Part I, by Ven, Mahasi Sayadaw
In the Visuddhi Magga (The Path of Purification – a text on meditation), before explaining the manner as to how contemplation should be made on pathavi kasina, (the earth kasina), the subject of preliminary arrangements (parikamma) to be done, has been elaborated quite exhaustively. To put it in a nutshell as to what is most essential, priority should be given to the proper observance of morality, the purity of sila, and then to completely settle anything to be done which may cause hindrances (palibodha) or create a feeling of worry in regard to the residing monastery. The next point is to accept with faith and confidence the instructions given relating to the method of developing lovingkindness (metta), which one intends to take up from a competent meditation teacher (kammatthanacariya). This is the method I am now going to prescribe. It is necessary to stay in an appropriate monastery, or rather, a retreat centre, and settle all anxieties likely to creep in, such as, shaving the head and cutting off the hairs on the head and clipping the finger and toe nails and carrying out other trivial matters. Later, take a rest for a while after meals to avoid sluggishness or inertia. Only after finishing up all odd jobs that need to be performed, choose a quiet spot or a place of solitude, and then take up a sitting posture with ease and comfort.