save any max patch as you would normally(.maxpat). place it anywhere within max's search path(sometimes i keep it within the same folder as the parent patch just to keep build-files together). then type that file's name within an object. Say you have abstrakshun.maxpat, stored somewhere in a folder(or just use max's search/file path preferences), and within that same folder have saved a parent patcher called ParentPatch_OpenFirst.maxpat, in the parent patch you can now have the object [abstrakshun].
and they help you modularize so that you can make edits to parts without having to go through the whole, or more importantly, make edits to a source file so that all instantiated copies reflect those edits all at once.
see attachment for a simple example of how one is created.
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