Nei Gong Notes, February 20, 2024

Feb 20 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week. It was a Nei Gong lesson week, and the lesson was Taiyi Hundun Qigong 3; seemed fine, not a particular revelation compared to 1 or 2 though.

Wednesday was a good day: it was actually probably the best my energy has been since I had that breakthrough in December. For Nei Gong, I had a good Spinal Dao Yin session (stuff wasn’t getting stuck as much as it had previously in the rough parts in my spine, and my back was wanting to spread horizontally), the Taiyi Hundun Qigong 3, the Spleen Hui Chun, and some Ping Heng Gong. For Damo’s Tai Chi I did some Wu Song Shen Fa 3, some of the Releasing the Feet for Taiji exercise, and had a good session of the First Road part of the Yang 37. And for Chen Taiji I did my regular weapons practice, some extra staff review (and I made progress on a couple of moves), an hour of Silk Reeling, a bit of Lao Jia. So 3 hours of Nei Gong and maybe 2 hours of Tai Chi across the two styles, and it was high quality practice. And I’m definitely glad I spent the time on the Silk Reeling; that helped with my energy and helped my back feel better.

I asked in the Discord about what I can do to build my ability to release in my feet; the advice I got was to spend time on the Wu Song Shen Fa exercises. I was already thinking that the third of those was useful, so I should do that more and I should go back to the other two. I watched the videos for the Loosening and the Fang Song Gong versions of Wu Song Shen Fa 1; one interesting thing that I got out of rewatching the Fang Song Gong one is that he claimed the release is similar to the way your spine tugs up when relax your pelvis. And I know what that feels like and how to accomplish it; and, actually, I feel like I can do something like that on my feet as well now that I point it out? It’s not what I expected release on my feet to feel like, but it’s definitely something I can work on, good to have a route in.

On Friday I had my first acupuncture session in four weeks; I was expecting it to be more helpul than it was, but I didn’t particularly notice it helping my energy. And actually my energy wasn’t great on Saturday and got worse over the day, despite the Tai Chi class; my best guess is that it was a little rainy and then quite windy, and I was reacting to that more badly than I thought? (I was wearing a raincoat, but it wasn’t super thick, so while I didn’t feel actively cold, I guess the wind affected me somehow.) I actually kind of realized that at the time and avoided doing purging type stuff (I usually do a Dragon Dao Yin set after class but I avoided that this time, and I also considered doing Coiling Snake but skipped that as well), but that wasn’t enough. So my energy level wasn’t great over the weekend; but yesterday and today I got back to Coiling Snake, my back immediately started feeling better, and my energy level got better too; my energy level was quite solid today, and I found time to do some Wu Song Shen Fa 1 as well as some Nei Gong.

Also on Sunday I tried following my notes from the Maryland workshop for kicking off the Microcosmic Orbit. Honestly, I think those notes are maybe not so awesome – there’s one bit that I probably skipped, and another bit where I was pretty vague? So I think I’ll stop following those notes as-is, and either do a different variant inspired by some other notes from the workshop that are better (but that will need to be modified since they were from a session where we didn’t try to kick off the Orbit), or else just try to kick off the orbit after following the one that was on video, since that one reliably gets my Dantian moving on its own accord. Still, it was an okay experiment, and it probably would have better if my back had been in better shape instead of being a little messed up after Saturday; as is, the parts where I was thickening stuff in my torso felt quite effective, which is a good sign in terms of my internal readiness. But I didn’t do a good job of getting a rotation set up in the Dantian, and when I tried moving things into my spine, it did go in but didn’t go very high up, presumably because my back was off.

I’ll have to think about it more, but I’m thinking I should switch my MCO focus from going through like 6 different prep exercises to focusing on a smaller set? I’m seeing some signs that my preparation is plausible but that I need to get better at getting my Dantian going; so probably spending time on the Lesser Orbit, Mixing Kan and Li, and Anchoring the Breath on work days and then working on the Orbit itself (either via the version in his class or via my notes or via that one recorded lecture) on days when I have more time would make sense. (Though I also kind of like my habit of doing Advanced Dantian Gong on Saturdays, maybe I’ll stick with that.)

And then today I watched the video that Damo put out about the Foundations course. Thinking it over and talking it over with my wife, I think I’ll do that? It’s a manageable time commitment, and while I am making progress on foundational work, I’m not 100% confident that I’ll be able to avoid pitfalls just doing the IAA videos plus occasional random in-person classes. And those ten day sessions with Damo would be useful, too; I’m already doing one course of his this summer, but these seem like they might be a little more focused than that? So I’ve put down the deposit for the Texas course; I’m not 100% confident that I’ll do that but I think I will.

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Nei Gong Notes, February 13, 2024

Feb 13 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

It was a Tai Chi week; in this week’s lesson, I finished the first third of the form. Damo recommended going back through all of the earlier lessons of the form after this one, to make sure you have the first third down well; I should probably do that. We’ll see when I manage to work it into things; hopefully I’ll have time to do it some during midweek practice sessions, but I’m not sure. There was also a push hands video, on an exercise having you pushing into your opponent via release from your foot; I tried it on Saturday, and failed completely. Which, honestly, wasn’t a huge surprise: I feel like I sometimes get glimmers of that, especially while doing Wu Song Shen Fa 3, but I never feel it super strongly. I should work on that while doing the form, too.

I had a good Nei Gong session on Friday. I’d been thinking after the workshop that I should do Pushing the Tides more, so I had a decent session of that, and I also did a one-hour Qi Thickening set from the Maryland workshop.

Unfortunately, I was a little more tired than I would have liked on Friday, and a lot more tired than I would have liked on Saturday morning; it had been three weeks since my last acupuncture appointment, so maybe I needed that more than I thought? But then I went to Tai Chi class on Saturday and I immediately started feeling better during Silk Reeling; so I guess my back had just gotten tight. I would have expected the workshop to have helped with that, but I guess it didn’t make a huge difference; probably driving two and a half hours each day didn’t help? And then it had been raining, so I hadn’t done my regular Tai Chi, either. At any rate, I was very glad to be feeling better; and probably I should start doing mid-week Silk Reeling, since it’s clearly helpful for me.

The other interesting thing from Saturday’s Tai Chi class was that our teacher had us do an exercise that he called something like the Dragon posture but that was almost identical to Coiling Snake from Nei Gong. And my back was definitely tingling in interesting ways after that; and, in retrospect, I remember it making my back feel good after that lesson. So I should spend time on that; I reviewed that lesson yesterday, Damo was indeed talking about effects that are very relevant to my situation, and there were some details that I’d forgotten, so rewatching the video was useful.

We had Sunday Tai Chi this week as well; fortunately, I’d done a good enough job of reviewing the Staff form (despite the rain) that I didn’t feel like I was particularly behind. I didn’t feel like I had every move down pat, but we just reviewed it this time instead of moving on to new moves, and I think the review has put me in pretty good shape for next month.

I’m still a little more tired than I’d like, but it’s manageable, and my back is tingling in interesting ways. And doing other odd but good things, too: e.g. it was randomly wanting to spread sideways while I was sitting down today. So hopefully I’m still making progress; and hopefully I’ll get back to making improvements on my fatigue levels?

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Nei Gong Notes, February 6, 2024

Feb 06 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

This week’s lesson in the Nei Gong course was a Yin Qi Gong set. You should only do it when the sun is down, so it won’t fit into my normal practice routine, but I did it Tuesday and Thursday evenings; it got me feeling pretty mellow, which is nice. So I’ll probably try to do it on Thursday evenings for the next bit? But I won’t go out into a park at midnight to do it…

It was super rainy this week, so I didn’t do my normal Tai Chi practice. And I didn’t even go to Tai Chi class on Saturday, because I was at a Nei Gong workshop that Joyce ran from Friday through Sunday.

Which was good, but I have surprisingly little to write about it? Mostly an excuse to spend more time than normal on exercises that I was mostly familiar with, though there was a five elements seated set that was near to me. She said I was a little on the serious side, which is true, something to work on! But she also seemed to think that I’d been making progress.

I also wish I’d been a little more alert during the workshop: my energy levels weren’t awful, but my sleep was bad all three nights before the workshop. I had reasons why: on Thursday night I had Thai Iced Tea for dinner and I think that had more caffeine than was wise; on Friday I got woken up for a while by an alert from work (and I think something else happened, maybe I had to let Velvet go out back); I can’t remember what my excuse was for Saturday night but I had one then too. And I think that at least two of those are real reasons that I don’t want to generalize from, but also my sleep really hasn’t been as good as it should be, I think. And also my energy levels during the day aren’t as good as I’d like; might be mostly just the sleep, or it might not.

Thinking about it more, I decided that maybe my Liver Heat was rearing up a bit. So on Monday I did a ten minute session of the Wood Wu Xing exercise, and it felt like that calmed down my mind. Unfortunately, I got woken up that night by Velvet throwing up, and my brain decided to worry about that (though, in the light of day, nothing particular to worry about), so I continue to have excuses for why my energy levels are bad; hopefully I won’t have external interruptions tonight… Also I was pleased that, yesterday and today, when I was doing Wu Ji, I felt like I had good energy levels going up my spine, and when I paid attention to how that was making it up to my head, I felt alert, so I’m optimistic that my tiredness really is largely just the sleep issues, that I’m continuing to do better on Kidney Qi. (Certainly we did enough back exercises during the workshop that my spine should be in better condition!)

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Nei Gong Notes, January 30, 2024

Jan 30 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

Solid week this week. On Tuesday, I did the next lesson in Damo’s Tai Chi course, on Play Pipa; that was fine, some interesting bits about sinking. The other Yang Tai Chi thing that happened that week was one day I was doing Wu Song Shen Fa 3, and again I wasn’t getting the feeling I wanted, but then I realized I was doing the hand movement completely wrong, moving my arms twice instead of once per foot. So I’m glad that I figured out what I was doing wrong, once I fixed that then it was properly effective again.

I had a good Nei Gong session on Wednesday: doing the Hundun Qigong, I could feel the right heights for my hands at all four locations, and I could feel a kind of syrupy column slowly going down my body to those points. So hopefully that’s the central channel opening up, though it didn’t feel like a thread? And then the Water Hui Chun after that felt particularly good, thick Qi moving around. Pretty good Swimming Dragon Dao Yin session today, too.

In terms of Chen Tai Chi, I made a bit of progress on the staff, though I still have work to do there. And Silk Reeling was very interesting on Saturday: it felt like I was doing Qigong, stuff was really moving around inside, seemed like it was a good Qi thickening exercise.

Joyce is holding a workshop this weekend, I’m really looking forward to that.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 16, 2024

Jan 16 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

This was a week for the Nei Gong course, so I did the Opening the Du lesson on Tuesday. Damo warns in that lesson that, unless you’re particularly well grounded, you should avoid this lesson; and, sure enough, my sleep was lousy that night, so clearly that one wasn’t wise for me to pursue. So on Thursday I did the next lesson in the Taiji course, Releasing the Feet for Taiji and Shoulder Dao Yin. Both of which were interesting; I’ll want to keep at the Releasing the Feet exercise to see if it affects my rootedness, and that particular Shoulder Dao Yin does get my body shifting around a bit more than most of those shoulder exercises do.

Chen Tai Chi was going pretty well. We had the Sunday class, I picked up a decent amount of refinements on the Lao Jia second form and on the Xin Jia first form. (The second form is good cardio if I do it enough, I should do it repeatedly more often because I don’t get enough of that currently…) I’m behind on the staff, though one of the other students was helping me with some of the bits that I was getting wrong; yesterday I watched Chen Qingzhou’s DVD on that and I ripped it today for easy reference, so as long as I put in the time I should be able to catch up.

As part of my Microcosmic Orbit preparation, I watched the practice video from the Maryland course. It was pretty effective, as it had been the last time I was watching it, my Dantian was rotating on its own. So I decided to try actually kicking off the orbit, my first time attempting that in over a year; it went pretty well, I think? Stuff definitely went most of the way up my spine; not sure it made it all the way to the top of my head and down, but that’s okay, it went as well as it did during my first attempt in the workshop itself, I think.

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Nei Gong Notes, January 9, 2024

Jan 09 2024 Published by under Uncategorized

Pretty good week. Health wise, I was feeling like I was starting to feel a little tired, and then on Friday I was definitely feeling it during my Nei Gong practice; I had acupuncture that day, and my doctor noticed one part in my spine that wasn’t quite right, so maybe I’d been being sloppy with how I hold my back? Though I’d done Spinal Dao Yins a couple of days before, I would have expected that to last.

Anyways, he adjusted my back a bit, and then on Saturday I was doing the Dragons and my energy started to feel better in the middle of that, so I think that must have been it. (The other hypothesis I had was Ping Heng Gong, which I hadn’t done as much recently because of the rain.) And I’ve been focusing on proper alignment on my lower back; I’m pretty sure that’s been helping. When I make that adjustment while doing Nei Gong, it feels like the lower half of my torso is like a cylinder (or maybe a cyclinder-like thing with an oval cross section); interesting feeling, but I’ll take that as a good sign.

My Chen Tai Chi is going well; I’m feeling like both my Xin Jia first form and my Lao Jia second form are getting to a shape where I know them pretty well and can work on doing them better. (At least except for Sweeping the Hall…) And I feel like I’m making progress with the Hunyuan Dao and the Jian, too: circles everywhere in the Hunyuan Dao form, and for the Jian, I’d been feeling connection between my hands and Dantian during the empty handed form and I’m starting to see how I can get a connection like that extending out the Jian, too.

I did the next bit in the form from Damo’s Tai Chi class last Tuesday, seems fine.

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Nei Gong Notes, December 26, 2023

Dec 26 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Another good week. In terms of my energy levels, I talked to my TCM doctor and he said that my Qi levels looked higher to him too and that my back was cleared up, so that gave me a feeling that my basic diagnosis for why things had gotten better was correct. But my energy level, even though it had gotten better, didn’t feel as good to me as it had a couple of weeks better; what was the difference there? My guess was that I needed to build more Qi in my Dantian, and if I could do that, it would be able to make it up my spine to my head, and that would help.

My first theory was that I should try Advanced Dantian Gong; and I am planning to do that once a week. Though if I want to give that a serious try, I should probably do it more often than that? But then one day I did Wu Ji for about 20 minutes; doesn’t sound like much, but honestly I’ve been doing other kinds of standing work most days for the last several months, so my Wu Ji was pretty sporadic. And when I did that, and got into a good position (relaxed and expanded properly, with my weight going down to my Yongquan in a way that let energy flow up) then, sure enough, my Dantian started feeling good and that feeling went up my spine and to my head. And I felt noticeably more awake that day, like I had a couple of weeks back.

So that’s my current theory / plan: I think my spine is in good enough shape that things can make it up my spine. (I had a good Spinal Dao Yin session, too, Qi was moving back from the center of my torso into my spine pretty readily during that session, so another sign that my spine is loosening up.) And I think my Wu Ji form / body preparedness is good enough that I can generate a noticeable amount of Qi. And, if I put those two things together, then good stuff happens inside my body in general and in my head in particular. So my plan is to try to find time to do 20 minutes of Wu Ji every day; I’ve been doing that the last few days, and my energy level has been noticeably better. I’m really feeling optimistic about this: it feels to me like something sustainable that will leave my health in a significantly better situation.

And also I’m optimistic because one of my other goals is to get to where I can kick off the Microcosmic Orbit without having to spend a week at a half at a workshop dedicated to that! But one of the big stumbling blocks there was that I just wasn’t convinced that I had enough juice, especially since my spine was iffy enough that I thought I needed some power to make it through the blockages there. But those are the exact same two areas where I think I’ve made progress recently. So hopefully I really will be able to kick off the MCO in a few months; I’ve started adding in the exercises right before the MCO lesson back in (Mixing Kan and Li, The Lesser Orbit, Orbit Preparation), and I’ve also gone back to my notes from the Maryland workshop and gone through an hour-long Qi thickening exercise from there. It’s a decent number of exercises, especially since I still want to work on some of the earlier ones (like the Line of Ming one), but hopefully I’ll make progress by chipping away at it, and hopefully with my energy levels I’ll have more days when I can work through multiple of those exercises.

Not the only thing I’ve been working on; and also the time for Wu Ji is taking away from other standing work. Some of that standing work had actually been from Damo’s Taiji course instead of Nei Gong work, and actually I feel like I’ve been regressing there: I feel like I was starting to feel Jin before but now that’s pretty faint. So I think the lesson there is that I should get serious enough about the Taiji course to carve out time specifically for that, instead of having it steal time from either my Nei Gong or my Chen Taiji; and, as part of that time, I should keep on mixing in the foundational exercises, spending more time on those than on the form. Though I definitely want to progress with the form, too, of course; and I want to pay attention to what Damo said about having the Jin constantly being on the move during the form.

And, to make the time crunch worse, I do want to stick with my newish plan of getting back to the Nei Gong course. (So I’ll alternate weeks between the two courses.) This last week was my second week working on Taiyi Hundun 1; I think maybe things are opening up inside a bit? It’s also the full moon, which had me working on that exercise, which is also related to opening the central channel. And I’m chipping away at the dragons; I watched a couple more Awakening Dragon videos and had one or two practice sessions on that specific dragon, and also I did my weekly session of all four; that latter one went well, Soaring Dragon in particular felt quite effective in terms of opening my chest.

Chen Taiji is going fine. It was raining so I couldn’t do my regular practice on Wednesday and Friday, but things were clear enough for class on Saturday, and that went well. Not as dramatic as the previous week but I felt more stuff moving around inside than had been my norm before this week, and push hands felt kind of interesting. And on Sunday I practiced the Guan Dao / staff / spear; I watched my teacher’s Guan Dao video to remind myself of a few points, and I was struck by how the circles of the Dao in the video looked, how they were flowing in a way that related to his body. So I tried to pay attention to that; and yeah, if I can get the weapon moving smoothly and balanced properly, then it goes in circles without too much effort, and I can feel the changes from the weapon feeding back into my body. So that was cool.

It’s supposed to rain some this Wednesday and Friday, but fortunately Christmas meant that I could practice Tai Chi on Monday as well, so I’ve gone through all my forms for the week. And if I’m lucky I’ll be able to get in practice tomorrow before the rain starts; we’ll see.

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Nei Gong Notes, December 19, 2023

Dec 19 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Good week. In the Nei Gong course, I did the Taiyi Hundun Qigong 1 lesson. It’s a long enough set that I haven’t practiced it every day; should be fine, I’m doing the Tai Chi course this week, so I’ll have another week to practice that one.

The first time I practiced it, I slept really badly, the worst I had in a while, waking up a bunch of times in the night. It might be a coincidence, but I don’t know what else would have caused that; if that was the reason, then my theory is that it was bringing in Qi through my Bai Hui and trying to bring it down my central channel, but that channel was too closed, so it got stuck in my head. Didn’t happen the other times I practiced, though, so either it was just a coincidence or the channel got opened up enough to avoid that problem or something.

My improved energy levels had been continuing, but after that I (unsurprisingly) was pretty tired the next day. I got good sleep the following night, which honestly surprised me because I’d been out at my wife’s holiday party and had more to eat than I normally do over dinners these days. But my energy level was low the next day anyways; not horrible by my normal standards these days, but I’d been enjoying my energy levels the previous two weeks!

I’m still not entirely sure what caused my energy levels to improve. It was right after an acupuncture session; maybe that helped, but I’ve done a lot of acupuncture, so that alone isn’t an explanation. My best guess is that I’d been doing a decent job of opening up my body, and I’d made it past some threshold where Qi was flowing better, but who knows. (My sleep wasn’t any better than normal; it was fine other than that one night, but not unusually so, definitely room for improvement there.)

My TCM doctor had been talking about my spine in that context for a while, so maybe my Spinal Waves had been paying off? Also I was starting to be aware of ways in which my default posture has my spine misaligned (with my lower spine bending forward slightly); I’d been doing a decently good job of correcting that, I think, and I can feel my spine wanting to extend further when I correct the curve (similarly to how it feels when pressurizing your Yongquan), which reinforces my feeling that this really does help my Qi flow. I don’t think that that kicked off the good period (I didn’t start really making that adjustment until a couple of days later), but I think it helped me keep going; and I think probably the art museum trip was surprisingly useful? It’s got me trying to walk in a more relaxed way; I’m also trying to relax my shoulders and the back of my neck, I definitely feel energy in my armpits when I do that.

Anyways, it was nice while it lasted, hopefully I can get it back. For now I’m trying to just be good about my spine; and I’m thinking I might do some extra Advanced Dantian Gong, maybe that will help with getting stuff into my Dantian in a way that is useful for this. (Or maybe I should get back to doing the Water Wu Xing twice a week.) And actually yesterday was decently good; and in general I don’t think I’m quite back down to my prior normal energy levels, I think I’m doing slightly better than that.

In general, the insides of my body are noticeably more active. I was practicing my Xin Jia, and noticing random stuff inside my body while doing the small movements; I should pay attention to that. And, one day, when going through the Lao Jia form a couple of times, I started noticing circles coming from my Kua; a bit unexpected in that circles are supposed to originate from your Dantian in Chen style, but it was pretty strong! (My Kua are definitely one of the parts of my body that are opening.) And then on Saturday, when going through Silk Reeling, in the two Dantian to Wrist exercises, I decided to focus on keeping a connection between my wrist and Kua the whole time instead of just during the part where I change directions; and when I did that, it felt pretty interesting inside, with noticeable effects on my Dantian; and then when I made it to the next exercise (Diagonal Circles and Lie Splitting), the Dantian connection got even stronger, I actually started to feel a little nauseous. (And I think it was working as a Qi thickening exercise.) And, during the form, I noticed Qi in my Dantian during Hand Maneuvers. And on Sunday my Yellow Court was feeling more active than normal.

So: lots of stuff going on during Tai Chi practice. Good week for that practice in general, I went through everything at least once I did some things extra times, and I experimented with turning one position in the Hunyuan Dao into a standing exercise. (No particular effect that I noticed.)

I also asked my Chen Tai Chi teacher about Li versus Jin; he said that Li is more raw strength whereas Jin is tutored strength, with iron versus steel as an analogy. So, from his point of view, Fa Li is different from Fa Jin, but it’s not clear to me that it’s the same distinction that Damo makes.

I’m doing the Awakening Dragon some days as my standing practice; I rewatched the videos for the steps, though I still need to rewatch the videos for the rest. No big revelations, though I did get reminded to roll my heels when landing on the steps, in order to keep my Qi sunk.

I did Mixing Kan and Li today for the first time in months; it’ll definitely take a while to build things up enough for that to feel super effective. It is good that I’ve been having enough energy to do multiple sitting exercises on most of my days off, at any rate.

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Nei Gong Notes, December 12, 2024

Dec 12 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

Really good week, honestly my best in I don’t know how long. My energy level has been significantly better this week than my previous norm; not quite as good as last weekend, but I’ve been much less tired during the middle of the day. I’m not sure that I’ve had a nap all week; and it’s not like my sleep has been stellar, it’s been fine but there’s definitely room for improvement on that front. Also my weight has been doing slightly better than normal; not a big change, but I’m pretty sure there’s something going on there. Who knows how long this will last, but I’m enjoying it for now.

And that’s helped my practice too. Going chronologically, on Tuesday I watched the next video in Damo’s Nei Gong course. It was a push hands video, but it also contained a standing exercise that’s actually relevant for Nei Gong as well; it use your hands and Lao Gong to pull on your tissues inside your Kua and inside the sides of your ribs. Which, honestly, is one of these things that I just would not have believed before starting this course: I can move my hands in a certain way without them touching my hips / torso and I’ll feel a pull inside my body that’s strong enough to have my body kind of snap back when I release it? But it absolutely does happen.

Anyways, on Wednesday I went through the Spinal Dao Yin, the Ping Heng Gong, and all of the Chen Tai Chi forms that I hadn’t done on Sunday. And some more too; one of the MCO prep exercises, I think, and maybe the new standing exercise I learned? At some point in the end of the afternoon I realized that I’d forgotten to do a Hui Chun; and since I was going to be pretty busy on Friday, that meant that I’d be able to do at most two Hui Chuns this week, which is my minimum, I’m trying to do four. (Two each of Kidney and Spleen.) So I was worried about my energy level not keeping up.

On Friday, I went into San Francisco to see some exhibits at the Asian Art Museum. And I’m glad I did, just on an aesthetic level; the Takashi Murakami exhibit in particular was really neat. But it meant that I wasn’t going to be able to do any practice at all before driving up, given that I wanted to give Velvet a decent walk before heading out.

I decided to do a 20 minute sit (nothing fancy, just observing my breath) during one of the galleries (near a Buddha statue that I liked), so I did get in my sitting practice. But, as it turned out, the whole visit turned into practice: I was feeling contemplative, and I had that contemplation extend to my body, and my body was sinking a good amount, and that sinking even was turning into force going up in my body. So, in practice, I think I actually ended up doing hours of low-key walking practice during the visit. And, on my way home, I stopped in a park near my house to go through the new standing exercise in a park, so that I could focus on Velvet when I got home; one interesting thing that happened then was that I felt my lower back widening near the end of it. (Maybe a combination of the sinking I’d been doing plus the stretch that the exercises puts on the bottom of my ribs?)

Saturday was my regular Tai Chi class; and I did get in the Kidney Hui Chun that day, and I also did another Ping Heng Gong session. (I think I’ll try doing that on the way home from Tai Chi, the park that I’ve been using isn’t too far off of my route.) And on Sunday I was just feeling good, and into the ideo of doing a lot of practice, so I went through the Spleen Hui Chun, had a Wu Ji session that was only 20 minutes but was super powerful, and then I went through a 100-minute MCO prep practice video from the 2022 Maryland course. Which felt like it was going okay through most of the video, but then turned out in a particularly interesting way: my attention was rotating quite smoothly on the inside of my Dantian at the end, and with either no or really minimal effort on my part, which is actually something I wasn’t quite accomplishing during the workshop.

I was a little worried that I might have pushed it too far on Sunday, because my back was starting to ache some on Sunday and my sleep wasn’t that great. But Monday was fine, so I’m not so worried about that now.

So yay. I’m feeling like it’s time for me to do more Nei Gong now: dial down my Hui Chun (two a week is good but I don’t think I need to aim for four of it), and go farther into the MCO prep. (I’m genuinely curious what would have happened if I’d tried to kick off the MCO on Sunday; it kind of feels to me like it would have worked, but who knows.) I still think this week was a bit of an aberration, but hopefully not too much of one? And I should try to recapture the feeling of that Art Museum trip; maybe I can get into that mode while doing dog walking, and there are also local museums that I can go to, I don’t need to go all the way up to SF.

And I think I will pick up lessons in the Nei Gong course again; I’ll alternate between the Tai Chi course and the Nei Gong course. Not necessarily clearly a great idea to do that while also hoping to push forward with MCO stuff, but I don’t want to treat the MCO stuff as a huge barrier, and the combination of dialing down the constant Hui Chuns and having more energy should plausibly give enough time to push on both. At least if my energy level holds up…

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Nei Gong Notes, December 5, 2023

Dec 05 2023 Published by under Uncategorized

I went through the Ping Heng Gong video last Tuesday and tried it out on Wednesday and Friday. The Wednesday location had, I hope, enough nature to fit, though there were still some city sounds around; but also lots of trees and, when I actually paid attention, some amount of bird and animal sounds too. The Friday location was too close to cars, though, I won’t try it in that spot again. No particular effect that I noticed, but I’ll try to work it into my routine once or twice a week and see how it goes.

I had a good Nei Gong practice on Sunday. I had a better than normal Wu Ji session that day: a very strong stretch in my arms, I ended up with a lot of pressure in my feet, and while I wasn’t doing as good a job of keeping my attention in my Dantian as I’d like, good things happened when I did that. And I had a good Anchoring the Breath session after that: there was more softness in my breathing, so my focus on each stage felt more like I was paying attention to an area in a kind of fuzzy way rather than a point. And, in the final part of that, my body was inflating decently strongly.

And my Awakening Dragon sessions are continuing to go well, I’m feeling stuff pull around in my body. I’m thinking that I should start doing longer sessions of the other dragons, to see if I can get a better sense of what’s going on there at a deeper level and make them more effective; won’t be as good without a teacher giving direct pointers, but hopefully if I put in some more time, I should be able to figure some things out on my own? I tried that today with the second Dragon and it was certainly more interesting than normal; I won’t say I was feeling nauseous but I was at least moving a little bit in that direction, so my guts were getting moved around more than normal. And I was starting to notice stuff during the bits where you turn around, too. (What I’ve been doing recently is do one for a 15-or-so minute spurts, doing the start and the end just once and going back and forth over and over again on the steps and turn around, and if I have enough room then I’m doing more than 4 steps.)

In terms of (Chen) Tai Chi, I spent my silk reeling time on Saturday trying to pay more attention to my Dantian, and one thing I noticed there was that I was feeling a stronger than normal link between my Kua and my Dantian. And then I asked my teacher about something I’d read about listening behind; he said to put 30 percent of your awareness on your surroundings, including your peripheral vision and behind you. When I tried that out on Sunday, I realized that that was actually another part of what he’d told me the previous week, that my vision should be further out: I was keeping my vision too close and staring too intently and I needed to relax that. And, once I relaxed, my awareness spread out quite a bit more, in a very noticeable way; much of that awareness was in front of me but it also spread noticeably to my back and sides. So I’ll definitely want to keep on working on that.

And on Sunday I went through the first and second Lao Jia forms, the Staff, the Guan Dao, and the Spear. So hopefully on Wednesday I can do the first Xin Jia form, the Jian, two Dao forms, and the new Bang exercises that I’m learning; if I can keep that up, then I can go through everything I know in two days, and hopefully also practice on Fridays as well going deeper into something. Good that I worked through all of that, too: my Guan Dao in particular was noticeably patchy.

Also, I had a good thing happen health wise – on both Saturday morning and Sunday morning I was noticeably more alert than I honestly almost ever am, and I felt good all through the day. I’m not actually sure what happened there – I don’t think my eating was any better than normal (in fact, Fridays and Saturdays are usually bad days), though I did have green tea, which usually helps some but not to that extent? Didn’t help on Sunday, though: Monday was fine but my normal low level tiredness. Still, it’s good to see a glimpse of an actively good day; hopefully through some combination of food discipline, tea drinking, practice, and TCM treatment I can figure out how to cause that more often…

I’ll do the next lesson in Damo’s Tai Chi course tonight, I think; my tentative plan is to start alternating weeks between his Nei Gong and Tai Chi course.

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