Colds, Exhaustion, Frustration and Food

I haven’t written in my journal or my blog (obviously) in over two weeks.

When I got back from vacation, I was completely floored for 4 days with, what I am assuming to be, the flu. Since then, I have been trying to get my strength back to practice at full capacity again. My morning routines have fallen away as I have been restless through the night fighting off night sweats and yet to have a full nights rest, leaving me exhausted for much else then trying to get ready for the work day.

I have been to several classes, but as I was not sure if I was contagious I missed a week and a half after I got back. Since then, I have gone to 4.

We are learning the sword in the advanced class, so that has been memorization and the other classes I have been leading or going through the 24. I have picked up some new concepts from the reviews, but over all I just feel extremely distant from my practice.

Without my personal practice time, I loose my connection to my body in class and I am not able to delve as deeply in to the forms, or the movement in general. I begin to look at it again through the analytical mind instead of discovering the movement through my body.

This has lead to a lot frustration internally that tries to lash out looking for someone or something to blame it all on. From my inability to ask the right questions, to looking for more teachers, to wondering if I have ever been actually developing in the first place.

But the crux of it is, I have not been practicing and the blame rests squarely on me and my exhaustion. But perhaps blame is the wrong word, it implies wrong doing, I have just been too tired to focus on full training.

It’s a couple weeks of this built up that I woke with yesterday morning. A morning with eyes open at my regular time (7AM), feeling awake and with more energy I have had in the last couple weeks.

So naturally, I decided to work out AND train.

I have read that working out can help boost the immune system, and in the past when I was training for intense obstacle course races, I had broken this cycle of getting sick during the winter. So the answer must be that I need to start sweating regularly again.

I kicked the morning off with 15 minutes of meditation, to get my mind right. Then I went in to my routine.

Squats, leg lifts, crunches, squat holds, scissor kicks and hip thrusts. Aimed at getting my legs and core activated and the blood\sweat pumping.

It took about 30 minutes total, but was aimed mostly for intensity and I worked up a really nice sweat.

Then it was time to train, I practiced what I learned of the sword twice, then timed 15 minutes of stick work targeting a deep horse stance and keeping my mind centered and focused on the activity at hand,or at least pulling the attention back when I felt it wander. (After almost two weeks without meditation it was quite the greased hog to settle down).

Then it was time to eat, I was feeling really good!

3:00 hit at work, it was time to do Qigong with a coworker. We have been doing 15 -20 minute routines just as a nice afternoon break, yet another thing that has not been done in 4 weeks. (Vacation + sickness + exhaustion).

So, I was all jazzed and feeling great so we went off and did a full 30 minutes. It was probably one of our best sessions, we both worked up a sweat and I was able to correct a couple of movements for him.

Overall, I was feeling pretty good about myself and honestly really excited about being able to start real practice again.

Then about 5:30, I started to feel it.

A flushing of my cheeks and a heat to my face. At that moment, I realized that I had also been coughing today more than the last couple. One that was more insistent than just a nagging piece of phlegm that had dislodged and needed to be expelled.

The worse kind of cough, a dry pointless one.

My girlfriend, out of pure chance, made her famous chicken soup last night.

Perfect timing, I thought to myself.

I gobbled it down, along with tea and zinc for dessert.

But it only helped momentarily.

At 10 the coughing started again, and I could feel the pressure in my sinuses start to build. It was taking hold.

Coupled with an open window last night, and the heater in the house being turned off. I woke up sick.

I was up sneezing at 5 AM, blowing my nose and wheezing yet again.

I woke up long enough to gargle with salt water and write an email to my teacher saying I’m not coming in for fear of infecting others.

Needless to say, I am pretty god damn tired of being sick.

This time I am going to defeat it fully. I am going to be eating chicken soup every day and drinking tea with every meal, I will just take stock of my studies and read some books. Practicing VERY lightly until I feel strong for more than a day.

sick

Flippity Floppity

I feel like I have a lot to catch up on here today.

Life has been pretty crazy lately and has been keeping me from my practice.

Mornings have been filled with anxiety about work and I have been letting myself open my computer instead of meditating or doing drills and the toll is apparent.

I come home exhausted, almost zombie like, back like a crane operator pulling levers to get from one point to another instead of living inside my body.

I got some meditation in this morning, but it was a struggle. There was just too much bouncing around in my brain to let it drift through. Instead, I decided I just needed to write.

So, here I am.

One the the most frustrating things about being disconnected again, is that last week I was able to get a little bit of a break through and now it just seems like a distant memory.

During Qigong, I was able to consciously split my mind in to two parts.

In Tai Chi and Qigong, there is a mental practice along with the physical movements. The mental intention has direct influence on the quality and structure of movement. In the idea the idea is to separate your intention from your attention, that is mostly just a concept to me,  but last week I was starting to get a taste of something that seemed to fit along those lines.

What I was beginning to be able to play with was the idea of being able to leave a considerable amount of my awareness in my dantian as I shot little rockets of intention up and out through my arms and legs to do a movement. I was conscious of those probes, how they were moving, where they were and was able to sense the quality each part of my body around them as they moved. All this while the main “hub” of my awareness was firmly planted like a lead ball in my abdomen resting on my kua, or inner hip joints.

What this did with my overall movement was take out all the extra tension in my arms,hands, back, head. I was able to do a move without tensing muscles but more like creating a wave that originated from my center and traveled through the center of my limbs.

I suppose that sounds a little bizzarre, but it felt really damn cool.

I got three or four days of practice with that feeling, but then as my morning routine got mangled the feeling slowly dissipated.

Extremely frustrating, but I am trying to see it like every other aspect of Tai Chi and life.

Ride the waves of your revelations for as long as you can, hope you have the wisdom to know when to jump off, then paddle back out to sea and wait patiently for the next set.

 

crane

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

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 69 other followers

Follow The Restless Raven on WordPress.com