I feel like this is a naive question, but I'm wondering what is the difference between experiencing discomfort and distress in meditation versus in daily life outside of meditation. Do the same states generate different results in each case, depending on the co-arising factors?

EDIT: For example, suffering in daily life might undergo rumination and even being acted upon. In meditation, perhaps the same suffering will be diminished by the arising qualities from meditation, like equanimity or compassion. Is this the case?


5 Answers 5


Meditation mustn't be limited to the formal meditation which is just done in a limited time. If a person doesn't do anything to be mindful in daily life, even having temporary calm in the formal meditation session would be difficult for him/her. Also such a practise would not effect the person in daily life, so the person would continue to experience negative mind states(and the person would "be" the negative mind states completely) without being able to observe them clearly.

If a person does such a practise, the daiy life suffering would capture the person completely and would completely influence his/her actions. And the suffering that a person experiences in the formal meditation would be "potentially" diminished or temporarily go away(but this is not guaranteed) and replaced by temporary calm, peace, compassion, equanimity etc. But If a person succeeds to do it in the formal meditation it would not have a continous effect in the person's life because only practising mindfulness all day long can change the structure of the mind and can lead a person to Nibbana.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.



Suffering in Meditation Versus in Daily Life

The difference comes down to whether or not one is mindful of the suffering. If not, then one might react with aversion towards present suffering and thereby cultivate further future suffering.

If one is mindful of the present suffering, one might remove it by passively observing it with mindfulness until it has been exhausted.

Be happy that the suffering is arising now and not in the future. Now you have an oppertunity to do away with it, meaning that the distance to Nibbana can be reduced.


If during meditation one reaches equanimity (upekkhā उपेक्खा), during the meditation practice, then there are no outflows. Which makes it sound impossible to achieve, but remember, one's practice may lead to the non-arising of suffering as well. It's not a naive question.

From saṃyuktāgama

  1. First Discourse on Not Knowing:

“A learned noble disciple understands as it really is bodily form, the arising of bodily form, the cessation of bodily form, the gratification of bodily form, the danger in bodily form, and the escape from bodily form. He understands as it really is feeling … perception … formations … consciousness, the arising of consciousness, the cessation of consciousness, the gratification of consciousness, the danger in consciousness, and the escape from consciousness. Therefore he does not follow after and turn around bodily form … feeling … perception … formations … consciousness.

“Because of not following after and turning around, he is liberated from bodily form, liberated from feeling … perception … formations … consciousness. I say, he is liberated from birth, old age, disease, death, worry, sorrow, vexation, and pain.”



From the perspective of someone practicing or developing the Noble Eight-Fold Path (versus an Arahat who has removed all cankers), a difference would the mindfulness.

When you are meditating, you are withdrawn from mundane bodily and verbal actions and contemplating on the Four Noble Truths. And you have more mindfulness about the body, feeling, etc. So when a feeling arises (whether it is painful, pleasurable, or neutral), you are quick to identify them as part of suffering. And they become the object of contemplation. Instead of reacting to them, you investigate - what is the arising phenomena, what is the cessation phenomena of what has arisen.

And how do you contemplate on the arising phenomena? You contemplate according to what the Buddha has said - one seeks delight in form, welcomes it, remains holding it. As a result delight in form arises. Delight in form is clinging. With clinging as a condition, existence come to be. With existence as a condition, birth. With birth as a condition, aging, sickness, death, etc. and this whole mass of suffering come to arise. Same for feeling, etc.

That way you see the origin of the pain or distress you have now.

Then you can contemplate on the cessation phenomena. Again you contemplate according to the Buddha - one does not seek delight in form, does not welcome it, does not remain holding. As a consequence delight in form ceases. When cessation of delight comes cessation of clinging. With cessation of clinging, cessation of existence. With cessation of existence, cessation of Birth. With cessation of birth, the whole mass of suffering ceases. Same with feeling, perception, etc.

That way you see the cessation of the pain or distress you have.

The amazing thing is, when you contemplate this way, your actual pains subside and joy & rapture starts to flow (due to seeing the Dhamma within your self). However, you have to be mindful again to apply the same investigation to the (now) pleasurable feeling due to joy and rapture.

You also start to value the cessation of bodily, verbal & mental actions that you do in day to day life instead of giving value to them. You also start to see the only real solution is Nibbana. All else cannot be trusted to last (even the concentration from meditation).

With Metta


Meditation is training ground for your mindfulness its a way for you to clear your mind and deal with the suffering step by step ,So when you go to the real life you can implement.Real life of course is much harder to deal with but you can make it easier by being mindful through meditation.

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