Overwhelming experience of painful feelings

Are there any suttas that mentions things about constant overwhelming experience of painful feelings when a person is practicing observation throughout the day.

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A few passages that come to mind can be found in Ven Analayo’s book Deepening Insight at pages 17, 19 and 48 for example.


“Bhikkhus, the uninstructed worldling feels a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. The instructed noble disciple too feels a pleasant feeling, a painful feeling, and a neither-painful-nor-pleasant feeling. Therein, bhikkhus, what is the distinction, the disparity, the difference between the instructed noble disciple and the uninstructed worldling?”

(Its worthwhile starting with SN36.1 and reading the entire set in sequence!)


It’s normal to experience some pain in meditation, but constant overwhelming pain is not normal and not part of a meditation path. Please see a doctor if you haven’t already!


If one is pricked by a finger nail lightly, then it is of no issue for little time.But If one is pricked by a finger nail lightly for significant amount of time then it is painful and overwhelming only to change after significant amount of time.

Often it is followed by pleasant sensation for significant time(say 5-6 hours) but then again significant episode of painful sensation.

Impermanence is not getting established but fear of impending doom ,that the person will now have to go through painful experience again is established.

Does sutta say anything about this?

If this is unskillful,then does how does one become skillful?
What is unskillful here?
How can one not fear pain?

Should the person experiencing this, distract himself by watching something funny or by involving himself in objects of senses(food, tv ,music etc).

Does sutta say anything about this?

Thank you Bhante Sujato for your kind concern but I have seen doctor already.I am normal.Must be something wrong in my practice.

Does sutta answers where mendicants go wrong in their practice?

Thank you sood for the pdf.

This was helpful but I will have to keep on reading it again and again to properly understand where my understanding is wrong.

I will ask questions if I get nowhere with my inquiry.

Ok great, that’s reassuring! Nonetheless, persistent overwhelming pain is not part of a normal meditation path, and no, it is not discussed in the suttas outside of cases of severe illness.

I’m wondering if you have a local meditation teacher you can speak to about this?


I do not have local meditation teacher, with whom I can speak about this.Would you like to recommend someone?

??? Goenka? I’d definitely recommend against that. They are quite clear about not accepting people with active medical or psychological issues.

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Bhikkhuji khemarato, your reply seem to suggest I have active medical or psychological issues.I assure you that is not the case.


To me “constant overwhelming pain” is basically the definition of a “medical or psychological issue” :sweat_smile: Perhaps you could explain more precisely what you mean by your original post then?

Please note that if the descriptions are likely to veer into personal medical or psychological issues or personal meditation experiences then it is best to engage via PMs as opposed to open posts.


Hi Sim, I don’t mean to be rude, but I think it is difficult for anyone to say anything about what you have brought to discussion here, because 1) it’s not clear what you mean by practicing observation and 2) you could be referring to … well anything … from being in the middle of a toxic workplace, to mooning over someone who has no interest in you, to some weird S&M thing going on we don’t know about, and don’t particularly want to know about.

As well, you have referred to yourself as though you are some type of machine - using objective language to describe yourself in an unhealthy way.

Likely, this particular comment is concerning to others, but at any rate, it at least is concerning to me.

Maybe, please, reflect on this and ask yourself what it is you think you are doing.


Hi Megger,

I was simply trying to follow the guidelines from FAQ.
Trying to keep my sentences and phrasing as not-personal / im-personal as possible.

You also expressed your discontent on vagueness of the question I posed.

Practice of observation could be “on” anything.
I didn’t want to narrow it down to just one thing.

Sensation, feeling, breath, thought,etc all these happen inside you simultaneously.Our observation could be on any of these things.

The important part that buddha teach us,is to be mindful of our reactions to what we are “observing”.

If you are observing something,to which the reaction of mind is aversion (mind’s usual reaction to experience of painful feeling), then we practice observation of experience of painful feeling.

My question was in relation to this “practice of observation when the painful “feeling experience” persist and doesn’t seem to change for significant time”, because it is then overwhelming over a time.
Question: What should I then do here? I cannot stop observation of painful feeling experience because that defeats the whole purpose.No observation = no wisdom of impermanence established.

(In my experience, they( Sensation, feeling, breath, thought,etc) are sometimes connected or having simultaneous effect on each other and here is insight.)

Since we are on Buddhism,and not reddit ,i didn’t felt the need to mention it , as observation is basically on (generalising again)you only.

I though didn’t understand what you meant by :

“2) you could be referring to … well anything … from being in the middle of a toxic workplace, to mooning over someone who has no interest in you, to some weird S&M thing going on we don’t know about, and don’t particularly want to know about.”

You did said :

Again trying to follow FAQ guidelines.
Trying to keep my language as depersonalised as possible , maintaining sutta as the center of discussion.

I did get my solution for the question I posted from Bhikkhu khemaratoji.It also helped add more clarity to pdf shared in this thread and Sutta suggested from SN 36.1 to 36.6 .

I had personal message with , bhikkhu khemaratoji
I intend to ask him to post it in relation to sutta in this thread so that someone who is in same dilemma will be helped.

I do recognise the possibility,that the question I posed ,might be interpreted in many other ways.
I intend to add more details in to it too.

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Good you received a response. Still not clear whether you are referring to meditation or what is translated as situational awareness in the suttas, but @Khemarato.bhikkhu has a good egg, so he can be helpful for you.

As far as I know you aren’t supposed to dwell. So maybe that’s what you need to be pulled out of.



Are you sitting in one position and then feeling pain in your knees perhaps or in another body part that persists and you refuse to move, scratch, stretch or relieve that sense of pain and instead fight it with willpower? :pray:

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No.It is not like that.But yes I do realised later that will power was definitely involved in my overwhelming-ness.:blush:

I was in awareness of certain sensation pattern throughout the day as I am doing daily activities.Other pattern didn’t bothered me as they changed or feeling towards it changed.But the sensation pattern in a particular area of gut remained same and ,though light in nature,became overwhelming in experience over time.I wanted sutta or detailed explanation of it which dives into this issue.Bhante khemaratoji has provided me with solution.I applied it.I am going to post our summarised conversation after I get green signal from him.
I am expecting a sutta reference from him ,which I will also post and which I should reflect on , whenever I get in such situations.

Earlier reply did mention few suttas and explanation in a pdf.
I wish to summarise whole, creating a complete answer.