MENTAL KATA

How to project your future onto the big screen of your life with Mind Movies and Mental Exercises.

(photo: rwkvisual)


In this article I will teach how to create and make effective use of Mental Katas (exercises). These are simply helpful scenarios (lessons) that exercise our minds, embedding positive messages for growth and improvement.

In the martial arts you may have heard about a popular training process called “kata.” A kata, or form, is a combination of movements (a routine) that you can practice to refine and hone your skills in the martial arts.

This is akin to sharpening your sword. So let’s get a mental edge by coming up with some individual forms for the creative mind. Meditation and/or direction of thought is a similar process. What we want to do is actually pick very specific things to focus on.

The purpose of a mental kata is to refine our skills.

So what are our mental punches and kicks? They are beliefs like: positive thinking, flexibility, control, patience, etc. Please refer back to the “I AM” list in ACE (Book One of Winjitsu or see the article Decide to Fly) for a list of your mental combat skills.

To create a mental kata, you simply pick a few weapons from your “I AM” arsenal that you feel are important for you to work on. A typical martial arts form may contain a step here, then a strike, then a shuffle, stance, and a kick. They can be as short as three moves or as long as 300. In the Martial Science, I teach students the basic concepts of the system with a form we call the 1-40 form. It contains 40 moves and each of the moves might contain 1-10 smaller movements. If a student masters this form, they will master the basic concepts of the system. We also have a strikes and kicks form which is designed to help you master your strikes and kicks. Again, it is a fluid combination of movements that mold together into what looks like a choreographed set of skills. We want to do something similar for the mind. A kind of mental movie.

Let’s start by focusing on the goal of achieving a Black Belt in the mental arts. You put that into your triangle and ask the three stability questions: What can I do mentally, physically, and spiritually to achieve a Black Belt in the mental arts? Let’s imagine we answered with the following:

Mentally: I can learn to be more positive. I have been too negative for too long, accepting only the beliefs that have been passed down to me. I am feeling closed-minded and stubborn. I want to take control and feel empowered and open minded.

Physically: I need to learn how to eat better. With the understanding that food has a direct effect on my ability to learn, I need to focus on keeping my physical intake positive, as well as my mental intake.

Spiritually: I need to be more available to my friends, family, and co-workers. I realize that in order get what I want, it is best to help others get what they want.

Now we pick a few things from the “I AM” list that best represent the beliefs we need for each area.

Mentally – I am positive

Physically – I am healthy

Spiritually – I am helpful

You may also create a new positive achievement belief if the list doesn’t have exactly what you need. Once we have our first three beliefs, we then want to create our form.

Just as we can improve our success in basketball by imagining shooting a perfect shot, we also can imagine doing tasks that demonstrate the beliefs we are looking to improve. So you need a mental first-person picture of yourself performing the action of being positive, healthy, and helpful. Since there are many forms of being positive, healthy, and helpful, we want to choose the one we need to work on at this given time. Once you have the images of each belief in order, you can then chain them together and begin the training.

Some examples of a basic mental kata using the three chosen beliefs are:

Mental Kata 01

I walk into the office and greet everyone with a positive quote of the day. On my lunch break, I open a self-prepared meal that is not only healthy, but very tasty. Before I leave the office, I help a co-worker finish a project that is important to them.

Mental Kata 02

I respond positively to my boss who is being very negative. At lunch, I visit a healthy restaurant that can meet my dietary needs; I look forward to going there each day. When I leave the office, I do what I can to tidy up so it is an improved work area for everyone the next day.

Mental Kata 03

It is another important soccer game for me and my team. I successfully outmaneuver my opponents and kick the ball with power and speed scoring a perfect goal. I bring an ample supply of water with lemon to stay hydrated and have a healthy low sugar snack at half time to energize me the rest of the game. I focus on being a team player and helping others to not only play better, but to enjoy the process.

When you are visualizing your mental kata, it is up to you to be as imaginative and detailed as possible. Make the experience as realistic as possible. This means that you see it from your own eyes so you remain associated. To do this, you can continuously add detail to the sounds, sights, feelings, smells, and tastes of your pictures. For example:

Auditory

Hear the sound your lunch sack makes as you open it. Listen to the crunch of your salad when you take a bite.

Visual

See the variety of greens in your salad and notice the bright red color of your tomatoes. Notice how the sunlight reflects off your vegetables.

Kinesthetic

Feel the avocado as you pull it out of your lunch sack. Notice how much it weighs and the texture of its skin. Feel the warmth of the sun when you are eating outside.

Olfactory
Smell the olive oil dressing and the lemon as you pour it over your salad. Notice the sweet smell of flowers that the breeze carries during your break for lunch.

Gustatory
Enjoy the taste of each bite from your meal as you eat slowly and savor each bite. Notice the texture of different vegetables. Mentally chew your food as if you were there “in the now.”

I’m getting hungry; are you?

Now that you know how to perform a mental kata, you can begin to work on it. If possible, try to find time in the day to focus purely on your new meditation (such as in early in the morning in a quiet part of your house), or better yet, outside.

The purpose of CMT is to be able to perform it almost anywhere. So if you are in line at the bank, make that time useful and practice your mental kata (just don’t smack your lips!). With this type of attitude and mental gymnastics, you will never merely WAIT in line again. The time will become valuable to you.

NOTE: when you are driving or performing a task that requires your full attention and/or is dangerous, it is important to focus on the job and not a good time for CMT.

If you are having trouble being creative and coming up with a good mental kata, try running some questions though the 5W filter by asking:

What is my image about?

Why am I creating this image?

When is this image taking place?

Where is this image taking place?

Who is involved in my image?

If you are making use of the Personal Achievement Map, you can combine most of these techniques into one Creative Mental Training session.

Winjitsu Work Out

Design your own Mental Kata. Follow the plan outlined in this chapter, and make full use of the suggestions and prompts. Decide now on a time of day to perform your Kata(s), and remember to make use of time normally spent merely waiting.

About the Author RICK TEW

I will do the splits for you too. I provide edutainment events that help you to be a Ninja in what you do. I offer Martial Arts Therapy Retreats on Samui Island in Thailand. My unique Winjitsu Mind-Body system of coaching inspires you to BE more fulfilled and to DO more to KickStart your ideas.

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