Nei Gong Notes, March 21, 2023

Mar 21 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Quite a good week. On Wednesday in particular I had a very good Nei Gong session: I did my normal Spinal Dao Yin and Kidney Hui Chun for Wednesdays, but then, later in the day, I felt like practicing more, so I did a longish Advanced Dantian Gong session. And it felt like it was useful: I relaxed my abdomen in a way that seemed to help stuff get in there more. So I feel like I’m getting more out of that than I was when I was trying it last summer; I’m still not at the Qi swallowing stage of that exercise, but this felt like a step in the right direction.

And also, over the course of the week, I’ve reminded myself of how the various MCO preparation activities went. The previous week, I’d gone through the Bellows Breathing / Huiyin plucking video, and this week, besides practicing Advanced Dantian Gong, I went through the Line of Ming, Mixing Kan and Li, and Lesser Orbit videos, and took notes. I think that’s a good set of practices to remind myself of; and, for now, I think I should be focusing on Advanced Dantian Gong, Bellows Breathing, and Line of Ming. (As well as Anchoring the Breath and the Kidney and Spleen Hui Chuns.) And once I feel like those are in a good place, I’ll add in Mixing Kan and Li and the Lesser Orbit, and then a couple of longer sequences from the Maryland retreat.

And my Tai Chi was okay this week. We had Sunday Tai Chi this weekend, and so I wanted to work on my Guan Dao; and I did get back to where I was before going on vacation. So I still wasn’t caught up to where the class was, but I was only a month behind; hopefully I’d be able to follow along well enough on Sunday and then get completely caught up before the April class.

But it turned out to be raining on Sunday, so we didn’t do Guan Dao at all! So I have less catching up to do than I expected, I should be completely caught up in a couple of weeks, I hope. Instead, we did some push hands; nice to get some pointers from Tony, but also it was nice to do push hands with somebody other than my normal partner. (Not that I don’t like doing push hands with him, he and I are actually well matched, just that variety has its virtues too.) And in particular, with one of the other people I was pushing hands with, I started to feel like something was moving around in interesting ways; I should try to capture that feeling more often.

Though, having said that, I’ve been watching a few videos of Damo or Adam Mizner doing push hands, and either those videos are fakes or they’re doing something that is fundamentally different from what my teacher is teaching. Not necessarily fundamentally different from what he can do – one of my fellow students was saying on Sunday that, when my teacher does An, he feels incredibly heavy, which seems consistent with the videos of Damo doing An? But I don’t really see how to get there from what I’ve seen my teacher teach. Though maybe that’s just that, so far, he’s been teaching push hands at a basic level because we’re starting out, so maybe I just have to stick with it more.

But it is getting me to think again that I should get back to Damo’s Tai Chi course and follow it along seriously, because I think he has things to say about Jin and how to develop it that I would really like to learn. Having said that, I’m also not convinced that I have the energy / motivation in practice to stick with that: I’m already not reviewing the Tai Chi forms that I know or am learning frequently enough, and so I’m hesitant to add in another commitment on top of that. (Because I don’t think I’d learn Tai Chi from Damo’s videos without really committing to it; just watching the videos and trying out the exercises a few times won’t be enough.) So, for now, I’m not picking those videos up yet, I think the real issue is that I need to make more time for various kinds of Internal Arts practice. But once I’ve made more time (and maybe once I’ve gotten to where I can activate the Microcosmic Orbit outside of a workshop) then that is something I’m considering doing.

So: good week. The one bump in the road is that I had a colonoscopy on Monday; the prep during most of the week wasn’t bad, I just had to avoid a couple of kinds of food, but on Sunday and Monday morning and afternoon I was on a liquid diet, and Sunday afternoon and Monday morning I had to take something to empty out my system. So, while I was fine during Sunday Tai Chi, it was also good that it was Sunday morning rather than Sunday afternoon; and it didn’t feel wise to practice on Monday. But the procedure itself was totally fine, and I had a good dinner on Monday evening, and I felt back to normal today. So I’m not worried about that going forward, I should be fine the rest of the week.

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Nei Gong Notes, March 7, 2023

Mar 07 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

I’m finally back to my normal practice: I stayed inactive through Wednesday, but I restarted practice on Thursday. And sometimes in the past when I’ve been actually sick, I’ve had to spend a few days ramping up, but I didn’t have to do that this time: I had a normal workday practice on Thursday and on Friday I had a 40 minute Wu Ji plus arm stretching Dao Yin session followed by a 40 minute Hui Chun, and it went fine. And decent practice over the weekend, too.

The arm stretching Dao Yin was kind of interesting: I was in a part where my arms were stretching diagonally down, and then at some point I felt like something was releasing out, like I was pulling and some lines were pulling over my shoulders. Though I also realized that I was leaning forward more and more as I did that, so I’m not 100% sure how much something was actually stretching internally and how much the movement was external.

Also, my sleep stuff is getting better. Over the trip, I was feeling like sleep was correlated with food; so, since I’ve gotten home, I’ve been putting less food on my plate at dinner. And it has been definitely helping: I’ve switched from normally waking up twice in the middle of the night to normally waking up once in the middle of the night, with me sleeping for about 6 hours, then waking up briefly and going back to sleep. So that change is great. (And it’s not like I feel hungry or anything: I’m full when I stop eating, I’m just not eating past that point. Heck, for all I know I could eat even a little less?)

And that made me wonder whether my overall energy problems were also sleep-linked. While I was wondering that, I had a random conversation with a coworker who mentioned that a friend of his had felt like he had a lot more energy after going off of gluten, and that’s not the first time I’ve heard that sort of thing. So I decided to experiment with going off of gluten for a few weeks to see if that has any effect; I’ve started that experiment this past Sunday, we’ll see how it goes.

If that does fix things, I will have mixed feelings, because I really do like having a bit of baguette for breakfast in the morning once or twice a week, and because we cook a lot of pasta; hopefully gluten-free pasta tastes okay? And it turns out that soy sauce generally has gluten in it, which isn’t great for eating Chinese or Japanese food. Still, there will be a ton of things I can eat without gluten, so if it does give me a lot more energy, then that would be a good tradeoff.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 28, 2023

Feb 28 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Similar to last week: I was feeling iffy enough on my trip that I didn’t want to do Nei Gong. And, in fact, I got a bit of a cold on Friday; nothing horrible, but still.

Anyways, I’m home now, sleeping better, and pretty much over the cold. I’ve been trying to make sure I wasn’t eating too much, and I slept soundly last night, I think I only woke up once; especially good since the time zone change was only a few days earlier.

I’m still not completely sure I’m out of the woods, so I think I’ll hold off on Nei Gong tomorrow and Thursday, but if I feel good on Friday then I’ll get back to it then. And maybe I’ll do some Tai Chi tomorrow? I’ll also be curious to see what my TCM doctor says on Friday, since it will have been four weeks since my last appointment.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 21, 2023

Feb 21 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Very little to say this week. I’ve been on vacation, and my sleep just hasn’t been consistently good enough for me to want to get back into practice: sometimes I’ll have a good day and think I’m in good form, but then the next day my sleep will be crappy and I’ll be afraid that I’m going to get sick again if I push myself. I think the sleep problems are related to the quantity of food that I’m eating, which is probably higher than normal given that one of the benefits of this vacation is being around good restaurants; fortunately, the better restaurants actually have quite modest portions, so it’s not as bad as it could be, but still.

Anyways, the one thing that I have been doing along these lines is I’ve been trying squatting with my feet on the ground. I saw some videos on that a while back that made me think that it might be worth trying: something that people in many parts of the world do in complete comfort, whereas Americans have trouble with it. (I can squat fine on the balls of my feet, but the mechanics of that feel different, like they’re putting / transmitting weight in unhealthy ways.)

When I’d tried it before, I had a hard time keeping it going for more than a few minutes; I wanted to relax more but never felt like I could. But I decided to give it a try during this trip while waiting for Liesl as we were going through a museum; and, after a bit of experimenting, I actually did manage to relax more and feel decently comfortable squatting that way? I don’t know that I could do it for an hour or anything like that, but it definitely felt like progress compared to how it had been for me before.

And it also felt like probably useful body mechanics from a Nei Gong point of view. When I relaxed enough, my pelvis was definitely sinking, enough to put a quite strong stretch on my lower back: I could feel stuff popping in there as it got dragged down. It took my a little bit of fiddling to get my weight in a position that felt stable, and I suspect that, as I relax more, that positioning will change, but the positioning that I ended up with was also activating my Yongquan a noticeable amount.

I’m also pretty sure that it will help me better understand the default positioning of my back and lower body, and ways in which my habits in that regard are not so healthy. In particular, my left foot was turned noticeably further out than my right foot; I’m not treating this like Wu Ji or anything, I expect my feet to be turned out, but I would also want them to be turned out symmetrically, and that definitely wasn’t happening. So I’ll want to understand and work with that; maybe if I can get them turned more symmetrically then the weighting of my pelvis will help get stuff aligned to a better positioning?

One thing that did surprise me what what it felt like when I stood up: I was usually noticeably light-headed after doing that, much more so than I am when sitting on the ground or squatting on my toes. Not sure what the deal is there, and whether it’s transient or not; I’m not worrying about it or anything, it didn’t take that long to recover, but it was a surprise.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 14, 2023

Feb 14 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Good Nei Gong practice this Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday, I got back to doing Spinal Dao Yin after taking a week or two of from that because of various other life stuff going on; nothing particularly striking happened while doing that, but still, it feels worth continuing. And I also followed Joyce’s video of the Earth Hui Chun from the section in the IAA Library on talks from other teachers; mostly not new information, but one thing that she pointed out that I wasn’t aware of was that, when doing the mudra at the end, you should squeeze your thumb a bit and feel how that squeeze affects the inside of your body. (Which it indeed does!)

Friday was more interesting, though. As I mentioned last week, I’d gotten a little worried that maybe my Dantian is leakier than I would like, so I thought I should probably do some Dantian Gong sessions. Which I did do on Friday; I figured I’d try a full set (3 minute intervals, which adds up to a little over an hour), and I was cautiously optimistic that my standing had gotten enough better recently that I’d be able to manage that. And, indeed, I could; the standing was honestly basically no problem at all (and I did feel like I was sunk deep enough). So, setting the Dantian Gong aside, I really have made progress on my ability to stand for a while in Wu Ji-like positions; still work to go, I am almost positive that I wouldn’t be able to get particularly close to doing it for three hours (which is one traditional milestone), but an hour without problems is still an achievement. As for the Dantian Gong itself, not a lot to report there; happy enough to have done it, it felt useful but in a way that made me less worried about me being super leaky there. Who knows, hard to say for sure.

And, at the last workshop, Boris had given me a nudge to try all 5 Hui Chun in a row again, and he mentioned that Damo had recommended the order of Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, Metal, so I did that. Similarly to the Dantian Gong, it felt fine / interesting in terms of the inside of my body, so I was glad to have done it but it wasn’t a revelation, but I was surprised how well I held up. And here I was actually a little more surprised – even a month or two ago, I’d been feeling like my outer leg was falling asleep (and maybe putting a little more pressure than I’d like on my knee) when I sat in Burmese for 45 minutes, and I also remembered from last time when I did this that, even if I switched legs every 45 minutes, that, in the last 15 minutes or so, my butt would ache enough to start to get distracting. (The full 5 Hui Chun set is about an hour and 45 minutes, if you do it in three minute intervals.) But I did it the whole time without switching legs once, and both my leg and butt were just fine.

I actually don’t feel like I can really take credit for that, though: I’m pretty sure that what happened was that I changed meditation pillows a couple of weeks earlier, and that it’s easier to sit for long periods on the new pillow. The new one is in sort of a V shape, so there’s an indentation in the middle that works well with sitting Burmese: in particular, I can pull in my outer leg more, and I’d already noticed that that helped when I did that with my other pillow, and I think it helps even more here. When I bought the new pillow, I already noticed in the store that it was thicker than the prior pillow, and I was thinking that I’d take out some of the filling material, but when I tried it out, I realized that the thickness wasn’t uniform, and so as a result I have a noticeably slope of my legs down the sides of the V; that felt more comfortable, and I’m pretty sure that that also made a noticeable difference. At any rate, I was pleased to see that, with that pillow (and maybe with some amount of practice from the medium-length sitting sessions that I’ve been doing more of over the last half year), I can actually reasonably sit for a couple of hours without pain. (Whether I can do it while staying awake is a different matter, but fortunately the Hui Chuns give me something to do, and I was pretty alert that morning.)

So two long sessions, adding up to about three hours of practice time. (And I put in a good stretching session too. And I’m also noticing that I’m finding the stretch where you stand in Horse Stance width with your arms pressing out your knees to help stretch the Kua to be easier now than it had been – I was already thinking that that was easier in this workshop than in the last one, and I think that isn’t an illusion.) And one nice thing that I noticed, too, was that I wasn’t bored while doing that – I wasn’t counting the minutes wondering how long I could keep it up, I was just doing the exercises. (Maybe occasionally noting how long it had been / how long remained, but not in a way that I had any particular emotional attachment to.) It certainly helped that, for both the standing and sitting exercises, I was doing something that had me change up every 3 minutes, so I don’t want to extrapolate from that to how I would feel if I were, say, sitting doing Calm Abiding for a couple of hours, but still, it felt like I was making progress mentally.

Nice to have two good days of Nei Gong practice; the Friday practice in particular was probably one of my all-time best practices outside of workshops. The only downside was that I didn’t do much Tai Chi either afternoon, so I still have stuff to work on in terms of practice volume, but I feel good about myself anyways.

Also, I feel like the quality of my breathing has improved, that I’m using more of my chest. E.g. when jogging I felt like the breaths were going further down into my torso, instead of being stuck up top; but I’ve also noticed that in other contexts too. Not sure what to attribute that too (the jogging? the Nei Gong workshops? my Nei Gong practice at home?) but it’s a nice improvement.

Though I won’t be able to build on any of the above this week: we left for vacation on Saturday, so I’m not on my normal routines. And the vacation involved a red eye flight and a large time zone shift, which is generally something that makes me feel tired for a few days in a way that makes me wonder if I’m starting to come down with a cold; I did a decent length sitting session yesterday but even while I was doing that, I felt like it might not have been a wise move from the point of view of “don’t do Nei Gong when you’re sick”, so I didn’t stand yesterday and didn’t sit or stand today. Hopefully by the second half of the week I’ll be feeling good enough that I can resume practice, but even if that’s the case, I do want to spend a decent amount of time out seeing stuff, so probably my practice will still be on the short end of things. But it’s nice to go on vacation, it’s our first vacation that’s not to visit relatives (or not for me to go to a Nei Gong workshop) since COVID.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 7, 2023

Feb 07 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

The main event this week was that I went to a three day workshop that Joyce was running. She said that my standing was significantly better than the last time she saw me (at the workshop with Damo last summer), which was good to hear, and in general she seemed like I was ready for more stuff than before.

Some notes:

When shutting down, I should stretch my arms out some while raising them.

In Wu Ji, I should try spreading my chest more and spreading my back more side to side. And when I spread my lower back horizontally, I should let my rib cage move into my lower back more: this helps support my lower back. When I try to let my weight sink from my shoulders to my Kua, it’s hitting my lower back and mostly stopping; playing around with that, if I can get a bit of a feeling of a slight curve there (tilting my Kua and tailbone forward), then I get much more of a feeling of connection from my shoulders down into my Kua.

We did a neat exercise the first day where you bring your hands in a circle, alternating sides, in at the bottom, then up, then out at the top, then down on the outside; kind of like stationary Hand Maneuvers, except that your palm stays down at the top and only turns out when going down, and you turn your body out more as you go down. And feel a connection as you do this from each foot to the opposite hand, along the Jin Jing lines. When I did that for a few minutes, that connection started to feel surprisingly intense; we only did it one day, so I should make sure to do it again soon (probably tomorrow) to make sure I remember how to do it. (And, of course to benefit from it.)

In general, I should stretch more; I always get told this, and I’ve been doing it a bit more, but it’s time to step that up another notch. And I usually actually enjoy most of the stretches when I’m in workshops; I probably should do a better job of remembering which ones I don’t do that feel useful…

We did a fair number of arm / shoulder space creation exercises. (A good continuation of the workshops with Rick; some different exercises and emphases this time.) During a decent length Pushing the Tides session the second day, I actually got to a situation where I didn’t feel like I was straining much to keep my arms up: there was discomfort from the stretch itself but not so much from muscle fatigue. I’m not sure whether that was my muscles learning which ones needed to work and which ones didn’t, or whether the amount of stretch had put my arms in a configuration where legitimately less muscle was necessary to keep them up, or what, but it also felt more comfortable on the third day and when I was practicing some yesterday. Also, on the third day, we followed Pushing the Tides with a stretching exercise with my arms pointing down and out at 45 degrees; and, after a few minutes of my second part, my arms just started stretching out more and more on their own for a while. So both of those were pretty cool changes, I am definitely going to want to work in arm stretches into my practice multiple days a week for a while.

When doing Dantian Gong, she encouraged me to be firmer with my Qi. And also some things she said and some things I’ve seen make me wonder if my Dantian is still leaky; I should find time to put in some good Dantian Gong sessions.


So that’s it for the workshop; we’ll see how much Joyce is back in the area, though workshops with Rick are great too. (No word yet on when the next workshop with either of them will be.)

Not a ton to say otherwise. I forgot to mention last time that I did put a post up on my other blog about the various ways in which my body likes to go forward more than is ideal. No Tai Chi class this weekend, because of the workshop; I did a little bit of practice at home but I should definitely do more. My neck is getting better: still room for improvement but I’m not worried about it. My sleep wasn’t great on Saturday and Sunday, I think that might be linked to me eating more food than normal during the workshop; I should experiment more with that variable and see the effects on my sleep. Because of the workshop, I didn’t jog quite as much as I would like, I continue to think that it would be good for me to have 4 days a week be my target there instead of 3.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 31, 2023

Jan 31 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Frustrating week. My thumb was still hurting, so I was nervous about doing the arm stretching stuff from the Nei Gong workshop. I asked my TCM doctor about that again, and he said that it was caused by my neck; playing around with my neck, I think he’s right. And that also didn’t make me feel great: what was causing that, what would make it feel better? Also, he told me to switch back to sleeping on my left side; he’d mentioned that before, but I guess I should pay more attention to it.

Anyways, I tried to expand the fascia in my neck, and elongate my neck a bit more; that made my thumb feel better, at least. But then last night my sleep was kind of lousy; part of that might be me being no longer used to sleeping on my left side, but I realized my neck was aching slightly, and in the past my doctor has said that my neck is linked to sleep problems, so I think it’s my neck.

So now my theory is that the stuff that I’ve been doing around neck positioning and lengthening has been stressing something in my neck too much, in a way that’s not healthy. I took some ibuprofen this morning, since that reduces swelling in ways that have helped with my back in the past, and my neck and thumb did feel better after doing that. So, for now, I’ll do that before going for bed, and I’ll stop the active work on my neck; maybe I’ll let it float back but definitely not up. Hopefully that will help; I don’t want to go back to lousy sleep…

Anyways, nothing in particular to report for Nei Gong because of all of that, and I’ll take it easy in the middle of this week, too. (But I’ve got a workshop with Joyce coming up this weekend, so I can’t take it easy then!) Tai Chi class was on Saturday; my last one for a while, I’m going to miss every week in February. My teacher did say he was going to start doing push hands more, which I appreciate. And doing the Lao Jia first form really is feeling more interesting to me now: there’s more stuff going on inside my body, doing Tai Chi is starting to feel kind of like Qi Gong. In general, the inside of my body does feel more alive, I feel stuff moving and settling a lot even when doing basic Nei Gong now; if it weren’t for my neck, I’d actually be actively happy with how things are going, I really am making progress.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 24, 2023

Jan 24 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

The main event this week was that I did a three day Nei Gong workshop with Rick. Some amount of arm stretching, though not as much as last time; I am getting better at stretching my arms just by changing focus (alternating between absorbing my attention in my arm and then pulling back my focus to outside my arm), and sometimes I actually got a surprisingly large stretch that way. The most surprising time I actually hit my bone level, all of a sudden feeling a hard cylinder in the middle of my arm; Rick said that, if you go deep enough, you can even feel the bone start to stretch, but I didn’t get that far. There was also some hint of the spread going into my chest, hopefully I can continue to have that happen a bit.

So I’m excited to keep on doing that; though, unfortunately, the previous week my right thumb started to occasionally give me a twinge of pain, and noticing more when that’s happening, I’m realizing that it’s not triggered by thumb exercise (e.g. I’d thought that practicing piano had set it off, and while it’s still possible that’s the case, I haven’t noticed the pain appear while practicing piano), but it does get triggered sometimes when I just straighten my arm. So I’m worried that it’s being triggered by having the tendon be pulled by my arm, which makes me think that doing active stretching is a bad idea until it gets better; maybe stretching by just alternating attention would work because that activates my fascia instead of my muscles, but still, seems dangerous.

Anyways, the workshop was mostly focused on building internal connection, using the first few Ji Ben exercises as a vehicle for that. So get everything set up doing Wu Ji, paying particular attention to connecting your shoulder blades to your Kua and your Kua to your Yongquan; and then, maintain that connection during the Ji Bens, and let that connection move your arms in synchrony with your center of gravity.

And I got some refinements on my Wu Ji. In terms of getting into Wu Ji, Rick mostly repeated what he said last time, but hopefully it stuck a little better: before settle down, first spread your hip joints and settle your pelvis on your femurs, and then sink down a bit; then relax the area around your tailbone, and sink down a bit more; then spread your Mingmen in all directions and sink down to the full proper depth. Doing all of that lets the base of my body feel pretty floaty. And, at some point (or periodically), give all of your joints an instruction to expand. And, as you sink your shoulder blades, let that travel down into your arms, and let your arms curve; you’ll end up with your hands pointed somewhat inward, instead of forward.

So that was the workshop; a good three days. It meant that I didn’t go to Tai Chi class on Saturday, though at least I did manage to practice some yesterday, because it’s finally not constantly raining. In terms of other stuff that’s going on, I’m noticing more tension inside my chest, at some point I should spend time with Song breathing. (Not the first time I’ve said that!) And I’ve added a “jogging” entry to Streaks; for now I have it configured to urge me to do it three times a week, though I’m thinking four might be a better idea: I think I’m making a bit of progress three days a week but it’s uncomfortably close to maintaining a steady state, so I do think a fourth day would make a difference. But for now I just want to make sure I’ve got the habit established in a way that works with my days, so I’ll leave the reminder at three days, and maybe I’ll do more days some weeks but maybe I won’t.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 17, 2023

Jan 17 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

As per my plans from last week, I’ve been doing Anchoring the Breath and the Tai Chi version of Wu Ji both days. And it’s helped: I think it’s helped my sleep (it’s certainly better than it has been but who knows the cause), but the inside of my body also feels good. Some pretty strong sinking when doing the Wu Ji, and my breathing feels deeper.

An interesting experience when doing my weekly run through the Spinal Dao Yin video: normally, when moving up the spine in the bit that’s like the Water Wu Xing but further back, I’m paying attention to how the interface with the spine feels, but I realized if I change my focus a bit, I can tune more into the fluid of the Qi feels directly. So I’ll have to experiment with that more; one thing that struck me is that the mass of liquid didn’t feel like it was getting stuck as much as when I was focusing on how it interacted with the spine. So I guess it’s routing around blockages better than I thought? I’ll definitely want to pay attention to that in future weeks.

My Tai Chi teacher went over my form again this week; it had only been a month or so, but I’d subbed in to lead the start of class for somebody who couldn’t lead it the previous week, so I got to go again. I wasn’t too optimistic, both because it hadn’t been much time and because the rain and my brother’s visit meant that I had practiced very little outside of class, but I guess my Nei Gong had been helping or something, because my teacher was unusually positive towards my form, he said that I actually looked quite good. He did mention that at the end of Dan Bien, my right hand should be slightly lower than my left hand, and when I extend my left hand out there, I should do it in a more expanding fashion rather than an angular fashion (similarly to how he’d told me to expand in a few places with my right arm the previous time), so I’ll work on that, but it seems like, in general, I should try to tune into the feeling that I had last time.

I hadn’t been doing jogging as much over the previous week or two, and it had been showing, but I was more disciplined about doing it over the last week or so, and it’s been helping, I’m getting pretty close to my previous distance. I want to stick with that, so I’ve added it to Streaks, with a target of jogging three times a week.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 10, 2022

Jan 10 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Interesting week. The main topic for the week is sleep: my sleep was continuing to be not great; when I mentioned it to my doctor, he switched me back to the Liver Heat herbs, instead of the previous herbs that were partly for Liver and partly for Kidneys. I had pretty dreadful sleep that night (though I can’t blame the herbs for that, I think I was still finishing off the previous batch), so I asked the IAA forum about that. One person suggested concentrating on sinking my Tian Tu, another person suggested concentrating on Anchoring. (Presumably Anchoring the Breath.)

And I’d been worried that the progress that I’d been making on my spine and Kidneys might lead to some amount of energy going up and getting stuck in my head; and working on my neck should, I think, help with Liver, but maybe the attention I was paying there was getting Qi stuck in my head? So working on sinking and anchoring sounded plausible; and also I think I probably should put a pause on the spine work (since it was largely motivated by my Kidneys and they are okay), and maybe also not do so much Wu Ji (since right now the interesting effects I’m getting out of that involve sending energy up my body from my Yong Quan), though I’m less sure about that.

So I’m trying to do Anchoring the Breath every day; I’ll still try to stick with the long Hui Chun sessions on Wednesdays / Fridays / Sundays, but hopefully I’ll have time to do both. And on Sunday I did some of the Tai Chi version of Wu Ji (and I did it with my weight in the middle of my foot instead of over my Yong Quan); that didn’t feel too energizing, and actually I felt a decent amount of sinking, with my legs getting full. So I think I’ll stick with doing that most days for a while: it’ll probably help (or at least not hurt) with my sleep issues, and it’s been a while since I’ve done that for a noticeable length of time in a row, and I think I’ll learn something from the experience this time.

And sleep on Sunday night was pretty good, and sleep last night was actually the best sleep I’ve had in a few months – I woke up once in the middle of the night, I’m fairly sure, but I went back to sleep immediately and I don’t think I woke up beyond that. So that’s a nice sign.

Anyways, other Nei Gong notes: I’m noticing the Ming Line show up during random seated exercises. Another part of the reason why I’m worried about energy making it up my spine on its own, because my Dantian seems like it’s doing pretty well. And when I was doing the bit of the Liver Hui Chun that is basically Pushing the Tides, something interesting happened: I felt something (fascia?) open up a bit, but it was actually across my chest instead of in my shoulders or arms. So I’ll definitely want to try that out more; admittedly, the opening up might be a one time thing, with something getting unlocked, but maybe my chest will continue to loosen, or maybe something in my arms will loosen?

Also, when working on sinking my liquid center of mass, I’d been having a hard time getting it as low as it should go, and that seemed to be related to some tenseness at the bottom of the front of my torso. And I realized that that tenseness might actually be largely mechanical: if I lean forward more, it gets stronger, whereas if I angle back a bit, it goes away. So I guess I’m leaning forward too much; which fits in with a bunch of other different observations I’ve made about me being too forward-oriented in different parts of my body. I think I’ll write a post about that on my other blog soon.

In terms of Tai Chi: after the last Dan Bian in the Xinjia first form, go left before right, and close the left fist as you go left. And when doing Head On Cannon in that form, your fists should be somewhat high: not all the way to your chest, but maybe at the height of your solar plexus? They’re lower in Laojia, but your upper arms are in about the same place in both forms; because you turn your hands, your elbows lower a bit in Laojia. But your fists aren’t as low as the Dantian even in the Laojia case. (And hopefully now I’ve seen the end of the form enough times that I’ll actually be able to do it at a basic level; I should start practicing it more.)

And I did finally make it to the Sunday class. In Paochui, I should work on wrapping more (right arm on the outside) in Wrapping Cracker. And in the Guan Dao, when transitioning from presenting the teacup to the next move, I shouldn’t take a step with my feet: you turn around, but your feet turn rather than shift. In general, I’m doing a good job of keeping up with the Guan Dao, even though I’ve missed a bunch of classes; I’ll miss next month, too, but while we’re getting close to the end of the form, I’m pretty sure we’ll continue at least through March, so hopefully I’ll have at least one more class to learn it instead of depending solely on the video for the last part.

I listened to a Guru Viking interview with Adam Mizner; a similar take to Damo’s on Tai Chi, maybe going into slightly different details? A reminder that there’s a lot more for me to go into, if I’m up for spending the time/effort there. (Which I’m probably not…)

Also, all of this working on spinal / body alignment has had me noticed how I frequently twist up a bit while sitting, which reminded me of something Damo mentioned in one of his lectures, along the lines that sitting at ease isn’t just sitting comfortably or sitting without moving, it’s sitting in a relatively straightforward position. So I spent some time at work today trying to just sit with good alignment and without crossing things; it’s pretty hard! Which feels like it’s something that is worth working on: there’s programming in my body that I kind of feel like isn’t a great idea and that’s deeper rooted than I thought.

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