Does equanimity prevent negative utility?

Even though I’ve only just be­gun dab­bling in med­i­ta­tion, I be­lieve that it is an in­cred­ibly pow­er­ful tool. I do have one worry though re­lat­ing to what ex­actly counts as suffer­ing. If I scald my­self, this trig­gers my pain nerves to fire and it is pos­si­ble that this pro­duces nega­tive util­ity, even if my con­scious mind is able to main­tain com­plete equa­nim­ity?

And while it might pro­duce less nega­tive util­ity in most cases, it is pos­si­ble that some­one who can achieve equa­nim­ity might vol­un­tar­ily choose to put them­selves in situ­a­tions where they ex­pe­rience far more suffer­ing than they ever would with­out this abil­ity with the end re­sult be­ing net nega­tive for them. A large part of what wor­ries me is that I am mas­sively un­cer­tain about this is­sue and I hon­estly don’t have any idea of how we could set­tle it con­clu­sively.

Some fac­tors that might make us more likely to be­lieve this is the case:

  • If we be­lieve that in­sects feel pain that is ax­iolog­i­cally rele­vant, then this would demon­strate that higher-level pro­cess­ing isn’t a nec­es­sary component

  • Mul­ti­a­gent mod­els of the brain make it more plau­si­ble that one might ex­pe­rience pain, whilst an­other isn’t

  • Panpsy­chism could be taken to sug­gest that it is pos­si­ble for in­di­vi­d­ual com­po­nents of the brain to suffer independently