There are four states of absorption, known as the first jhāna, second jhāna, third jhāna, and fourth jhāna, that are characterized by progressively refined qualities of joy, pleasure, equanimity, peace, stability, mental agility, and balance of mind.
As one progresses through the first four jhānas, attention, joy, and pleasure/happiness are abandoned in favor of equanimity. The four formless variants of the fourth jhāna share the same mental factors: equanimity and unification of mind. They are called "formless" because they are entirely disconnected from any subjective connection to the material space and body sensations. These are formless and immaterial states based on the perception of infinite space, the perception of infinite consciousness, the perception of nothingness/emptiness, and an ultra-subtle perception called the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.
- 1st Jhana: Enjoying the focused awareness of body buzz that brings about a sense of bliss. Some people compare this state to an orgasm.
- 2nd Jhana: Experience the radiant warmth of joy and happiness as you finally receive the gift you've been yearning for all year, just like when you were a child.
- 3rd Jhana: Relaxing and feeling content. You are spending time with your family or closest friends. You might feel like you are under the influence of cannabis, but your mind is still alert and focused.
- 4th Jhana: Achieving imperturbable equanimity where nothing bothers you anymore.
- 5th Jhana: You may experience a loss of awareness of your body boundaries, and feel as though your awareness is expanding into boundless space. This can give the impression of being in a space, which may sometimes be visible to you.
- 6th Jhana: Experiencing pure recursive awareness feels as if your consciousness encompasses everything around you.
- 7th Jhana: Enjoying a deep rest in nothingness.
- 8th Jhana: Experiencing the dissolution of concepts or objects.