The Pain Body

The Pain Body

Listen along, or listen instead:

If you read/listen to just one piece from me, let it be this one.

Allow me to breakdown one of the best “body” lessons I’ve ever learned.

I promise, this is not a bummer. This is not doom and gloom.

This is beautiful wisdom for your mind, body, and soul from one of the greats, Eckhart Tolle. 

Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, published in 1997 is categorized as a guide to spiritual enlightenment.

I consider it simply a universal operating manual for the human experience. Nothing woo-hoo about it. If you haven’t read it, streamed it, do it. There are so many lessons in there, it sits at my bedside so it can be referenced on a daily, weekly basis as a resource.  

Even die-hard followers of The Power of Now and Eckhart’s work often need a refresher on this core concept: The Pain Body.

The Pain Body. This is the single most important concept for existing. Without this teaching, life would be very different for me.

I have been able to release tremendous grief, depression, anger, anxiety, and suffering by learning about this and embodying it. I have been able to let go of resentment towards people who have treated me badly, including myself.

What is the Pain Body?

Simply put: The Human Pain that Lives in You.

The Pain Body is an energy field of pain.

We hold residual emotional pain in our bodies, both from past experiences and past generations, including ancestors. This includes the past of the human collective and your own personal past. It’s past, but still very much alive.

Every person is born into the human condition. Every person inherits an un-enlightened, painful human condition.  This means every person comes with a “suit” – a Pain Body.

We are not always conscious of this Pain Body. Most of us are not conscious of it at all.

Consider the Pain Body an independent entity. And emotional energy field. You can’t see it obviously, but as you get better at recognizing it, you can begin to form a visual of what it may look like, how you might conceptualize it in your mind.

The Pain Body is not always active. It has a dormant period.

During an active period the Pain Body needs to come up and “feed” again. It needs to add to its suffering to create more suffering, which is the energy vibration that it feeds on. 

I want to point out that what Eckhart Tolle says about the Pain Body is echoed by other cultural and civilizations; Indigenous People in North America, Oceania, South America, the ancient Egyptians, African civilizations, anthropologists, healers, gurus, and medical professionals agree.

The Pain Body Becomes Active

A small trigger, or a big one comes along and awakens the Pain Body. This trigger can be relatively insignificant; your partner says something, a family member, a co-worker etc., or even recalling a memory, and suddenly there’s an enormous reaction on an emotional level. This typically manifests on a demonstrative physical level; a shake to our nervous system: blaming, shouting, aggression, verbal insults, pouting, shutting down, crying.

The Pain Body Feeds in Two Ways

One: Hijacking the mind. Coming into your thoughts and making your thoughts very negative. Rumination. Intrusive. Turbulence. Tightness. Fear. Anger. Suffering. Destructive, either towards self or towards others. Does this happen to you? Why of course it does. That is the Pain Body in its active state.

Every negative thought has an energy frequency to it. That energy frequency matches the energy frequency of the Pain Body, and alas it becomes active, hungry, and feeds.

Like it has found its soulmate.

It feeds in a second way; in the reaction of your partner, or the person who has triggered you.

The Pain Body will take over and coheres you to try to get your partner to react in a certain way that feeds the energy of your Pain Body by provoking anger, jealousy, sadness, madness, whatever.  So, your partner’s reaction feeds your pain body. This is why some people have a need for drama in their relationships, perpetually, or habitually. Or why some don’t seem to view this as intolerable. Their energetic frequency dances with individuals of the same frequency.

Some individuals have a Pain Body that is always active. Some individuals’ Pain Body is mostly dormant. Most of us are on the spectrum of somewhere in-between.
If you don’t recognize how the Pain Body operates, it will trip you up every time. And you will lose consciousness.


Your Pain Body wants you to identify with it. What we mean by “identify” is that when this occurs when our Pain Body becomes active, we believe: “this is me”. This is my personality. This is my damage. When we sit in the aftermath of the Pain Body, we feel intense shame about who we are.

We should look at the phenomenon of our Pain Body as “not us”. This does not mean that we are not accountable for our actions, nor does that pose an excuse to treat ourselves and others badly.

The main advantage to recognizing that the Pain Body is not something that is who we are, means that we can observe it as it arises. It becomes depersonalized. It no longer becomes my pain. My identity. It is ohhhhh this is the pain body. Hello.

It is human pain that lives in you.

  • There is no emotion that is unique to you.
  • You did not invent this feeling, this feeling of anger.
  • Everyone feels anger. Therefor it is not “yours”.

The concept of the Pain Body is not the be-end-of-all ending suffering.

But when you look at modern frameworks like the 7 Habits of Effective People, The 4 Techniques to Handle Stress, 18 competencies for emotional intelligence, Brene Brown’s work, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy…

These all treat the symptoms of the root cause – The Pain Body.

Dissolve the Pain Body

Eckhart Tolle offers these solutions:

We need to apply the simplicity of the original teachings before religion came along, before psychology came along and categorized, systemized, and dissected our experiences.

Freedom from Pain is possible Now”

Pain arises by not being present in the NOW. It’s because we are either thinking of the past or anticipating a future or running away internally by what is. Even if “what is”, is crappy.

We can’t possibly unpack “Presence” here in this blog, you’re going to have to read The Power of Now!

The trick to dissolving the Pain Body is to become conscious of it. I know this to be 100% true.

If You Can Name It, You Can Tame It

In addition to Eckhart Tolle’s advice, I have my own crafts to accommodate his:

  1. Observe the Pain Body without judgement. This sounds like this:
    • “Ah. The Pain Body has woken up.”
    • “The Pain Body is feeding off this negative energy.”
    • “This is not me, this is the Pain Body.”
    • “The Pain Body is human pain that lives in me.
  2. Initiate self-command where possible. Do a body scan. Go through the body, limb by limb and bring attention to each part (toes, ankle bones, fingernails, hair, nose, breaths, eyelids). Feel every sensation. Pay exquisite attention to your body but also far away sounds like the traffic outside or the smells, like burning incense. Do this for 10 minutes at least.  You are not failing if your mind is still doing negative chatter. In polyvagal theory, this is called “resourcing” and it quiets the mind and regulates the nervous system.  
  3. Visualize the Pain Body. For me, when I think “Pain Body” in its dormant phase, I keep seeing this childhood version of me in a dance studio change room. I am 8 years old, and I am pulling on my ballet tights. The room is grey. It’s winter. I am the only one in the change room. This must have been the time in my life when I knew that I had a Pain Body. For whatever reason when I think of the Pain Body this memory awakens, so I just go with that.
  4. For you, it may be closing your eyes and saying “Pain Body” a few times. What comes up? Some have cited seeing a “suit”, some a “green glow”, others a small monster or creature in their belly or behind their eyes. All that matters is you “see” or associate something. It does not have to make sense.

Working With that Vision

Use one or all three of these modalities to capture it: draw it, or paint it. Even just a simple doodle. Write about it, for example, as I have done here. Move with it. As in, how does this Pain Body move? Dance with it, shadow box it, invite it to play doubles in a tennis match. Take your Pain Body for a walk and let nature dissolve its energy. I am dead serious.

Can you kill it? Can you take it into the woods and kill it?

Good question. As it energy, we know that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but we can transmute it.

We can turn pain into creativity. Turn anger into art, turn sadness into a joyful meal with friends. Turn jealousy into respect and admiration and betrayal into healthy boundaries and an evolution of relationship values.

We can create a vision of this pain body to suit anything we want. Turn that memory of something that no longer serves us into a new aesthetic.

By the time I publish this blog I have already created a new vision for my pain body. It’s a soft purple blanket and it mostly lies dormant.

Freedom from Pain is possible Now.

Individuals who operate habitually with an Active Pain Body

When you are aware of the Pain Body, you may see it in others. If you know someone who seems to always have an active Pain Body, reduce exposure / strengthen healthy boundaries. It can become easier to walk away from individuals who are operating always in the Pain Body. It’s not personal.

A person who lives with an active Pain Body can be very destructive to themselves and others. They will find individuals who dance with them on their own frequency, and it won’t be you.

The better you become at dissolving your own Pain Body, the less likely it will be to get triggered by someone else’s, making it a bit easier to observe someone else’s Pain Body.

Depending on your relationship with this individual, direct them to resources like Eckhart Tolle, Gabor Maté, or therapists who have expertise in the Pain Body.

Take care of yourself and make a conscious effort to befriend and dissolve your own Pain Body. This will heal the human collective. Which is what we’ve all been called here to do.  


Ready to dissolve the Pain Body? Read or stream Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.
And stay in touch with my blog and podcast as I continue to share techniques, practices, resources, and knowledge.


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