To take refuge in the Three Jewels is to develop faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The closest analogy is baptism in Christianity, which means to be reborn. When you take refuge, you are reborn not in the sense of taking a new birth but in terms of turning over a new leaf.
The refuge prayer is a fundamental part of every sadhana (daily practice), puja and retreat. It’s so important that it is even one of the preliminary practices that are a prerequisite for receiving higher teachings.
Therefore, when we recite the refuge formula every day, we should also engage in the appropriate visualisations. There are a few variants of the refuge visualisation and you can do any version that you feel comfortable with.
This video is a step-by-step guide to the practice of taking refuge based on a simplified version of the Lamrim refuge visualisation
- Taking Refuge by Pabongka Rinpoche