The Devotional Salutations are an ancient technique from the Buddhist mystery school, a technique that
every meditator can still practice today.
Doing this practice once a day can be tremendously helpful for any meditator.
My advice to the salutations is as follows:
First, it is good to do this in front of the image of the Guru, or your shrine, or your meditation space. A place where you are specifically focusing yourself on your spiritual work.
Second, as you recite each line of the salutation, you should be as open as you can be, as receptive.
Remember that each verse is a verse declaring your surrender, and it is important to be as surrendered as possible in it.
Let go of all your desire to be in control, your desire to hold onto your life, your way that you think things ought to be, your expectations; and in the process you also let go of your pain, your fear, your anxiety.
It is good in this moment to have your arms raised up to the air, your open stance drawing in the energy of Life.
Thirdly, when you finish each salutation you bow down.
Your forehead should touch the ground before you, and in that moment you should try to release as much as possible, release all that energy that you drew in, release everything you are holding onto.
The salutations are to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
The first salutation:
"Buddham Sharanam Gachchami"
"I bow down before the Buddha"
Surrendering to the Buddha is surrendering to the teacher, to the Teacher that is life; to the Teacher that is your Guru, and to the Teacher that is within you.
It is letting go of your own ideas, accepting that you cannot find the "great answers" in your own mind, and that you must trust the guidance that life shows you at every moment.
Understand that the Buddha you bow down to is not just your Guru; the Guru is just an outer light, a visible living representation of the Buddha that is Existence itself, and that leads you to discovering that Existence, and how that Existence is a part of you, within you.
The Second Salutation:
"Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami"
"I bow down before the Dharma"
The Dharma is the Teaching.
It is the teaching in the sense of the discipline that the Guru gives you, the instructions that he imparts.
Bowing down before this is representative of your willingness to trust and your dedication to apply yourself to the practice.
Its not enough to just say "I surrender to the Teacher"; if you are not going to listen to and work on the teaching.
Its not enough to just listen either; to take notes or quote scriptures.
You have to do the teaching.
But the Dharma is also the Teaching in the sense of the Reality of life around you; just as Existence is the Buddha, so is the Present the one true Dharma.
Being where you are in each moment, in the real, that is the ultimate Dharma.
Bowing down before the Dharma is surrendering to accepting each moment.
The Third Salutation:
"Sangham Sharanam Gachchami"
"I bow down before the School"
The Sangha is the school; the community that forms around the Teacher.
Bowing down before the Sangha is surrendering to working with your fellow students; with working to help the Guru in making things work better within the school, under his direction.
With trying to follow his vision and make the community a healthy one, that will allow all who are within it to improve themselves; and that will be appealing to those newcomers who find it.
It is a willingness to accept the place in that school that your Guru asks you to take; not to engage in conflict or struggle based on ego with others, but to try to the best of your capacity to do the work you are assigned.
But the Sangha is also the community of humankind.
It is bowing down to all human beings, knowing that each and all of them share all the divinity you see in the Guru, and that the Guru sees in yourself.
It is to know also that each and every human being has as much suffering as you do, and to surrender yourself to understanding and feeling compassion and love to all of humanity.
These are not easy things, they are not meant to be taken lightly.
When you perform the salutations, it should be with a real sense of dedication in your heart, to live by these things, and to genuinely surrender yourself to these things, for the good of yourself, and for the good of all life.
When you stand, with your hands raised; and when you bow, with your forehead to the ground, it is good to let yourself spend a few moments in those positions, to do this fully, and not mechanically.
At the end of the salutations, it is good to spend a few moments in silence, in quiet meditation.
Then when you are finished, put your hands together in Namaste to life, and in Sammasati to yourself; recognizing the divine in everything, and remembering the Buddha inside of you.