It’s almost Thanksgiving 2016, merely weeks after the most divisive election in our country’s history…
And let’s face it: You’d rather plant your face in the gravy dish than listen to Cousin Mary’s ramblings about how-will-I-afford-my-foot-surgery-after-Drumph-impulsively-nukes-healthcare-and-makes-late-term-bunion-removal-illegal-and-also-I-found-an-Internet-quiz-that-proves-everyone-is-“sexracist”-even-cats. And if Uncle Frank starts in with his diatribe about Did-you-know-Killary-revealed-her-reptilian-species-heritage-to-Goldmann-Sachs-right-before-she-and-Obama-invented-Isis-and-swam-naked-together-in-a-pool-of-blood-money, you may be tempted to ball-gag him with his own stupid red hat.
But don’t panic. There is a way to survive this year’s heated and irrational holiday conversation without resorting to violence or “creative” doses of Xanax. Behold: how to be a zen sorcerer of internal bliss during Thanksgiving political discussions:
1) assume the very important zen sorcerer of internal bliss position. (Which is basically sitting anywhere comfortably, eating mashed potatoes or watching football or playing-Apples-to-Apples-which-you-pretend-is-for-your-kids-but-you-secretly-love-apples-to-apples-because-it’s-legitimate-social-strategy-and-winning-makes-you-feel-powerful-at-a-time-in-history-that-is-riddled-with-powerlessness….or I mean whatever.
2) assume the very important zen sorcerer attire (basically whatever isn’t going to be distracting, itchy, or uncomfortable. Except, sorry, no Chicago Bears jerseys allowed at the master sorcerer level.)
3) Mindfully observe the thoughts and sensations that you experience. Notice your own thoughts and sensations in a “detached spectator manner” much as you’d imagine the VP elect viewing, but not absorbing whatsoever, the social-political commentary of Hamilton. When you find yourself making assumptions or judgements, simply observe those thoughts as well. Observing thoughts and sensations as simply thoughts and sensations, instead of adding-to-them or believing them to be important, momentarily releases them and dissolves their power.
4) Each time you observe a thought or sensation (and they will come in rapid secession), go back to focusing on an “anchor,” or something to concentrate-on in the brief moment after you have observed a thought (and before you’re bombarded with another thought.) Most beginner zen sorcerers use focusing on their breathing as their anchor. Super-master zen sorcerers can use focusing on being in the present, even when “in the present” means playing mind-numbing Lego guys.
5) Does the above Mumbo jumbo psychobabble confuse you? Ok fine. I’ll give you a stream-of-consciousness example (thanks, Faulkner, for legitimizing rambling as an expressive written form):
Oh, there’s Aunt Catherine saying blessed are those who don’t vote for baby killers. Damn, there’s a surge of hot fury, right to my temples. Am I sweating? Noticing my panic about sweating, back to my breathing, man, I have bad breath after that beer, breathe, Oh, and there goes the judgement. Hmmm, interesting; c*nt starts with C, and so does Catherine; and oooh, wonder if there is cheesecake for dessert. Noticing that I’m salivating; oh-there was a thought about her hands. Wrinkly. Breathe. Shit. Observing panic. Sweat again. Observing her looking at me. Noticing my resistance to join in conversation, observing my clenching toes, back to breathing, noticing Catherine looking at someone else; breathe, Noticing tightness in my stomach; observe Uncle Don dictating a narrative about Benghazi; Notice jaw clench; breathe, observe the words coming out of his mouth, one, by, one; “Crooked,” like Don’ nose; observe my smug judgement, notice my faster breathing and observe the urge to yell; notice pride in restraint; observe smell of Cousin Becky’s cigarette, observe idea of conversational “out” due to “asthma,” Notice twist in stomach for lying….
You’ve simply observed (and therefore disempowered) a whole bunch of mental crap, keeping your mind sharp and clear, and your behaviors intentional.
And that is how to be a zen sorcerer of internal bliss. From, the therapist who says, when in doubt, always bite the turkey, not the conversational bait, unless of course you are vegan in which case you should also remember that conversational drama is indeed also a biprodict of living creatures, so you should never ever bite that either.