I'm trying to get into the habit of doing pooja at home. Can someone give me the essential things that need to be done?
I'm sure you will agree that taking a bath is essential in the morning after waking up. Especially so if you are about to do puja.
So, what exactly is bathing ? Seems simple enough, but when Yudhishtira was asked this question in Mahabharata, he answers weirdly :
Snanam Mano Mala Tyagah
Bathing is Mind Dirt Sacrifice
There are 6 types of dirt in the mind - Kama, Krodha, Moha, Lobha, Madha, Matsarya.
Everyday, these dirts accumulate in our thoughts, words and actions - Just as urine and stool accumulate in our bowels. And just as the latter need to be expelled from the body, the former should be from the mind.
How to do that ? Simple - Avoid acting on those impulses.
You feel the 'Kama' to drink coffee before bathing ? Avoid acting on that desire. Or resolve not to do so in future.
You feel the 'Krodha' to shout at your wife if she doesn't bring you coffee ? Avoid acting on that anger. Or resolve not to do so in future.
So on for each of the other 4 dirts. Once this type of 'bathing' is done, you are ready for puja :)