Peng Energy, or “Boing Power”

Here is a great video demonstrating Peng.

Peng is one of the four main directions of energy in Tai Chi. The best description I have heard is “Springy Power” or “Boing” power as described in the video. It’s the idea that, without muscle tension, you can create a structure in your body that requires no effort to maintain and is able deflect incoming energy in to nothing.

I am still learning what my body feels like to have Peng, but this video describes it greatly. I sense it the most during standing mediation, I am beginning to feel my arms being filled almost like a balloon and that buoyancy maintains their structure.

This concept is present through all of Tai Chi and is one of the most vital of all the energies as all the other ones are really just deviations of Peng.

Check Out the video!

Yesterday’s Practice:

Still taking it easy on the knees. They are pretty grumpy at the end of the day, during work I stand for most of the day and when I sit I think I need something to put my feet on something to keep the pressure off my knees.

  • 30 minutes standing mediation
  • 24 Form x1
    • Extremely slowly and keeping a high horse stance. Paying attention to the hips and knees
  • 25 minutes train surfing
    • No real choice in this one. No place to sit on the train

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

I am not a Robot

I think the most frustrating things I have had to deal with lately is the finding out that I have limits.

I have never been a fan of working within constraints, or even acknowledging them.. I have always generally just ignored them so that I could prove they were arbitrary things created by fear of failure, or some other rationalization. To find the constraints that are actually hard wired in to my system\environment and that I have very little control over is rather frustrating.

I know that rest is JUST as important as training. Rest allows the body to absorb the training and gives the mind a much needed break to process things. I guess, since I AM studying tai chi, I should think about it with the idea of yin and yang, one must have a similar amount of the two in order to achieve balance. Too much of one or the other will lead to an unstable structure and will eventually cause the system to fail.

So i guess that is why on an early rainy morning in san francisco I find found myself sleeping in and sitting on the couch writing :). Begrudgingly…. but only a little bit.

It can be difficult to interpret all the signals that are going on in the body\mind. For instance, as I sit here, there are two distinct voices in my head;

Voice 1: “Get up, practice! Dont be a lazy ass, you wont get ANYWHERE if you just sit here. There is too much for you to learn to have a rest day”

Voice 2: “Dude, just chill out. Wednesday and Friday are your rest days.”

But, those are just the aspects in my mind. There is also another level I am learning to listen to  in order to help me make these decisions. I am trying to listen to my body. Right now my body is telling me it is really enjoying time to be settled and relaxing on the couch. Its telling me I have been changing its structure a TON lately and it needs a breather.

Its not just laziness…it’s a feeling deep in my muscles and bones. Its mostly coming from the knees, hips and lower back. They are telling me they definitely need a break. So I am not going to push them. They are the pretty much the most important parts of my body and I should probably ease off them when they start to grumble and creak.

They will be ready to go after a bit of rest and my mind will enjoy wandering a bit and exploring some of the lessons that have been passed on through the week.

So, rest up body. Tomorrow we are going to work on those limits you seem to have.

Todays practice:

  • Nada-damn-thing!


Umm…Say What Now?

I was asked teach a new student yesterday. I knew I would need to eventually, but I thought I had a bit more time to mentally prepare before being cast into the fire.

We did the usual warm ups, 30 minutes of silk reeling, then the bomb was dropped.I was to take the new student to the other studio and teach the first move of the form. My brain had a mini aneurism. It was as if every ounce of what little knowledge I obtained had packed up and headed straight for the door. Suddenly, I was just some Joe off the street again, what business do I have teaching someone?? I had to struggle just to remember the form during warmup!

There was almost a haze in my vision as I struggled internally to calm myself. After several deep breaths I, barely, was able to grab the coat tails of my fleeting knowledge and drag it back into the entryway. It’s still fixing to leave…but at least I had a hold of it.

The session actually ended up going just fine. I was certainly nervous and spent the first several minutes fumbling around my descriptive imagery, but eventually came through and was able to teach the rest of the first move. The lead up to it however, left a disturbing unfamiliar residue on the hallways of my mind that I’m not quite sure what to make of.

I can’t recall anything similar to that experience in my past, nor can I remember reading anything that sounds similar. That makes pretty much a full week of new experiences and situations…. I am venturing into uncharted territory my friends. Let’s hope I packed everything I needed.

Sunday’s practice:

1.5 hours primordial Qigong

30 min silk reeling

30 min 24 teaching

Today’s practice:

24 form x4

83 form x1

2 hours silk reeling

Something Under The Bed Is Drooling

I think I have turned a corner.

You know the feeling when you are trying to create a new routine. Every day seems like a struggle, you have to convince yourself to wake up early or to actually put forth the effort to practice. Well that certainly wasn’t today.

We had to be at the studio early, like super early, 7 AM to finish cleaning the floor. Well, I got up at 5:30 and I could feel a distinct change. I don’t really know how to describe it other than to say it was just…natural. I got up, made breakfast did some warm up exercises and headed out the door.

Class was really different today as well, it seemed like the energy in the studio was more vibrant somehow. There were about 14 students that showed up for Silk Reeling, usually there are about 6 of us, and the energy was extremely lively. Everyone was talking, laughing, joking and there were distinct groups of people off enjoying separate conversations. I couldn’t detect one person that felt awkward at all, including me… which is completely bizarre. I have always felt at home at the studio, don’t get me wrong. But I have always carried around with me a certain level of anxiety everywhere I go. Like I am not quite comfortable in my own skin. But not today and, now that I think about it, not much this week either.

I don’t really know what that means… or if it will suddenly vanish come Monday morning. But what I do know is that it has been a long time since I have felt this relaxed and at home. I hope it continues to grow with my practice.

Today’s Practice:

Lively practice in class today!! So much good energy all around, deeper horse stances, bigger circles… just good 🙂

  • Mopping the floor. Wax on Wax off style 🙂
  • 1.5 hours Silk Reeling
  • 1.5 hours 24 form practice


Calvin And Hobbes all Grown Up

The Funky Chicken

It’s amazing how much a full night’s sleep will help. I just got a full 11 hours of sleep last night and it felt absolutely amazing.

In the spirit if taking a break when I need one, I skipped advanced Tai Chi last night and went home instead. Made a quick dinner, put on the first lord of the rings, and was out before Frodo left the shire. Got up this morning at 6 and headed to the park to practice with the other students. Man, do I feel refreshed and ready to go.

I was able to get to the park early and began doing 30 minutes of silk reeling exercises. I am currently working on learning both the 30 min warm up exercise routine and the 90 minute full Silk Reeling class routine. The idea being that eventually the certificate students will be able to lead the classes and free up our teacher to roam around for corrections and allow him to spend some energy on other school related things.

There are times when I remember the whole routine and times where those spots in my memory have been walled up and I get no access to them at all. The closest I can figure is that it’s a matter of my level of relaxation.

I find it’s usually harder to remember after a long day at work. I have been experimenting with ideas on how to fully decompress between work and Tai chi and so far the closest thing I have found to full decompression is if I can get about 20 minutes of meditation in before class. Generally it helps get me fresh again… But there are times it is difficult to fit that time in with work needing so much of my attention.

Thursday’s practice:
Didn’t get much sleep the night before. Woke up exhausted and dragging. Took the day off and just focused on getting through work until I could get home and sleep.

Today’s practice:
30 min dynamic qigong
24 form x2
83 x1
Lots of form discussion today

Expanding Awareness

Had a little mini revelation the other day while doing standing meditation.

I was thinking about the concept of perception and awareness. There are a huge number of things that I am aware. Hundreds of things, in fact, multiplied by every sense we have. Sight, hearing, taste, smell, thought and all of the senses going on in the body. Most of which I tune out, there is just no way I couldn’t possibly pay attention to it all.

There is a common description used when describing how to meditate, particularly applied to those thoughts that suck you in while attempting to “silence the mind”.

“Treat your thoughts like clouds in the sky. Don’t focus on one cloud, allow the clouds the drift freely through the sky. Allowing them to pass, unfettered from one side to the other”.

Well it occurred to me, that this concept shouldn’t just be limited to thought. Granted, everything in the end comes down to thought, but it should also apply to all the senses.

Getting my mind to a spot where it is aware of everything, but nothing at the same time. Allowing my perception to absorb all of my awareness and let the input flow freely into my consciousness without hitting the snags of focus.

I have been talking a lot about de-cluttering my mind lately and I feel like this little epiphany is directly related. I have started to become consciously more aware of the things that take up attention in my mind, the deeper I go, the more layers I find and the more sensitive I become to new ones forming or old ones popping back up. Slowly the layers are at least becoming more visible at each new discovery there is a level of analysis on its impacts and level of necessity.

I have been unable to completely purge facebook from my life as of, yet however. I realized it had become a fairly large form of relaxation for me and I didn’t have anything else to fill its time. So, instead of completely cutting it off, I have greatly reduced the amount I use it, or rather the REASONS I use it. I don’t allow myself to just pick it up and check every moment, I make a conscious effort to only pick it up WHEN I am ready to take a quick little mental break. Just the intention change has made a huge difference in the drain on my attention levels and has reduced the stress that just mindlessly picking it up every free moment caused.

I have taken that approach to my learning and practice as well, giving myself dedicated specific intention for each study session or practice as well as a dedicated time for relaxation.This has allowed me to feel a little more solid in the day to day. Doing this has greatly improved my focus at work as well as my tai chi practice. My mind is able to focus directly on what is in front of me and what I am actively doing, instead of what I SHOULD be learning or doing or stretched out across 8 different things.

This little milestone has actually helped me considerably this last couple days as I have started back from my vacation. I am allowing myself dedicated recharge time and am taking a little mental check-in on my mental\physical status when I feel I need to learn\do something. I only proceed if I am not feeling any level of exhaustion mentally or physically.

On top of all this, my mediation practiced has just leveled up. I am going forward with the idea that all of which I perceive is the sky and the little pockets of awareness are clouds. Floating through wherever the wind will carry them. Present, yet only conscious of them.

So far so good. Lets see how it goes!

Tuesday’s Practice:

Private lesson today. We went over the first two moves of the form in GREAT detail

  • 15 minutes standing meditation
  • 1 hour private lesson. 24 Form 1 time full. 6 times just the first two moves
  • 1.5 hours Advanced Tai Chi. 83 Form 1 time all the way through, rest of the night was learning moves 32 through 46

Today’s Practice:

  • 24 form x3
  • First two moves x4
  • 1.5 hours Dynamic Qigong
  • 47 pull ups throughout the day

Burning the Candle

I have been pretty exhausted lately. I think I may be burning the candle from both ends a bit….seems like every spare moment I have I am reading or practicing something Tai Chi related, couple that with a brain intensive job and a tired person I be.

It’s tough when there is so much I want to do! Hard to kind of remember to sit back and relax and let it all happen in its own time. There is just so much knowledge out there I want to absorb and incorporate in to my practice. For instance, I just started reading the Tai Chi classics today in my spare moments at work. I am only a couple of pages in and there is already so much that I wanted to start practicing it immediately. II was mentally practice where I stood and quickly realized that wasn’t the best type of practice I could be doing, I was only partly present in the practice and had several other things on my mind.

I will try to include a little bit of it in tomorrow mornings practice however. It is hard to keep myself in check as I read more about the art but, There is a natural progression and process that needs to happen in my body, as my teacher keep reminding me, that I need to respect and allow to occur. Forcing these things could cause injury which could end up taking me out for days or weeks.

So with that in mind I think the next couple days I will allow the new knowledge to soak in and incorporate itself. No more new knowledge for a spell.

It is also about time for a phone cutoff. Been slipping a bit on keeping facebook and instagram in check :). Its all a process, I have been checking it less, but it is definitely creeping back up on me.

I got my first edition of tai chi magazine today!! That is part of the reason I have been so stoked and been cramming information in. If you haven’t heard of it here is the address. Its super cheap for a year subscription and has TONS of good info in there.

Anyway, keeping this post short tonight so I can get to sleep early. Going to get up at 6 again to start my full routine. There has been several interruptions the last couple days that has prevented me from doing the full routine as I would prefer. Back to the routine!!

Todays Practice:

I had another dental appointment today so I didnt get a full morning session in again.

  • 20 minutes silk reeling
  • 15 minutes Zuan Zhuang meditation x2 (one before class at night)
  • 1.5 hours advanced tai chi (83 practice form)

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