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journal Earl Grey's Xin Yi progress journal

Dear diary! It was high time I started a journal. Today I did blah, blah, blah...

Keeping a track of your own training schedule and results can be very helpful to yourself and others.

Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
The longer one practices Xin Yi, the harder it is to talk about it to non-students and non-practitioners. It is not borne from a sense of elitism, but in equal measure having both difficulty conveying the changes in words precisely, and a disconnect from those without the internal skills or understanding. The latter includes both those who think they practice internal arts and those who are skeptics, with each of them demanding immediately replicable results which do not happen immediately or overnight. Those who believe their internal cultivation understanding is sufficient tend to be the most frustrating usually because they tend to embrace hyperbole and mystique around the art and the process. Much like cooking is as much an art as it is a technical process, there are key elements such as timing, tools, and knowledge that take refinement before one can go from preparing food to demonstrating artistic creativity with even the most minimal effort. In other words: the technical parts can be taught, but the artist's creativity can not be imparted.

In recent times, I've been crossing these boundaries between technical understanding and creativity. My recent focus has yielded several results:

Iron shirt: My palms feel more pain than the body when striking multiple times, and even then, the palms feel nothing more than the average sensation one gets when clapping their hands in applause. The greater discomfort is in my shoulders from straining themselves to keep striking all over the body in certain angles, and even the testicles can now handle enough of an impact to make a light slapping noise as though patting my buttocks loudly. I can no longer feel anything in my legs no matter how hard I strike, but normal feelings like needing to scratch them if there is an itch remain. Iron shirt does not eliminate normal every day sensations or pleasures.

In a recent sparring session, I felt nothing when struck in the face or the throat because I knew how to absorb softly and harden at just the right moment of impact to return the force to my partner. Only when one of my instructors, Coach Greg, struck me in the chest with force did I feel pain, mostly from shock and because he is inadvertently emitting jin. So for the average external fighter, I can handle a few hits, but from an internal master, I remain in their control.

Fajin: While doing shili practices, there are times I occasionally emit an electrical sensation when pushing that shocks me and causes me to retract my hands quickly. Most people who claim to feel energy say they feel electricity and magnetism, but what they really feel are tingles, not even as strong as static electricity on a dry day shocking them. With this, I found that while doing a push, a sudden surge appears that is so painful to my fingers that I need to pull my arms back, and when done consistently looks like a long fajin push. A friend of mine who practices the medical applications of the neidan said to me that he feels the same thing when treating patients, so this is where the convergence of faqi and fajin appears to intersect. I realize that one should develop rooting and foundation should they desire martial power and before seeking to use it for medical application, as once one practices the neidan, it is far more difficult to go into the martial practice than it is to go from the martial practice into the alchemical and medical practice.

@Roots of Virtue explained that rooting is key for both fajin and faqi across the board, whether it is physical rooting from martial practice that begins with good Zhan Zhuang and all the way through linking and competing phases, or emotional rooting that comes from spaciousness as in the Atiyoga and tantra skillset, and even seen in Morihei Ueshiba's mastery of Aikido via his emotional rooting.

Core, Fascia, and Lower Dantian: "Forget calling it the LDT or whatever, just do the practice and call it whatever you want" says Coach Greg. I've found by doing the core activation as taught by olympic coaches and developing the fascia makes it easier to prepare the body for using the LDT in a roundabout way rather than the dubious manner of people just thinking that they can do reverse breathing and focus on the LDT and suddenly magically develop neigong.

What looks like simple calisthenics are actually a series of exercises that develop the integration of the fascia throughout the body to be used when the core activates and creates effortless strength, the kind that a man seated at rest who is able to easily subdue a standing muscular opponent even when merely shaking his hand. To the untrained individual, this looks fake, but to those with actual internal skill, this is nothing mystical, it's someone who has activated their core and their fascia, but the core and fascia are only part of the development process of developing internal power.

Character and Wisdom: "Confidence is overrated, sensibility is more practical"says Coach Greg. Confidence, positive thinking, the law of attraction: the bane of the internal artist for pragmatic and traditional reasons alike. It is the western advertiser and entrepreneurial framework that thinks that this kind of willpower will generate definite results, which in turn is worsened by the "Can do!" attitude especially intrinsic to Americans.

As any internal artist knows, you can will things all you like, but if your yi (intent) doesn't match your shen (spirit), which in turn is also heavily influenced by your xing and xin (shape and mind), then you merely have wishful thinking. For example: an obese man can follow a program to lose weight and belly fat, but when he still struggles and neither looks at his own efforts or the weaknesses of the program and guidance, he changes the goal posts to appreciate his rotund figure instead and advocate for no more body shaming, though secretly he still desires this perfectly sculpted physique. The reasoning of this example is exactly what is happening to those saying to themselves "I will myself to develop internal power, but because I am nowhere near there, I am changing my attitude to not seek power and embrace peace" which isn't a form of enlightenment or desire of peace, but a self-deception that ignores the disappointment of never attaining the tools or guidance to develop power to begin with, analogous to a mediocre university student who fails their coursework and decides that the course is not for them and they go on to sell essential oils and begin a YouTube channel about pursuing their passions and inspiring others while criticizing those who manage to be far more successful in their academic life. In the end, if you want your inner power and results, follow the program, and if you don't attain it when it is assumed that both your program and teacher are correct, then neither failed you, you failed to do your work.

False confidence can cause people to get into trouble by overestimating their abilities in fights or their ability to read a situation. One needs to look no further than at the stupidity of Chris "Alexander Supertramp" McCandless from Into the Wild, who believed through reading books at a library and meeting a few people along the way to teach him was all he needed to go from living a privileged trust fund life to being a modern day wild hermit in Alaska, ultimately leading to his death mere months afterward. This is also not confidence, but a façade further embellished by arrogance and smugness.

Sensibility brings forth the full use of one's faculties, from the five senses (or six depending on whom you ask) and the mature mind to discern the most beneficial approach to life, whether in conflict or in practical daily life.

One example the coach used was when someone had parked his car illegally near his building, and as the administrators told him he couldn't do so, the man began boasting of whom he was politically and socially, going so far as to being backed by the president of the country himself. He was ready to force his way and flaunt the rules because of his status, yet his false confidence ignored the fact that there were others of political importance in the room who were not impressed with him, including those with guns and bodyguards who had respected the parking regulations. The coach, who is also an advisor to the security of the building, simply said, "That's nice, but wouldn't it be better for us to not make a fuss about it? There are parking enforcers outside who don't live here and will tow your car, but we can't do anything about it. So why not move your car instead of having to find they've towed it and you have to go look for who did it to punish them?"

Situational awareness, sensitivity, openness, and both reading and understanding intent: all skills that come from both good training in a relaxed manner such as Zhan Zhuang and guidance from a sensible teacher and community of peers. Confidence may come from being able to handle yourself maturely and appropriately, but this kind of confidence is more of the "I think this guy dislikes inconvenience more than he wants to show off who he is" rather than the "I'll put him in his place" variety.
 
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
Much more development again.

I learned that I have acquired bladed arms, a rare skill which essentially makes the bones of the arm as strong as a broadsword and when used properly, causes a cutting sensation that is so painful from wrist to shoulder of an opponent that they feel they might need to have surgery.

Fajin is also overlapping more with faqi as I've now got exploding fist, which feels like smashing a firecracker into someone's face when striking there. Poison fingers, a similar skill, is something I've seen, but not exploding fist.

One thing I will say to all seekers of power who have done silly things such as read The Magus of Java and found instructions for levels 1 and 2 of Mo Pai or attempted to summon demons to augment their development: none of these skills will solve any of your existing life problems, and none of the methods you are using are worth the price you must pay for what you most likely will still never develop.

So focus on improving yourself instead of seeking power.
 
  • Loving-kindness
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
The longer I practice Iron Shirt, the less time I spend on it in a session or in a week. I can do 15 minutes twice a week and have absolutely no feeling in the legs or forearms, and find the overlap with the Xin Yi contracting practice. It has led to bulky and lean muscle that resembles a leather pillow, and people who have tried to strike me slide off the muscle if I respond appropriately with the hunha qihe.

To compare this to conventional isometric and calisthenic practice, yes, if one focuses on good core and strong forearms, their punches and grapples will be superior to someone who ignores these muscle groups. However, in Xin Yi practice, the joints, tendons, and sinew give you both strength and power, as well as a feeling of fullness rather than heaviness. Also, even if one gains big muscles, they are literally "dumb muscle" because they don't have the awareness connected to the inner sight from the gut intelligence. This awareness doesn't just allow someone to know how to dodge or soak up a hit, but to become a hand and fist as well, hardening to make striking a very bad idea, softening to dissolve and make both striking and grabbing a futile effort, and exploding by softening, absorbing, hardening, and exploding.

The myofascial practice has also affected my orthodontics work, as the fascia is not just between the muscles and the skin, but also goes to the organs, bones, skull, and teeth, so when doing the linking practice and even standing in Zhan Zhuang for more than an hour, the wires suddenly come undone. A friend said perhaps my mouth was quivering, but those aren't the muscles that will affect one's orthodontics, as my dentist confirmed. She had to buy special wires in order to accommodate how the wires kept getting undone from Xin Yi, and at maximum tightening each session, I still feel nothing in my mouth, but I do get a slight headache because I feel the tension as the fascia causes the entire body to connect and protect my jawline, leading to some pain in my back neck and pressure in my head. The good news is that the teeth move much faster this way.
 
  • Equanimity
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endbegin

Practitioner
Tutor
The longer one practices Xin Yi, the harder it is to talk about it to non-students and non-practitioners. It is not borne from a sense of elitism, but in equal measure having both difficulty conveying the changes in words precisely, and a disconnect from those without the internal skills or understanding. The latter includes both those who think they practice internal arts and those who are skeptics, with each of them demanding immediately replicable results which do not happen immediately or overnight. Those who believe their internal cultivation understanding is sufficient tend to be the most frustrating usually because they tend to embrace hyperbole and mystique around the art and the process. Much like cooking is as much an art as it is a technical process, there are key elements such as timing, tools, and knowledge that take refinement before one can go from preparing food to demonstrating artistic creativity with even the most minimal effort. In other words: the technical parts can be taught, but the artist's creativity can not be imparted.

In recent times, I've been crossing these boundaries between technical understanding and creativity. My recent focus has yielded several results:

Iron shirt: My palms feel more pain than the body when striking multiple times, and even then, the palms feel nothing more than the average sensation one gets when clapping their hands in applause. The greater discomfort is in my shoulders from straining themselves to keep striking all over the body in certain angles, and even the testicles can now handle enough of an impact to make a light slapping noise as though patting my buttocks loudly. I can no longer feel anything in my legs no matter how hard I strike, but normal feelings like needing to scratch them if there is an itch remain. Iron shirt does not eliminate normal every day sensations or pleasures.

In a recent sparring session, I felt nothing when struck in the face or the throat because I knew how to absorb softly and harden at just the right moment of impact to return the force to my partner. Only when one of my instructors, Coach Greg, struck me in the chest with force did I feel pain, mostly from shock and because he is inadvertently emitting jin. So for the average external fighter, I can handle a few hits, but from an internal master, I remain in their control.

Fajin: While doing shili practices, there are times I occasionally emit an electrical sensation when pushing that shocks me and causes me to retract my hands quickly. Most people who claim to feel energy say they feel electricity and magnetism, but what they really feel are tingles, not even as strong as static electricity on a dry day shocking them. With this, I found that while doing a push, a sudden surge appears that is so painful to my fingers that I need to pull my arms back, and when done consistently looks like a long fajin push. A friend of mine who practices the medical applications of the neidan said to me that he feels the same thing when treating patients, so this is where the convergence of faqi and fajin appears to intersect. I realize that one should develop rooting and foundation should they desire martial power and before seeking to use it for medical application, as once one practices the neidan, it is far more difficult to go into the martial practice than it is to go from the martial practice into the alchemical and medical practice.

@Roots of Virtue explained that rooting is key for both fajin and faqi across the board, whether it is physical rooting from martial practice that begins with good Zhan Zhuang and all the way through linking and competing phases, or emotional rooting that comes from spaciousness as in the Atiyoga and tantra skillset, and even seen in Morihei Ueshiba's mastery of Aikido via his emotional rooting.

Core, Fascia, and Lower Dantian: "Forget calling it the LDT or whatever, just do the practice and call it whatever you want" says Coach Greg. I've found by doing the core activation as taught by olympic coaches and developing the fascia makes it easier to prepare the body for using the LDT in a roundabout way rather than the dubious manner of people just thinking that they can do reverse breathing and focus on the LDT and suddenly magically develop neigong.

What looks like simple calisthenics are actually a series of exercises that develop the integration of the fascia throughout the body to be used when the core activates and creates effortless strength, the kind that a man seated at rest who is able to easily subdue a standing muscular opponent even when merely shaking his hand. To the untrained individual, this looks fake, but to those with actual internal skill, this is nothing mystical, it's someone who has activated their core and their fascia, but the core and fascia are only part of the development process of developing internal power.

Character and Wisdom: "Confidence is overrated, sensibility is more practical"says Coach Greg. Confidence, positive thinking, the law of attraction: the bane of the internal artist for pragmatic and traditional reasons alike. It is the western advertiser and entrepreneurial framework that thinks that this kind of willpower will generate definite results, which in turn is worsened by the "Can do!" attitude especially intrinsic to Americans.

As any internal artist knows, you can will things all you like, but if your yi (intent) doesn't match your shen (spirit), which in turn is also heavily influenced by your xing and xin (shape and mind), then you merely have wishful thinking. For example: an obese man can follow a program to lose weight and belly fat, but when he still struggles and neither looks at his own efforts or the weaknesses of the program and guidance, he changes the goal posts to appreciate his rotund figure instead and advocate for no more body shaming, though secretly he still desires this perfectly sculpted physique. The reasoning of this example is exactly what is happening to those saying to themselves "I will myself to develop internal power, but because I am nowhere near there, I am changing my attitude to not seek power and embrace peace" which isn't a form of enlightenment or desire of peace, but a self-deception that ignores the disappointment of never attaining the tools or guidance to develop power to begin with, analogous to a mediocre university student who fails their coursework and decides that the course is not for them and they go on to sell essential oils and begin a YouTube channel about pursuing their passions and inspiring others while criticizing those who manage to be far more successful in their academic life. In the end, if you want your inner power and results, follow the program, and if you don't attain it when it is assumed that both your program and teacher are correct, then neither failed you, you failed to do your work.

False confidence can cause people to get into trouble by overestimating their abilities in fights or their ability to read a situation. One needs to look no further than at the stupidity of Chris "Alexander Supertramp" McCandless from Into the Wild, who believed through reading books at a library and meeting a few people along the way to teach him was all he needed to go from living a privileged trust fund life to being a modern day wild hermit in Alaska, ultimately leading to his death mere months afterward. This is also not confidence, but a façade further embellished by arrogance and smugness.

Sensibility brings forth the full use of one's faculties, from the five senses (or six depending on whom you ask) and the mature mind to discern the most beneficial approach to life, whether in conflict or in practical daily life.

One example the coach used was when someone had parked his car illegally near his building, and as the administrators told him he couldn't do so, the man began boasting of whom he was politically and socially, going so far as to being backed by the president of the country himself. He was ready to force his way and flaunt the rules because of his status, yet his false confidence ignored the fact that there were others of political importance in the room who were not impressed with him, including those with guns and bodyguards who had respected the parking regulations. The coach, who is also an advisor to the security of the building, simply said, "That's nice, but wouldn't it be better for us to not make a fuss about it? There are parking enforcers outside who don't live here and will tow your car, but we can't do anything about it. So why not move your car instead of having to find they've towed it and you have to go look for who did it to punish them?"

Situational awareness, sensitivity, openness, and both reading and understanding intent: all skills that come from both good training in a relaxed manner such as Zhan Zhuang and guidance from a sensible teacher and community of peers. Confidence may come from being able to handle yourself maturely and appropriately, but this kind of confidence is more of the "I think this guy dislikes inconvenience more than he wants to show off who he is" rather than the "I'll put him in his place" variety.

I'm not sure if I read it on this forum or not, but there was a mini Donald Trump case study that detailed his "positive thinking" compulsion and its detrimental effect. It was that his net result would actually be failure, but by effectively kidding himself, he was just bypassing reality. He's rich, so doesn't necessarily feel the need to change himself, but one of his daughters (if he has more than one? Idk. Don't care) came out and said how hard it is to live with as unrealistic expectations got put on the family.

Anyway, great post!
 
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endbegin

Practitioner
Tutor
@Earl Grey Do you have a split routine right now? For example, do you find yourself working certain attributes evenly throughout the week, x amount of core strenthening, x amount of iron shirt, x amount of ZZ etc?
 
  • Equanimity
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
I'm not sure if I read it on this forum or not, but there was a mini Donald Trump case study that detailed his "positive thinking" compulsion and its detrimental effect. It was that his net result would actually be failure, but by effectively kidding himself, he was just bypassing reality. He's rich, so doesn't necessarily feel the need to change himself, but one of his daughters (if he has more than one? Idk. Don't care) came out and said how hard it is to live with as unrealistic expectations got put on the family.

Anyway, great post!

This is why I detest the cult of positive thinking. It is what destroyed my maternal parent's sense of reality and in turn transformed her into an equally narcissistic individual when she used that to rationalize marrying her current husband. He is worse because he considers himself positive even though his actions do not align with reality, and he is shielded by his wealth.
 
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Earl Grey

Gonzo Daoist and Dharma Punk
Teacher
@Earl Grey Do you have a split routine right now? For example, do you find yourself working certain attributes evenly throughout the week, x amount of core strenthening, x amount of iron shirt, x amount of ZZ etc?

I follow a specific macro designed by my coach to do modified yoga calisthenics, Zhan Zhuang, Baduanjin, Iron Shirt, joint linking, intelligent muscle contraction, and fajin body harmony, which is just under 3 hours a day. I cap my training to four days a week and mandate my weekends and either Wednesday or Thursday to be rest days.

Some days, it is just yoga calisthenics, baduanjin, and nothing else, other days it is Zhan Zhuang, Baduanjin, Iron Shirt, and the YJJ exercises, and on a good day I do them all at once.
 
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