many people i know, including myself, find the concept that E. Tolle uses, ‘the pain body,’ to be helpful to understanding of their experience of the world, whether, frequently or infrequently. from experience the frequently-experienced is the more exhausting of the two and infrequently is almost tolerable.
the pain body is, as i understand it, the part of self that is adept at accumulating ‘bad’ experiences, connecting them to each other, and recruiting any new painful stimuli into the experience. all pain is activated all the time in this state. formerly neutral experiences can even take on a fear that you missed that you were being hurt or shamed at the time they occurred and now feel quite awful. (learn its distinctive voice ‘this always happens’ ‘you never’ ‘you should(n’t) have’ ‘ ‘ – so that you can identify it when it starts)
i should add here, the pain body isn’t malicious, it’s not trying to hurt you, it’s not trying to make you miserable, it’s not trying to ruin your life! it just does.
understanding that it is just in extreme distress and pain and really needs some soothing, a balm, calm, stillness, a rest, and respite. it’s easy to misunderstand the pain body’s intention because it appears harsh, violent, panicked, accusatory, angry tone (now you know why you appear that way sometimes too!)
we know from the latest findings in the study of chronic pain that this phenomena is a neurological-body with a life of its own. it’s true that ‘neurons that fire together wire together’ and we get a compounding effect that is additive, then starts multiplying, takes on geometric proportions, and can simply make life unbearable.
this concept is helpful to some for understanding the intensity of the present moment.
of course, the picture would not be complete without mentioning the ‘pain body’s’ ability to anticipate more pain in the future and in doing so further making ‘now’ hopeless.
if there is any way to lessen the devastation of this process it must be found. understanding the ‘pain body’ doesn’t take away the pain but can reduce the suffering pain causes.
i’ll write next about developing a self-soothing practice, developing a plan for dealing with extreme distress, and making a life worth living.
©12/04/11 jon ubick, psy.d.