Nei Gong Notes, June 6, 2023

Jun 06 2023

A good week: no particularly long practice sessions, but interesting things happened in a few areas.

I started reading Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha by Daniel Ingram, and one of the things that he emphasized at the start was developing your concentration to the level of “access concentration”. I’d been thinking that I actually wasn’t concentrating enough during my Nei Gong; I’d been doing an okay job of working on physical things, and I’d been getting results from that, but I’d also been letting my mind wander around too much as part of a result. (It hasn’t helped that there’s now interesting stuff happening all over the inside of my body, so my mind has even more stuff than before to be distracted by!) So I should get back to working on concentration: not changing the set of exercises I go through, but just figuring out where I want my mind to be during a given exercise and then nudging it back there when it goes somewhere else.

I had a good arm stretching session on Wednesday; not as much going on as during in-person workshops with Rick, but I should definitely keep that up. (Maybe 15 minutes one day a week as a default for now?) And I’m also noticing my arms stretching more while I’m doing Wu Ji; I think I’m not particularly trying to actively stretch them, I think it’s mostly from the weight my hands interacting with relatively relaxed parts of my body? My left arm feels like things are a little bit twisted inside, but hopefully this will help get it untwisted; interestingly enough, even though I don’t feel the stretch as strongly on my right arm, I felt a noticeable bit of cold in my right shoulder during one of my Wu Ji sessions this week. I’d heard people talk about that as one possible symptom when things are purging (e.g. during Dao Yins) but I’d never experienced it myself; quite noticeable. So I think that my arms are going in good directions; it would be nice if I could get the same to happen with my legs and Kua, but getting a stretch from gravity or by sticking them out doesn’t work the same way with that part of my body…

Pretty good Advanced Dantian Gong session yesterday; I spent all morning feeling little bits of energy, especially in my spine. At first I was hoping that it meant that I’d gotten enough sleep the previous night and done enough to work on my energy levels that I was actually having an actively good day in that regard but nope, I got noticeably sleepy in the afternoon, so I think it was just the energy that I’d gathered in my Dantian showing up in my spine. Still, not a bad thing, I think. I would like to make more progress on the Microcosmic Orbit prep, though; I think Advanced Dantian Gong is doing reasonably well but the Bellows Breathing and Ming Line exercises aren’t being quite as strong as I’d like, so I should probably stick with the current set of exercises for a while longer.

I had my fourth class in the Silk Reeling course I’m teaching on Saturday; continues to go well, one more class left. While going over the Dao, I learned that I’d been doing Three Rings around the Sun in the Lao Jia Dao form a bit wrong: your right hand should be angled down and your left hand should be angled up in the bit after each ring, instead of being horizontal. (The ring itself is a horizontal chop, though.)

I did go through all of the Tai Chi forms I know at least once over the last week, so that’s good. I’ve really started to forget the spear form, so I’ll need to spend time getting back to that, though. And there are some other ones I should do more than once. So: a good start, but there’s more that I need to sort out in my practice time.

I did some extra push hands practice on Sunday. And it’s getting me to articulate two things that I think might be true and, if so, might be worth me working on. The first is when you’re being pushed on in the single hand practice: my theory there is that you should basically act like a beach ball floating on water, with somebody pushing you from above. (In the water case, from the side in the Tai Chi case!) So if the person pushes straight down, then the ball will go down, but otherwise the ball spins to the side. In the Tai Chi analogy, your back leg and back Kua are the water, and you’re the beach ball; so you start by doing Peng and inflating, then let yourself get pushed a bit and sink into your Kua, then turn if necessary so they’re pushing a little off center (to your right from your point of view), and then just let yourself rotate. Which means that I don’t actually do much of an active Lu: I’m active enough to turn, but once I’ve turned, I’m not actively guiding my opponent? I should ask my teacher if that makes sense, but basically I end up just doing Peng when receiving and Ji when pushing. (And I’m paying attention now when pushing to see how much my opponent just turns in response to my push and how much they actively guide me.)

So that’s one thing I want to work on. And the other thing is just giving and receiving force. I’m sinking into my rear Kua; and I think I’m supposed to be building a ground path, so I should be directing energy down my leg from my Kua into my foot and the ground. And I think I’m storing energy while doing that; so I want to figure out how to release that energy (as opposed to actively push, just let my leg expand from release) when turning that into the push.

I still don’t think I have enough time to watch all of Damo’s Tai Chi videos (though maybe I have enough time to watch them, just not to work through them), but maybe I should just watch his push hands ones? I’d avoided that because he introduces specific exercises that I won’t be able to put into practice, and because I figured the stuff in there builds on things that he talks about in, for example, the videos going through the form he’s teaching; but still, I think I need more Push Hands guidance, and my regular teacher only teaches it very sporadically.

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