Nei Gong Notes, June 7, 2022

Jun 07 2022

Still recovering from my cold; it would be nice if this cough would go away. I got somewhat back into my Nei Gong practice, but not as fully as I would like; hopefully I’m in good enough shape that the retreat (which starts this Thursday) won’t be a disaster? In terms of Damo’s online course, I was going to just be in a holding pattern but the next video turned out to be about what to do when driving a car, so I watched that; interesting enough, and it doesn’t add to my practice load.

Also still getting back up to speed with Tai Chi. Trying to catch up with the Guan Dao, I think that will be okay though of course I won’t be able to practice that while I’m at the retreat; mostly giving up on catching up with the Hunyuan 48, though I have done it (well, the parts of it I’ve seen on Saturday class) while watching a video several times at home this week. And we did do push hands this week, starting the two-hand form.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 31, 2022

May 31 2022

Last week’s cold was pretty bad but I’m almost completely over it now; an occasional cough, but that’s about it. Still building my Nei Gong practice back up, though; I haven’t seriously tried the Microcosmic Orbit preparation steps again, and I really haven’t been feeling like doing much standing, for whatever reason. Time to start getting back into that, though, I’ll be flying out to the retreat next week.

And time to work on my Tai Chi, especially the Hunyuan 48 and the Guan Dao. I think it shouldn’t be too hard to get back on the Guan Dao, and even to learn the bit from the class that I’ll have to miss. But the Hunyuan 48 is a real challenge, I am not at all confident that I’ll be able to learn that one the first time through. I’ll keep on chipping away, though…

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Nei Gong Notes, May 24, 2022

May 24 2022

This week’s lesson was on actually kicking off the Microcosmic Orbit. I still have some prepwork before putting it into place, but good to see what’s left. Not a lot, actually, though who knows how long the last couple of steps will take; and I felt like there had been one or two other steps in the series of videos about it that he’d made publicly available? I should watch those again to remind myself of that, in particular I think there was one on the Clipping Passes that could be useful.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to work on this more, because I came down with a fairly nasty cold a couple of days later. (Or maybe COVID? The tests have been negative, though.) So it’s been a holding pattern week; I think I’m starting to get slightly better, but we’ll see how long it takes before I can practice again. I had to skip Tai Chi lessons this week, too; hopefully I’ll be feeling good enough to be able to go to class this Saturday.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 17, 2022

May 17 2022

This week’s lesson was a preparatory exercise opening up stuff for the Microcosmic Orbit. Specifically, it’s a 5-minute thing you can add to the end of other seated exercises; easy enough to work into things?

In terms of my practice, I feel like things have been building up a bit, but I’m certainly not getting the mini version of the orbit to trigger. And I’m still not feeling like my Qi is as thick as it was when I first saw the Mixing Kan and Li lesson, though it’s moving in that direction. This week’s lesson is about the Orbit itself; I’ll watch that, but I imagine I’ll spend the next several weeks (months?) going back over the lessons building up to that.

In the Saturday Tai Chi class, we got back to push hands, doing the single-arm inside-of-the-arm exercise. Which I’d been not understanding at all the last time, but this time I was doing better, doing a Peng into my partner’s shoulder. Still felt like I was probably not doing things quite right, but hopefully that’s progress?

And it was the Sunday Tai Chi class this week, and I learned that I’d missed a part of the Guan Dao form last month. And next month I’ll be out of town on the Sunday of the class. So I guess I’ll be watching the video of that form a lot this month, trying to catch up and move ahead. Not the hardest form, so hopefully that’ll be possible…

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Nei Gong Notes, May 10, 2022

May 10 2022

This week’s lesson was on a smaller version of the Microcosmic Orbit, with the rotation within your abdomen. Damo warns that there’s a good chance that we’re not quite ready for it yet, and says, if you’re not able to trigger the orbit, then you shouldn’t try it out every day, instead maybe every third day? (Maybe practicing Mixing Kan and Li and Anchoring the Breath the other two days.) So that’s what I’ve been doing (working in some Bellows Breathing and occasional Advanced Dantian Gong, too); I imagine that I’ll keep up that routine for the indefinite future, though we’ll see what the next two lessons (on preparing for and actually doing the Microcosmic Orbit) contain.

As for standing work, I’ve mostly been doing the Qi Mobilization lessons, and haven’t done the non-advanced Dantian Gong the last week or two. In general I feel like right now I want to spend most of my time on seated work, though I’m still doing some standing practice each day. And my energy levels still aren’t great; hopefully the TCM treatments will help with that.

Also means that I haven’t done as much Tai Chi as I’d like; it would be good to get back to that? Still chipping away at the Hunyuan 48, but at least I feel like I’m not falling further behind: kind of in a steady state where I don’t feel great about the last 2-3 weeks but the stuff before that is solid enough.

When I was going through the Dragons on Saturday, the first one felt off, so I watched the video, and I really had forgotten a few of the details. So if I do pause on new lessons in the class while trying to get the Microcosmic Orbit going, I should consider reviewing those videos to get those in a better shape.

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Nei Gong Notes, May 3, 2022

May 03 2022

I decided not to do a new Nei Gong lesson this week, to try to build the Qi in my Dantian back up. Which I think I’m making progress at, though Mixing Kan and Li still isn’t feeling like was when I first learned it. So, most days, I’ve been doing Bellows Breathing, with some Advanced Dantian Gong and some Mixing Kan and Li mixed in; and some days I managed to work in a second sitting session, even during days when I don’t normally do that.

I also asked a question about what sitting practice Damo was referring to when he said in a recent video that his school had one key standing and one key sitting practice; it turns out that the sitting practice is Anchoring the Breath plus applying attention.

Pretty normal Tai Chi; I’m still hanging in there on the Hunyuan 48. We did get back to push hands this week, continuing through the single handed set; this time, doing Ji and Lu with the inside of the arm, and I really was not able to do the Lu part. Hopefully we can review that on Saturday.

I went to a TCM doctor today, hoping that I can get help with my tiredness issues. He said that I have Liver Heat leading to a Spleen deficiency; hopefully the acupuncture will help. And I talked to him about some of the body stuff I have (weirdness in my right foot / leg in particular), he gave me some body positioning suggestions for that.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 26, 2022

Apr 26 2022

This week’s lesson was on Mixing Kan and Li. It’s pretty interesting, moving Qi a bit higher in your abdomen and then letting it sink back down. And that gave me a much more concrete appreciation for what thickening the Qi means than previous exercises: there was a real tangible feel to it when it was thick, it was moving at its own velocity. And, some days, when I did the exercise, I felt like my Dantian wasn’t doing great to start and I had a hard time feeling the Ming line, and then usually the exercise kind of petered out after a few minutes.

So Qi is starting to feel more concrete? Or at least that kind of Qi? I was actually even feeling it move around this morning when I was just sitting and breathing: I’m used to feeling a certain sensation sink, but it felt a lot more concrete / substantial this time, like there was a substance instead of just a feeling. So hopefully I’m building things up in a way that makes the Microcosmic Orbit possibly within reach?

I’m not going to do the next lesson this week, though: partly because I could use more practice mixing Kan and Li, and partly because I’m planning to get my shingles vaccination tomorrow, and that will probably mess me up. The Microcosmic Orbit lesson is the third one after this; I would like to make it through that lesson before the workshop, because I feel like the workshop might be a place where I’ll be able to accomplish that. But that’s not until June, so I’ve got a couple of spare weeks.

I am also feeling that I could use some more work on my breathing. So, once I make it to the Microcosmic Orbit lesson, I might just take a month or two off from lessons and work on that? Not sure yet.

Not much to say about Tai Chi. No push hands this week, which was disappointing, I hope we don’t stop doing that… And I really should review the Hunyuan stuff more, I’m on the edge of not being able to keep up solidly with that.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 19, 2022

Apr 19 2022

This week’s lesson was on the Line of Ming. Which I had definitely been building up to for a month or so: I’d been feeling my Qi Hand and a point on my back, so now I had to feel the line between them.

Which mostly went well? At least it did while I listened to the lesson; not so well in my first practice after that. And then I listened to the lesson again, and realized that I’d forgotten the mudra, but also I think listening to Damo puts me in a mental space where I can practice well? Anyways, I had some decent practices after that, where I was starting to get absorbed in the line; not always going well, sometimes I wasn’t feeling the line, but all in all a pretty good week.

Not a ton going on other than that in my practice. I practiced a decent amount, and like I said last week, I started going on walks a bit more and also frequently reviewed the spine stretch exercise. Still not feeling completely great, but I think not a bad idea?

I also started rereading the Complete Guide. One thing I noticed during its section on Wu Ji was that it talked about sinking your elbows; I realized I wasn’t doing that quite enough, and it did have an effect. Also, while doing abdominal breathing, I might be breathing into my navel instead of my Qi Hai, I should tweak that. And one thing that I happened to notice while doing my Wu Ji one day was that, when I turn my feet in a bit more, I feel more floaty (but in a good way, like my body is supporting itself with minimal effort from me; I’ll want to keep that in mind.

Normal Tai Chi week, nothing in particular going on. The Hunyuan form is sometimes being a little hard for me to memorize, but I’m still pretty much keeping up. And the thing I talked about last week where you open your left foot when stepping forward to Jing Gang is definitely a good idea, it helps me on both of the first two times I see that move.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 12, 2022

Apr 12 2022

Pretty solid week, my best in a while. This week’s lesson was a continuation of the one that I’d been working on for the last two weeks, getting your Qi Hai into the action; and I think I’m getting the hang of it, my Dantian is starting to buzz a bit? Which it was doing a month ago, so in some sense I’m just regaining ground that I’d lost; but still.

And the practice on Wednesday went well. I actually didn’t have a huge amount of energy, so while I wasn’t feeling awful, I thought I’d do a standing bit that didn’t take a super long time, and maybe that moved some. But when I got into my Wu Ji at the start, I felt like my legs were solid and my torso was light, so I decided to just stay in Wu Ji; and I actually lasted an hour, for only the second time. So that was really good. I’m still not back up to my 3+ hour practice sessions, but significant progress.

I’m actually thinking I should rethink my Wednesdays and Fridays: maybe I’d have more energy if I went for a walk and/or had a bit of a snack? Not sure, I’ll probably experiment with that some. Also, I should probably review some of the back exercises, and add that as one of my components on my day off, my back feels like it’s not doing as well as it sometimes has.

In terms of Tai Chi, while practicing the Lao Jia Dao, I noticed that, in the step up into Jing Gang, the Dao movements encourage me to open my left Kua more, and that feels better. When I talked with my teacher about that movement, he also mentioned that your left foot should be open instead of straight forward during that movement, I should experiment with that as well.

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Nei Gong Notes, April 5, 2022

Apr 05 2022

I repeated the previous lesson from Damo’s course, on Alchemical Breathing, this week. And I’m glad I did: there were a couple of bits about reverse abdominal breathing that it was good to get clarification on, and the extra week of practice was useful. I won’t say that I’m doing it perfectly now, but it feels better, and yesterday I felt an unusual amount of connection between my Huiyin and Dantian while doing it.

So-so week practice week. Pretty good practice on Wednesday, iffy practice the rest of the week. Still trying to figure out what’s going on with sleep stuff; I did review the Shui Gong 2 video, since I felt like I’d been making progress there, and that was kind of interesting. The vibration that you’re supposed to feel is faster than the one I noticed, but also more localized, and he did talk about feeling shaking down your spine, so I might have been feeling the latter? And Shui Gong 2 is target at having you sleep more restfully, so if I can get it to work, it would be really useful; I feel like what’s going on right now is mostly mental rather than physical?

But the flip side is that, if you focus too much while doing it, then you bring Qi to your head, and that can make it harder to sleep more restfully. So it’s possible that, the way I’ve been doing it, Shui Gong 2 is actually counterproductive? At any rate, I’m going to experiment with seeing if I sleep any differently on nights when I do Shui Gong 2 versus nights when I don’t, and also I’ll try to dial back my attention when I am doing it.

In Tai Chi, I got enough people to agree to do Push Hands that my teacher was willing to restart that on Saturday. So that’s good; and I definitely have a lot to learn there…

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