprisingly relaxed, so I made sure to work on that as well as the anchoring. And then, about halfway through, my spine just started to unfold and stretch up: basically, getting that expanded feeling that I was lamenting at the start of the post.

And it was also interesting that it wasn’t in the last part of the exercise, where my attention is completely down at the Dantian: it was where I was observing my breath in my torso somewhere. So I think what triggered it was me getting my breathing right: observing it and letting it develop without controlling it. I’ll definitely add that to the list of foundational stuff that I’m working on; and I should work on that when I’m standing, too, I feel too tense when I’m doing that. (Which is another reason to work on my Ma Bu, it’ll help with building a strong, relaxed standing foundation.)

So that was a really good sign. Would have been nice if today I’d been able to build further on that, but still, a good day. And, ultimately, a good week: progress on both the Tai Chi and Nei Gong sides, and I’ve also got a nice, tractable list of foundational changes to work on.

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