I still have this stitch in my lower back — by which I don’t mean surgery, I just mean an extra tightness from a muscle that’s contracted and won’t release.  Most of yesterday, it was on the left-hand side.  Now that’s released, and the grabber is now on the right-hand side.  So, at least now I know it’s muscular and not skeletal or similar.  Progress!

It did make tai chi a little difficult today, but not too much.  The worst were the deep knee bends in the qi gong forms, and the movements like Snake Creeps Down in the main tai chi form.  I wonder how much of it was exacerbated by moving snow yesterday? It feels like much of it could have come from that; except that the main lower back & hip pain preceded the appearance of the snow on Friday afternoon.

Along those lines: today is Sunday, and no plow has come down my street since I’d guess about 8pm Friday afternoon.  My driveway is an undriveable block of snow sixty feet long and 2.5′ deep and about 12 feet wide. That means there’s about 1800 cubic feet of snow in my driveway.  The end of my driveway, the little car-park area, is downslope and downwind from a parking area attached to the university — there, the drifts are chest deep on me — over my belly button, in fact.  Call it four feet deep.  There’s 2200-ish cubic feet of snow to move, and no one to move it but me until the plow comes.  But, my landlady’s plowing company won’t come until the street is plowed.  And the street won’t get plowed until the streets around my street get plowed….  I have this feeling I could be waiting a while.

My last half-dozen entries haven’t really been about tai chi… they’ve been about the structure of my life around my practice.  Maybe that’s where I’m at, right now, but it feels odd.  So I’m going to try to say something about the practice.  It’s getting harder to feel the energetic shift that arises from doing tai chi, the rising chi within myself.  One possibility is that I’m doing it wrong.  Another possibility is that I’m not hard-core enough. And a third possibility is that I’ve not worked the forms hard enough the last few days, due to this lower-back issue.   Or I could be at a current plateau in my practice, where the sense of internal energy has become so normalized that I’m not noticing it.

But I think about windmill kick when I analyze these possibilities.  I’m now able to kick my left hand reliably, and then swing my leg around to the right hand, before continuing it down to the floor on the right-hand side.  Back when I was at day 140 or so, this was impossible.  I couldn’t do it once, much less for several days in a row.  So I don’t think I’m doing the practice wrong.  Nor do I think I’m “not hard-core enough”.  So I’m left with the possibility that I’ve not worked hard enough at the form the last few days, or that the current energy I’m generating is normalized.  Deciding between these two possibilities is complicated, and it’s better to err on the side of caution, and assume that one isn’t working hard enough — than to assume that one’s energy has risen to the level of adeptship.  There’s no doubt that the practice has opened up possibilities that weren’t always there; but that’s not to say the doors are all the way open, or that there aren’t some blockages still in place.