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Nei Gong Notes, August 25, 2020

Aug 25 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson was more Dan Tian Gong; the full sequence is 10 moves long, which (together with stuff between them and at the ends) would take just shy of an hour at the two-and-a-half-minutes-per-posture rate I’d been going at. Which I was thinking was too long for me; I’ve tried it once so far, and I gave up after 8 moves, with my lower back hurting a fair amount. I’ll probably try the full thing once a week, but 6 moves is a better length for me; that translates to 37 minutes, which feels pretty substantial as it is, and I’m certainly glad to be doing that.

I’ve been trying to do a breathing exercise that sets up a connection between your Dantian and Huiyin; sometimes it feels like there’s something building there, sometimes not, I need to work on it. And another breathing exercise about feeling a couple of channels in the arm; maybe I can feel part of the channels, between an appropriate place in the wrist and and appropriate place in your fingers, or maybe not. I’ll need more work on both of those, and I might give up on the channel exercise eventually.

No class this Saturday, so I had some extra time, which I spent by going through the long breathing exercise from the Microcosmic Orbit course; glad I did, though even when I start off fairly alert, I’m starting to fall off by the end… Seems like a good thing to continue to work on occasionally, at any rate.

Not sure what side course to work on now; I’ll retry the current Heavenly Streams lesson on feeling those two channels, but maybe I’ll start another course? The study guide recommends the Qi Gong Deviation course, and while I’m not super interested in that, I don’t have a better idea? I might go through the Clipping Passes exercise a few more times, too, it was good for my back.

Haven’t done much Tai Chi recently, I should pick that up, I’ve just been having to walk Widget almost every weekday evening.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 18, 2020

Aug 18 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I picked a good time to start standing higher in Wu Ji, because this week’s class covered a long multi-part Dantian exercise; you move your hands around some but you maintain the same stance for the whole time, a little over 35 minutes the way I was doing it. Which turned out to be fine: my legs weren’t thrilled, but it wasn’t a problem, if anything I actually had a bit more of a twinge in my lower back. And I’m glad to be getting back to standing for longer periods, it makes more interesting stuff happen in my body. (Though, honestly, still not as interesting as some of the things that were happening over the winter?)

That class was actually one of two, so I am a little nervous about adding still more stuff onto the sequence this week – my lunch breaks are only so long, even if I can stand for long enough! We’ll see how much longer it gets…

In class on Saturday, I was told to have my arms wider during Wu Ji. Which was getting back to something I’d been doing a few months back; it does feel better. Nice that the teachers aren’t saying I’m tilting to the right, it does seem like that’s been better? And we went over the last of the Ji Ben Qi Gong, that’s been useful.

In terms of other online courses, I’ve been pausing the Heavenly Streams one while working on the arm sensing exercise. It’s been a couple of weeks, though, so I’ll probably start that again; I wish I was doing better at the arm sensing thing, though? It felt like it was going well at the start but it hasn’t gotten any better. Part of that is that I’ve been unusually tired the last couple of weeks, which has really not been helping my seated meditation.

And I finished watching all of the Microcosmic Orbit videos. I think I’m going to go back and do a few of the exercises: the first one on anchoring the breath is useful but depends on me being awake for 40 minutes of meditation, which isn’t usually the case these days, unfortunately. I actually think I can already do what it’s working on developing to some extent, so I’m also going to work on the second exercise, on connecting the Huiyin to the Dantian; hopefully I can be awake enough to make progress on that. And then there’s one near the end on Clipping Passes, which is useful on a purely physiological level in terms of making my back feel better.

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VGHVI Minecraft: July 30, 2020

Aug 16 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

We skipped the June Minecraft session, but here are the pictures for July:

 

I was wandering around the main part of the city, and I noticed a path that I’d kind of forgotten.

A path near the city.

Here’s a side view as it goes up some stairs next to the train tracks.

Now it’s heading down some stairs in the direction of that large colored glass tower.

A level stretch, a little closer to the tower.

And here’s one end of the path, near that roller coaster ride thing.

 

And a couple of pictures of where the fire temple got swallowed by the rift, and some other random pictures:

The entrance almost looks normal if you don’t pay attention to what’s behind it.

From a side view, it’s clear that things went wrong.

Some other random older structures that are in the same general area as the new castle Ariel is working on.

Floating buildings glowing at dawn. Or maybe dusk.

 

I’m still not really building myself these days, but Dan and Ariel are continuing to work away. Dan’s continuing his geometric explorations, but with branching structures instead of just lines / planes:

A new branching sculpture.

It’s got a smaller neighbor next to it.

If you look at the background, you can see a line, a plane, and a cube with some branches coming out of the top.

And here’s a closer view of the new one.

 

And Ariel is continuing to flesh out their castle:

Adding in some armor racks. (And a view of the super tree through the window, I’d forgotten it was close enough to be visible.)

Some rooms that are still under construction, though one of them has a bunch of furnaces.

The hallway outside the greenhouse, I assume those are stairs down at the back.

Is this the basement? Though the roof makes me think it might be an attic area? I can’t remember…

A room with a huge bookshelf and a quite large skull painting.

The other direction has a large chest and a view of the side of a hill.

The outside of the building.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 11, 2020

Aug 11 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m going back to standing higher while doing Wu Ji; honestly, I have no idea where that’s correct or not, but I didn’t feel like I was getting a real benefit from standing lower. So I’m working on doing that for longer; 20 minutes is no problem (other than boredom), I should get back to 25 minutes. And I’m working on relaxing my stomach while standing, which will help with the sinking in a different way.

We had Pao Chui class this Sunday; when splitting the fists at the start of the Overdraping posture, both of your fists should be down. And in the very last move, you fists are also down, right next to each other.

Damo gave a Zoom class on Monday, about sinking your center of gravity. Interesting enough, though I think for now mostly useful as a statement that it’s not just that you want to lower your legs: you want to relax the inside of your torso so structures inside your torso can sink.

This week’s bit in the Nei Gong course was about changing the focus of attention over the course of a meditation session. Not super interesting, though there was an interesting point on the Bao Yuan mudra: if your hands are in that position then, when your mind wanders, it comes back much more quickly to the Dantian.

And I’m following along in the side courses. For the Heavenly Streams one, there was an exercise in feeling along your arms; I’ve been doing that every day, and I think I’m going to keep that up for another week before proceeding in the course, because I think it’s probably quite important if I want to really try feeling the channels? And in the Microcosmic Orbit course, I listened to one long lecture and went through an exercise on freeing up the Clipping Passes. That one was just body stretches and the like, so it didn’t depend on any energy work; and actually my back felt better for a couple of days after doing that. So I’m thinking I should probably return to that and learn the exercises, just for physical health reasons.

I had a bunch of good days this week. Though, unfortunately, I’ve been tired a lot the last few days, so in particular meditation practice hasn’t gone as well as I’d like. And sometime standing practices have been a bit iffy, though I’m doing better at those; I had a good session of that today, at least. (20 minutes Wu Ji, 10 minutes of Thickening the Qi that felt like it was having an effect, and the first two Ji Ben.)

I think I did Tai Chi twice this week? (Outside of the Sunday class.) And today’s Tai Chi practice felt good; I’d been going through the first form three times, but I felt like doing it a fourth time today. And I was noticing my Dantian a little more than normal during Tai Chi, I think I should probably try to lean into that feeling a bit. And I did Silk Reeling a couple of times last week, though not so much yet this week.

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Nei Gong Notes, August 4, 2020

Aug 04 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Not a whole lot to say this week: I was extra allergic (and hence extra tired) the first half of it, and I tweaked a back muscle yesterday so yesterday and today’s practice wasn’t great. Still, practices happened, it was okay.

This week’s and last week’s lessons in Damo’s online class were about Ting; the specific action that he wanted you to do was soaking your mind through your body while doing seated meditation, and being aware of what’s going on everywhere. Interesting enough: not quite what I’d thought Ting was, and also the sensation of awareness soaking through (and down) was kind of interesting?

And on Saturday I got an answer to my question about Cow Turns Its Head: your hands aren’t close to each other like they are in the Earth Wu Xing exercise, so while you are looking through the gap there, it’s a much larger gap.

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Nei Gong Notes: July 28, 2020

Jul 28 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

One thing that I noticed while doing exercises that go up and down: I’d been losing contact at the top when starting to go down. I think I want to try to maintain a bit of a tug from my pelvis even at the top; I’d been locking my knees or coming close to that, which eliminates the tug.

Some notes from the Saturday Nei Gong class: In Diagonal Flying, you should keep the hands a little away from the body in the central position, so the bottom hand can smoothly arc up when moving out. And the back hand shouldn’t be too close to the body, either. Also, for the front hand, your thumb should be going straight out (with you looking over it), but the other four fingers are more forward. (Even a decent amount forward, because you want to keep your Lao Gong spread.)

In Cow Gazes at the Moon, when extending your hands out, you should look through a diamond between your fingers, like the hand shape in the Earth Wu Xing Qi Gong. (But your hands aren’t nearly as high, of course.) Does theat mean that my eyes are supposed to be open? I should confirm next Saturday.

And Rick pointed out that I was maintaining a fair amount of tension around my solar plexus while doing Wu Ji; this is true, I should work on that. I think it’s a leftover habit from my back problems; it’s actually possible that it’s still somewhat adaptive, but Wu Ji is probably a good place to experiment with reducing it.

One thing I notice while doing Dantian Gong is that I’m getting a much more concrete feeling of what internal structures (muscles, presumably?) are being affected when I do those exercises. Basically, I get a feeling of specific places in my internal structures moving a bit during those movements; and it all adds up to kind of feeling like I’m exercising the surface of a ball (or at least most of it) inside my abdomen. So I guess this is what is building when I’m building the container for my Dantian. Hopefully it means I’m doing a decent job at that; I still need to work on increasing the Qi level within that container…

Been pretty tired this week, I think some random allergy might be hitting me. But I’ve been keeping up some amount of practice; not as good as some weeks, but not nothing.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 21, 2020

Jul 21 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in the Nei Gong course finished off the Wu Xing Qi Gong, going through Earth and Metal. In general, that set doesn’t match my mental model of a lot of the other Lotus Nei Gong exercises: a lot less focus on maintaining specific structural alignments, more different kinds of movements. Interesting to learn them, though; I’ll certainly try to go through the whole set a few times a week.

And on Saturday there was the online course with local teachers; we went through the Swimming Dragon and Diagonal Flying exercises from the Ji Ben Qi Gong. In Swimming Dragon, your top hand goes as high as it can while keeping your shoulder sunk. And when turning your hands, turn around your middle finger, and notice how your Dantian turns as well. Your weight remains at the Lower Dantian, even though your hands are centered higher up. And in Diagonal Flying: your weight is on your front foot, your front palm is straight up, and you should kind of in general end up in a position where you’re lunging forward. Keep your back knee pinned, though, so you open the kua. And when you’ve returned to the center, your top fingers are pointed straight up, your bottom finger down, they’re not pointed forward.

I’d also been wondering about, in Thickening the Qi, if your attention should be going up and down the middle of your body or going up and down your spine; the answer is that it should be in the middle.

I started going through the version of Wu Xing Qi Gong in the Heavenly Streams course; turns out that it’s not the same version as in the main course, it’s a static seated version instead. Not sure yet if I’ll occasionally mix that into my practice or not, we’ll see how I feel when I’m done.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 14, 2020

Jul 14 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week: I feel like my Wu Ji is getting better, I’ve felt pleasantly sweaty after doing my Nei Gong every day, my body seems to be responding a bit more, and I’m getting into a good practice routine.

I’m still not doing great on Wu Ji duration: I can do 15 minutes reliably but I haven’t been doing more than that. I’m standing a little higher than I had been a few weeks back but maybe not as high as I was last week? But I feel like the mechanics are getting better: I’m getting better at relaxing my upper thigh and my right kua, and that latter in turn helps me straighten out my body in a more natural way than trying to force it into place. (And the relaxing my thighs is even helping with the squats that I do every evening after brushing my teeth.)

Also, I was noticing that my Wu Ji felt better after doing Qi Gong; I still want to understand that a little better, but when trying to capture that feeling, I think I’m doing a better job of acting like I’m sitting into a chair there, and I’m managing to capture that feeling some during my initial Wu Ji. So I’m sitting back, my spine is a little more upright, my pelvis is being more naturally tucked. Still more work to do there, but it definitely feels like a good direction to go in.

This last week’s lesson covered the Earth and Fire Wu Xing Qi Gong. So for my noon practice, I’m sometimes doing 15 minutes of Wu Ji plus the three of the Wu Xing Qi Gong that I know plus two of the Ji Ben Qi Gong and sometimes I’m doing 5 minutes of Wu Ji plus 10 minutes of Dan Tian Gong (which has me staying standing low for a total of 15 minutes) plus 10 minutes of Wu Xing. Works out well, and I’ve managed to go through all eight of the Ji Ben this week.

Also, my breathing is getting significantly slower, which I’d been kind of stuck on. I think the breakthrough was from the Wu Xing Qi Gong: you’re supposed to synchronize your breathing with your movements, and while my local teachers say to let your breathing speed guide your movement speed, for those it felt bad to move too quickly. So, honestly, I forced my breathing to slow down a bit on those for one or two days; but then once I’d done that, I found that that breathing speed was natural, and it carried over to my seated meditation without needing me to force it at all. So that feels good.

Watched some Heavenly Streams lectures, and did the next exercise from the Microcosmic Orbit course; it again felt like one where I could do what I was being told to at the start but where it will take a while for my body to get the benefit. So I don’t feel like I’m necessarily getting ahead of myself yet in trying out the exercise, but I’m about to be getting ahead of myself. Still not sure how much I’ll keep on going; I might go back to the previous exercise and do it a few times a week to see if I can get the desired effect there?

We had the Sunday Tai Chi course this weekend; in the Lao Jia Second Form, when doing Chopping the Wrist, your left arm should be bent, protecting your head. And in the first form, in Teal Dragon Emerges from the Water, I should work even harder on staying on my left leg, and I should turn my waist but not my hip; and then I should get power from uncoiling it.

Did an okay job of mid-week Tai Chi in the late afternoon; not as much Silk Reeling as I’d like, but I’m noticing that, as soon as I start the Silk Reeling, I feel stuff inside my torso, which I’m sure is a side effect of how the Nei Gong practice is gong.

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Nei Gong Notes, July 7, 2020

Jul 07 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I kept on not feeling good sinking so low during Wu Ji, and my back was aching in ways that I thought might be related. And then, thinking about it more, I realized that my analysis of how low to go wasn’t necessarily correct: I was making sure I had a connection with my hands while going low, but actually what I’ve felt there is that, if I’m too high, I lose the connection. So it could easily be the case that I still feel a connection even when I’m too low.

So, the last half week, I’ve been experimenting with starting higher up, and then seeing where I lose the connection with my hands, and going just a bit lower than that. I’m not 100% convinced that that’s the right height, it might still have me be a bit high, but practice has been good? Certainly I’m managing to stand for longer; I was back to standing for 20 minutes today, and while it was strenuous, I didn’t feel like I was at my limit or anything. (Which is good, because I want to get back to standing for more than 20 minutes!)

Anyways, going back a bit chronologically: I didn’t do the next installment of the course on Tuesday like I normally did, but I decided to do it on Thursday instead of skipping a week. The lesson covered the first of the Wu Xing Qi Gong, water: moving energy up your spine and down the front of your body. Which was an interesting sort of tingling. And I did a pretty good job of keeping up with other stuff over the week, doing the Qi thickening stuff and going through the Ji Ben Qi Gong over the course of the week. And I think it’s helped: I hadn’t been good about doing Silk Reeling regularly, but I went through the set today during a meeting, and there were a lot more interesting sensations in my torso than there sometimes is.

And I listened to the first couple of lectures in the Microcosmic Orbit course, and went through the first two exercises. I thought and still think that the course is too advanced for me, but I actually think the first exercise would be a useful form of meditation right now, and I could follow what the second exercise was asking me to do as well. (I didn’t get to the the end goal of that exercise, but I think I started it correctly, so probably if I repeated it enough then I would, and it wouldn’t take ages to do so?) Not sure if I’ll actively continue those exercises, and I doubt I’ll go through many more of the exercises in the course, but I might listen to the rest of the lectures. And once I learn all five of the Wu Xing Qi Gong exercises, I’ll be going back to the Heavenly Streams lectures.

Still not doing huge amounts of Tai Chi, but I’m doing some, enough that I don’t feel bad about it. And also still feeling that I have a lot of work to do on my breathing…

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Nei Gong Notes, June 30, 2020

Jun 30 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in Damo’s course was on Thickening the Qi: some exercises where you move your hands up and down your torso with Lao Gong open. At first I thought that my Qi, unsurprisingly, wasn’t yet concentrated enough to notice that, and I’m not getting the kinds of physical movements that he does. But, actually, if I do it after something else to gather the Qi, then I feel something inside, and even pretty strongly, enough to make me somewhat nauseous. So yay, stuff is getting connected inside and Qi is thickening, or something.

And I’m still working on the previous exercise, about extending your awareness past your skin instead of inside your body; I still don’t feel like I’m good at doing that exercise, but I’m getting something out of it, it’s being more interesting than it had been the previous week.

Still having trouble with my stamina during Wu Ji. Last Thursday went well (at least by current low standards) I managed 15 minutes, but then Friday was quite rough, and Saturday’s class was rough too. Yesterday went well, but it also felt like a bit much, and I had rough sleep last night and felt like I was coming down with a cold. So: still pushing away, and I don’t really understand what happened yesterday / last night…

In the Saturday Nei Gong class, we went over the third and fourth Ji Ben; and this week was Sunday Tai Chi, I skipped the second form (I needed to walk Widget), but did the Xinjia.

And I’ve listened to the first two lectures on the Microcosmic Orbit course. Interesting stuff; too advanced for me right now, but I’ll probably listen to the rest?

And one point from that: I really do need to get my breathing better. In retrospect, I think I actually need to work on having it be consistently low (“At Ease”), that’s my next step rather than slowing it. Doesn’t really matter too much, it’s not an active process, I just need to observe consistently…

On a related note, one of the things I really like about Damo’s course is how focused he is on getting basic concepts / capabilities down. The in-person courses from local teachers are very useful for getting my positioning and the like correct, but my experience of them feels more like collecting random forms. Whereas the weekly lessons from Damo feel very different: yes, you’re learning different movements every week, but there’s also this consistent throughline of working on more fundamental capabilities: work on your breathing, locate your Dantian, improve your Dantian’s ability to contain Qi, build Qi in your Dantian, start moving it around. That helps me think, and also helps give me guidance on what to work on next, how much time to spend on different activities.

My back is mostly over the problems it had a week ago: I think changing shoes helped. And I’m also still definitely feeling like I should be getting back to doing more Tai Chi; I put in some good practice yesterday, at least.

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