This answer probably depends on your school. The answer for a Theravada Buddhist would be different than that for a Pure Land Buddhist.
The Tibetan Lama Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche gave his beginning students a simple mindfulness practice like anapanasati as an exclusive practice. It could take years before he thought you were ready for the practices unique to Tibetan Buddhism. This was to prevent the student from taking the energy practices for granted.
I am not a Buddhist teacher, so take this with a grain of salt.
- Get clear for your intentions for your practice. Do you want more patience for other people? Do you want to cultivate compassion? Do you want to end your suffering? All of the above?
- Create a space for your daily meditation practice. Buy a cushion or a small chair. Make a little altar from a small table if you are inclined. Burn incense if you like. Make it inviting so you will want to use it.
- Begin a daily meditation practice. Just do five or ten minutes a day to start. Lengthen the time when you can.
- Dedicate your meditation each day to the “happiness, growth and freedom of all living beings.”
- Get in touch with your aspiration for that day’s practice. It could be to be more generous, more loving, more accepting of differences.
- Then you do the main meditation practice.
- At the end of the meditation, it is good to express gratitude for the teachings.
- Read about the Buddhadharma from a book from a reputable Buddhist teacher. I like Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Before going to bed, review your day and try to name five things you are grateful for.
If you haven’t taken refuge vows, you may want to. Ask yourself if you feel ready yet to take the five precepts.
©2017 Stephen L. Martin