A mental factor is psycho physical state that we can recognise - e.g anger, anxiety, doubt, bliss. There are wholesome ones and unwholesome ones. We meditate to cultivate the wholesome ones. After a while we arrive at the seven factors of awakening - these are the factors that underpin a truly wholesome mind. They can appear in any order at any time, but there is a causal sequence that we can follow.
- Mindfulness - we establish bare attention and clear comprehension of our experience. If you have mindfulness established it is difficult to behave badly.
- Investigation - we use mindfulness to see how things change in the mind. We see emptiness, thinking, joy and many other things.
- Energy - with mindfulness and investigation, the unwholesome states of mind of reduced. This allows energy to manifest. This feeds into further investigation.
- Joy, rapture - after bouncing around mindfulness, investigation and energy for a while there is an intensification of physical pleasantness. Eventually this reaches a threshold and bursts through our being as rapture.
- Tranquillity - now we are into common meditation territory. Rapture is nice but gives way to tranquillity which is super delicious without the physical surges.
- Samadhi - tranquillity leads to a steadiness of the mind that is refreshing and clear.
- Equanimity - finally we reach a balanced state of mind that is calm and balanced and in the world. We see arising and passing away, we see the dissatisfaction of life, we see the self as ephemeral and a function of its environment.
Keep an eye out for them.