Thanks to a friend of mine, recently I’ve become more aware of what Eckhart Tolle calls the “painbody”. I was telling her how sometimes I can be very self-destructive. It’s as if I can sense this destructive force within me, but I am powerless to it. My friend immediately identified this energy as the painbody and in doing so, helped me to better understand what was going on.
Tolle writes about the painbody in both A New Earth and The Power of Now and in this article in the Huffington Post. Even though I remember reading about the painbody, I didn’t fully understand it, until I experienced it. And when I experienced it, I wanted to know what it was and how to stop it and then realized I had already learned about it! This is why knowledge and experience are both so important.
This emotional painbody, Tolle describes as “old emotional pain living inside you.” Below is an excerpt describing the painbody from a post in detoxifynow.com (in Tolle’s words):
The pain body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, “become you,” and live through you. It needs to get its “food” through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form: anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness. Once the pain body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. There isn’t really much difference between the two. You are not conscious of this, of course, and will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. But look closely and you will see that your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going, for yourself and others.
This was exactly what I was experiencing. I was witnessing myself wanting the pain and drama to keep going. But why? Why would I want to suffer? Because the painbody is not me. It is an entity, an energy living in me that feeds on more pain. When I realized this, a weight lifted. So how can we get rid of the painbody?
In the Huffington Post article, Tolle writes “if you are present, the painbody cannot feed anymore on your thoughts, or on other people’s reactions. You can simply observe it, and be the witness, be the space for it. Then gradually, its energy will decrease.” He goes on to say:
The pain body, which is the dark shadow cast by the ego, is actually afraid of the light of your consciousness. It is afraid of being found out. Its survival depends on your unconscious identification with it, as well as on your unconscious fear of facing the pain that lives in you. But if you don’t face it, if you don’t bring the light of your consciousness into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again. The pain body may seem to you like a dangerous monster that you cannot bear to look at, but I assure you that it is an insubstantial phantom that cannot prevail against the power of your presence. So the pain body doesn’t want you to observe it directly and see it for what it is. The moment you observe, feel its energy field within you, and take your attention into it, the identification is broken. A higher dimension of consciousness has come in. I call it presence. You are now the witness or the watcher of the painbody. This means that it cannot use you anymore by pretending to be you, and it can no longer replenish itself through you.
This being present to the painbody has really helped me. It is not an easy thing to always do because its so comfortable to identify with the pain. It’s become so routine to keep it going and it’s especially easy when we see so many others around us also feeding their painbodies (especially our parents!). But it’s so empowering and so much more truthful to disengage with it and realign with joy, health, and well-being. We can all agree intellectually that those are the things that we want, but in life it is not always what we choose. So today let’s choose to align with all that is good and loving. Let’s align with truth, with our higher Self and just observe the painbody, should it take over us.
Thank you Eckhart Tolle for your wisdom and deep insight into life.