Preparing for Meditation

In The New Meditation Handbook, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains that we all have the potential to gain realizations in meditation:

These potentials are like seeds in the field of our mind, and our meditation practice is like cultivating these seeds. However, our meditation practice will be successful only if we make good preparations beforehand.

If we want to cultivate external crops we begin by making careful preparations. First, we remove from the soil anything that might obstruct their growth, such as stones and weeds. Second, we enrich the soil with compost or fertilizer to give it the strength to sustain growth. Third, we provide warm, moist conditions to enable the seeds to germinate and the plants to grow.

In the same way, to cultivate our inner crops of Dharma realizations we must also begin by making careful preparations.

First, we must purify our mind to eliminate the negative karma we have accumulated in the past, because if we do not purify this karma it will obstruct the growth of Dharma realizations. Second, we need to give our mind the strength to support the growth of Dharma realizations by accumulating merit. Third, we need to activate and sustain the growth of Dharma realizations by receiving the blessings of the holy beings.

It is very important to receive blessings. For example, if we are growing outer crops, even if we remove the weeds and fertilize the soil we shall not be able to grow anything if we do not provide warmth and moisture. These germinate the seeds, sustain the growth of the plants, and finally ripen the crop. In the same way, even if we purify our mind and accumulate merit we shall find it difficult to meet with success in our meditations if we do not receive the blessings of the holy beings.

Receiving blessings transforms our mind by activating our virtuous potentials, sustaining the growth of our Dharma realizations, and bringing our Dharma practice to completion.

From this we can see that there are three essential preparations for successful meditation: purifying negativities, accumulating merit, and receiving blessings.

If you like, you can engage in these preparatory practices by reciting the sadhana Prayers for Meditation.