06 May 2009

The Pain-Body and The Presence

Dear drummers,

The picture of me at left was taken about 18 years ago, from a semester-long mask-making class I taught at Winona State University. I named the mask “Mr. Doom.” He was the voice constantly chattering in my mind telling me, “everything you think, everything you say and everything you do has always turned out shitty and it always will.” I worked with students to build masks of their own inner voices, and the class culminated with each student performing a masked dance/monologue as that inner voice.

I didn’t realize until years later that what I was teaching my students, and what I was doing for myself, is what the superstar spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle calls “distancing yourself from the pain-body,” and what the shamans call “allowing yourself to be danced by spirits.” Both acts are intended to move the chattering voices from the inside to the outside so you can understand what they want from you.

Tolle describes the pain-body as an energy field which almost everyone carries within them, made up of old emotional pain. The pain-body generates a story for you that defines your actions and decisions. The stories have titles like “No one can be trusted,” “I’m in this all alone,” “I have to fight to survive,” “There is never enough money,” “Life will always let you down,” and in some people’s case, “I am shitty at everything I think, say and do.”

One way to recognize the pain-body is when your “buttons” are pushed-when you over-react to a fairly simple comment or situation (like when I opened an email from my boss this morning saying I had not included some of his edits in a document so it was a “good thing” he looked it over. Mr. Doom began dancing wildly, chanting in that guttural croak, “He finally found out you’re shitty! You’re gonna get fired! You’re gonna die homeless, alone and crazy and your children will forget you ever existed!”).

Tolle says that the majority of our interactions with one another are interactions between our pain-bodies. That is a powerful statement. Read it again, and think about your interactions. He goes onto say, hauntingly, “You don’t just marry your spouse; you marry their pain body.” Argh.

The first and most important thing we can do on our spiritual path is to free ourselves from the delusions of the pain-body’s manufactured, false, tiny reality. When we do, we find ourselves living on “A New Earth” (the title of his most recent book), an earth wherein we feel connected to everything, can take great pleasure in the smallest things, can shed ourselves of compulsions to acquire things, and can live in the “Now;” an earth in which we are viscerally aware of a blessing Presence.

Wait a minute-this is exactly what we do in our Firday drums!

This Friday we will work specifically with Tolle’s image, and we will have a wonderful gift given to us by one of our drumming kinsman. I think its going to be an amazing evening, and powerful.

See you soon,

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jaimie...I call it the Negative Mind and find it's very effective to just tell it to "get lost"...I actually use stronger language than that when needed.

    Devin and I will miss the great drum circles, but we'll stay connected by reading the blog!

    Kim & Devin Antonson