Pain Body - What It Is and How To Be Free

Becoming aware of what the pain body is can liberate you from it.

Are you fed up of suffering with negative emotions? Do you wonder why you still suffer and can not effectively control your suffering? When you realise that negative emotions can not be "controlled", that you can not do anything about them, then you can free yourself from them.


What The Pain Body Is

Pain body is the intensification of ego in the form of negative emotion. The term pain body seems to have come (as far as I am aware) from the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. I can think of no other name that really suits it better than this. You could call it suffering, past pain, painful emotional energy, pain energy, vasana or pain consciousness.

I will stick to calling it the pain body. The pain body is a kind of life form, a kind of energy that feeds off emotional pain. It consists of past emotional pain that has not been fully accepted or released, and feeds off more of it for survival.  You may experience it as anxiety, anger, depression, or some other negative emotional state. You may experience it strongly, or it may be very weak for you - a mild discomfort in the background.

Pain body can be personal to you, inherited through your family, or part of the collective human pain body. Where it comes from does not really matter, as the way to deal with it is always the same.

Have you ever wondered why you experience negative or painful emotions when you would rather not? It seems undesirable yet you still seem to suffer with it. This is because the pain body enjoys it.

Be alert to something inside of you that seeks to become angry, fearful, stressed or in any way negative. 

As you feel pain, see if anything gets a strange enjoyment from it. This is the pain body. Your awareness of it breaks identification with it, which therefore weakens it. The only mistake that needs to be corrected is to see that it is not you. It is a separate energy that is attached to you. 

Your pain body is activated all by itself. It feeds itself by talking over your stream of thought and charging each thought with its own emotional energy. The thought feeds the emotion further, and the thought-emotion loop then continues for a while as you are left feeling emotional pain. Unless you bring conscious awareness to it, this continues until the pain body has renewed itself (as described in Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth"). It then subsides until it awakens again at a later moment.

Your pain body can be triggered by many things - situations, events, activities, people or unconscious thoughts.

One of the strongest aspects of pain body I personally experienced was an intense heat throughout the body, coupled to a thought stream that felt frantic, impatient, angry, uncomfortable and on edge. It was becoming so bad that I could not even eat a meal or do the dishes without having a pain body attack. I know from experience that the simple method below is effective in freeing you from your own painful emotions.


How To Become Free

The pain body requires your consciousness to survive. This means that for its survival you have to be identified with it. You have to believe you are the creator of these feelings e.g "I am nervous" or "I am stressed". If there is any "I" in the feelings, that means the pain body has a hold on you.

The pain body is not you at all. It activates all by itself and it subsides all by itself. Remember this as you observe your pain body.

Do not try to actively control or resist your negative emotion. This actually gives it strength and reality. Do not try to think your way out of it either, since all of your thoughts at that moment are the thoughts of the pain body anyway.

Instead…let it be completely. Pure awareness is all that is required to break identification with your pain body. Once you break identification, it loses power over you and begins to weaken.

There is really nothing you can do except be the awareness of it. When you are aware of it, a gap is created between you and the emotion. What used to be "I am nervous" is now just a temporary feeling within your space of awareness.

That is it - do not be tricked by the pain body into thinking that you will never be free, or you should not be feeling an emotion, or there must be something you have to do or resist to eliminate this pain energy.

Do not judge or resist it - as this makes it stronger. The judgements and resistance that arise to pain is the pain body itself - its judgements and resistance strengthens itself. Just allow it to be completely, feel the power behind it and how it effects your thoughts. This helps you regain your own consciousness.

Inhabit your inner body or be aware of your breath. Feel that you are the space that this emotion and/or thought stream is playing out in. Take "yourself" out of what is happening and just observe. Be quiet and just watch, feel.

All of a sudden it does not seem so bad, the feeling is just there and there is a background of spaciousness and peace emerging. It is all part of the "isness" of the present moment - which is all life ever is.

You may even feel that you do not mind the pain or emotion being there any more - it can leave whenever it wants. Meanwhile you remain as the peaceful observing consciousness.


Suffering Is Your Spiritual Teacher

Treat your pain as a way to wake up. It is a teacher, a cleanser, a purifier that forces you into a heightened state of consciousness and closer in touch with what you really are.

It says "if you do not accept the present moment and everything within it, you will suffer even more. It is your choice". It forces you into enlightenment when you treat it the right way.

It seems most of us need to undergo suffering like this before we can wake up out of our false sense of selves.

So welcome any suffering that arises. This removes its power over you completely, and instantly puts you at peace because you are fully welcoming the present moment.


Acceptance Transmutes Into Peace

Most of our emotional suffering comes from resistance to any suffering. If you were to completely accept pain (emotional or physical), you would not find it so unbearable. The resistance to pain is part of the pain itself. This is expressed well in this quote from Herman Hesse:

Suffering only hurts because you fear it. Suffering only hurts because you complain about it. It pursues you only because you flee from it.

You must not flee, you must not complain, you must not fear. You must love.

Because you know quite well, deep within you, there is a single magic, a single power, a single salvation, and a single happiness, and that is called loving.

Well then, love your suffering. Do not resist it, do not flee from it.

Taste how sweet it is in its essence, give yourself to it, do not meet it with aversion.

It is only aversion that hurts, nothing else.

- this implies complete surrender, full awareness, total acceptance of your inner state. No resistance, and in fact a loving embrace of pain can be very helpful. This transmutes the pain into peace, love and awareness as fast as possible, as suffering (particularly emotional suffering) can not survive for long in the presence of love, acceptance and nonresistance.

So even in the midst of pain body, you can be free. Being free does not necessarily mean there is no pain present within you. It just means you are not affected by it. You are so free that you do not mind if it is there or not - you remain the same. This takes you beyond suffering.

Resistance also arises when you experience physical pain - it is as if the physical pain controls your thoughts with a voice of resistance and emotional anguish.

Pain body is transcended through awareness, non-judgement and acceptance. Then you can allow the pain body to be without pushing it away. Paradoxically, the less resistance and effort you make to get rid of emotional pain, the quicker it leaves.

What you resist persists, what you look at disappears.
— Neale Donald Walsh

If you found this article resonating with you, and you would like to go deeper into freedom and releasing any negative emotions you experience, check out my book "Undisturbed: A Guide To Emotional Wellness" for more...