Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A New Earth: The Pain-Body

Jenn's thoughts and learnings from the fifth week of A New Earth: The Oprah Web Event.

Nothing ever happened in the past that can prevent you from being present now; and if the past cannot prevent you from being present now, what power does it have?
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Ah, the pain-body. There's some really good stuff to be learned and applied here with this chapter and segment of the A New Earth webinar. In addition to two stories that I've heard many times before and still just get so much out of, I had one really big Aha! moment that I'll share with you.

The Duck With a Human Mind
Eckhart tells this story in both The Power of Now and A New Earth. He was watching two ducks on a pond one day. When they got a little too close, perhaps in each other's territory, there was a big flutter of commotion and a brief battle ensued. They separated from each other, still agitated, and then both lifted themselves up and shook their wings vigorously, releasing the energy from the fight and leaving them free to float away peacefully. It's a story that shows you how our human mind and human thought processes are not always a gift. When two people have an altercation like this, they walk away muttering to themselves, retelling the story, preparing themselves for how they'll act next time based on this occurrence. People relive the pain of a single moment hundreds if not thousands, or even millions, of times, causing ongoing pain instead of temporary pain. There is a great lesson to learn from the ducks about experiencing the emotion and then just shaking your wings, letting it slide right off of you, not telling yourself the story over and over again reliving the pain.

Carrying the Past
Oh how I love this Zen story. I've heard it dozens of times, but gain deeper awareness with each retelling. In Eckhart's words:

"Two Zen monks, Tanzan and Ekido, . . . were talking along a country road that had become exremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn't restrain himself any longer. 'Why did you carry that girl across the road?' he asked. 'We monks are not supposed to do things like that.' 'I put the girl down hours ago,' said Tanzan. 'Are you still carrying her?'"

The past is past. The present is all there is. Let it go, let it go, let it go.

The Monster Within
I've spent more than 15 years connecting with the wisdom I have within me. My big Aha! this week was about the monster within--the pain-body. Do you have anyone in your life that despite all your best efforts, you still clash with, or perhaps they still push your buttons like no one else can? I've got a couple of people in my life that it seems like no matter what I do or say, they find a way to be upset with me, to find fault with me, and ultimately, to push my buttons. Eckhart's description of this as the pain-body really opened my eyes, made me realize that when I feel like the rug has just been pulled out from underneath me and the person I'm interacting with has just undergone a personality change, it's really their pain-body coming out to play. And because these pain-bodies have had so much success getting a reaction out of me in the past, they are going to keep coming at me until I find a way to be fully present with these individuals. Eckhart's advice: don't react, don't judge, just be compassionate, stand still in your awareness and allow the moment to be what it is. If you can remain present and not engage in the drama, the pain-body will either subside or go find someone else to play with. The key there is to remain present, as most pain-bodies are highly skilled in triggering unconsciousness in even the most aware people. This is definitely one for me to practice, alongside increasing my awareness of my own pain-body and its methods for manipulating me and those around me.

Photo: "duck on a pond," originally uploaded by Peter Shanks

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