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Six preparatory practices for meditation

Six preparatory practices for meditation

Woman meditating with a vague image of buddha in the background.
Photo by Hartwig HKD

Before we begin our first meditation session of the day, it is good to do the six preparatory practices. The preparatory practices prepare our environment, bodies, and minds to be open to the presence of the enlightened ones and are a warm-up for the meditation we are about to do.

Prior to the first meditation session of the day, it is good to do the six preparatory practices.

  1. Sweep and clean the room and arrange the altar.

  2. Make offerings on the altar, e.g., light, food, incense, water bowls, etc.

  3. Sit in a comfortable position and examine your mind. Do breathing meditation to calm your mind. Then establish a good motivation. After that, take refuge and generate the altruistic intention by reciting the appropriate prayers.

  4. Visualize the merit field with the spiritual mentors, buddhas, bodhisattvas, and so forth. If this is too difficult, visualize Shakyamuni Buddha and consider him the embodiment of all Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha.

  5. Offer the seven-limb prayer and the mandala by reciting those prayers.

  6. Make requests to the lineage spiritual mentors for inspiration by reciting the requesting prayers.

It is also good to review the entire gradual path to enlightenment by reciting, for example, The Foundation of All Good Qualities. This helps you to understand the purpose of the particular meditation that you will do in the overall scheme of training the mind in the gradual path. It also plants the seed for you to obtain each realization of the path. Then, do analytical meditation, thinking about one of the topics from the gradual path by remembering and applying the explanations you have heard or read on the subject.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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