In the Buddhist tradition, there are three sublime practices:
The first sublime practice is the generation of a compassionate and loving heart, also known as pure intention. We begin each activity with the positive intention that our action will be of benefit to others.
The second sublime practice is the activity or practice itself, which we do mindfully, while remaining in the natural state, free from distraction.
The third sublime practice is the dedication of merit. Merit refers to the wholesome and positive momentum that grows from our practice. We dedicate our most precious essence and all the positive energy that we have accumulated from our practice to the welfare of all beings.
Apply these three sublime practices in all of your activities, even something as simple as drinking a cup of tea. Prepare your tea while generating a compassionate heart, the pure intention to benefit all sentient beings. This is the first practice. Then drink the cup of tea with complete mindfulness. This is the second practice and the core of these three practices. After your last sip, dedicate the enjoyment of your drink for all beings, and pray that they may be liberated from suffering and awaken to enlightenment.
The rays of the sun provide warmth for all creatures without discrimination. We dedicate the virtue of every positive action to the benefit of all beings. In this tradition, we do not hold on to the merit that we have accumulated for our own benefit alone, but instead we dedicate this positive energy so that someday the enlightened qualities of every being will manifest. Finally, the perfect dedication is to dissolve your merit in the unconditional state.
In this way, simply drinking a cup of tea becomes genuine meditation because of the three sublime practices. Always insure that these three practices are inseparable from whatever you do. The first and last are quite straightforward. In the case of the second sublime practice, you have a specific target. For instance, if your activity is meditation on the breath, follow your breath attentively, and at the same time be mindful of its ephemeral quality. The three sublime practices are the best way to elevate your thinking and walk with dignity on the path of awakening.
Excerpted from Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath. Copyright © 2012 by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche. Used with permission.