Tai Chi Notes, August 20, 2019

Aug 20 2019

I spent Saturday through Monday at a Lotus Neigong workshop, focused on standing positions. And I’m glad I went, because my Wu Ji posture was significantly off: way too low, and too far forward. And, interestingly, too far to the left: apparently I’m favoring my right leg some? I’ll have to look at myself in a mirror to understand that better. (Spreading my stance somewhat helps, apparently.) And I don’t spread my palms as much as I should, and I don’t sink the heels of my hands enough.

We also learned a seated version of Wu Ji: lean forward more than normal, have your feet at a reasonable distance for standing up, and lift your heels so your weight is on your Yongquan. I doubt I’ll do that much, though.

And we learned / practiced lots of other standing positions. I don’t think I’ll spend too much time in the different ones, though: I feel like focusing on Wu Ji is going to be more helpful. I was pleased that I did okay with the ones that had me holding out my arms; in particular, I remember the first time I saw Zhan Zhuang in my Tai Chi class, my shoulders were in pain the next day, whereas in the class this weekend, I held it for much longer and my shoulders were just fine. (So partly I’ve gotten stronger, but also in that posture in particular the way I’m relaxing my shoulder is apparently effective.)

Having said that, the class as a whole was pretty stressful: I made it through all of the first day, but I bowed out halfway through the second afternoon and skipped the third afternoon. Spending so much time holding standing postures hurts; it actually didn’t hurt my legs so much (largely because I wasn’t going so low), but my back was not happy. Not horribly in any one session, but it added up. (And some individual sessions were hard, but those were in more standard “push yourself for how long you can hold a position” ways.)

I probably could have stuck it out, but I don’t feel too bad about leaving; I pushed myself to some extent, I learned some mistakes that I’d been doing. And, compared to the class I went to in May, I can understand why this one was more stressful: that one did some static postures but also had lots of moving postures, and some lectures and some meditation. And that sort of mixture is a lot easier to deal with; this specific class had a little bit of moving and meditation, but it was a lot heavier on static postures. So it makes sense that it was rough; and, given where I am, that’s okay.

Anyways, back to Tai Chi tonight (for the first time in a week and a half, since I missed last Tuesday and Saturday); mostly going over Silk Reeling, which was pleasant enough.

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Tai Chi Notes, August 13, 2019

Aug 13 2019

I got back from my trip on Tuesday evening; I skipped Tai Chi and Wu Ji on Wednesday, because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t causing problems with my allergy shots, but I got back to practice on Thursday. So on Thursday I did the form five times; on Friday, I was a little more tired, so only three times, but still, enough to start making up for the classes I missed. And I did Wu Ji both days; I’m not reliably reaching my target every day (21 minutes was my target last week), but I’m sometimes doing that.

And I’m glad I’m doing Wu Ji more. My legs are having problems, but I can feel changes in my torso. I’m relaxing more, my shoulder blades are continuing to sink, and I can get some of that feeling while I’m just sitting / standing around as well. I’m going to a three-day Lotus seminar this weekend, focusing on standing postures, and I’m definitely looking forward to that, to get in some focused practice and to get my form refined. (And I’m glad that I’m over my cold and my weird burst of allergy symptoms.)

We had the regular class on Saturday; the one thing I noticed there was that, after the second Pat the High Horse, your right hand moves first, not your left foot, and your weight is on your right foot after the turn, only shifting to the left foot when you strike with your left hand.

On Sunday, my teacher’s Tai Chi group had a picnic; lots of Tai Chi. And I did sneak away to do some Wu Ji at the end of that, and I also did some at the end of work yesterday. I didn’t do my regular lunchtime practice today because I had a lunch meeting at work, and I skipped Tai Chi class tonight because there was a special one-day showing of Millennium Actress that I wanted to go to, but I shifted my allergy shot to today so I could avoid weird potential problems.

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Tai Chi Notes, August 8, 2019

Aug 08 2019

I got back on Tuesday evening from visiting my parents and helping Miranda move into her new apartment. I didn’t do any Tai Chi since my last post, it just didn’t fit so well into helping Miranda move, and I actually paused doing my Dantian Rotations for most of that time, too: I’d had a cough while visiting my parents, which was exercising my stomach muscles quite a bit, so I figured I’d give them a break. But I did manage to do Wu Ji pretty much every day in Cincinnati, finding some time either in the morning or the evening, and most days I did 30 minutes or so of meditation. (And I’ve just now added meditation to Streaks, to help remind me, because I’m forgetting about that on non-workdays; I added Wu Ji a week or two back, that was useful.)

In one of Damo Mitchell’s books I was reading recently and one of his podcasts that I was listening to, the concept of Ting (listen) came up. Which had been coming up for a while, from the first seminar I took, but I’d mostly been ignoring it, because it didn’t make much sense to me in that context, but it seems like something I should experiment with. Basically, he says that Ting (listen) and Song (relax) are both key; I’ve been hearing about Song for years in my Tai Chi class, and that makes sense to me. But I don’t understand what listening has to do with understanding the state of the inside of my body; Mitchell claims, though, that not only are there sensations that are best accessed through listening, but that using other senses (e.g. feeling) can turn out to be actively misleading. Not sure what to make of that, but it sounds like something I should try, hopefully it will make sense eventually…

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Tai Chi Notes, August 1, 2019

Aug 01 2019

I was visiting my parents for a few days, so a slightly late update.

I did Wu Ji as normal on Thursday, and did the Animal Frolics for the first time in a while. And I also set up Streaks on my phone to prompt me to do Wu Ji every day: I’m not yet committing to doing it daily, but I want to at least consider doing it every day. Which worked on Friday, I did Wu Ji then as well.

Unfortunately, on Friday evening, I started sneezing and having a runny nose like crazy, like my cold was having a resurgence. I’d had an allergy shot that morning, so I’m pretty sure it was the shot, but it was a quite bad reaction. So on Saturday I mostly skipped Tai Chi class – I showed up near the end to learn the next Jian move and to see if we were going to learn any new Xinjia moves (we didn’t), but I didn’t feel up for the whole thing.

On Sunday I traveled to my parents, and on Monday I was having coffee with a former teacher of mine downtown and decided I was feeling good enough after that to do some Tai Chi; I ended up going through the full Silk Reeling Exercises and going through the form twice, and then after lunch I did some Wu Ji. And I was actually feeling diligent enough that, at the end of the evening, I did a bit of Wu Ji and some meditation before going to bed.

Unfortunately, my stomach really wasn’t feeling great the next day; almost positive that it was just mucous rather than anything associated to what I was doing, but at any rate I skipped practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Other than Dantian Rotations; which, thinking about it now, might be a mistake, my stomach muscles actually don’t feel great because of all the coughing, so maybe that’s what I should be skipping.) But I’m feeling better today, so I decided to do a bit of Wu Ji; ended up only doing 10 minutes instead of my current goal of 19 minutes, but hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the saddle pretty quickly.

And I decided to go to a local Lotus course in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I won’t have the same allergy problems before that happens! I’ll want to dial down the dose next week, to increase the chance of that. I’d been thinking I would skip the local Lotus courses for now, just going to courses when Damo Mitchell is visiting, but the next course is a three-day one (Saturday-Monday) on standing postures, so I’d only have to miss one day of work and it’s a topic that I’m interested in. A pity that it’s only a couple of weeks after getting back from vacation, but not much I can do about that…

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Tai Chi Notes, July 23, 2019

Jul 23 2019

The main event for this week was the number of times I did Wu Ji. I finished something at work at 4:45 on Wednesday, decided I didn’t have anything super productive to do for the next 25 minutes, so I did a last e-mail scan and went outside and did 15 minutes of Wu Ji. On Thursday there was a team lunch, so I didn’t have my normal lunchtime practice, but I again found some time in the afternoon. And basically I kept that up, sometimes doing Wu Ji when I got home, sometimes at work, and sometimes in my normal practice times, and I ended up doing it 7 days in a row and counting.

They weren’t, admittedly, always the best practice sessions: on a couple of them I bailed noticeably early and on one or two I bailed a little early. But still, doing it every day made me happy, and my body felt better after that.

I’m also trying to tweak my posture: I was reading a collection of articles called Daoist Reflections from Scholar Sage and one of them mentioned not having your knees past your toes, and also not having your pressure on the balls of your feet. (It’s supposed to be over your Yong Quan, but that’s a little further back.) So I’ve been trying to alter my posture to follow that, which also seems to me like it should fit with the idea of acting like you’re about to sit on a barstool instead of down into a chair? Good that this fits together, though it doesn’t actually feel like it’s making things any easier, in fact frequently the practice has been feeling more strenuous since I’ve made that change, so I’m not actually sure that I’m doing things more correctly.

I’m also starting to feel like I have a better notion of how far down I’m supposed to go: in particular, if I go far enough, I definitely feel that my center of gravity is too low. So that’s good. And I’ve been working on sinking my qi, both when doing Wu Ji and when doing seated meditation, and I feel like I’ve been able to do that more reliably; hopefully I’ll be able to build on that. (Sometimes I then do some reverse breathing after I feel I have my qi in the right place, not much coming of that yet.)

Not much to say about Tai Chi. This weekend we had the Sunday class, and some more people were taking the teacher training test; some of this is probably seeing flaws in others while not noticing the flaws in yourself, but I felt like I can do the first form better than three of the four people showed? So I should probably take that test at some point; maybe I’ll do it next year. The potential blocks are making sure I can do one of the weapon forms, and the fact that my teacher has a preference for people having done a competition first; I’m not 100% sure I’ll feel like doing a competition next year. But I could work on the Lao Jia Dao form for the weapons form, that should be okay, I think. Still, I might target two years from now instead of next year?

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VGHVI Minecraft: June 27, 2019

Jul 20 2019

Pictures from the June Minecraft session; not a lot of them this time.

 

First, some travel stuff.

A random crafting table and banner in an island somewhere.

Some towers become visible from a distance.

It’s a compound in the desert that I’d forgotten about.

Back to the jungle glitch in the water near the city.

A bump in some water.

 

Next, pictures of what Pat was working on:

The outside of a large hall.

The inside of the hall.

The view looking out from the entrance to the hall.

Pat found some lanterns he really liked.

He added the lanterns inside the hall, too.

And to the path! Along with a green fringe.

A small flower garden next to the hall.

Walking down into the garden.

There’s a nice little pond with a bench further down.

 

And, finally, Dan was adding lanterns too:

Some lanterns in the entrance to Dan’s underground white halls.

The top of the steps heading down to a large unfinished room. (Except for the lanterns!)

Inside that room.

Looking back up those steps.

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Tai Chi Notes, July 16, 2019

Jul 16 2019

My cold is being very stubborn; probably a sinus infection?

On Thursday, I bailed fairly early on in Wu Ji, but at least I did some, and a round of Qi Gong.

On Saturday, I went to class like normal; not doing great, but I made it through. One thing I noticed while watching my teacher doing the form: you don’t look to the right for as long as I thought during Grab and Tuck Robe, you want to stay looking to the right when you cross your hands but you look left when you start circling your right arm out.

On Sunday I did 40 minutes of meditation lying down and 40 minutes sitting, good to be getting back in form for that. I wasn’t feeling great, though, so I didn’t do any Tai Chi in the afternoon, but I went through some Silk Reeling and some Wu Ji. Only 10 minutes of Wu Ji, but that was the first time since I got sick that I at least didn’t bail before my timer went off, and actually I was surprised when it went off.

And today I did 15 minutes over lunch, plus some Qi Gong (I’m holding off on the Frolics until I went better), and I went to most of the Tuesday class.

I definitely would like to feel better, but at least I’m staying somewhat in practice, and I’m not feeling completely out of touch with what it means to relax…

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Tai Chi Notes, July 9, 2019

Jul 09 2019

Last week was spent fighting the cold. I was starting to get better by the end of the week, so I did go to Tai Chi class on Saturday; didn’t feel great, my lower back was tight and hurting, and in general I didn’t feel the normal body sensations (energy, sinking, relaxing). I could sort of tell that those sensations were available on the fringes, just hard to access.

Because of the tightness, I went through the full silk reeling series on Sunday as well. I only did the first form three times, but that felt like a reasonable victory given the time I spent on Silk Reeling and given my energy level. I tried to do some Lotus Wu Ji later in the afternoon, but I just couldn’t get into it; I probably should have pushed through, I wasn’t actually hurting particularly (and in particular, my lower back actually wasn’t causing problems for that), I just didn’t have the mental fortitude for it.

Unfortunately, the cold refused to go away; I actually felt kind of lousy yesterday (and was coughing a ton), so I worked from home today, didn’t do Wu Ji over lunch, didn’t go to Tai Chi class. I did at least put in 20 minutes of sitting meditation; a little distracted by coughing at the start, but that actually got better as the session went on, it was a surprisingly successful session. (Which reminds me, I did 30 minutes of lying down meditation on Sunday; that was less successful, though not a complete loss.)

Hopefully this cold will end soon and I’ll be able to start working on getting my body back in shape, but who knows when…

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Tai Chi Notes, July 2, 2019

Jul 02 2019

My Lotus Wu Ji went great on Thursday: 21 minutes, no significant pain. Not sure whether I’m accidentally making it inappropriately easy on myself, whether I’m doing something right, or whether it depends on something non-obvious in the state of my body; if it’s the first of those, then great.

And I had a free moment in the middle of the afternoon that day, so I went for a stroll, and after that I found a quiet spot that I hadn’t previously been aware of quite a bit closer to work, so I did another 15 minutes of Wu Ji. That made me happy, it might make it realistic for me to start working in practice on Mondays / Wednesdays / Fridays as well.

Unfortunately, on Friday I also had a few spare minutes, but I had a real headache, so I decided practicing wasn’t a good idea. And, more unfortunately, that was a sign that I was coming down with a cold, and a pretty nasty one: I was not only out of commission Saturday and Sunday, but I ended up taking sick days Monday and Tuesday as well. (I think I’ll be up for working for home tomorrow, at least: today was better than yesterday.) So no Tai Chi class on Saturday or today, no Wu Ji today, no practicing on Sunday.

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VGHVI Minecraft: May 30, 2019

Jun 29 2019

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at the start of the May Minecraft session; looking around, though, I noticed some stairs that were irregular, so I cleaned them up:

The bottom side of the staircase is uneven in the top half.

Now the bottom looks better.

Then I went up the staircase, through the building on top, and looked out the back:

There’s a desert out the back.

And, if I look right, there’s Roger’s abandoned cathedral.

 

I decided to just go straight out the back, past that desert, and see where it lead.

A pig on the side of a mountain.

Pigs hovering in the air, waiting for support to get rendered under them.

Some mountains sticking up from the water.

A sheep looking over a mountain ridge.

A mountain lake, with lava above it.

Sunset in the middle of a rendering void.

A crevasse with water at the bottom and lava running down the side. (And, I think, a sheep watching.)

 

I came across a village; it turned out to be quite a bit fancier than I’m used to, I guess it’s been a while since I’ve looked at villages.

A couple of small buildings on the outskirts.

Peeking into one of the houses.

There’s a library behind this grille door.

Some people talking, with a cat.

That golem is keepings its eyes on me.

A small sheep pen behind a house.

A broader view of the village: note the large building on the hill in the upper right and the one in the lower left.

 

After that, I kept on going, eventually reaching a second, quite different, village at the edge of a desert.

A cold moon shines over the desert.

Some horses and cows.

An oasis in the desert.

Hello, desert bunny.

A crevasse and a river in the desert.

Approaching a city in the desert.

The full city comes into view, it turns out to be on the shoreline.

One of the villagers is looking at me with suspicion.

Some of the buildings with people standing around nearby.

A cave right on the edge of the water.

 

That seemed like a good place to stop, so I flew back to where I started.

Here’s part of that earlier village, now during the day.

I’ve returned to where I started.

One other random picture from when I was flying around afterwards.

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