Tai Chi Notes, January 13, 2020

Jan 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I’ll be out tomorrow evening, so I’m doing my notes a day early.

Sadly, my Wu Ji has returned to its normal state. I guess because I’ve been a little tired and haven’t been feeling like putting in 30 minutes a day? (And also because work hours don’t make that so easy.) Something to try to work back to, though…

Some notes from Saturday Tai Chi: in Groin Punch, your right hand should start pretty high up, by your rib cage, palm side up. (I feel like I’ve written that here before…) And in the Xin Jia first form (which we’re starting over again), when pushing to the right after the opening position, it’s a Peng instead of a Ji. And in Jing Gang, after you’ve come down, you do a counterclockwise movement with both your hands and your waist, and then when issuing, you go out from your Dantian but you don’t shift your weight.

We had the monthly Sunday class this weekend; our last time before restarting the second form. I mostly know the second form in class, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to remember from week to week, and there are definitely details I’ve missed. And I’ve given up on the staff, but that’s fine, I already am trying to learn too many things. This year’s Sunday weapon will be the Double Dao.

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Tai Chi Notes, January 7, 2020

Jan 07 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

I’d had a quite interesting time with Wu Ji at the end of last week, and my holiday schedule made it easier for me to do longer Wu Ji sessions this week, so I did 30 minutes almost every day. Which was rewarding: not as extreme as what happened last week, but almost every day, I had unusual physical sensations, most typically around the area of my tailbone or just above? In general quite pleasant, though sometimes when it was getting strong I almost felt nauseous…

So I still felt like I was on the edge of some sort of state change, but wasn’t actually reaching that state change. I tried doing a second Wu Ji session on Sunday, hoping that that would have a similar effect to the previous week, but I really wasn’t feeling it the second session; too tired or something. And there were two days this week where I wasn’t really feeling it during the first session; I stuck it out for 20 minutes or so, but for whatever reason it wasn’t feeling the same. Unfortunately, one of those days was today; hopefully that was just a blip.

Normal stuff otherwise; not as much Tai Chi on Sunday as I would have liked, but it was okay in general. In the Saturday class, we got some pointers about the Body Stretch exercise in Silk Reeling; you’re supposed to fold your chest sideways (like a hinge with your spine in the center), and also when your arms go up, the bottom of your torso should be stretching down. Also, when doing the Chest and Abdomen Folding, while you’re mostly folding along a horizontal axis, during the bit where your arms go together right before sticking them out, you should fold along both axes.

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Tai Chi Notes, December 31, 2019

Dec 31 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I’d said last week that I was sticking with my meditation / Wu Ji even though I had a bit of a cold; might have been a mistake, because on Wednesday evening (?) the back of my knees were aching, which I think is supposed to be a sign of my Jing being depleted. So I stopped the Wu Ji for a few days.

Also, my neck and spine were aching. Might have been the lack of exercise, but I also think it might have been me trying to untilt my neck, and potentially accidentally throwing other stuff out of whack because of that? If that’s the case, then the only hypothesis I had there is that I’m vaguely wondering now if my left leg might be ever so slightly shorter than my right leg; looks that way when I sit down with them stretched out, but I don’t know if my pelvis is straight or not when I do that, and I haven’t pulled out measuring tape. It would explain why I feel sometimes like I’m landing a little heavy on my right leg when walking, though…

I was feeling better again by Saturday, so I started up the Wu Ji again, and went to Tai Chi class like normal; and one big surprise there was how good Silk Reeling felt. Lots of energy moving around, which, honestly, surprised me a little since I’d been skipping other practicing the second half of the week, so I would expect my internal energy level to be low? Maybe it was my body readjusting itself and feeling better as a result, with the energy being able to flow more. Certainly the aches basically disappeared after that.

One pointer from doing the form in class: when moving the left after the sort of reverse Oblique Posture in Diagonal Body-Stroke Fist, I should brush my knee with my left hand, not just put it straight on my waist. Also, I noticed while doing the form that I can move energy to my feet much more easily than I could have a few months back; not yet feeling the sort of stickiness or extra gravity that I sometimes see described, but I’ll keep on working on it; does help a little in keeping my balance, just not dramatically so.

It was raining on Sunday so I didn’t practice Tai Chi outside, but I did a full round of Silk Reeling in addition to my regular Sunday Lotus Nei Gong stuff, and that did feel good.

I was on vacation today, and I decided that I felt like spending a fair amount of it doing Nei Gong and Tai Chi. So I did 30 minutes of seated meditation, some stretching, 30 minutes of Wu Ji, and the Five Animal Frolics; I hadn’t consistently been doing my current Tuesday / Thursday / Sunday target of 30 minutes of Wu Ji for a while, but I’m glad I did today, because I was very surprised when it ended, I wasn’t sure I’d even been going for 20 minutes at that point. And it wasn’t raining and hadn’t been for a couple of days, so I did some Tai Chi outside; the ground was pretty muddy, though, so I only went through the first form once. But I went through the Jian form a few times, because I need to solidify that. (I think we’re maybe two thirds of the way through it on Saturdays, hopefully I’ll be able to learn the whole thing?) One thing I’d been feeling unhappy with was that I felt I was using my arm too much while thrusting; but I found that I could keep my attention more in my Dantian during the form, and that felt better. So I’ll keep on experimenting with that.

Then, at the end of the afternoon, I had some more time, so I decided that things had been going well enough that I’d do a second Wu Ji session, so I put in another 30 minutes. And I’m glad I did; halfway through, I sort of relaxed into a feeling in the lower half of my body, and I got a hard-to-describe tingling sensation through large parts of my body, especially the lower half. And also the lower half was feeling relatively full in general, almost like there was something in my body filling my legs and coming up to a little above my tailbone; and, even weirder, my vision felt less dark even though my eyes were closed, with a feeling of light or something coming from the lower part of my body. (I didn’t actually turn my head down and look, I should try that next time!) So it definitely felt different from just having 60 minutes spread out over multiple days; I won’t say that it was a breakthrough (and, in particular, I still feel like my Live Gate is closed off, which is the next change I’m hoping for, the feeling of fullness definitely stopped below that), but it also feels like my body is getting in shape to make progress? If nothing else, it sure was interesting…

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Tai Chi Notes, December 24, 2019

Dec 24 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I managed to make it back up to 30 minutes of Wu Ji on Thursday, for the first time in a while: I’d been feeling infirm or sleepy too much recently. Though, unfortunately, I came down with a cold on Sunday so I’m feeling infirm again! I’ve managed to do my regular standing/sitting practice even with the cold, at least, the cold hasn’t been too bad, though I did skip my Tai Chi practice on Sunday.

Not much that I can think of from class on Saturday. And no class tonight (though I probably would have skipped it anyways), since it’s the end of the year.

I finished reading a book called The Mind Illuminated; it’s a guide to a meditation system, and I really liked it. It gives a step-by-step process to follow, a description of what to expect and what the goals are of each stage, and a theoretical framework to understand all of it. If I were going to carve out more time to focus on meditation, I would seriously consider following what the book says.

Having said that, it does raise the question of whether it would conflict with the Lotus Nei Gong approach. I am a little worried, for example, about its recommendation for focusing your attention on the tip of your nose; seems a little weird from a Qi point of view? Also it’s interesting to see how a lot of the physical effects (and Qi, for that matter) from Lotus Nei Gong does show up, but later on in the process; a different route to at least some of the same ends.

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Tai Chi Notes: December 17, 2019

Dec 17 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Not much to report this week. On Thursday, I had a lunch meeting, so I didn’t do my usual Nei Gong (though I did of course do a little Wu Ji at the end of the day). In the Saturday class, I asked about the transition from Pat the High Horse to Cross the Foot; you can shift your weight to your left, turn your right foot, shift right, and then step, or you can just step directly with your weight on the right foot the whole time. (Which is a lot harder!)

The most exciting thing was that I finally got my knees working in the bit where you flash your hands in the Xinjia Oblique Posture: if I relax and sink my attention down to my Dantian, then I can get energy coming out from there, and some goes out my knees.

This Sunday was the monthly class, but I could only stay for 30 minutes or so because I had to pick people up from the airport. I was hoping to at least put in my normal Sunday practice time after that, but I was too tired to do that, either…

I’m in the middle of reading a quite good meditation book, I’ll have more to report on that when I’m done.

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Tai Chi Notes, December 10, 2019

Dec 10 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Not much to say; it was raining Sunday so I didn’t practice as much, and not a lot came up on the other days.

I did some of my meditation (both standing and sitting) facing a mirror, and I really am a little tilted: I need to shift left while standing, and also my neck leans slightly to the right as well. Whoops.

Paying attention to where energy is gathering while doing standing meditation: my arms are still best at gathering it, and the bottom of my torso (beneath my Dantian, the Huiyin region) is pretty good, and I can feel it in my legs and the top of my head. But my back feels empty, or at least from the Live Gate up. So that seems like the next milestone to hope for. Not entirely sure what I can do to speed that up, though maybe I should think more about opening up my Live Gate.

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Tai Chi Notes, December 3, 2019

Dec 03 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I was feeling on the edge of coming down with a cold last week, so I took a few days off of Wu Ji and didn’t do my regular Thursday practice. But I went back to my normal routine on Saturday.

Saturday’s class was wet but good: we went through the form something like five times, and my abdomen was feeling empty in an unusual but good way. Some things that my teacher said and/or that I noticed: in the blocks in Flash the Back, I should also expand down into my kua; also, in the first block, sink my right shoulder even during the block, that’ll help me relax my right arm during the second block. And when going from the following punch into the Six Sealing Four Closing before Hand Maneuvers, I should concentrate a little more on keeping my left leg stable, using it as a foundation after turning the leg while getting the rest of my body into place.

On Sunday it was too wet outside to practice, so I skipped Tai Chi, but at least I did my normal Lotus Nei Gong stuff. On which note, I’m thinking that it’s maybe time for me to start working on rotating my Dantian during Wu Ji?

In today’s class, my teacher said to concentrate more on folding into your left kua during Oblique Posture; and it does indeed help with my stability and makes my knee feel better. And actually folding into my right kua when shifting right in Embrace the Knee helps, too.

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Tai Chi Notes, November 26, 2019

Nov 26 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

One thing I forgot to mention last time: I reread Damo Mitchell’s first book. Lots of details to work on in the Ji Ben Qi Gong, and lots of stuff to improve on in seated meditation, though it’s harder to get the details of the latter from a book…

I am trying to work on my breathing when meditating, and in fact to bring that breathing into more contexts. Basically, breathing a little more deeply than I am than when I’m not thinking about it, but not holding my breath at either the inhale or the exhale, thinking instead of both of those as turning things around. So there’s a similar sort of pause as to when I hold my breath, but the way it feels is different. And, in general, my body does feel different when I breathe this way: energy in my huiyin, in particular.

On Thursday, when doing Wu Ji, I felt a little bit of tingling in the middle of my back; I’m used to tingling from my huiyin to my live gate, but this is higher than normal? Though I still don’t actually feel real energy from my live gate itself. Then, towards the end of the session, I felt a sharp feeling on the top of my head; I thought it might be my bai hui, though it was further back than I expected? But I know the bai hui isn’t at the very top of my head, it’s further back than that; looking it up, I think it’s plausible that that was my bai hui, though I’m not completely sure, there are a lot of points up there. Still, the bai hui is the one people talk about the most, presumably there’s a reason for that…

And, after that, I’ve been sometimes feeling tingling on the top of my head when doing standing meditation. It’s not super strong, there’s definitely something that I need to nurture there. (Same for the bottom of my feet, honestly.) But still, progress?

Exactly what sort of progress, I’m not sure. It would be nice to think that I’m opening up my governing channel, but I’m not really convinced that that’s the case: maybe I’m starting to open it up through the middle of my back, but there’s a lot of room between there and the top of my head. So my guess is that the bai hui is opening up for other reasons; and certainly there are lots of channels that end up there, it’s an important point for a reason.

Aside from that, the feel of standing meditation in starting to change a bit: I’m slipping away from straightforward physical feelings a bit more, and also away from tingling and the like a little more, into something that feels plausibly related to energy but also a little more substantial? Still trying to understand what that means. Doesn’t necessarily mean that standing meditation is super easy, and I’m not getting the really pleasant feeling that did once a couple of weeks back, but it helps and feels like progress.

Though sometimes it’s easier than others. There’s a little grove of trees right outside the office, and meditating there feels easier; standing meditation at home seems like more of a chore? Though, even at home, I’m still sometimes surprised when things are over; I haven’t been doing long meditation sessions recently, what with the surgery and such, but I have been surprised more than once when it’s over. I should probably get back to working on longer sessions, at least on the weekends…

Anyways, as to Tai Chi: I couldn’t remember whether my thumb is supposed to be inside or outside my fingers when doing the Jian. My teacher says: when doing Lao Jia Jian, put your thumb inside, that’s more internal. Also, when going through the form, I still need to figure out about my head and torso movement in Forward Trick / Backward Trick; I think they’re supposed to turn in the direction of my hands instead of my leg, but I’m not 100% sure. And I need to figure out my footwork when transitioning from Gao Tan Ma to Cross the Foot, I’m taking more steps there than feels right.

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Tai Chi Notes, November 19, 2019

Nov 19 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

I had a medical procedure done on Thursday, so almost no Tai Chi this week. Very minor, even more so than the nose thing from a couple of months back, but I was told to minimize exercise, and I was sore in ways that did make me want to follow those instructions the first few days. Though fortunately, unlike the nose situation, I can breathe totally fine, so at least I stuck with non-standing meditation.

I did some silk reeling today over lunch; happy enough to have done that, but I also felt like once today was probably the right choice, so while I’d been thinking of going to Tai Chi tonight and doing some of the easier bits there, I decided to skip it. And then, in the second half of the afternoon, I started getting a sore throat, so now I think I’m coming down with a cold, and had another reason to skip Tai Chi tonight…

My plan was to start Wu Ji again on Thursday or Friday, and Tai Chi on Saturday. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick with that, we’ll see how bad the cold is and when the last of the soreness goes away.

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Tai Chi Notes, November 12, 2019

Nov 12 2019 Published by under Uncategorized

Last time, I said I thought that the bubbling wells in my feet were finally opening up; now I’m sure of that, they’re tingling lots of the time. Also, something interesting happened on Wednesday: when I was done with Wu Ji, it felt like there was a line going down the inside of my leg. (Or legs? Definitely the right side, not so sure about my left.) Since the bubbling well is at one end of the kidney meridian, I looked up the path of the kidney meridian; and it tracked what I was feeling pretty well. Probably a coincidence, I stand with my legs slightly arched out, so it make sense that there’d be a different feeling on the inside of the arch? Still, it was interesting, maybe there’s something to this meridian stuff after all… Hasn’t happened again, unfortunately.

On Saturday, my teacher went over my form. In the uppercut in Jin Gang Pounds the Pestle, don’t just use my arms, and don’t focus so much on my punch, figure out connection in my torso. (I’m still not 100% sure what my torso should be doing there – when I watch him, it sometimes looks like it’s going down?) After the first Cover the Forearm Punch, I should relax more. In Step Back with Spiraling Forearms, use my body instead of just my arms, and sink my Qi more on the inside. In general, do a Song in more places. My elbows sometimes still go a little bit back in a few places, though he didn’t specify where. Integrate my body more in Forward / Backward Trick, don’t just move my arms and knees.

Also from Saturday, in the general part of the class: in Wild Horse Parts the Mane: in first part, move hands before moving foot. And we had the second form class on Sunday; in the strike after Beast’s Head, the palms of both fists are down. But in a similar-looking move near the end, when you switch directions to strike towards the back, your back fist (where your energy is) has its palm up.

Sunday Wu Ji didn’t go so great; maybe it’s the timing? The previous two weeks I’d done sitting meditation at the start of the morning (while Liesl was walking Widget) and then my Wu Ji Sunday routine before lunch, I feel more energetic when I’m doing it that way.

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