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The Pain Body

Many stressful emotional patterns repeat themselves again and again.

This is the invisible threat of Self-Sabotage. And it is invisible simply because it is an unconscious pattern that repeats itself.

Who doesn’t know a couple for instance, who love each other deeply, and yet have regular conflicts, often about the same meaningless things that they argued about decades ago?  Who hasn’t had the thought during very happy times: “This is too good to last!” Who hasn’t noticed repetitive patterns of self-inflicted suffering?

Who is not touched by the impact of recurring times of sadness, anxiety, anger, or self-defeating behaviors?

There is an unseen force that causes us to unconsciously seek pain over and over again. Of course no one would do this consciously. No one likes to suffer. And yet we unconsciously create repetitive and unnecessary conflicts.

These self-destructive habit patterns are known as the Pain Body. It is a powerful unconscious force with great momentum. It’s purpose is to continue the pattern – to bring us pain.

In his book “A New EarthEckhart Tolle describes the pain body as a ‘psychic parasite’ that possesses you and causes you suffering. Everyone, but the truly enlightened, is infected to some extent.

In most people the Pain Body is dormant for some time and then awakens to assert itself and replenish its energies. And it derives its energy from pain. Pain is its food.

Here is an example of how you can notice the pain body:

It can happen sometimes in the beginning of an argument with someone. You catch yourself saying some unkind words and you think, “Why am I saying this? I know where this will lead. It will lead to a conflict and I don’t want a conflict.” But then those words come out of your mouth anyway and the conflict takes its course.

At first, before the Pain Body took over, there was still enough of you awake to have this awareness, but not enough to stop the words. Then, after the conflict, the Pain Body has fed itself and goes back to sleep again.

Maybe you thought, “My God what possessed me to say the things I said?” Well now you know.

The Pain Body is the shadow aspect of our being, the emotional part of the ego. If we want to live in harmony with ourselves and the world, we need to dissolve it.

We create our own reality through our thinking and our emotional patterns. Until we change them, the same problems are likely to happen again and again, including our tendency to self-sabotage to keep the patterns in place. This is how we can stay stuck for a long time.

Some interesting self-sabotage events are completely unforeseeable events that interfere with your life. Most people would not ever suspect that such events can have anything to do with their own subconscious mind – until such events repeat themselves at similar junctions in life. Another form of self-sabotage are what we might call ‘metaphysical delusions,’ the conviction that grace will take care of you, that all is really fine, or that no action on your part is necessary. The truth however is that grace comes to us in exact proportion to self-effort. While grace is free and abundant, we have to make the effort to become able vessels of that grace.

The resolution of this challenge comes when our yearning to experience the true freedom of liberation from suffering has become stronger than the old habits of interference.

How does that happen? This inner maturing can be accomplished by two forces:

  • by suffering and
  • by a decision to do what is necessary to reach this freedom, aided by a deep yearning or desire for it.

Yes, we have a choice here: if we are able to make the decision to free ourselves proactively from the inner obstructions, we can avoid the necessity for suffering to give us this motivation. In this way we can prevent unknown suffering in the future!

~ You do this by becoming increasingly aware of the way you create suffering for yourself through your reactions to people and situations. Sometimes you may be able to feel the subtle onset of internal pain. Shedding light into these situations will dissolve the pain body. It can only exist in the darkness of unconscious motivation.

A dedication to a transformative practice, with your whole heart and mind, will enable you to have the necessary time and commitment to change some of these unconscious dynamics. It can empower you to overcome the contraction of the fear-based aspects of ego, and open you to the astounding presence of the Higher Self.  This alone is true freedom.

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What moves you forward on the path to you


“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. So the pain-body, when it has taken you over, will create a situation in your life that reflects back its own energy frequency for it to feed on. Pain can only feed on pain. Pain cannot feed on joy. It finds it quite indigestible.”

Eckhart Tolle



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"People and situations do not cause you pain.
Your thoughts and emotions about them do.
You can change those reactions.
This is the key to freedom."
- Ram Giri