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Nei Gong Notes, January 24, 2023

Jan 24 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

The main event this week was that I did a three day Nei Gong workshop with Rick. Some amount of arm stretching, though not as much as last time; I am getting better at stretching my arms just by changing focus (alternating between absorbing my attention in my arm and then pulling back my focus to outside my arm), and sometimes I actually got a surprisingly large stretch that way. The most surprising time I actually hit my bone level, all of a sudden feeling a hard cylinder in the middle of my arm; Rick said that, if you go deep enough, you can even feel the bone start to stretch, but I didn’t get that far. There was also some hint of the spread going into my chest, hopefully I can continue to have that happen a bit.

So I’m excited to keep on doing that; though, unfortunately, the previous week my right thumb started to occasionally give me a twinge of pain, and noticing more when that’s happening, I’m realizing that it’s not triggered by thumb exercise (e.g. I’d thought that practicing piano had set it off, and while it’s still possible that’s the case, I haven’t noticed the pain appear while practicing piano), but it does get triggered sometimes when I just straighten my arm. So I’m worried that it’s being triggered by having the tendon be pulled by my arm, which makes me think that doing active stretching is a bad idea until it gets better; maybe stretching by just alternating attention would work because that activates my fascia instead of my muscles, but still, seems dangerous.

Anyways, the workshop was mostly focused on building internal connection, using the first few Ji Ben exercises as a vehicle for that. So get everything set up doing Wu Ji, paying particular attention to connecting your shoulder blades to your Kua and your Kua to your Yongquan; and then, maintain that connection during the Ji Bens, and let that connection move your arms in synchrony with your center of gravity.

And I got some refinements on my Wu Ji. In terms of getting into Wu Ji, Rick mostly repeated what he said last time, but hopefully it stuck a little better: before settle down, first spread your hip joints and settle your pelvis on your femurs, and then sink down a bit; then relax the area around your tailbone, and sink down a bit more; then spread your Mingmen in all directions and sink down to the full proper depth. Doing all of that lets the base of my body feel pretty floaty. And, at some point (or periodically), give all of your joints an instruction to expand. And, as you sink your shoulder blades, let that travel down into your arms, and let your arms curve; you’ll end up with your hands pointed somewhat inward, instead of forward.

So that was the workshop; a good three days. It meant that I didn’t go to Tai Chi class on Saturday, though at least I did manage to practice some yesterday, because it’s finally not constantly raining. In terms of other stuff that’s going on, I’m noticing more tension inside my chest, at some point I should spend time with Song breathing. (Not the first time I’ve said that!) And I’ve added a “jogging” entry to Streaks; for now I have it configured to urge me to do it three times a week, though I’m thinking four might be a better idea: I think I’m making a bit of progress three days a week but it’s uncomfortably close to maintaining a steady state, so I do think a fourth day would make a difference. But for now I just want to make sure I’ve got the habit established in a way that works with my days, so I’ll leave the reminder at three days, and maybe I’ll do more days some weeks but maybe I won’t.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 17, 2023

Jan 17 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

As per my plans from last week, I’ve been doing Anchoring the Breath and the Tai Chi version of Wu Ji both days. And it’s helped: I think it’s helped my sleep (it’s certainly better than it has been but who knows the cause), but the inside of my body also feels good. Some pretty strong sinking when doing the Wu Ji, and my breathing feels deeper.

An interesting experience when doing my weekly run through the Spinal Dao Yin video: normally, when moving up the spine in the bit that’s like the Water Wu Xing but further back, I’m paying attention to how the interface with the spine feels, but I realized if I change my focus a bit, I can tune more into the fluid of the Qi feels directly. So I’ll have to experiment with that more; one thing that struck me is that the mass of liquid didn’t feel like it was getting stuck as much as when I was focusing on how it interacted with the spine. So I guess it’s routing around blockages better than I thought? I’ll definitely want to pay attention to that in future weeks.

My Tai Chi teacher went over my form again this week; it had only been a month or so, but I’d subbed in to lead the start of class for somebody who couldn’t lead it the previous week, so I got to go again. I wasn’t too optimistic, both because it hadn’t been much time and because the rain and my brother’s visit meant that I had practiced very little outside of class, but I guess my Nei Gong had been helping or something, because my teacher was unusually positive towards my form, he said that I actually looked quite good. He did mention that at the end of Dan Bien, my right hand should be slightly lower than my left hand, and when I extend my left hand out there, I should do it in a more expanding fashion rather than an angular fashion (similarly to how he’d told me to expand in a few places with my right arm the previous time), so I’ll work on that, but it seems like, in general, I should try to tune into the feeling that I had last time.

I hadn’t been doing jogging as much over the previous week or two, and it had been showing, but I was more disciplined about doing it over the last week or so, and it’s been helping, I’m getting pretty close to my previous distance. I want to stick with that, so I’ve added it to Streaks, with a target of jogging three times a week.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 10, 2022

Jan 10 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Interesting week. The main topic for the week is sleep: my sleep was continuing to be not great; when I mentioned it to my doctor, he switched me back to the Liver Heat herbs, instead of the previous herbs that were partly for Liver and partly for Kidneys. I had pretty dreadful sleep that night (though I can’t blame the herbs for that, I think I was still finishing off the previous batch), so I asked the IAA forum about that. One person suggested concentrating on sinking my Tian Tu, another person suggested concentrating on Anchoring. (Presumably Anchoring the Breath.)

And I’d been worried that the progress that I’d been making on my spine and Kidneys might lead to some amount of energy going up and getting stuck in my head; and working on my neck should, I think, help with Liver, but maybe the attention I was paying there was getting Qi stuck in my head? So working on sinking and anchoring sounded plausible; and also I think I probably should put a pause on the spine work (since it was largely motivated by my Kidneys and they are okay), and maybe also not do so much Wu Ji (since right now the interesting effects I’m getting out of that involve sending energy up my body from my Yong Quan), though I’m less sure about that.

So I’m trying to do Anchoring the Breath every day; I’ll still try to stick with the long Hui Chun sessions on Wednesdays / Fridays / Sundays, but hopefully I’ll have time to do both. And on Sunday I did some of the Tai Chi version of Wu Ji (and I did it with my weight in the middle of my foot instead of over my Yong Quan); that didn’t feel too energizing, and actually I felt a decent amount of sinking, with my legs getting full. So I think I’ll stick with doing that most days for a while: it’ll probably help (or at least not hurt) with my sleep issues, and it’s been a while since I’ve done that for a noticeable length of time in a row, and I think I’ll learn something from the experience this time.

And sleep on Sunday night was pretty good, and sleep last night was actually the best sleep I’ve had in a few months – I woke up once in the middle of the night, I’m fairly sure, but I went back to sleep immediately and I don’t think I woke up beyond that. So that’s a nice sign.

Anyways, other Nei Gong notes: I’m noticing the Ming Line show up during random seated exercises. Another part of the reason why I’m worried about energy making it up my spine on its own, because my Dantian seems like it’s doing pretty well. And when I was doing the bit of the Liver Hui Chun that is basically Pushing the Tides, something interesting happened: I felt something (fascia?) open up a bit, but it was actually across my chest instead of in my shoulders or arms. So I’ll definitely want to try that out more; admittedly, the opening up might be a one time thing, with something getting unlocked, but maybe my chest will continue to loosen, or maybe something in my arms will loosen?

Also, when working on sinking my liquid center of mass, I’d been having a hard time getting it as low as it should go, and that seemed to be related to some tenseness at the bottom of the front of my torso. And I realized that that tenseness might actually be largely mechanical: if I lean forward more, it gets stronger, whereas if I angle back a bit, it goes away. So I guess I’m leaning forward too much; which fits in with a bunch of other different observations I’ve made about me being too forward-oriented in different parts of my body. I think I’ll write a post about that on my other blog soon.

In terms of Tai Chi: after the last Dan Bian in the Xinjia first form, go left before right, and close the left fist as you go left. And when doing Head On Cannon in that form, your fists should be somewhat high: not all the way to your chest, but maybe at the height of your solar plexus? They’re lower in Laojia, but your upper arms are in about the same place in both forms; because you turn your hands, your elbows lower a bit in Laojia. But your fists aren’t as low as the Dantian even in the Laojia case. (And hopefully now I’ve seen the end of the form enough times that I’ll actually be able to do it at a basic level; I should start practicing it more.)

And I did finally make it to the Sunday class. In Paochui, I should work on wrapping more (right arm on the outside) in Wrapping Cracker. And in the Guan Dao, when transitioning from presenting the teacup to the next move, I shouldn’t take a step with my feet: you turn around, but your feet turn rather than shift. In general, I’m doing a good job of keeping up with the Guan Dao, even though I’ve missed a bunch of classes; I’ll miss next month, too, but while we’re getting close to the end of the form, I’m pretty sure we’ll continue at least through March, so hopefully I’ll have at least one more class to learn it instead of depending solely on the video for the last part.

I listened to a Guru Viking interview with Adam Mizner; a similar take to Damo’s on Tai Chi, maybe going into slightly different details? A reminder that there’s a lot more for me to go into, if I’m up for spending the time/effort there. (Which I’m probably not…)

Also, all of this working on spinal / body alignment has had me noticed how I frequently twist up a bit while sitting, which reminded me of something Damo mentioned in one of his lectures, along the lines that sitting at ease isn’t just sitting comfortably or sitting without moving, it’s sitting in a relatively straightforward position. So I spent some time at work today trying to just sit with good alignment and without crossing things; it’s pretty hard! Which feels like it’s something that is worth working on: there’s programming in my body that I kind of feel like isn’t a great idea and that’s deeper rooted than I thought.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 3, 2023

Jan 03 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Okay week, but nothing to write home about. I had a four day weekend, which might lead to me getting more practice than normal done; I got an okay amount of Nei Gong done, but not as much as I’d hoped, and much less Tai Chi practice than I would have expected. It was raining a lot, which limited the amount of time I was going to spend outside, and also my brother was visiting, so I wanted to spend a decent amount of my free time with him.

Also, my sleep was not great several days, and really lousy on one of them, which had a noticeable effect on my practice time. I’m not thrilled with that regression: I’d thought that I was close to having that basically fixed, but it’s really not? And neither the Liver nor the Spleen Hui Chun seemed to really help. Yesterday I did get back to the Heart Hui Chun, on the theory that I should see how all of them affect me these days; I didn’t notice any big effect while I was doing it, though I can’t say for sure how it affected my sleep, because I’d gotten such lousy sleep the previous night that I decided to do a significant length Wood Wu Xing session as well. So, while I did sleep a more or less acceptable amount last night, I don’t know for sure which of those made a difference (or, for that matter, whether it was just random variance); but, based on my sensations while doing the exercise, I think it was the Wood Wu Xing, my head did seem to calm down a bit while doing that.

Having said all of that, I did get in a fairly solid amount of Nei Gong, at least. I got back to working on my spine, doing the spine bits of the Clipping Passes exercise most days; I haven’t seen any specific effects from doing that yet, but my spine at least feels nice and warm from doing it. I kept up the Wu Ji but they were mostly around 20 minutes, I’m not sure any reached 30 minutes; and no particularly unusual sensations from that this week. (And more fiddling around than I’d like getting my alignment right, but maybe I’m getting a little better at that again?)

Also, the Clipping Passes session is only 15 minutes, which is pretty short for the sitting part of my daily practice; on days when I normally do longer sessions, I’d just add in a 40 minute Hui Chun, but I didn’t have as many work meetings as normal this week, so even on days when I was working, I usually added in a 25 minute Hui Chun. Though today I was feeling good so I decided to do an Advanced Dan Tian Gong session. I’m not 100% sure I was doing things right, so I should rewatch the video, but it’s nice to get back to the pre-Microcosmic Orbit exercises. Given the sleep issues, I should still focus on health, I think, but I also feel like the work that my doctor has been doing on my Kidneys and spine is setting me up pretty well to get back to the Microcosmic Orbit.

As to Tai Chi, the Saturday class was wet, so we didn’t do most of the regular bits: we went through the first form a couple of times, but the rest of the time my teacher was just answering questions. I asked about the transition from Oblique Posture to Flash the Back, because I was watching a video of him doing it and it was different than how I did it; it turns out that you should do a Lu there before the first flash, whereas I was going straight into the two flashes. Also he talked a bit about another difference that I’d noticed: in Dantian Change, when you’re expanding out near the end, it’s not a Peng: your body expands upwards more, so your hips go up instead of down, before you sink your whole body in the Song at the end.

One thing I forgot to mention last week: my left shoulder is remaining slightly tight. If I relax I can still get it to the right position, but I’ve regressed a bit after the work on opening it up from the workshop with Rick. Still, that work lasted longer than I expected, and still has a noticeable effect: I now know where my left shoulder should be, it just needs a bit more help, and my right shoulder is still behaving well. And I’ve got another workshop with Rick in two and a half weeks, and one with Joyce two weeks after that, so hopefully either I’ll get those back to shape or I’ll improve in some other way!

And when watching one of Damo’s recent videos on Youtube the recommendations included this older video of his; interesting discussion of the six harmonies of Bagua / Tai Chi, I’d never seen the first three in particular presented in that way. (Especially the first one.)

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Nei Gong Notes, December 27, 2022

Dec 27 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

I got back to my full practice session this week. My brother was in town, so maybe I didn’t do quite as many long sessions as I otherwise would have, but I also had an extra vacation day because of the holiday, so it all evens out? More 40 minute Hui Chun sessions than I had been doing, maybe I would have done a longer Wu Ji session this weekend otherwise, but still, a solid week.

Of course, I was having to build my practice back up. So I was trying to do a decent amount of Wu Ji, and it definitely needed a bit of help. Before I got sick, I was getting interesting results from pressure on my Yong Quan, and also I felt that my spine was loosening up in ways that had my pelvis do a better job of hanging straight down than it had been. I was still getting some results from Yong Quan pressurization, but it was definitely more muted at the start of the week.

As the week went on, it started to get interesting again, though actually in a kind of different way. Not as much energy actively lifting up my body and going up my spine, though I did get some of that. But when standing today, I was feeling energy go through all of my limbs, and different parts of my body were hanging down very strongly. The former of those is something that’s been happening off and on recently, but the latter is new; maybe another manifestation that I’m getting significantly better these days at relaxing and making space.

I had iffy sleep several nights this week; and it was also paired with my stomach / throat feeling a bit off. I’d noticed that pairing in the past, I should ask Dr. Yang about it, I don’t know if that’s a Liver Heat symptom or if it’s something else. Anyways, I’d been hoping that the Liver Hui Chun would help with that, since it was really effective the first time I did that a month or two back, but honestly I haven’t noticed the Liver Hui Chun having a strong effect since then. But this week I did a long Spleen Hui Chun for the first time in a while, and I had my best sleep in a week the evening after I did that. Might be a coincidence, but I should definitely get back to mixing that in; and that also makes me wonder what effect the Heart and Lung Hui Chuns would have on me, I should try to find time to do a good session of each of those over the next couple of weeks.

And I’ve kept up the jogging; not quite as many days in a row as I did the previous week, but still, enough to help me extend the distance I’d been going in.

As to Tai Chi, at least it wasn’t raining on Saturday, but my teacher was out for the holidays, so we just did a review of a bunch of weapons forms. Which reminded my that I’ve forgotten some details in the spear form, I have to make sure to go over that. I can see that I haven’t been practicing at home as much as I should over the last month or so; I should get back to that, and I have at least gone through all the forms I know once when practicing at home Sunday and yesterday. So hopefully I’m starting to get back on track there, though I do need to actively review the spear and the Xin Jia form, and also to make sure I learn the next bit of the Guan Dao.

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Nei Gong Notes, December 20, 2022

Dec 20 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Mostly a sick week, unfortunately. I felt better, so I did my regular long Nei Gong practice on Wednesday morning. And I could tell part way through that that was a mistake, and the cold did indeed get worse again after that. Who knows if it would have gotten worse anyways or if the Nei Gong contributed because it was a little strenuous or if the Nei Gong contributed because it was moving stuff around inside, but at any rate: whoops.

Not a horrible relapse of the cold or anything: ultimately, it was just a cold, and the symptoms never got particularly bad. (They lingered a bit more in the second part of the cold, but probably was a little less severe than the first part of the cold, and the first part wasn’t severe either?) But, because of that experience, I figured I should put off doing Nei Gong, so I didn’t do any until today. Today I did a bit of sitting and just 15 minutes of Wu Ji; felt fine, and while my Wu Ji wasn’t as productive as it had been in the prior weeks, it felt like it was having a little bit of an effect, at least? So I’ll do something longer tomorrow; probably not as much as my regular Wednesday session, maybe 20 or 25 minutes of Wu Ji plus a 25 minute Hui Chun? (And maybe a bit of work on my back, too.)

I did do Tai Chi on Saturday, though; nice to have it not be raining this week, the previous two weeks had been rather wet. And I was glad I did that; my body actually felt more active inside than it normally does when I’m doing Tai Chi. Not sure what was going on there; maybe my system was just glad that I was doing some sort of internal work? In terms of stuff that I noticed, I should continue to pay more attention to how my weight goes down my body, especially on the right side. And my right knee position is occasionally a little off (too far inside) during Grab and Tuck Robe; I thought I’d fixed that but apparently not quite.

Also, I saw a post from somebody talking about how doing cardio work had helped his Nei Gong, and that’s a real gap in my exercise. I don’t really want to make time for some new addition to my practice regimen, but I figured that I spend some amount of time just going for walks, and I could replace some of that with some jogging? So I did that on Friday, because I wasn’t going to do Nei Gong in the morning like normal, and I lasted longer while jogging than I expected; and I went out on Saturday and Sunday again, and actually on Sunday I made it farther still. I did try jogging soon after moving out here a couple of decades back, and I don’t remember it getting better as quickly back then as it did this time; maybe my memory is wrong, but also maybe I wasn’t doing it every day, and maybe that makes a difference? So I actually went jogging on Monday and today as well, during lunchtime at work; and today I made it quite a bit farther again. (I was at home today instead of the office, so I could compare the distance more easily.) Nothing that would be at all impressive to anybody who jogs regularly, let alone runs regularly, but I made it up to a mile today in about 11 and a half minutes, and I definitely was not expecting to reach that distance so quickly.

So I’ll keep that up. I still don’t like jogging, but I also feel like maybe I’m better now at dealing with unpleasantness? Hard to say; and it’s not like I’m going out of my way to push through, either. (I am using the previous day’s distance as my goal for the next day, and I’m trying to tack on another block or so onto it, basically; but if I really wanted to run until I was ready to drop, I could definitely go noticeably farther.) We’ll see if my Nei Gong changes.

I did go to my regular TCM appointment on Friday; my doctor was quite pleased at the improvement in my Kidney, and he thought my back was opening up in ways that helped with that. So that’s nice; hopefully that means that we’re approaching a level where I won’t need to go in every week, because I’ve been doing that for a while now and I don’t want to be doing that forever. (Well, it’s not like I need to go in every week now; I’m just doing that because it still seems to be helping. And helping is good! But if things plateau at an improved level, then I’ll be happy to declare victory.)

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Nei Gong Notes, December 13, 2022

Dec 13 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

I honestly don’t remember how Nei Gong went this week; fine, more of the same, I think? In particular, I was continuing with the Clipping Passes exercise; I asked my TCM doctor on Friday about how my spine was doing. He said that it was straighter than it had been; not sure if the Clipping Passes exercise helped that or the Spinal Dao Yin helped that or if me finding a better position to stand in during Wu Ji helped that or if it’s all his treatment, or what, but it’s certainly good news. He said that the one tight spot on my spine still needs work, though, so I should keep up the spine work. So I’ll keep on doing the Spinal Dao Yin once a week; I think instead of doing the full Clipping Passes set, I’ll just do the spine bits, and I’ll use the extra time to do some of the Self-Healing exercise, with attention on my left Kidney region.

My Tai Chi teacher went over my form on Saturday. My notes: In a lot of moves, I’m not expanding my arm enough in the middle of the move, and sometimes I end up with my elbow too sharp. E.g. in Grab and Tuck Robe, when my right hand is going over to the right, it should also be expanding. Or in White Crane Spreads its Wings, expand your right arm while raising it, don’t wait until the end to expand. You end up feeling stretchy while doing that; this might be related to Spleen Qi, though I didn’t ask him.

Also, when pushing at the end of Six Sealing Four Closing, don’t lean my torso forward: my torso moves back a little bit and sinks into my right Kua, the weight should mostly bypass my knee.

Unfortunately, I had the beginning of a cold on Saturday during the day, and by the evening, I was pretty sure it was a cold. But it was a short one: Sunday wasn’t great, but I was clearly getting better on Monday, and today has been fine. (Not completely normal, but well enough that I went out in the world.) So I’m planning to do my normal Nei Gong tomorrow, I think that will be okay. It mean that I missed the December Sunday Tai Chi lesson, which is bad timing; ah well.

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Nei Gong Notes, December 6, 2022

Dec 06 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week. I’ve been working on my back this week, mostly doing the Clipping Passes exercise but sometimes doing the Spinal Dao Yin video or the Dragon Dao Yins. And I think it’s been helping? At first I wasn’t sure, but when I was just standing at the end of the Spinal Dao Yin video, it did feel like things were opening up, including in the place where things are stuck. And then yesterday I did the Water Wu Xing exercise, slowing down to try to feel every vertebra, and I didn’t feel a blank space at that spot in my spine. So hopefully I’m making progress; we’ll see what my doctor says on Friday.

And I’ve been doing Wu Ji most days. It hasn’t been as actively surprising as it was that one time a week ago, but it’s been good. I’m getting pretty reliably able to trigger useful-feeling sensations from my Yongquan; and, when I do that, my legs feel a little lighter, and if I relax properly and lift my head enough, stuff seems to start going up my spine at least somewhat. I’m in general trying not to pull too forcefully up on my head: I think it was useful doing that a couple of times, but I also think doing that has opened things up, and it’s not clear to me that I want to keep on pulling that way, I think I mostly want the head lifted up enough so that my spine and torso can use my head as an anchor to sink off of.

In terms of sinking, I’m getting better at relaxing my body and sinking even with energy coming up from my feet; sinking my Tian Tu helps with that, but I also think I’m doing an okay job of letting my tailbone sink. And I think I’m doing a better job of left-to-right alignment of my pelvis, even when I’m practicing without a mirror nearby to help; the forces don’t feel completely balanced in my pelvis and legs, but they feel pretty close, and I think it’s not completely implausible that the ways in which they feel imbalanced reflect an improved understanding that my spine and related areas of my body are a little off and that I can start actively working on that. We’ll see…

Also in terms of things being off, my doctor mentioned (again, he’s brought this up before) that my Kidneys are particularly weak on the left side. He gave me an exercise to work on that side, but I’ve also asked the Internal Arts Academy if they have any suggestions for working on one side specifically, we’ll see if Damo or any other senior teachers have any suggestions. The other thing that’s off is that I’m having sleep problems that I’m almost positive come from allergies; it got a lot worse recently, and I suspect that it’s related to the furnace coming on now that it’s gotten colder; I’m having our air ducts cleaned tomorrow, hopefully that will help.

I’ve also noticed that I’m just wanting to practice more. That certainly feels like a good sign; maybe a sign that my overall energy level is feeling better, maybe a sign that my body and mind are getting benefits from my current practices and want more of it, maybe a sign of something else? At any rate, it’s nice to feel that way; I didn’t mind practicing before, but it is good to actively want to do it more. And also my body is feeling a little different and better inside, and even when I’m not practicing I’m often wanting to sit and relax and let my spine and neck float up a bit.

Nothing in particular to report for Tai Chi. Last Saturday it was really wet, so we didn’t practice Jian; I led Silk Reeling that day, so I should get my form reviewed this Saturday. And I think I’m in good shape for the Guan Dao lesson this Sunday.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 29, 2022

Nov 29 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

Surprisingly interesting week. Health-wise, my sleep has been okay, but not as good as it was the previous two weeks, which was a bit of a disappointment. Though on Wednesday my stomach felt surprisingly good, even though I’d eaten spicy food for dinner; I’d done a 40 minute Liver Hui Chun session that day, I wonder if that was linked? And then my stomach felt surprisingly off on Thursday, though actually I think “surprisingly off” meant “back to my baseline of how I’d been feeling for the last few years”; I wonder if what I ate for breakfast was relevant, I might want to pay more attention to how food is affecting me. Also in terms of things that were a bit of a disappointment, I did a decent length Jing Gong session on Friday, and I didn’t really feel any bouncing inside.

But then when I went in for my appointment on Friday, Dr. Yang said that my Liver was doing very well, so that was good to hear? Hopefully that means that my sleep will get better again soon.

He also mentioned that one factor in my Kidney issues was that there was a place in my spine where it was getting blocked. Which didn’t surprise me, I’d noticed a couple of months back that there was a spot at about where Dr. Yang was pointing where I didn’t have the flexibility / sensation that I expected. So that was something I’d been thinking anyways that it would be good to have fixed; and I’m happy to have Dr. Yang help with that.

That reminded me of the video on the Clipping Passes from Damo’s public Microcosmic Orbit series: I remember that making my back feel good when I went through it before, and I thought one of the clipping passes was in about the right place. So I watched that on Sunday, and I figure I’ll try going through that most days for a while. Which actually does mean that I’ve got a bit of pressure on what I do with my practice time, because I also want to keep on doing Hui Chun exercises and to do Self-Healing exercises; I am managing to do two sitting exercises on some days, but still, maybe not great? In practice, I think it means that I’m not doing nearly as much Hui Chun as I have been (though I’ll still make sure to do a couple of 40 minute sessions a week); we’ll see what comes of that. Hopefully I’ll be able to open up my spine soon and then I can stop doing that one. (And hopefully opening it up will help my energy levels!)

As to the Self-Healing exercise, I haven’t been doing it every day, and when I’ve been doing it, I’ve switched it to my knee sometimes and my ankle sometimes. I’ve actually been getting unusual ankle pain this last week; first in my right ankle, though that went away after a bit, and more recently in my left ankle. I think my posture has maybe been changing a little bit, at least when I’m doing standing practice; hopefully the ankle issues are just a temporary reaction to that? They don’t seem to be particularly chronic, so that’s good, at least; and actually my right knee is doing better recently too. But I can’t give any credit to the Self-Healing exercise for any of that, I haven’t been doing it enough on those body parts to have any real effect, I think. (And that also means that it’ll be hard for me to tell if it has any effect at all, because clearly the baseline level of variation in the aches and pains in my body is high these days!)

In terms of standing practice: that has been very interesting. I mentioned a posture change above; I’m sinking into my left Kua more, and I think that’s helping me be less shifted to one side while still feeling like my weight is balanced between both feet. So hopefully I can develop that habit, and maybe it’ll even help with my spine alignment.

And that had me paying more attention and experimenting more with where my weight was landing, and one day, at the end of my Wu Ji, I noticed that, when I landed on my Yongquan, I felt a noticeable amount of upward force in my legs. (Enough that I actually felt a little uprooted; makes me wonder how I should balance that with sinking.) So the next day I did a longer Wu Ji session and I started trying to recapture that feeling right from the beginning; I did manage to get to the right weight location fairly quickly. And, as I stayed there for a while, my legs started feeling really energized: staying up on their own, and I kind of felt like a stick figure with lines of force going through them.

So that was pretty interesting, but it was also localized in the lower half of my body more than I would have liked. So, after 20 minutes or so, I decided to stretch up my head a bit, and rotate it forward slightly as well. And wow, that was surprisingly effective: I started feeling the same sort of energy in my head, arms, and upper torso. And my arms and the tops of my shoulders wanted to spread in response to that pull; so I just let them, and I ended up feeling like I had a ton more space in my shoulders / armpit. (And my arms ended up pretty wide, too.)

With that, both the top and bottom of my body felt more energized than they ever have while I was doing Wu Ji. There was a gap, though, which was basically my back / spine. I did wonder if some of that was related to the spine blockage I mentioned earlier; I did try pulling my head up more and I could feel the energy make it further down my spine, so that’s another thing to try, it might just be garden-variety collapsing.

At any rate, I definitely want to experiment with that more; I’m going to do Wu Ji as the standing part of my daily exercise almost every day this week, to see if I can build on that. Today was interesting; I didn’t feel as strongly energized as on Sunday, either on the top or bottom of my body, or feel as strong a stretch in my arms, but I did feel some of both. But what I did feel was the energy starting to make it up my spine from the bottom, not just down from the top; and when I relaxed more, my spine stretched up on its own more. (Which is something I’ve felt, Qi inflating it.) That seems like a better way to get energy going through my spine than yanking on it from the top, so I’ll definitely want to try to keep on doing that; though if I can get my whole spine feeling energized by yanking on both ends, then that’s what I’ll do!

So a good Nei Gong week. As for Tai Chi, I didn’t do a ton of practice last week because of my right ankle. (Probably the right choice, because my ankle felt a lot better by my Saturday class.) On Saturday, during the Jian practice, I realized that I’m probably not supposed to actually be shifting how I grasp the Jian when you stab down to the right near the start: I should just be turning my wrist while maintaining my grip. So I’ll have to work on that. And I’m caught up on the Guan Dao, which is good; I might even try to get a little bit ahead over the next week and a half, before the December Sunday class.

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Nei Gong Notes, November 22, 2022

Nov 22 2022 Published by under Uncategorized

When thinking about my knee twinges, I remembered that Damo had a lesson in year 2 about that, so I went looking for that. It’s called “Self-Healing”, and actually turned out to be the last lesson that I watched before I put a pause on new lessons; at the time, I didn’t try it out, but I guess now is the time. Pretty simple concept: if something’s wrong with a part of your body, do calm-abiding with your attention on that part of the body.

I’m actually not doing it on my knee right now, because I got a new bit of physical weirdness elsewhere; the joys of getting old. And I haven’t done it every day, because I still want to keep up with the Hui Chun exercises; I have been doing it most days, though, because it’s been easy enough to find days when I can do two sitting exercises. I haven’t seen any particular clear effect yet: the new bit of physical weirdness is probably a little better than when I first noticed it, but I suspect that’s just random variation? Who knows. And I also haven’t been doing super long sessions, most of them have been around 20 minutes. Hopefully I’m at least doing the exercise more or less correctly, I feel like I am getting sensations in the target area that could plausibly be labeled as manifestations of Qi, but who knows.

Some Tai Chi notes: when stepping out to the left in Dantian Change, I should keep my weight on my right foot until my left touches down. When punching, I should involve my Kua more. And I’ve got a few things to work on during the Guan Dao form: when turning the Dao on the right side (e.g. in Martial Flower bits), my arms feel a little twisted up, I should figure out how to avoid that; when turning over the Dao in Embrace the Crescent, it feels like it requires a little more energy than is ideal, my balance point might be off; there’s a part at the end of the left side of Martial Flower where Tony holds the Dao with one hand, I should experiment with that; and I still need to make sure I’m more secure with the details of the cartwheel bit.

Anyways, a mellow week in general. I had my COVID combined booster on Saturday, so I didn’t do any practice at all on Sunday, but I was back to feeling completely normal on Monday, so fortunately I don’t have to worry about building back up there like I would if I were actually sick.

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