eckhart tolle teachings

The Pain-Body: A Doorway to Transformation

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Moments of reactivity are potent opportunities to transform your consciousness.

When your pain-body arises, you can learn what the most common triggers are that activate it. The next time you suddenly become upset about something, pay attention to what just happened in your environment. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Did someone say something that caused you to react?
  • What was it they said?
  • What was the tone of their voice?
  • Do they remind you of someone from your childhood that hurt or humiliated you?

  • Did something happen that caused you to react?
  • Is this something that often upsets you?
  • Do you notice a pattern of reactivity with regard to this kind of event?


When these kinds of triggers occur, you can immediately see them for what they are and by doing so enter a heightened state of alertness. Within a second or two, you will also notice the emotional reaction that is the arising pain-body, but in that state of alert Presence, you won't identify with it, which means the pain-body cannot take you over and become the voice in your head.

If you are with your partner at the time, you may tell him or her: “What you just said (or did) triggered my pain-body.” Have an agreement with your partner that whenever either of you says or does something that triggers the other person's pain-body, you will immediately mention it. In this way, the pain-body can no longer renew itself through drama in the relationship and instead of pulling you into unconsciousness, will help you become fully present.

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Every time you are present when the pain-body arises, some of the pain-body's negative emotional energy will burn up, as it were, and become transmuted into Presence. The rest of the pain-body will quickly withdraw and wait for a better opportunity to rise again, that is to say, when you are less conscious.

A better opportunity for the pain-body to arise may come whenever you lose Presence, perhaps after you have had a few drinks or while watching a violent film. The tiniest negative motion, such as being irritated or anxious, can also serve as a doorway through which the pain-body can return. The pain-body needs your unconsciousness. It cannot tolerate the light of Presence.

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