You decide!

We finished out the theme of TEAMWORK last week, but I wanted to make sure you had the mat chat that went along with that final week. In addition to talking about working together, sharing our gifts for the benefit of all, we also made sure everyone understands what is meant when we ask in the pump up: “How long does it take to change your state?” and the reply is “Like THAT!”

Every moment you have the opportunity to decide how you are going to respond to circumstances around you. In an instant you can choose to stay positive and change your state. No joke. We have the ability to change how we feel.

Our feelings can be very deceptive. We can react to things without understanding what we’re reacting to you. Yesterday we shared with some fourth graders that circumstances can cause our “fight or flight” response. You’re walking down the street and suddenly a big dog comes out of nowhere barking loudly right at you. Before you realize there is a fence between him and you, your “fight or flight” response already kicked in! (Then you feel silly running away from a dog that’s behind a fence!)

The point is it takes a moment for our full brain to be able to assess ALL the facts. One way to give your full brain time to catch up is to stop and take a deep breath and slowly let it out. Your brain doesn’t need a lot of time to catch up! (Obviously the fight or flight is a safeguard and there are times it can save our lives! I’m talking here about when the response kicks in when there is no physical threat.)

Once our brain catches up with our “feelings” (our “fight or flight” response), we DO have a choice of how we react. We always have a choice of responding IN the fear or anger that has risen up in us, OR NOT! We can choose to sympathize with the person who caused the fear or anger to rise. We can choose to correct whatever wrong occurred. We can choose to give grace to someone else. We can choose to give grace to ourselves. We can choose to walk away. We can choose to change our state “Like THAT”, whether we need to actually DO something to fix a problem or right a wrong.

Sometimes we tell ourselves “I can’t do that” or “I’ve always had a quick temper” or “But it was really unfair” or “this is just the way I am” or “if you only knew my circumstances you’d understand”. STOP IT! You are listening to yourself and those thoughts become WHO you are! And they are NOT who you are!

Those are all just excuses! We HAVE the choice in how we react and respond to situations. We do not HAVE to be controlled by our circumstances or our reptilian brain (the part of our brain that the fight or flight response comes from). We can take a deep breath, and make a decision to respond how we wish others would respond to us when we make a mistake!

And the really great thing, once we make that decision — it actually changes how we feel!


Change Your State

Change Your State
Confidence is a state of mind

How long does it take to change your state?

Anyone who has been in Warriors of Grace Karate for a kids’ class has heard this question and heard the emphatic response “like THAT!” (with a snap of the fingers!)

We thought we ought to take the time this week to remind everyone of what the heck we’re talking about! We really don’t want to just be saying and doing things that the kids don’t understand. There’s not a lot of benefit in just parroting something without understanding the reason behind it.

We started doing these pump ups a while ago and when we introduced them we talked about what we were doing and tried to make sure the kids understood what it was all about. But time passes. New students join. It’s time to revisit why changing our state is so important.

This week’s mat chat:

How long does it take to change your state?

We start every class with a pump up that includes those words. We want to take some time today to make sure you understand what we’re saying and why. It doesn’t do much good if you’re just repeating words you don’t understand. Right?

What we’re talking about is state of mind. We’re going to do a little experiment right now. I want all of you to slouch down, round your back and look down at your stomach. Now I want you to say in a whiny voice “I don’t feel good.”         “I’m tired.”       “I want to go home.”

OK, now, notice how you feel! Not very good, right?

Now I want you to sit up tall. Interlace your fingers, raise them over your head, drawing your shoulders back, really making yourself sit up tall. Slowly let your arms come down and put your hands back on your knees. Now I want you say “I feel great!”    “I have a lot of energy!”    “I am ready to do karate!”

Notice how you feel right now.

You can’t control your circumstances but you CAN control how you react to them, how you respond, what you THINK about them. Our thoughts DO make a HUGE difference in how we feel and even how healthy or unhealthy our body is. There is a direct connection between what we think and what we are.

Every time you hear, “How long does it take to change your state?” it should be a reminder that YOU have control over what you think and how you feel!

Really, is this true?

If you didn’t play along and try the exercise as you were reading the mat chat, you may be skeptical. Go ahead and try it for yourself! I’ll wait.

Ok, didn’t that change how you felt?

Neuroscience has come a long way in the last few decades. The bible has told us for 2000 years that we are made into a new creation through the renewing of our minds. In 1964 Norman Vincent Peal gave us the book that is now a popular phrase: The Power of Positive Thinking.

Science confirms the positive impact our thoughts and attitudes has on our habits and skills. And now science confirms the impact on our DNA! Our thoughts have more of an impact on our health, pain, relationships, and even future health than we not too long ago would have imagined.

When you read these and several other articles on the topic, you might come away thinking that Eastern philosophy has it right: that you create your own reality and that everything is an illusion. Well, I just don’t get that! Anyone alive recognizes that there is a very real universe in which we live and interact. You can’t do karate without being very much aware of the reality of the folks you are training with!

What’s God Got To Do With It?

Ok, you might put it another way. Yes, there is an “energy” that sustains everything: GOD! And we have a merciful and compassionate God that has given us a way to overcome our most dire need. (It is Passion Week, so I hope you’ll forgive that I am recognizing the Creator and Sustainer of all, and pointing  you to the One who gave us a Solution to our problem!)

Now, whether your focus is on God, or whether you are just trying to tap into the “power of the universe” in order to bring about healing, there is risk involved. The risk is: it doesn’t work. Just because something CAN be healed (or fixed, changed, etc), that doesn’t mean it WILL be healed.

When you believe in God, you realize His ways and thoughts are so much above ours, that we can’t possibly understand the reason why He may be allowing you to go through whatever you’re going through. However, when you believe in God, you trust him, and can stay positive.

But when you are believing in yourself or the universe, then you can pretty quickly become discouraged with yourself or the universe. You can end up blaming yourself. You can end up with a negative outlook on the universe. All that negativity is going to make matters worse!

When you come to know the God who loves you and wants a relationship with you, that relationship transforms you to be more positive, filled with hope and joy. And now, science shows us that positivity is going to impact every part of your life!

Everything’s better together!

This week’s mat chat with the kids:


You know how to really get things done? Working together! That’s right. We each have to learn and do some things on our own, but the way we really make progress is by working together. Even when one person has a big insight that might lead to a cure for some disease — it’s only by working together with a team that the idea is fully realized and the cure is brought to the people who need it.

How to really make a difference

We all want to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s solving big problems, or helping neighbors down the street, any goal you might think of is best worked on with a group of people who are interested in working on the same goal. Every single person has specific gifts and talents that they bring to a group. In a team each person’s gift or talent lifts up the whole team. Another way to look at it is that whatever area you are weak in – that’s ok – because someone else will have what you don’t, just as you fill in and have what others don’t.

By working together as a team, everyone on the team benefits! This applies to whether you’re talking about a sports team, a class, a family, a neighborhood and even the whole society. We each need to contribute what we’re best at and encourage others to contribute what THEY”RE best at. Everyone goes further and accomplishes more together.

Self-control equals Freedom!

(I forgot to post this a few weeks ago!)

Here is what we’re sharing with the kids this week, our final week on the theme of Self-Control:

You want to know the really good thing about self-control? You already know you need it to do karate – you especially need it if we’re going to be willing to put sticks in your hands! The truth is that the better your own self-control, the fewer limits your parents and teachers have to put on you!

When you demonstrate that you can control yourSELF — your parents and teachers can give you more FREEDOM!  As you grow in your ability to control yourSELF, then parents and teachers don’t have the need to put controls OVER you.

As a matter of fact, that is what our country is founded on.  The people who fought for freedom in this country, did not want controls placed on them by government. They wanted people to have the freedom to control themselves. The less able we are to control our SELVES, the more government steps in and puts controls over us.

So self-control is the very foundation of freedom. THAT’S why it’s so important to have self-control!