Kat mentions an interesting little trick to assist in her training outside, that is, to remove her glasses! That’s quite a novel idea and something I would perhaps try, but I don’t wear glasses! In Kat’s post, I mentioned that I like to align myself to a tree and face that when I begin. For some reason, that helps me get in the correct frame of mind.
This reminds me of the time when I first started to do zhan zhuang. I admit that I had, and could still have (which I probably do), quite the monkey mind! I’d often find myself roaming around thinking about what I needed to do tomorrow or the next day which is not really good. In addition, I also felt quite a bit of physical pain during my standing practices which included pain in the shoulders, thighs, wrists, etc etc.
I adopted a little trick so I could “get my time in” as the goal was to do at least 20 minutes of zhan zhuang in every session. What I did was to watch TV while doing my standing meditation. Well.. I guess I can’t really call it meditation as I was just basically “standing” and trying to force my way through the pain. While this approach is generally not recommended, it worked for me as I come from the “horse stance till you drop” school of thought. Slowly, after I was able to get through the 20 mins without resulting in extreme pain, I started to shift things. I turned around and didn’t face the tv, then I replaced the TV with music and then now I don’t use anything in the background.
This actually now reminds me of TT Liang and his idea of practicing taiji to music to assist in calming the monkey mind. While the music kind of bug me when I trained in this fashion, it wasn’t due to the music per se, but the fact that each move had a specific number of beats to perform. For instance, Raise hands was done in 2 beats while single whip was like 6. Sometimes I feel like I want to do the Raise hand in 6 beats or want to do the form slower or faster.. this is just the way I felt but I do like his idea of ways to tame the monkey mind.
Note, these are just examples of some of the tricks that I’ve used and I feel they have helped me. I’d love to hear more about some tricks that other’s have used to aid in their training.
 Wanted to include a link to The Five Fundamentals of the Mind I ran across.