If you’ve been following along for the last couple of months, you know I’ve been banging the drum of a topic that’s very dear to my heart.
Healing the Pain Body.
If you haven’t been following along, (and don’t have a clue what the Pain Body is) I’ll sum it up with this definition by Eckhart Tolle:
“an energy entity consisting of old emotion and accumulated pain”
That’s right, sweetness. It’s all that baggage you’ve been lugging around.
It’s the destructive patterns, the dysfunctional coping methods, and all the painful beliefs and memories you inherited from your family.
It’s that victim story you keep reliving over and over again.
If you’re nodding your head in recognition, then this museletter’s for you.
Because today, we’re going to get up-close and personal with the Pain Body so we can better identify and understand it.
Let’s jump in with the obvious.
The Pain Body has two modes of operation.
On or off.
For some people—especially those who come from a long line of dysfunctional behavior and traumatic abuse—the Pain Body is almost always on.
If you want to see an example of this, just watch Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
(Or don’t. The mean-spirited mind-games are exhausting.)
For others, the Pain Body is almost always off. In fact, for some enlightened few, it barely exists at all.
And while I’ve got a LOOONG way to go before I reach this happy state of nonresistance, I'm determined to keep shuffling in that direction.
Because when it comes to the Pain Body spectrum, I'm smack-dab in between the two polar opposites mentioned above.
Which means that even though my Pain Body is switched off a good deal of the time, it’s still very much alive, lying dormant inside me until it’s activated by a certain event.
Or a comment.
Or a look.
Sometimes all it takes is a hair-line trigger and . . .
It’s awake and I'm suddenly saying or doing something that rattles everyone around me, including myself.
I’m sure that even as you read this, you can think of a time when you lashed out and hurt someone you loved and then wished you could take it all back.
And you know how awful it feels.
None of us want to repeat these episodes and yet many times we do.
We’re not reacting to the present moment. We’re reacting to a painful memory from our PAST.
Neuro-associations that we make when we're young get filed away in our brains (in the hippocampus, for you fact-finder types) and when something similar happens in our adult lives, it triggers the memory—filed under B for bad—and then hey!
It’s Pain Body time.
Which is why conscious awareness is critical.
So humour me.
Zoom in on that time you overreacted and hurt someone. Roll the footage of the memory back to the moment before you struck out. Slow everything down so you can feel the exact instant that strong emotion was activated in your body.
Allow yourself to FEEL the anger or shame or fear of abandonment.
Become the container that holds it.
This, my friend, is the moment of great opportunity.
And most of us miss it entirely.
I say this with compassion, not criticism.
Painful memories and long-held beliefs are packing years of momentum.
Ever see footage of a dam break? The rush of water is astonishing. You may be able to stand upright in a stream or a slow-moving river, but a flash flood of that size can knock you right off your feet.
When we get hit full-force by rage, (or jealousy, or abandonment, or shame, or fear), it’s completely normal to get sucked into our painful mind-story and do one of two things.
Blame whatever (or whomever) triggered us and lash out externally
Blame ourselves for not being perfect and lash out internally
Either way, we contribute to the energetic mass of the Pain Body and miss the point entirely.
The pain is coming up to be healed.
And here’s a secret you need to know before we go any further.
You can’t heal the Pain Body by fighting it.
Or by hating yourself.
Love and presence are the only antidotes to pain.
Negative emotion needs to be welcomed and accepted (so we can get the valuable message it contains) before there's a gentle release.
This is the beauty of this work.
And yet . . . it's not always easy.
For me, the hardest part is staying conscious when the tidal wave hits so I can breathe through the impulse to react.
It’s still a struggle not to say or do ANYTHING until I can release some of the volcanic pressure in a safe and healthy way.
Healing for me has meant acknowledging the emotion so it can move out of my body.
It’s meant recognizing my patterns and consciously choosing to interrupt them.
It’s meant challenging my stories and calling them out by name.
But please don’t imagine that I always catch myself and avoid the big blow up.
Forgetting is part of the messy process.
Remembering is just the kind partner that helps me back up.
Healing the Pain Body isn’t a one step experience.
(Although it happens. Just ask Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle)
For most of us, it’s a journey of forgetting and then remembering—catching ourselves in the past and then pulling ourselves back to the present—feeling what needs to be felt, releasing what needs to go, stumbling, falling, failing miserably and then getting up and trying again.
Healing the Pain Body means meeting it in real time with conscious awareness as often as we can until our storehouse of pain starts to diminish.
What do I mean by “conscious awareness”?
I mean that when the Pain Body hits, you simply recognize it for what it really is instead of mistaking it for yourself (or a demonic presence).
The Pain Body's not BAD! And neither are we.
Which is why I recommend Pain Body profiling.
Because we can't change what we don't understand!
Instead of attacking (or trying to deny) this energetic part of ourselves, I think its time to get curious.
If you agree, check this out.
I drew this diagram to represent a close up of the Pain Body's three different parts.
Since we all have our own unique Pain Body Profile, you may find it helpful to define these parts for yourself so you can better understand how they affect you.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started:
This compartment is all yours. It holds everything that has legitimately hurt you since the day you were born—anything that caused you to think less of yourself, including imagined slights or perceived injustices. This is where you store any unhealed childhood wounds that continue to shape your view of the world and limit you as an adult. Think of this compartment as a memory album filled with all the shame and hurt you haven't fully faced or released. If you don't recognize your personal pain as it comes up to be healed, you risk recreating the pain of your past in an unconscious attempt to change it and will miss the opportunity to create a life filled with authenticity and joy.
This compartment feels like it’s yours, but its not. It’s all the psychological issues, beliefs, thought systems, coping mechanisms and unhealthy solutions that have been handed down to you by generations before you. It’s your childhood conditioning and social programming—all the false things that you were taught by others that you innocently accepted as truth. It's the agenda that your parents or grandparents had for you that's muffling your own internal guidance and keeping you from knowing your essential self. If these belief systems aren’t challenged as they present themselves in your day-to-day living, (they usually appear as some form of suffering or unwanted results) you’ll create a life that fulfills the expectations of others but not one that's true to yourself—and you'll unconsciously hand the same dysfunctional patterns down to your children.
This compartment holds all the past pain regarding your race, culture and gender. Some of this pain seeps into the arena of the Familial, since many of these painful stories (“what they did to us”) are passed down from our family of origin. The bulk of this compartment is made up of all the human memories—centuries of war, torture, slavery, pain of childbirth, rape, and other atrocities committed against humanity because of fear and separation. Since the energy of pain cannot be destroyed (only transformed or transcended) it remains in the collective psyche and will feed your personal and Familial Pain Body if you don't consciously disconnect from it. If you identify with it, you'll bring the pain of the past into the present and re-traumatize yourself and others over and over again.
IMPORTANT NOTE: These ideas were inspired by Eckhart Tolle's work, but do not wholly reflect his teachings or personal view on the Pain Body. These statements are mine alone and come from a life-time of observation and personal experience with emotional pain. If you are interested in learning more about the Pain Body, I highly recommend "A New Earth" and "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle.
Is your head spinning?
I hope not.
If any of this feels overwhelming, LET IT GO. Only keep the information that energizes and resonates with you.
Just please don’t give up!
Instead of thinking, "It’s too big, we’ll never heal it."
As my own coach often reminds me, it comes up to clear out, not to show us what we’re stuck with!
Every time we make the decision to meet our Pain Body as it arises, (instead of letting it use us to create more drama and suffering), we reduce it.
And not just for ourselves, but for everyone.
This is how we heal the world, my lovely.
This is how we heal the wounds of our family, our race and our gender.
We're all connected, remember?
A Course In Miracle teaches that WE are the salvation of the world.
And that every decision we make is a choice between Heaven or Hell.
We're either healing the Pain Body or being used by it.
What we choose affects not only us, but the whole.
So here's the final "inside secret" you need to know.
Since the Pain Body is just a mass of memories that are still charged with old pain, we'll never heal it by re-living the past.
We can only heal the Pain Body by staying anchored in our connection to the here-and-now, meeting the pain of the past in the present with the strength of who we have become.
We're not victims anymore.
We're not powerless to the circumstances of life.
We have choices that didn't exist for us when we were children.
And the healthy, spiritual adult in you—the one who developed because of the painful things that happened to you in the past—is fully capable of healing the wounds of the inner child.
I don't know about you, soul-sister, but I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
I honestly feel that it's time.
Sending you so much love,
PS. Here's a verse from A Course In Miracles that puts it best. "All your past, except its beauty, is gone and nothing is left but a blessing.”
PSS. If you know of someone who would benefit from this blog, please share!
If you're ready to heal your Pain Body and would like support during the messy process of meeting it in real time, (or just need help with you own Pain Body Profiling ) I would love to work with you! To book a free consultation, just click here