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About the pain-body

Based on the book by Eckart Tolle: ‘Living the Liberated Life and Dealing with the Pain-Body’, teachings from Rachael Jayne Groover and my own experiences.

 

What is ‘processing pain’? An example.

 

If a small child falls and his/her knee hurt a bit, it will cry shortly, feel the pain very consciously, the mother or father will hold the child lovingly, and 5 minutes later the child is happily back playing. It has already forgotten the pain, the pain was processed.

This is an example of very mild, small pain that’s easy to process.

 

Aspects of processing in this example:

  • Crying (or ‘discharging’) the emotion is expressed very physically

  • Feeling, experiencing the pain consciously (or ‘going through the pain’)

  • Consolation: The love and physical contact created the space for the child to feel what it felt while at the same time giving it the unspoken message that NOW it is safe and everything is okay, that it is loved and that the pain hadn’t happened because it was doing something wrong or because the child is ‘bad’.

 

Why we don’t always process all feelings immediately

 

Almost all painful things that happen to us (in this lifetime and in former lifetimes) call up emotions we need to ‘process’. We don’t always manage to do this immediately during or after they happen. Sometimes the pain, the shock, the trauma is too big or too confusing to be able to truly, fully feel it in all its aspects. Sometimes we are not in the right (loving, safe) environment to be able to feel it or we don’t have time: other things ask for our attention. And sometimes we have learned that we are ‘not allowed’ to feel certain emotions. That can be because of a judgmental belief (boys who cry are ‘weak’, anger is ‘bad’ etc.) Or it can be that someone in the environment is not able to handle that you are feeling this: it can upset him/her or make them angry. Also the right kind of consolation is not always available.

 

The ‘pain-body’

 

In all these cases we repress our feelings. But they don’t just disappear, they get stored energetically in our body and in a subconscious energy-bubble, which Eckart Tolle gave the name ‘pain-body’

We do not always feel our pain-body. It is sort of ‘dormant’. But we don’t feel really happy, don’t feel like being active, or tend to eat too much, watch television too much, drink too much alcohol, etc. etc.

 

How the pain-body gets activated and what that feels like

 

When something happens in our life that reminds us of the old situations in which we once have oppressed emotions, this activates the pain-body. (The pain gets ‘triggered’.)

Sometimes the pain comes out into the present experience a bit different from how it was suppressed. For example sadness can take the form of anger.

The oppressed emotions find a way out through what you feel in a situation in the present time. This makes these emotions much more intense than would fit with the present situation. And it feels almost as if something else inside us has ‘taken over’. We suddenly get very angry, or fearful, or we become depressed.

 

How do we dissolve this pain-body?

 

In a way this phenomenon of ‘getting triggered’ and  ‘triggering each other’ is also a healthy thing: it is an attempt to get attention for the un-processed pain, to at last get it felt consciously and process it.

 

But it is not so easy to ‘dissolve’ this pain-body, because it ‘feeds itself’ with pain, drama, and with activating other people’s pain-body: you ‘trigger’ each other, it becomes a drama, and the pain-bodies grow a bit bigger. Before you know it, you get into vicious circles, that you can only break through by shining on it the ‘light’ of consciousness and love and being present in the ‘now’.

Here’s an exercise that can help with it. It has 3 steps:

 

  1. This is not you.

The pain-body already loses part of its grip on us when we become conscious of what is actually is. The trick is that we see that it is only an energy-form within us ant that we don’t get fooled into believing that it is us, ourselves. As if you take a step backwards and look at it from a distance and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by the intensity of the emotions. Say for example to yourself: ‘I am not this feeling’, ‘At this moment I feel and am looking at my pain-body’. This already brings you more into the present moment. This takes exercising and the more you will do it, the better you will get at it and be able to take distance and become more of an ‘observer’ of what is happening inside you.

It can also be clarifying in a situation with another person when you realize that you are triggered and you are able to simply tell that person that this is what happened to you so h/she will understand your extreme reaction better and hopefully will be able to make sure not to get triggered as well.

 

   2. Concentrate only on the feeling itself

Stop thinking about the situation. Stop trying to find solutions, causes, talk things out. Best is to stop all thoughts you are having at that moment and only feel the feeling itself, and don’t be afraid to feel it. It is only a sensation in your body. This of course also needs practice.

 

  3. Experience the feeling and its energy in your body

Take some time and sit down for it, 3-15 min. normally is enough. First of all try to let your conscious attention go down into your belly. The goal is to be present in your body and to ‘be with’ the feeling. Allow yourself to feel the feeling that came up and simply feel and observe it very physically and energetically. It can also help to describe it out loud in words. Try to become aware of where in your body you feel it, and what you feel in other parts of your body at the same time, starting with your hands and feet. Sometimes the feeling will change after a while because another feeling was behind it.

It works best if you feel love for yourself that is shining on all of what you feel, like a sun. It is also possible that another person does that for you, if s/he is not triggered him/herself. This person can give you loving attention, maybe while holding your hand, or putting an arm around you, and invite you to describe exactly what you feel and where. S/he can also help you to stay with describing emotions only and not get distracted by thoughts about them.

When you get more experiences at doing this, you will notice that usually after 3-10 minutes there is some kind of change, a breakthrough, a relaxation, a yawn maybe.

  1. Sometimes it can help to add to step 3 to ‘discharge’ the feeling physically. With crying this mostly happens already naturally. With anger it can be helpful to take some time at the start for this before you start the feeling-part. Take for example a pillow and hit with it on the couch a few times, or stamp your feet for a while or run around, or shout a bit. Try to find a way that really discharges and at the same time is not damaging for your environment and/or yourself. If there is another person with you who is able to stay calm, you can even put your hands on their hands while standing opposite each other an push hard (in such a way that the person doesn’t fall)

  2. EMDR. Another thing that can help is a technique that is being used in a form of therapy named ‘EMDR’: ‘Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing’: move your index finger from left to right and back about 30 cm in front of your eyes and follow that movement with your eyes. This helps to integrate the old experience that’s behind the pain in the brain, between all other, more normal, pain-free kinds of experiences. There is a lot more to say about this technique that I am not elaborating on here: it’s easy to find it on the Internet.

 

Helpful exercise to build up body-consciousness and presence in belly and heart.

 

It is very helpful to practice at moments when you are not triggered, to become more aware of what you feel in your body, both physically and energetically, and to practice placing your attention consciously in places in your body, so you can choose in which place you want to ‘be present’ and perceptive.

 

Practice to move your point of attention out of your head down into your belly, in the center also called ‘hara’ or ‘dantien’, in the middle between the front and the back, a bit below the navel. Or where women have their womb. Visualize a sun there that shines a kind of light that feels nice to you. Then also visualize a sun in your heart and let that sun shine down to the sun in your belly and connect with it and shine love towards it.

Then bring your attention to your legs, tailbone on your chair, and feet on the floor. Feel consciously how you are connected to the Earth through there.

When you practice this regularly and get better at it, you can also apply it to step 3 and that will make that step easier. It will also in general make you feel calmer and more present, concentrated and self-assured when you come to ‘live more in your belly and heart’ and less in your head.