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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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Nei Gong Notes, June 23, 2020

Jun 23 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Rough practice this week. I’ve been trying to stand a little lower when doing Wu Ji: paying attention to my hands during Compressing the Pearl, I think I had been moving my center of gravity down to my navel instead of my Dantian. (This week I was also trying to pay attention to the inside of my body and see if I got the sort of bright sensation I get when contacting my Dantian there; sometimes I do?) And, for whatever reason, that is making Wu Ji a lot more tiring: I’m more tired after 10 minutes of standing than I had been after 25 minutes. And, to make matters worse, I’m also trying to fold in my right Kua a bit more, which sometimes makes it ache, and also my shoes had been wearing out in ways that affected my back. So, basically, practice was more painful this week than normal, which meant it was shorter.

I think it’s getting better now, though? I’m realizing that yeah, I have to build my stamina back up: if 10 minutes is where I’m at (and based on how bad I smell from sweating after those 10 minutes, it’s not entirely me being wimpy!), then that’s where I’m at, I just have to get it up to 11 minutes, 12, 13. Which is where I’m at today, and actually the first 10 minutes weren’t so bad today, so that’s an improvement?

But I also do feel like I’m out of in other ways: e.g. it had been the case that I’d felt surprising internal sensations when doing silk reeling, but now that’s not happening any more? And, in general, I haven’t been doing as much silk reeling during meetings or as much Tai Chi. So I need to spend more time on those.

Which I’m doing a little? And today was pretty good: more Wu Ji than I had been doing, did a few other kinds of meditation, did a bit of Tai Chi. My start of the morning meditation has been going well in general: I’ve settled on a routine of sinking down to my Dantian for maybe 5 minutes then just trying to leave my attention there while I calm down my breathing. And I’ve been working on the exercise from the last couple of weeks of expanding my awareness out from my body; still not good at it, but I’m better than I was, so that’s good.

One thing I noticed while doing Tai Chi: at the end of Dantian Change, when moving your hands apart, my right knee was collapsing slightly, I should fix that.

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VGHVI Minecraft, May 28, 2020

Jun 20 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I didn’t do any building last month, and didn’t even take many pictures, we were mostly talking a bunch. A few random pictures from flying around:

Some of Dan’s older structures that I’d forgotten about.

I’d forgotten that one of the library buildings had this pretty roof on it.

That horizontal slab looks more threatening to me each time I see it, now it reminds me of a Star Destroyer. And then there’s the vertical wall next to it; not sure if I read it as threatening or defensive or just there…

I think I took this picture because of what looks like a cloud of gnats or something on the horizon. (It’s probably smoke?)

Roger has added a window at one end of the cathedral.

I had some visitors!

That really does not look very safe.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 16, 2020

Jun 16 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

The topic in the Academy this week was a seated exercise sending your awareness outside your body, stretching farther beyond your skin a few millimeters at the time. Which I’m finding surprisingly hard to do: my awareness keeps on getting stuck just behind my skin, on places like the hairs on my arms.

Though I haven’t practiced it as much as I’d like: I felt on Thursday like I was on the edge of coming down with a cold. I ended up being fine (though I was very sleepy on Friday), but I only did maybe half of my normal practice the next few days, and I didn’t participate nearly as much in the Saturday Nei Gong class as normal. Getting back to normal practice now, though standing is being hard; some of the latter might be because I’m trying to stand lower than I had been, admittedly.

Because of that, I think I’m not going to start a new lesson this week: I’ll take advantage of the somewhat self-paced potential of online course and practice the current set of stuff for another week.

When doing seated stuff, I’ve often been working on just sinking, and that’s been a good choice. Partly because the sinking can sometimes be very intense: it creates a quite strong tug on the back of my neck, and gets my mind in interesting places. But also it seems like it might be being helpful on building up my Dantian: I was feeling an unusual amount of tingling around there today, for example. Might be a coincidence, but it seems like the direction I want to go in?

One thing I noticed while doing Wu Ji over the weekend is that I looked a little bit turned sideways in the mirror, even though my feet seemed like they were lined up appropriately. I think what’s going on was that I’m not folding into my right Kua quite as much as my left? So I’m working on that.

Not doing as much Tai Chi as I’d like, but I’ve done it a couple of times while Liesl was walking Widget. And I’m trying to alternate between starting with the Lao Jia first form (hopefully going through it three times) and following up with the Lao Jia second form, versus starting with the Xin Jia first form and following up with the Jian. I’d been skipping those last two too much; hopefully I can get back to where I finish off the Jian form and at least don’t slip further back with Xin Jia…

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Nei Gong Notes, June 9, 2020

Jun 09 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s topic for the Internal Arts Academy was some standing exercises for building the Dan Tian. Which is good: building that is something that I definitely need work on, but I could also use more standing practice, just to work on my ability to stand in Wu Ji or similar postures for longer. The new exercise had four parts, so I’m doing 5 minutes of Wu Ji, 5 minutes in each of the parts, and then maybe another couple of minutes of Wu Ji; so 25 minutes or maybe a little more, good to have that bumped up from the 20 minutes I had been doing the last few weeks. And most days I’m doing a couple of the Ji Ben Qi Gong exercises after that; and frequently at the end of the work day I’m fitting in some time for the seated Dan Tian exercises.

Still not seeing a particular effect of this Dan Tian work most of the time. In the start of the morning sitting, I’ve been going back to just working on breathing, because I’m still nowhere near hitting the stage where I’m having my breathing get naturally longer. Though today I decided to work on sinking my awareness first, and that was kind of interesting; felt like the breathing was naturally deeper, and more twinges on my Dan Tian than normal? So I’ll stick with that for the next week and see how it goes.

One surprise that I noticed this week is that I’m naturally starting to tuck my pelvis more: e.g. when I go down into a squat, my butt starts curving under a little instead of going out back. So that’s cool, and presumably a sign that I’m starting to relax more there.

We had the second week of the online Nei Gong classes from our local teachers. We were going over Compressing the Pearl, and I asked about the fact that my hands lose contact at the bottom of the arc. They said I wasn’t going deep enough, so I guess my sense of how high I am needs to be a little more tweaked; and when I went a little deeper, I did keep contact further, but I also noticed that some of that contact manifested in feeling like I was spreading sideways in my Ming Men. Which seems like a good thing?

Haven’t been doing Tai Chi as much: I didn’t do it at all this weekend, in fact. Though I did do it on two weekday end of the afternoons; I’ll try to keep that up? And one unrelated thing that I had been doing on Sundays has now come to an end, so I’ll have a little more time on Sundays, hopefully I’ll be able to slot in Tai Chi there. My back was feeling a little achy today, which made me think that I would probably be helped by exercising a bit more, even setting aside the other potential benefits of Tai Chi.

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Nei Gong Notes, June 2, 2020

Jun 02 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Feels weird to be writing this now. But anyways: my local Nei Gong teachers have decided to hold online classes over Zoom for an hour and a half for the next few weeks, this Saturday was the first one. They were focusing on the kua, so they had us spend a lot of time standing, folding into the kua, and seeing what that felt like. Which was surprisingly interesting; I got a much better feel for the pressure of my hip on my kua, what that feels like; and I think it probably also means that I’m doing a better job of relaxing that part of my body?

This week’s lesson on the Internal Academy was about shutting down at the end of practice; not a big topic, and one I’d seen before. So it’s not changing my practice routine particularly, I’m focusing on my breathing and locating / building my Dantian, mostly the former.

And the recommended side lectures for this part of the course are on the Heavenly Streams, i.e. channels. I went through a few of them; interesting, theory so far instead of practice, the one on the Five Pulses was material that wasn’t at all familiar to me and seemed like it might be interesting to experience internally? And then it talked about a set of Qi Gong exercises that I haven’t seen before, and I liked the conceptual framing. Looking ahead in the main course, I see those will show up there a few weeks from now, so I’m pausing watching those lectures; just as well, I’d been thinking I should rewatch some of the earlier parts of the main course, so this is a good excuse.

I’ve been slacking off on my Tai Chi: done it a little bit, but only a very little bit. Silk Reeling is starting to feel reliably fairly intense, though, so that’s something.

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