New-age author Eckhart Tolle, conjured up the term pain-body, to explain the repressed emotional pain viscerally carried around inside a person. And most of us carry some kind of pain-body which is manifested as physical and psychological issues. Eventually, this becomes part of our personality traits.
Emotions have energy that has to be expressed, and when we are not allowed to express them, particularly the negative emotions our bodies usually bear the brunt.
I have lived with scoliosis and constant pain for most of my life. The unexpressed grief of my mother’s death and the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse which I was not allowed to express got stuck in my body.
I was aware that I was repressing my feelings, but then what choice did I have. Moreover, I thought I was being strong, not showing I was sad, angry, lonely, raging, resentful, hurt. What’s worse I covered it all with fake laughter.
When we fail to address our emotional pain, it usually expresses itself via our minds and bodies. Pain is our body’s alarm system, paying attention to it can save one a lifetime of suffering.
However, growing up in a dysfunctional home does not allow for the free expression of our needs and feelings. Even basic needs are not met. There were times when my father would tell us we could not eat ‘his food’ because we went to my maternal grandmother’s house who he hated. Even my medical condition of scoliosis was ignored till it became all too apparent.
The Pain-Body Overtakes Our Psyche
Having to repress our needs and feelings pushes all our – pain, anger, confusion, betrayal, etc, underground, deep within our psyche. After some time we feel numb, anesthetized to our environment. We are able to survive for the time being.
Nonetheless, when a person has so much repressed emotion he/she very rarely shows his/her ‘authentic self’ and the ‘pain-body responds.
And it is through this wounded pain-body we view and relate to the world. This erroneous worldview is not just a memory of our past. It becomes the schema or belief system about who we believe we are. ‘That we are flawed, not good enough, not lovable, have to earn love, to keep on giving, sacrifice for others, not saying no, and on and on. This codependent belief system becomes a heavy burden that eventually breaks us down.
Scoliosis – My Pain-Body
My pain-body manifested as scoliosis along with feelings of low self-esteem and feeling lack of self-worth. This was covered up by people-pleasing and becoming a full-blown codependent. The resentment from unmet needs further exacerbated my pain-body.
Releasing the pain-body takes time, it takes support both financially and emotionally, it takes safety, it takes practice. It is not easy to heal from childhood trauma. There are so many little things we need to do to change the brain wiring that will allow us to let go of our pain-body.
Healing The Pain-Body – Becoming A Witness
Healing requires we become aware of our feelings and emotions. Try to understand what emotions are currently active and why they are active.
According to Tolle,
you must simply observe the painful emotion, and be the witness. The pain-body may have something to teach us, and by becoming aware of it we can receive its message and wisdom Then gradually, its energy will decrease.
Wish it were that easy, just observing painful emotions of hurt, anger, loneliness, rejection.
In my opinion, you cannot do this alone, you need the support of an enlightened witness – a friend, sibling, spouse, adult child, therapist, online forums. Just one person is enough. We are not built to be self-sufficient, particularly in our most painful moments.
I have been fortunate I have the support of my adult son. Only after he mirrored back that I was worthy as I was and did not have to constantly perform to win approval did my unbearable feeling of being ‘not good enough’ dissipate.
Witnessing the Pain-Body & What It Can Teach Us
Other Ways To Release The Pain-Body
In my opinion, releasing emotional pain takes more than one modality. You need to get it out of your mind and body.
What helps me release painful emotions from my mind:
Writing Away Your Pain – JournalSpeak
For me, writing created the much-needed space and distance from my painful history. It has proven to be an effective tool to heal my traumatic past.
For most of us who had to repress our feelings, we end up constantly ruminating about the hurts and rage. There is only so much you can share, and even talking to your therapist you may feel inhibited about expressing those raw, intense feelings. That’s where journaling or writing about your inner turmoil helps. Psychotherapist Nicole Sach, the creator of JournalSpeak, states that daily writing about our internal emotional struggles is an effective and simple way to tackle emotional and physical chronic pain.
Sound Healing Music
Sound healing music and guided imagery have played an important role in my healing. Headphones are recommended for optimal results. Your brain needs to feel the vibration of the sounds directly – the sound resonance will change the way the neurons in your brain fire causing an alteration in your thought patterns from feeling stressed to feeling relaxed.
The shift is gradual but the transformation is permanent. The changes happen on the cellular level. Sound healing works but faith and patience are needed.
Releasing Stuck Emotions In My Physical Body
Yoga, walking, running, boxing, martial arts are some of the popular ways to release stuck emotional energy from our bodies.
However, me being lazy-bum, I need easy fixes, that can be done anytime and anywhere.
I have stumbled upon one exercise that is super easy, quick and works on both the mind and body – crawling. When under stress, we are unable to process our emotions because we end up being stuck in our emotional right brain. Our left brain is locked out. In order to clear our minds, we need to reset the connection between the two hemispheres.
Furthermore, crawling calms our vagus nerve and improves our vestibular system. Thereby, making us more coordinated and balanced both mentally and physically.
The horse stance is an important posture in Asian martial arts. It not only works on your physical body it also has a profound effect on your mental state – developing internal energy and stabilizing the mind.
The horse stance works the diaphragm and psoas muscles. Those are the primary muscles connected to unresolved trauma. Since a month now, I have included the Teacup Qigong variation with the horse-stance and found it more effective in releasing the tight muscles of my upper body, particularly my shoulders and neck.
Also, having regular massages, myofascial release, craniosacral and chiropractic care, and other similar bodywork will help release stored up emotions. Touch is primally encoded into our mind-body system since birth. Slow and repetitive touch is the most basic of human interactions. Even going for a facial or pedicure will put you in a relaxed state.
Giving myself a mini face massage is a nightly routine. Our face is an area where we hold lots of tension – particularly around the eyes. When we massage our face we trigger our relaxation response, sending the message to our brain – we are safe and supported.
Even a few moments of calm can slowly change our brain from a stressed-up state to calm.
Healing Happens When We Let Go
It is normal to feel discouraged when we are trying to let go of long-held emotional pain. We may feel stuck, unable to move forward. Nevertheless, the only way out is to keep pushing on in faith. I have had to wade through so much of muck and slowly let go of the hurt, anger, resentment while giving up the hope for love and acceptance. It has been a tough battle of letting go of my expectations.
Accepting Don Miguel’s 2nd Agreement, that people’s treatment of me has nothing to do with my inherent worth, has been life-changing. I am worthy and lovable as I am.
My pain-body is getting less and less and this has substantially reduced my physical pain. Recently, I went shopping and I was surprised to note that my back did not hurt even after being out the whole day. It feels so amazing, this lightness in mind and body. The weight I had been carrying for so long is slowly melting away.