started doing cloud hands out of boredom in my work chair and lo and behold it’s better and easier than standing for some odd reason for cranking up the flow immediately. very weird. there is the waist turn which is artificially longer through the extra rotation from the chair turning a little bit. there isn’t any separation of substantial and insubstantial in the legs. hmm.

After about 10 days, I’m finding that Mr. Meredith’s advice I mentioned below works well for me, though I haven’t tried it every day. The good thing is that as a byproduct, I do try at least “flow” mode every day again for the first time in a long while and that gets things going at a basic level for me, anyway. So getting back into this is good. Well, going much more slowly with pauses to relax more and do his counter sink really does help a lot. I then continue back into flow mode. I have to read the book more and try his advice every day and see if it keeps improving things for me. Will see if I can do it and try to post back.

I am rehabilitating my knee and interested in baguazhang anyway so I am thinking why not apply circle walking for both rehab and for continuous, creative, turning skill? It is hard enough to execute turns in bagua but adding in controlling a ball while taking “push hands” type pressure from someone and ideally faking them out and scoring a panna is even harder. So basically I walk the circle dribbling a ball with gentle turns, good for the soft tissues and good for the creativity and smooth turning motions. I somewhat visualize a light pressure on the body shielding the ball in doing so, while doing various stepovers, etc. Do some short taiji forms before and after and it’s a much more interesting rehab/prehab/slow movement skill builder. Hmm. If I can rehab the knee while entertaining my ima and soccer interest, it’s three birds with one stone.

After playing around for about a year, I still have a lot of work to relax more, but I can get to my current state of relaxation pretty much instantly. I can also have imagery of, for example, holding balloons between my arms, or images like that, ok. It takes less concentration to do, and the images are starting to not be as necessary. I’d call this “level 0” of zhan zhuang. It is pretty difficult but seems to be only a prerequisite to do anything really useful. Just a preliminary training.

Unfortunately, I have not been practicing what yiquan calls “almost movement”, which I see as “level 1”. I’m going to see if I can work on it this year. In the meantime I tried to do a little heavy reading on subthreshold excitation. I can’t quite follow the theory from the scientists but basically research seems to say:

1. initial strength gains seem more related to neural mechanisms than muscle mechanisms
2. imagery helps with this and can produce gains from the mind alone.

Still, I don’t think the scientists are studying these mechanisms in the context of a sudden movement. I think what the yiquan training is after is a faster mind/body connection to time a sudden movement right while otherwise staying maximally relaxed. Maximum mind and body composure. Minimal mind and body effort. Stillness in motion. Economy of motion. What have you. Last time I spent a lot of time on my “level 0” standing, anecdotally, my reflexes and coordination did seem to improve, very counter-intuitively. The problem is, the mind/body exercise is very difficult from a concentration / focus point of view. It’s much easier for me to mindlessly go for a run or something but that doesn’t give me this kind of effect. But if my level 1 progresses as my level 0 has, the need for concentration should drop. I hope I can make some faster progress with it. Really slacked off with level 0 previously.

Last night I did qigong for what seemed like an hour but it could have been more. After a little while, I thought I felt “microcosmic orbit” (so I think since I have no idea what this should feel like). Basically similar to acupuncture with electrode sensation but fainter, going up the back, down the front, trying to end it and “store” at the dantien area. This sensation went on for a while and then I felt I should see how long I could do the qigong til I got tired and went to sleep. Different times today I’ve felt a vague fullness and a vague sensation of this flow if I stopped to think about it or do a few seconds of zhan zhuang. Good I suppose since qi should follow yi and it only seemed to do so if yi was there. Usually most people say something like beginners might feel a heat sensation. That is pretty easy so a sensation of a flow probably means some small progress. What about the BIG question for neijia – what to do with qigong to combine it with martial arts? I suppose a peng energy is really backed by a full energy but then I’m also sure I’ll have no good idea from actual experience for quite some time. These are totally separate tracks for now. If they come together later I’ll think about it some more. It does feel good and healthy. Also, here’s where all of the books I’ve looked at say something like it’s dangerous to progress without good instruction. Well, how is one supposed to find the right instruction? Not exactly on yellow pages or search engine dot com. I’m pretty comfortable sticking to experimentation. Clip from Wikipedia:

The Microcosmic Orbit is a Taoist Qigong meditation technique. It is based on observing the natural flow of energy in the body during respiration. The meditation involves consciously raising the focus of awareness up the Governor Vessel meridian at the back of the spine during inhalation, and returning the focus of awareness down the Conception vessel meridian at the front of the spine during exhalation.