I woke up this morning with a sense of “gunk” seated in the upper part of my throat, just below my sinuses, and a sense of “heaviness” in my gut. These, to me, are a sign of incipient sickness — of an illness waiting to come out and play. I didn’t want to do tai chi. I wanted to let the illness take me, and call in sick to work, and all the rest of it.
But, after a few half-hearted attempts to get up, I defeated the dweller on the threshold and got up. I did the Five Golden Coins. I find I have trouble remembering the names of the moves: drawing Heaven to Earth, I think; followed by Picking Apples; followed by Bend the Bow; followed by Bringing Earth to Heaven; followed by Carrying Milk. The heaviness in my gut shifted (I’ll have a great bowel movement later this morning), and flexibility awakened in my core muscles, on either side of my ribcage.
Then I did Eight Pieces of Silk: Pressing Earth against Heaven, followed by Bend the Bow to Shoot the Hawk, followed by Joining Heaven and Earth, followed by Twist the Neck; followed by Low Punch In Anger, which precedes Touch Earth, which comes just before Wag the Tail, and finally Rise on the Feet. By the time I finished, that sense of gunk in my throat had passed, my sinuses were clear, and I feel healthy again. Not weighed down in my belly, no sense of constriction in my throat, and no likelihood of developing a cough or a cold. I like that.
When I followed these two qi gong formulas with the tai chi form, I was expecting a fairly regular practice. I mean, some days it’s great, some days it’s boring, but you still gotta do the work. In this case, though, I found that the more carefully I did the form, the harder and better a workout my flanks had — the parts of my body that were fiercely contesting the risk of getting sick. And my core musculature — the parts of me that squish and squash the fluids around in my lymphatic system, and keep me from getting sick — were all sorts of active and ready. It was kind of like, there was this miasma in my body, a mutiny ready to happen on board a British Navy vessel under the command of Horatio Hornblower. And yet, when the order was given to clear for action, the body responded — here was a chance for glory and honor, for dignity and grace and power. The decks are clear, the miasma is gone, the chance for rebellion is swept away.
It wouldn’t have been possible, I think without the previous 342 days of practice and effort, but it’s nice to know that the body responds so thoroughly and so actively to the threat of illness now. I like being healthy.