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Nei Gong Notes, June 15, 2021

Jun 15 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Kind of frustrating week; sleep was a bit on the bad side, and I strained something in my right kua or right thigh and that, I think, had me walking or standing in a weird way that got my back unhappy with me. So the end of the week and the weekend weren’t very good from a practice point of view.

There were some good things, though. On Wednesday, when I was doing my start-of-vacation-day practice, it really did start to feel different after a while; nothing I haven’t felt before, but I’m getting the feel that, if I put in an hour and a half of practice, it starts to feel different. And my practice yesterday and today over lunch were both pretty good; not super long, I just spent half an hour doing half of the Ji Ben Qi Gong each day, but my body was definitely reacting. Reacting more in physical stretch way than in a qi movement way, but that’s interesting too, it feels like a sign that my wetsuit is coming together?

I’ve been working on the Swimming Dragon; I should learn the last bit of that tonight.

We had Sunday Tai Chi this week; coming in, I’d been wondering if, during Sweep the Hall, I should try to be more upright. (Normally I’d say “yes, definitely”, but when I try that, I feel like the weight distribution interferes with my turning.) And, watching my teacher and then asking him about that, it’s correct to lean; you don’t want to lean too far, but a bit of leaning is right for that move.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 8, 2021

Jun 08 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

I’ve now learned the complete first dragon; there’s one bit where I need to make sure I understand the connection right, but still, progress. The main surprise there is that the actual walking part is pretty short; not what I was expecting given how much time I’d been spending on that! On to the second dragon tonight.

I’d been walking to a local park to practice Tai Chi on my days off, but I think I’m going to stop doing that; I wear my walking shoes when I do that, and it makes them stick a little more than I would like for Tai Chi.

And I went into the office for the first time yesterday and today. Yesterday I didn’t do any Nei Gong over lunch but I did go through the dragons at the end of the work day; today I did lunch practice as well as end of day practice. I’ll try to keep that up for now, though once the office opens up more, I’ll be playing board games on many of the days when I’m in the office. Maybe I’ll end up practicing a bit more in the evenings, we’ll see.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 1, 2021

Jun 01 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Decent week, maybe even a pretty good one? I’m still dealing with my energy levels on my days off, but I’m getting some practice done there while also not worrying too much when “some practice” doesn’t mean “4 hours of Nei Gong and 2 hours of Tai Chi”. And I had an extra day off this week because of Memorial Day; slept in quite a bit, which helped with my energy level for the start-of-day practice, and then I mostly goofed off the rest of the day, which is also appropriate for a holiday!

Though I did make sure to do a round of silk reeling – I’d skipped that the previous week, and then my back wasn’t feeling good, so I have to remember: always do silk reeling at least twice a week, I guess that holds even when I’m doing Tai Chi more days than I had been.

And, for whatever reason (the extra Nei Gong from the days off? the silk reeling), today’s Nei Gong practice was kind of intense: not a great sleep day, so all I did in the middle of the day was the second half of the Ji Ben, but my body was feeling it inside much more than normal, especially on the fifth and sixth exercises. So that was nice, good to feel that I’m making progress.

And I’m making progress with the dragons, too; now I know the stepping parts of all four, and the opening and closing exercises. And the stepping on the first dragon feels pretty smooth most of the time; I’m definitely improving on the third one as well, it’s not quite as good but it’s getting closer. So I’m getting the foot movements down; and it might also be the case that focusing more on having my feet close to a straight line on those two helps? And the fourth dragon is going fine, it’s not as hard, and it’s interesting to try to feel a little off balance. Tonight I’ll start working on the other parts of things, it’ll be interesting to see what the full exercises are like.

Not much to report on the Tai Chi front; basically going well, and I continue to think that I want to work on my Jian in particular. I think at least I’m starting to get a little better at Sweeping the Hall Leg in the second form, I’m getting crisper about shifting my balance and that’s making a difference.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 25, 2021

May 25 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

This was my first week of working part time, so I was off on Wednesday and Friday. And I did indeed get more Nei Gong done! On Wednesday, I started the day with a two-hour session, and that was unexpectedly pleasant; yay. Then, after breakfast, I walked to a park and did a decent Tai Chi session (though I forgot to practice Xin Jia, whoops); not entirely sure how frequently I’ll be doing that and how frequently I’ll just practice Tai Chi outside the house, but it worked that day. (And it plus my Sunday practice continued to bring home the fact that I still am surprisingly spotty at the Jian…)

In the afternoon, I had an allergy shot; between that and just feeling like I wanted to relax more (maybe I was tired, too, I can’t remember), I only did a bit of Nei Gong that afternoon; I think I only practiced the dragons? And I didn’t go through a rerun of any of the first year lessons; I’m hoping to do one of the those every day I’m off.

On Friday, I was significantly more tired at the start of the day; I still started things off with a session, and it was quite a bit longer than it would have been if I’d been doing a lunch session like I do on weekdays, but more like an hour rather than two hours? In general, a low energy day; I don’t think I did any Tai Chi, though I did at least review one of the first year lessons in the afternoons. (And do the dragons.)

In general, a quite low energy week, I really need to get this sleep stuff under control. Having said that, I felt like at least I was working with that okay, instead of being super frustrated by that, and getting stuff done when I could; and on the good-ish days I do actually like the way my body feels when I’m doing Wu Ji and other exercises, it’s not like days when I’m super energized but there are still connections there?

In terms of the dragons, I’ve learned the components of the stepping part of the drunken dragon, so I’m almost done with the stepping parts. And the soaring dragon is feeling smoother, as is the awakening dragon, so the earlier ones are coming together a bit more.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 18, 2021

May 18 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

It had been a surprisingly unproductive week: not sure if it was leftover effects from the vaccine (or from taking a couple days off after the vaccine) or if I was more tired than normal, or what, but my stamina definitely was lower than it had been. Though today actually felt good; my mid-day practice was a little on the short side because of an errand, but it felt solid, I’m pretty sure I could have done my prior normal full dose of Dantian Gong if I’d kept going. So hopefully I can build on that.

Made it through the Soaring Dragon walk. Which was a little harder than I expected: it seemed complex but fine, but when putting it all together, you’re supposed to twist your body and look over your shoulder, and I had a hard time keeping my balance while doing that? It went better today, when I was sinking more into my weighted leg, so hopefully if I can work on that then I’ll get more comfortable with this one. (I am getting more comfortable with Awakening Dragon.) I think I’ll wait until Thursday to start learning Drunken Dragon, though.

Sunday Tai Chi last weekend; not much to report there, though.

This is my first week of working part time; so I’ll have Wednesday and Friday off. We’ll see how much Nei Gong and Tai Chi I get done those days; hopefully more than normal, but also hopefully I won’t push myself too much? And at some point next month I’ll probably make an appointment with a TCM practitioner, maybe that will help with some of the difficulties I’ve been having.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 11, 2021

May 11 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Not much to report this week: I got my second shot on Friday, and that kind of knocked me out on Saturday, so I ended up taking the weekend off. And one or two other days weren’t great for other reasons. So, basically, much less practice than normal.

I did learn the arm movements and stepping movements of the Soaring Dragon; it seems kind of interesting? I like the way each of them makes your torso feel, I’ll be curious to see what it’s like when it’s put together. Still not feeling great about the Awakening Dragon, though.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 4, 2021

May 04 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a whole lot to talk about this week; fine week, just not much in the way of events? In terms of Dragon Dao Yin practice, on Tuesday, I learned the full walking part of the Awakening Dragon. Which is pretty hard, I still don’t feel particularly coordinated there, and I fairly frequently realize that I’m forgetting one subtle detail or another? And my feet rarely turned smoothly at the start of the week; it’s getting better over the course of the week though, especially now that one of the lessons pointed out that you should turn your back knee along with your front knee.

And on Thursday and Sunday, I learned the walking part of Swimming Dragon; it’s rather soothing, in ways that I thought were pretty interesting, lots of sinking and watching my body react to my Dantian turning as I moved my hands. It might be an illusion, but I feel quite a bit better at Swimming Dragon than the Awakening Dragon; and I do think it’s easier, though also there are surely subtleties that I’m missing. It also helps, I think, that I’ve been practicing sinking recently in a few different ways?

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Nei Gong Notes, April 27, 2021

Apr 27 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

I started actually learning the Dragon Dao Yins this past week: on Tuesday, I learned a Qi Gong that starts off the form and started learning some hand motions, on Thursday I got a refinement of those hand motions and started learning some footwork. I was thinking that, on Sunday, I’d move on and put the hand motions and footwork together, but I actually wasn’t feeling great on the footwork, so I figured I’d play it slow? (At least this week, I imagine some weeks I’ll make different choices.) Definitely still stuff for me to work on, though I will watch the next videos today: making sure I’m turning around my spine during the hand changes instead of swinging from side to side, and my balance still isn’t great in the footwork.

In general I’ve been sleepier than I’d like; not horrible, but still not as good as I’d like it to be. I’d like that to get better, hopefully I’ll succeed in improving things, but I’m also trying to accept what it is: it really does affect my ability to practice, and that’s okay.

On Saturday, I asked Tony about my habit of stretching my hand (to connect my Lao Gong with my Dantian) in some moves in the Tai Chi form, e.g. White Crane Spreads its Wings. And I’m really glad I asked, because he gave an interesting answer: he said Tai Chi is about spiraling, so your hand should be a little curved. And when I tried that out, I felt a different sort of connection: going along the outside of my upper arm, and he talked about how it connects up to your Live Gate instead of your Lao Gong. So when practicing today, I experimented with that, in a bunch of different positions, trying to figure out what the natural spiral was in each move and how that affects my arm; lots more to work on there.

Also, one Dao pointer: in White Cloud Shadows Overhead, you should end up in your back foot instead of your front foot; in fact, in the Hunyuan version, you should take half a step back as part of the move.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 20, 2021

Apr 20 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

This week was my first week of taking a break from Damo’s course and spending time learning the Dragon Dao Yins instead. (I mean, it’s still from Damo, it’s just a different part of the website!) It’s broken up into a bunch of small lessons, so I’ll have to think about how to pace them; for now, though, on Tuesday I went through the intro lesson and a few different ones on stretches, and on Thursday I went through one on Wu Ji and one on a different standing posture called Tai Yi. All stuff I’d seen before, but I only barely remembered Tai Yi and had never practiced it regularly; and some of the stretches were ones I didn’t practice regularly, either.

One thing I learned from the Tai Yi lesson is that I’d been doing the Tai Ji mudra wrong: your right thumb is supposed to be on the outside on top instead of inside. Which, in retrospect, makes sense: your right thumb kind of mirrors your left fingers and your left fingers kind of mirror your right thumb. Anyways, Tai Yi seems fine: it’s more focused on your spine and central line. And it feels a little unstable, because your feet are right next to each other, but nothing unmanageable; we’ll see if my balance / sinking ever evolves to a situation where that feels stable.

Tony reviewed my form on Saturday, and he said I was making progress, probably the most positive I’ve heard him be? So that’s nice: it felt like I’d been doing better at sinking since last time, and that must have paid off. A couple of pointers he had: In Reverse with Spiraling Forearms, I should generate power when striking from my rear foot, so my foot has to land before I strike. And in the reverse version of Oblique Posture, I should tuck my tailbone more, and I should adjust my left knee. (Open it, I’m fairly sure.)

In general, a fine week. Less sleepy than the previous week, so I did my full complement of Dantian Gong; but still more sleepy than I’d like, so my practice sessions were more likely to feel like the minimum than like going beyond. I did get a pointer (maybe from the Dragon Dao Yin videos, maybe from the book) about finding your center of gravity that caused me to try to wobble my body back and forth and see where it’s wobbling from; and, at different heights, I do seem to be naturally flexing from a different place? So I’ll try working with that; it puts me at the lower range of where I’d been standing (I usually get lower as my practice progresses and I relax more), which makes sense.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 13, 2021

Apr 13 2021 Published by under Uncategorized

Not the best week in general – I had more sleep problems than I’d had over the last couple of months, so I was tired a lot. So I only made it through standing Dantian Gong once this week instead of twice, and in general practice sessions were short.

Because I wasn’t doing as much Dantian Gong, I did do a little more Wu Ji. I wouldn’t say it was great, but it was good in some ways, and different in some ways; in particular, it felt like there were lines of connection going up into my abdomen sometimes? I’d felt a certain kind of stretchiness like that before in some curves in my body (my butt, in particular), which I’d thought of as tendons maybe starting to get conditioned; I don’t know that there are tendons going in that direction on my abdomen, though, so maybe it’s a huang thing? Not sure, but it was kind of interesting. And in general I get a kind of interesting sensation in my Dantian while doing Wu Ji, so I feel like the Dantian Gong is having an effect. Still no Zi Fa Gong, though, in general I don’t feel like the Dantian is actually really filling up yet, but hopefully it’s conditioned more.

Also, when doing seated meditation, I’m noticing that, if I stretch up a bit and settle down, then I feel more stable in my lower back; I think it’s a sign that I’d been curving my lower back forward a little bit by default, but that I’m learning to counteract that if I prepare right. So hopefully I can become more stable that way. The other thing that I’m noticing is that, if I sit on my meditation cushion, I’m leaning forward too much in ways that make me realize that I’m actually sliding forward; I’ll try to work on sitting further back on the cushion and sitting a little more vertically, but it might also be related to something in the cushion, since that doesn’t happen when I’m sitting on the edge of Widget’s dog bed. (How thick the cushion is, the material that it’s filled with, something like that.)

Finished the first year of Damo’s course; now I’m going to take a break from new lessons for maybe a couple of months and I’ll go through his Dragon Dao Yin exercises. Hopefully by the time I’ve learned those, the Jing Gong stuff will have started to kick in? We’ll see.

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