I’m staring at the computer screen.

Whenever I get up and go away, I am compelled to sit down and write, yet as I sit here nothing comes to mind. It all flitters away the second the bootup sound hits my ears.

All of a sudden, nothing to say, nothing to share. No experiences from the last week to reflect upon, just an overwhelming urge to search the internet for reasons why my girlfriends phone doesn’t reliably send text messages.

Someone else’s problem to solve, to distract me from my own. Distract me from the feeling that I have spent so much time practicing, that I no longer know what to do with myself when I am not?

Is that it? Not sure, still searching for the reason perhaps.

This week was a draining one. Often working till 8 or 9 at night and, unlike last week, only got to meditate 3 times. This was partly due to being hungover mid week…which btw was a horrible idea, despite my claims to the contrary. That morning was great, possibly.. but then 2 hours later I realized I had to stay awake for the rest of the day…oops.

Today I got some practice in at the park, 15 minutes of meditation along with several forms. The final form was very yang, very explosive as I dug out that suppressed energy from the weeks haul, but overall the term I would use to define the forms was sluggish.

I got some 48’s in just to make sure i kept it fresh. Tomorrow will be the 83, aiming for 2 run throug’hs chiming in at an hour or so of practice at least.

Wading through several days of built up mental stress caused the forms to feel a bit like I was mentally trudging through knee high mud. Though, it felt great to be out there. The sun was out and there was sounds of laughter from the kids learning to ride their bikes and playing on the playground.

Seriously missing my afternoon practice. I have been breaking off around 3 every other day to do some Qigong with a coworker, but we only do about half an hour. Perhaps next week I will start to throw an hour or so of form work at night to get rid of the days stress.

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Sausage and Eggs

1-eggs-sausage-milwaukee

There are few things in this world as annoying as being shown how far your perspective of your progress differs from reality.

I have had this wild idea lately to start augmenting the blog with a video log. Thinking that I would be able to explain some of more movement based concepts I am exploring in a better way.

Last night I did a test shoot just to get some sample footage to start editing and messing around with to get a feel for what I need to mess with. I learned several valuable lessons.

  1. I hate watching myself on camera.
  2. I need to get MUCH more comfortable talking to a camera.
  3. My movement is light years away from looking comfortable or correct.
  4. Its going to take a shit ton of self acceptance and patience to get anywhere with videos.

So, im taking that frustration and trying to fuel my practice with it….So far, I just find myself at the bottom of a mountain with nothing but a claw tooth hammer and a ball of twine to climb with.

 

Focus:

Did the 24 this morning twice forcing focus on moving from the dantian, getting my mind in to my body and expressing each move. Making sure to move with full intention and expressing punches and kicks.

Onward and upward. I leave you with this wonderful Tai Chi video

Grumpy Face

All up in my head and grumpy as hell.

I’m not sure what the deal is this morning.

Am I hungry? idk… I just feel like my head is in a giant San Francisco fog bank this morning, despite it actually being a very nice day.

The neighbors outside light has been flashing on and off at irregular intervals for the last two days. At first I thought it was someone trying to figure out what all the light switches did, but i guess its not…just a broken light..

That pretty much defines me ATM. I think I have control or understanding about what and how my body and mind reacts but then, whatever it is i am working on just seems to shut off without warning. I suddenly just seem so far away from it.

I KNOW that is the natural method for a lot of this stuff, we get a glimpse of it then it goes away and eventually it just sneaks back in after some seemingly random amount of time and practice.

Sigh.

I suppose there is a great deal of frustration right now associate with my writing. I haven’t had a chance to sit down lately to do it and as a result I can feel the mental cruft that has layered upon my mind. I think this time i let it cruft for a bit too long bc it is considerably harder to get through the layers.

So now I just sit here in frustration. So, I may as well take advantage of it and just do some bitching….

I recorded myself doing the 24 this morning, it was terrible. Not even going to post it, going to reshoot it. One look at the first move and I can tell I am totally in my head.

My arms look like they are moving through jelly and completely disconnected from the rest of my body.

My back is all crooked and my hips all completely disjointed.

Its probably not that bad, but I want to be grumpy right now.

Maybe Ill let myself figure out why later.

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The Hunger Games

Hunger is probably my biggest nemesis when it comes to distraction. As soon as the hunger drum strikes with that deep empty sound, all abstract and logical thought drains out of me faster than water out of a busted dam.

Waking up hungry is even worse, it puts me in a state of unfocused zombie like wandering, much like from night of the living dead.I find myself unsure of what to do with myself or how to direct myself into what my morning routine is.

That friends, is where I find myself this morning.

I tried to eat first thing, but didn’t have much in the kitchen that wasn’t going to take some time to cook. Boiled eggs is where I settled, so I put some water on the burner to boil. While that did its thing that water on a burner does, I began practicing the 83 form.

I was focusing on the part of the 83 I had gone over yesterday in a private lesson, where I realized that I was waaaay behind the rest of the class and my ability to learn new moves has been reduced to a trudge through a muddy marsh.

I am about 10 moves behind from the rest of the class, due to assorted absences and teaching other students the 24, work getting in the way, etc, etc…  Needless to say, the feeling that I have been slacking is acutely present in me today and compounded by the fact that my brain is fuzzy with hunger and exhaustion from the late night at work, frustration abounds.

The 83 this morning was a struggle to focus on. To say the least.

I would go through the moves once with great difficulty, stuttering as I went seeming to forget what the next move was until my mind cleared a little. At the end of the moves my mind would immediately wander somewhere else, usually back to my stomach and the eggs that were still cooking. This went on for 7 more times and it didn’t get much easier.

Even after the eggs were shoved in to my face my brain still had the after effects. I had reached the dreaded hunger zone where it left a residual after effect of general lethargy and confusion. The danger zone as it were.

The effect lasts quite some time unfortunately, so I figured I would meditate instead of trying to go into the silk reeling exercises I really wanted to do.

My original goal this morning was to go for a full 30 minutes however, my mind had other intentions.

My thoughts were so scattered and unmanageable that it was all I could do to just focus on sending waves of relaxation through my body. Sections of my body were not cooperating however, areas that were just relaxed would tense up again as soon as the intention left the area and it was as if they stopped existing at times. Causing me to really breath deep and relax again just so I could sense the muscles again.

I maybe had about 5 minutes of actual mediation before my brain completely gave up on me. Ending my meditation at about 26 minutes. Not a bad session, but it was certainly an uphill battle the whole way.

So, I decided to just write the experience down while it was fresh in my mind. There are days like this, it happens, it’s just kind of the way it is. There is so little time in the day to do everything I desire to do. I pack my day so full that the offset of one thing just screws up the timeline for the rest of the week. Its really hard for me to accept that at times.

Part of me wishes I was kind of a robot, so I could just plow through all the things I want to learn and do. Not having to worry about balancing all my different systems and aspects of my personality in a way that allows me to stay energized.

But, i’m not, and TBH its kind of beautiful when you can get to the point where you achieve an understanding of how you are. When you start to realize when to eat, what you should eat, the types of activities that drain you, the people that drain you, the people that energize you, the places you feel at home and the cultivation of it all.

Those to me are the true purposes of my training and my time here on this earth, to learn the balance of the life I have around me and truly be in it at every moment not missing a beat because I truly see and feel what is going on and who I am.

Todays practice:

  • 26 minutes Zhan Zuang Meditation
  • section of the 83 7x
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong (Hopefully)

Ma Knees!

My knees are feeling fantastic!

I am still practicing on the high side of my horse stances during form and qigong. I have been paying attention to the subtleties of the higher positions trying to feel the sinking and relaxation in the kua and imagining what the lower stances would feel like when the knees have stopped groaning all together. I have actually been able to go much deeper standing than I was able to in the forced wider horse stances, as odd as that sounds.

Less is more!

I have done a couple things to make sure my knees have been on the mend:

  1. Switched to my Vibrams during the work week.
    1. They have zero heel drop and have allowed me to refocus on stepping on the ball of my feet while walking and standing instead of the heel. I noticed a difference immediately on the walk to work in the morning.
    2. My normal shoes have worn down to the sole on the ball of the foot and were putting my feet in awkward positions as I walked. This in combination with the forced heel strike was aggravating ma knees throughout the day, hence why after work they were hurting.
    3. I ordered a new pair of shoes that are less offensive, to pretty much everyone, so I can get the benefits without the need for explanations :). Inov-8’s are my favorite shoes, they have a large variety of athletic shoes, and are a bit pricey, but they are worth it. My last 3 daily shoes have been inov-8’s, though my workout shoes remain to be Vibrams.
  2. Corrected my posture while at my standing desk
    1. After paying close attention to how I was standing at my desk, it became apparent that I have been leaning forward towards my computer as I work. Putting the weight towards the front of my feet and pretty much straight down the front of my knees. Yeah…no wonder they hurt.
  3. Stood at a higher horse stance
    1. I have been going too wide for my body atm and forcing myself in to positions that strain my joints more than they should. I have been focusing on stretching out the kua and training my body to move in the more relaxed\higher positions of the postures.
  4. Just flat out paid attention
    1. Listening to the body as I move through the day and paying attention to when there is unnatural strain on any of the joints or limbs. When I find them, I experiment around with different ways of moving until I find one that relives the pressure. Movement without pain!

And I leave this post with a great explanation of push-hands by what is turning out to be one of my favorite online sources for Tai Chi Demos, Ian Sinclair

Sundays practice:

  • 1.5 hours primordial qigong
  • 1.5 hours form practice

Mondays Practice:

Kind of a big break through in meditation today, I realized that to be able to stand and meditate with my arms out.. I just have to disengage all my muscles, and they hold themselves up! Only took me a year and a half of meditation to realize I dont have to use my arm muscles.

  • 15 minutes Zhan Zhuang Meditation
  • 24 form x3
  • 83 form x1
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 20 minutes push hands

Too Much Butt

I was pretty sluggish and tired this morning, woke up early-ish but got to bed kind of late the night before. I made a valid attempt to meditate in the morning, but there was a much stronger pull to just enjoy the morning and do other things.

Checking in with my knees and they were feeling pretty good for most of the day.  Not much in the way of aches and pains even though yesterday they were popping and creaking most the day. Towards the end of the day they were starting to act up bit. It would appear that something I do while at work aggravates them. Not sure what, so it will warrant further investigation to really pinpoint the issue.

Through practice they didn’t hurt at all, standing and walking were where most of the pain was apparent.

Today’s practice:

Welp…. I was wrong again haha. I had a private lesson, and he pretty much said everything I was doing to correct myself in my last post was wrong :).

Specifically, sticking my butt out too far in my horse stances.

So, I was told to stop thinking about it and just relax the hips, just “Let them sink naturally. Don’t obsess about how to move them”.

Of course, this crazy simple advice led to another little physical\mental epiphany.

I relaxed…All the tension in my hips released, my knees went out and there was no pain even though I was lower than I probably should have been.

Sometimes it really annoys me how easy it is for me to over-complicate things.

  • 24 form x3
  • lots of talk about the proper way to stand and get in a horse stance.
  • 30 Min leading warm ups
  • 60 min form analysis

All About the Form

The knees are a talking.

Last couple weeks I have been noticing some aches and pains in the knees. More acutely in the right knee, but the left has been creating a bit of a racket as well.

For the last couple weeks I have been trying not to hold back during my practice. Allowing myself to get much deeper when sinking and really pushing the horse stances making sure I am going all the way down.

This has really brought to light the fact that I am just plain moving wrong.

After analyzing my form as I practice, the first thing I noticed was that I am allowing my knees to go past my toes in those deeper stances, a very common mistake while doing squats.

In order to correct that, I have to push my butt back farther and keep my weight directly over the center of my foot. In doing this it,  it also points out my ankles are still fairly inflexible, so pushing back strains the ligaments/tendons a lot. Need to stretch more 🙂

That I can work on, but keeping my weight over my foot immediately relieves the pressure that was on my knee and keeps the aches from happening during the movement.

The second thing is that I have been rotating my knees out FROM the knees in my stances. I was told that my knees tend to collapse while doing the form, which is dangerous and can cause injury. So I have been trying to correct it, but was doing it improperly.

I was putting my mental intention on the knees and forcing them outward from the joints, this is completely wrong and extremely dangerous. Now that I am aware of it I can feel the difference, but what I should be doing is rotating my thighs out FROM the hips, or open the kua. This may be hard to visualize, but the more I experiment with different points of movement, the more I realize that where I THINK I am moving directly affects where my body actually moves.

Now that I have recognized these bad habits I need to work on fixing them. Unfortunately, I have already gotten to the point where my knees hurt. So I will have to allow them to recover first.

Going to spend the next several weeks letting them rest. When the pain eases off I will do a couple of test movements just to see how they feel and that will be my gauge for when to commence some of the harder movements.

Until then, much easier workouts. Not as deep in the stances and paying close attention to the subtle weight shifts in the movement itself. Listening to how it feels in a less extreme pose will make the deeper ones later on a little easier when it’s time to shift. But overall, the key during this recovery is NO PAIN!

Practice overview!!

Been a couple days since I have posted. It’s been pretty busy over here!

Saturdays Practice

  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong
  • 1.5 hours form practice\analysis
  • 2 hours push-hands

Sunday

  • 1.5 hours hunyuan qigong
  • 1.5 hours forms practice

Todays Practice

  • 2 hours 24 form practice
  • 1.5 hours dynamic qigong

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