One evening, after a day of challenging interactions, my daughter had what I call a meltdown.  This is a moment where she can’t communicate what she needs and her body seems to be in turmoil.  These moments are the toughest for me because like many parents, I have a hard time responding to her in any helpful way.  The meltdown usually comes out of the blue and does not appear to be rooted in any particular problem that I can help her solve.  Frustrating doesn’t even cover it.

On this particular occasion, after about 30 minutes of trying to sort out what  was wrong, I arrived at a point where I was completely taxed and was ready to walk out and let her work it out on her own.  But right at that moment, words from Eckhart Tolle’s book,  A New Earth, popped into my head and I was inspired to try a different approach.

I took a deep breath and said, “What does it feel like when you get like this?”

She stopped for a brief second of contemplation  and said  ‘I can’t sit still, I feel yucky inside and I’m upset and frustrated’.  As she relayed this she seemed to become more agitated.  With extra emphasis she carried out the standard meltdown motions of placing her hands over her face, running them through her hair and across her forehead, rocking her body, and eventually dropping her head into the pillow.

It was painful to watch and I began to waiver on my course.

But then, what I asked her next changed the whole situation.  I said to her, “Do you want to know what that is when you feel like that and what causes it?”

Body still

Hands down

Eyes open

“Yes Mom!”

Deep breathe.

Well darling, its called your pain body.

“How do I get rid of it?”

Sitting up

Hands clasped

Eyes wide

I could feel her excitement.

I asked her if anything bad was happening to her right now.  She thought for a moment, looked around the room and said, “Well, no.”  I then asked her what was happening right now in this moment, where she was, and who she was with.  As we explored the answers to these simple questions she began to see that what was bothering her and causing her pain at bedtime had nothing to do with what was actually happening, but everything to do with worrying about what might happen and thinking about what occurred in the past.  When you are eight this means thinking about what happened at school that day and what might possibly happen tomorrow.

Eventually, through a moment of togetherness that I will never forget, we arrived at this.

When you get angry, frustrated or sad, ask yourself, ‘What is causing that?’

My pain body.

Where does it come from?

Negative thoughts and thoughts about the past or future.

How do you make it go away?

Return to the present.  It has no power in the present.

What is the only moment you have?

This moment.

A Perfect Present Moment






I am so grateful to be her mom.

Meet your pain body
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8 thoughts on “Meet your pain body

  • 1 May, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Mel – I have tears rolling down my face. This is the most beautiful post and such a powerful, powerful lesson for your daughter (and at 8!). She is so lucky to have you as her mom.

    And it is a wonderful reminder for all of us. Be present. Be mindful. Be happy.

    So much love to you xo

    • 2 May, 2013 at 6:07 am

      Thanks Tracy – I am so grateful she lets me have these conversations with her!

      Melanie xo

  • 2 May, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Hey Mel, your message is loud and clear. Thanks for the reminder, live in the moment. You are blessed with great children. Love Auntie Shirley

    • 2 May, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Thanks Auntie! Where most of us get stuck is in thinking that we can “do” something with our thoughts. When we are stressed about what did happen or feeling anxious about something that might happen we are usually not in the place that we can act on whatever is bothering us. It is only in the present that action can happen. I have to remind myself of that all the time!

      Much love,
      Melanie xo

  • 2 May, 2013 at 6:54 am

    this is one of the most simple and practicle, and yet complicated, risk taking and brave ways I have seen Eckhart’s analogy of the pain body used! So proud of you so excited for you and Sid and also so deeply grateful for the way you make it all seem so effortless to pay attention to the “NOW”
    I know we have to remind ourselves ,the real us and the ego us ( to let go of the ego)…oh that ego… 😉 to be present now…..but somehow you are growing in leaps and bounds and doing it with speed! wonderful wonderful!
    Your children are going to be grateful for it as they will understand early in life that being present in the moment right now…now …now ….is all that you have. Thank you for being YOU!
    Love Cindy

  • 2 May, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    You, my friend, are brilliant. Sydney is just as lucky to have you as you are to have her.
    Much love,

  • 17 December, 2014 at 10:28 pm


    Beautiful stuff. As a father of an 8 year old darling I felt so connected to this. My baby struggles with her own little ticks that she does not understand not do we. Together we work on solutions. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS.

    • 18 December, 2014 at 6:11 am

      Thank-you Jason. I think all parents face these moments where we are just lost on what to do next. Letting them know that we are by their side even if we don’t have all the answers is what matters the most. I am certain that you are an amazing Dad and that she knows you are always there for her!


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