Last night as I settled into bed to read a few os.me posts before calling it a day, I felt something plop onto my shoulder.
Turning my head to look at it, I found that a young adult scorpion had somehow found its way into my room; she (I’m just assuming she’s a she, I have no idea how to tell) had climbed into my bed and ranged my stack of reading pillows only to take a nosedive onto my shoulder, perhaps to read a few interesting blog posts with me.
I looked at her, said, “Om Swami,” tilted my shoulder so that she could slide onto my pillow, and slowly moved out of the bed.
Here she is hanging out wondering what happened at the end of Meera ji’s post.
One of the ashram staff very kindly came and took her away in a cup, and although he did the job, he was noticeably a little freaked out, but I was completely calm and maintained my meditative state.
We checked the room to make sure there weren’t any more voracious-reader scorpions lingering about eager to read os.me posts too, then I got back into bed and fell asleep within a few minutes.
This morning, I thought about it and my reaction:
How come I was perfectly calm?
How come the only words to come out of my mouth were ‘Om Swami’?
How come I was able to get back into bed and promptly fall asleep?
The answers: Mindfulness and Faith.
It got me thinking, mindfulness is exactly like having a scorpion on your shoulder, in a good way.
Imagine you’re walking around with a scorpion on your shoulder. You’re very likely be quiet, very aware of your movement and your breath. You’d take slow, purposeful steps. One wrong jerk of a step and it could rattle the scorpion and leave you with a nasty sting. Just like a negative thought or memory that carries a strong emotion with it stings your heart and mind.
Most of us carry these thoughts with us all the time, thoughts that are ready to sting at any moment, and if we provoke them or give them any reason to, that’s exactly what they will do.
If however, we remain supremely alert, aware of the scorpion on our shoulder, we can safeguard ourselves by remaining centered and calm, not allowing the thoughts that cause pain to come through.
I’ve been on this journey for a few years now since I first met Swami ji in February 2015 and I try to practice mindfulness every waking second. I’ve gone from being a neurotic, suicidal mess, full of pain, doubt, mental illness, addiction and misery, to someone who when threatened by a deadly sting simply says ‘Om Swami’ and moves out of the way with some concern for the wellbeing of the threatening party.
Om Swami. His name reverberates through every atom of my being, so it’s no surprise those were the only words that came out of my mouth to greet my unexpected little guest.
My faith in Him tells me that no matter what I face, I know it is His will and that whatever the outcome may be, it is His wish. If it’s my time to go, then I’ll go happily with His name on my lips.
If I have to suffer some pain and be stung by a scorpion on my shoulder, I’ll bear it as gracefully as possible, for not only is it His will, but Swami ji too was kissed by a scorpion on his shoulder once, and also stung severely by another as He has recounted in His memoir, If Truth be Told. How then can it be anything less than a blessing.
I was later told that our ashram dispensary is equipped with an antidote to scorpion venom so there was nothing serious to worry about anyway.
Mindfulness and faith are the antidote to venomous thoughts.
When I’m faced with a person or situation that feels like it will sting me, I call upon Swami ji and move it out of the way in my mind.
It’s never easy, it takes effort. Sometimes I want to collapse in a heap of tears, and sometimes a few watery pearls do escape me, but not like before. I do whatever I can not to let it play out over and over in my thoughts. I tell myself, it’s Divine Grace, an opportunity for me to learn, grow and be closer to God; I ask myself how to deal with the situation as calmly as possible and leave it in His hands.
Mindfulness gives me the time to think things through before reacting in a knee-jerk way. The scorpion is not going to change its nature, I must assume that people around me with the potential to sting are not going to change, so, I have to change myself and the way I react. I have to move out of the way.
Faith gives me the strength and courage to get back into bed (read get on with life) knowing there is a higher power taking care of me and whatever happens is His will anyway.
Walk around with that scorpion of mindfulness on your shoulder today, don’t let negative thoughts come and sting you. See what happens when you put all your faith in a higher power. It could be Om Swami, it could be a form of God, it could be your Higher Self, it could be the Universe, whatever you’re comfortable with, they are all one and the same.
Building the practice of mindfulness and allowing faith to blossom in your heart doesn’t happen overnight, but once you start and you see the results, you’ll wonder how you ever lived differently.
And here is a beautiful story of faith.
Be mindful. Be fearless. Sleep easy.