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’ve started reading Scott Meredith’s enjoyable book Tai Chi SURGE and working on incorporating his advice. Since I learned ZMQ37 long ago including in camps with his teacher, it’s pretty easy to follow along with his tips. Usually I do “river” or “flow” mode as he says and it already feels good energetically including the “from feet to hand” feeling he describes, which is not a metaphor but a tangible and real feeling just like hunger, nausea, thirst, etc., but since it isn’t subjectively, unbelievable, blow-your-mind strong like he talks about feeling, I figure I should try his detailed advice to see if these “accelerants” can really help me work on this to the next level. Really for its own sake or as qigong for health. It’s been too long since I tried to practice every day so I’m probably back at kindergarten level. Just getting restarted now for about a week and there are some hints of progress already, so I’ll see if I can remember to do another post or more on any progress.

The taijiquan classics say that the whole body coordination arises from one qi. A seemingly elusive and mysterious concept, but I think the instruction describes a very clear, tangible feeling, nothing strange or intellectual. I felt an inkling of this when trying to sink. Sinking was not only a skeletal alignment or relaxing feeling. There is a funny line in a movie called Auntie Mame about getting your hominy all going in the same direction. If “energy” were grits, that seems an apt description. There was no sinking to the dantian. Just everything sinking all at once, driven by a thought. I can imagine how having this kind of feeling (not just sinking but in general) in any posture or in formlessness would cause whole body power to be automatic. Solo work, shi li, long forms, zhan zhuang, whatever, is one thing. One baby step. Incorporating it into ph or sparring seems about 10,000 hours away.

Qigong – internal circulation, relaxation, health.

Zhan zhuang – more about intent. Don’t really get the instructions on dynamic opposition of forces.

I want to try tabata some more after my initial experimentation with it seemed quite promising. However, I’m a bit concerned it could interfere with the goals of zhan zhuang and qigong. My simplistic understanding is that in zhan zhuang, I want to train my nervous system to be as calm and relaxed as possible, then be ready for everything to fire in concert, not necessarily explosively, but everything in between up to explosively – more likely the “continuous” power curve sought through bagua circle walking. Stillness in motion, constant power and movement, for standup or ground game.

Related to that I think part of qigong’s benefit as well as prerequisite is calming the nervous system. After doing tabata, everything was fired up. The HR stays up for a while. The hormonal effects seem at opposite extremes in these exercises. I imagine that getting better control over the gas/brake pedals between “fight or flight” responses and “rest and digest” responses is important. You want to be as relaxed as possible, “listening”, nothing firing, then be ready for sudden action/reaction.

To resolve or minimize this possible conflict, if it exists (maybe only for a beginner or someone more interested in zhan zhuang and qigong), I hope I can just do both extremes and balance them by doing relatively more qigong and zhan zhuang – it is so much more difficult to get some conscious mind/body regulation of a calming effect and “song” than a stress response effect – anyone can stress themselves out just by thinking stressful thoughts within seconds or minutes with no special training whereas probably no one can meditate or calm the system to the same magnitude with zero, or even significant, training. Probably need a ratio of something like 10:1.

Also, I think at first I might try only functional whole body exercises, such as bridging or snaking or rolling over, maybe squatting, and avoid too much nervous system firing localized to one small muscle group that would interfere with training the whole body connections, or add no particular functional training. The “muscle memory” from just 4 minutes of work seems so strong it could easily override all that other work that I’m not particularly good at. That would be bad to undo anything that takes much more effort (at least measured in time, not calories expended) to build up. But it should be fine if it’s all functional stuff, and only a few times per week. Plus, the promise of simultaneous anaerobic/aerobic training and fat-burning with such incredible efficiency and low time investment is too compelling not to figure out how to add this method.

I had this sensation before while getting acupuncture. A pulsing, vibrating sensation, similar but not the same as an involuntary muscle twitch. I had it in more places and stronger after doing qigong. It lasted for quite a while after stopping my practice session. It also felt like a sort of liquid flow. Yow! Weird, but good progress, I assume.

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