Archive for September, 2023

Nei Gong Notes, September 26, 2023

Sep 26 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Another quite good week, at least by the standards of the last three months; hopefully this will be the new normal? I got permission to stop wearing the brace most of the time; so now I can do Nei Gong Wu Ji and other exercises that I couldn’t do at all, and I don’t have various bits of Silk Reeling or the Lao Jia first form that I wasn’t doing quite right because of the brace. The part of my hand around the bone that was broken (and is now growing back together but is still a bit weak) sometimes feels sore, but that’s manageable; and joints / tendons on that finger are a bit off, and my wrist flexibility is noticeably off. But that’s all expected; the only thing that was bad was something I’d already noticed, that my wrist not only has a noticeably limited range of motion when rotating my hand outwards but it also sometimes hurts in a weird way when I did that. But the doctor didn’t seem to see that as an active sign of problems; so hopefully if I move my hand around enough and work at stretching its limits, that will all get better.

And Tai Chi class on Saturday felt noticeably better, it felt like doing Tai Chi was helping my hand heal rather than hurting it. I still took it a little easy, e.g. not doing Flash the Back with anything approaching full force on my left hand, but I’ll ramp it up over the coming weeks. I even tried doing two-handed Push Hands; that felt a little odd, so I stopped after a pretty short amount of time (five minutes, maybe?), but I didn’t feel any adverse effects, so I’ll do that longer this week. Honestly, after the whole thing my hand felt noticeably better than it did after I’d gone to class the first time after the accident, even though I had the brace on then.

So yay for healing. In terms of getting back to normal: I’m still mostly doing Hui Chuns and spinal waves, but I’ve managed to work in some of the MCO prep stuff. I had an interesting time on Thursday where I did the Ming Line in the morning and then, an hour later, I was sitting and eating breakfast and all of a sudden I felt my upper back start to spread; not sure what was going on there, maybe some Yang Qi had migrated up my spine over that hour and decided to make itself known? And I did the Spinal Dao Yin sequence on Wednesday; I’ll probably do that once a week for the next few weeks. I won’t say I’ve done a ton of Wu Ji, but I had an interesting time on Sunday where, part of the way through Wu Ji, I felt some really strong inflation for a while, especially in my chest and arms; and then maybe five minutes later I deflated but not in a bad way, I just shifted back some and did a better job of sinking. And I feel like I’m doing a reasonable job of figuring out how to stand so my body hangs together while sinking, with my Yong Quan helping keep me upright.

As for Tai Chi: I went through all of the Chen Tai Chi forms I know once last week except for Pao Chui and the Guan Dao; those two feel like they’re probably strenuous in ways that mean that I should ease into them a little more. And I was feeling good enough that I was getting frustrated at doing the forms badly; not because of my hands but because, honestly, my standards are just not high enough for most of those forms. So I really need to spend more time in to get all the weapon forms that I’ve learned to a state where I can spend my time going deep into what it means to do them well, instead of floundering around at a superficial level. And, for the forms where I actually have started to address them at a deeper level, I also see more stuff to work on.

This, of course, all requires time. But I think I’ve got enough energy that I can do that; and I’ve found ways to carve out more time where Velvet lets me practice (whether Tai Chi or Nei Gong), instead of having her be a source of interruptions. And we’ve gotten her to mostly sleep through the night; sometimes I still wake up anyways (because she whimpers in her sleep and/or rattles her pen while moving in her sleep), but it’s a manageable level of interruptions, especially since the TCM treatment has gotten my Kidney Qi levels to a healthier state.

The other thing that requires time is Damo’s Tai Chi course. But I am starting to pick that up again; I reviewed the stretching exercises from week 8 this week (I think they’ll actually help my hands’ range of motion as well as my shoulders), and I’ll review the Wu Song Shen Fa 3 lesson from that same week tonight and start doing that some days instead of Spinal Waves. And then, next week or the week after, I’ll move on from that lesson.

It’s not internal arts, but the other thing that I’ve been getting back to is playing piano. The range of motion and the weird pain while rotating is definitely an issue there, but not enough to make it feel actively harmful; so I’m hoping that doing that will help my hands too? So I’m trying to do that a bit every day; I’m not working on actually making the pieces that I’ve learned recently sound better, I’m just going through them once each as a hand therapy mechanism. Hopefully soon enough I can get back to actually improving them on an artistic level. (Which is also motivation for what I want to be doing with Tai Chi: my playing of those pieces really had been improving in non-superficial ways until I broke my hand, so I know what it feels like to do that, I just need the same feeling when doing Tai Chi.)

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Nei Gong Notes, September 19, 2023

Sep 19 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Probably my best Nei Gong week since we got Velvet? On Wednesday, I did a good length Advanced Dantian Gong session in addition to my now-regular Hui Chun; and I did a more-than-minimal amount of Tai Chi that afternoon, too. On Saturday I did a decent amount of Spinal Waves, of Tai Chi Wu Ji, and of Taiyi Standing; and on Sunday I did some Bellows Breathing in addition to my Hui Chun. (And Hui Chun on Friday and Saturday, too.) So I’m finally starting to get back to MCO prep stuff; no huge effect or anything, but I was reacting to the Advanced Dantian Gong, and also I was feeling energy at the ends of the Ming Line during some of the sessions.

I’d tried getting back to Ma Bu a week or two ago; I was trying that some this past week, but it kept on going not so well, I kept on slipping. Which had always been an issue; it was manageable if I practiced in bare feet on a yoga mat, but that’s harder with Velvet around. So maybe it’s just that my shoes are too slippery (I’ve ordered another set of Tai Chi shoes, we’ll see if they help); but also I’m not relaxing enough, and it’s possible that, if I relax more, then the extra sinking will help more of the force to go downwards. Something to poke at.

I’m seeing the doctor tomorrow, hopefully they’ll give me permission to not wear my brace most of the time. It’ll be good to get back to Nei Gong Wu Ji, if so, and in general to various Nei Gong standing exercises; though I also do want to keep up my Spinal Waves while I’m working on keeping my TCM doctor happy with me. (One solution to that is to do the Spinal Dao Yin sequence, though that’s probably only a once-a-week thing.)

Though I probably won’t have as good practice this upcoming week as last week: I’ve got multiple appointments in the middle of the day tomorrow, so I won’t have as much practice time, and in general my sleep’s been a little bit off because of a puppy transition. But hopefully I can improve my practice in general over the next month.

I got confirmation that I’m registered for Damo’s workshop in Texas next summer, so hopefully I’ll be there.

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Nei Gong Notes, September 12, 2023

Sep 12 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week, at least by post-puppy/broken hand standards. I felt like either the extra Hui Chuns, the longer spinal waves, or both are paying off: awake much more during the days. And when I went to see my TCM doctor, he said that my Kidneys were being well behaved, a noticeable difference from the previous week. So I’ll keep that up; I’m actually hoping that I might even have enough energy on Wednesdays / Fridays / Sundays to work in some more seated Nei Gong beyond whatever Hui Chun I’m doing that day? We’ll see how it goes, though, both in terms of my energy level and in terms of whether Velvet is being mellow for long enough. (It also helps that her housebreaking is improving significantly, that makes a big difference with my sleep and also means fewer distractions during the day.)

And I’m getting more energized about Tai Chi. I still didn’t do it a ton last week, but I did do some Ma Bu for the first time in a while, so hopefully I can start working on my conditioning. And on the monthly Sunday Tai Chi class I was pleased to see that my left hand let me work on the staff, so I should be able to practice that; and we did some Xin Jia practice that went over some bits that I could use review on. So my hope is that, this week, I’ll be able to review the staff and the Xin Jia first form some, instead of just the Lao Jia first form.

Also I was paying attention to my Kua while doing Tai Chi; I’m doing a good job in terms of relaxing it in a way that has my pelvis slide under to some extent. So I think I’m starting to fairly reliably do what people refer to as tucking my tailbone; and my tailbone does end up being tucked, it’s just that it doesn’t come from a tucking impetus or even a relaxing impetus. At any rate, very useful, I feel a lot more stable while doing that.

And something during one of the Tai Chi classes made me think that I should pay more attention to the way my Dantian gets involved when doing the form, so I’ll try to spend time on that next.

Also in terms of random stuff: my legs are not behaving how I would like in multiple ways, not enough sinking, not good enough balance, etc. Nothing new, but I should work on that; in particular, I want to work on relaxing them more while standing. (Though sinking into the Kua / tucking my tailbone is helping.) And I read through Byron Jacobs’ Xing Yi book; interesting, even though I’m not actually doing Xing Yi, but if I were, there’s definitely stuff there that I would want to pay attention to. And, among other things, it gave me a nudge to think about having my tongue touch the top of the mouth; I’d been thinking that I didn’t feel anything when I did that, but actually I do, it’s just kind of subdued? So I should do that more, or at least think about whether or not I’m doing that; I think I might actually be doing it by default some of the time.

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Nei Gong Notes, September 5, 2023

Sep 05 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Pretty good week. To be sure, it started off with some warning signs: puppy-related sleep problems, and my TCM doctor said that my Kidney Qi is backsliding. And I think those are related (and of course it didn’t help that I couldn’t use my hands properly for a month): I think (in part because of my tiredness) that I haven’t been spending enough time looking after my back (there was one part that was unexpectedly sore, in particular), and also I need to do more nourishing Qigong.

So I’ve been being better about stretching out my back a bit in various ways during the day (e.g. touching my toes in a way that gives a bit of a back stretch), and I’ve switched my standing practice to not only always include some spinal waves, but to switch from a single 5 minute session of that to 15 minutes on it, normally then slowly then not moving but sensing and actively Songing up my spine. And I’ve also been doing more Hui Chuns, I did 40 minute Kidney and Spleen ones twice each this week.

And I think it’s helping. My sleep last night was fine by post-puppy standards but iffy by historical standards, but I still had a decent amount of energy today, I certainly didn’t feel like I needed to take a nap in the middle of the morning. And Velvet’s housebreaking has improved noticeably and we’ve come up with a plan for working on overnight specifically, so I’m pretty optimistic there.

Last week I’d strained myself a bit much at Tai Chi; I decided to go to class this week but take it really easy, and that worked fine. And I did some single hand push hands with my right hand after class, nice to get back to that. I also talked to one of the other senior students about my vague idea to get some sort of senior student study group together; she had some ideas but it unfortunately didn’t work too well with what I wanted. I think I’m going to listen again to the podcast with my teacher that kicked off my thinking about that, and if the bit there about having a mutual study group that comments on each other’s forms does actually sound like he recommends then I’ll see if people are up to that as a one-off thing.

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