Just to make it absolutely clear-- the essence of Zen practice has nothing to do with gongs and lotus flowers. It has nothing to do with being calm and relaxed. It has nothing to do with mystical planes of existence, reincarnation, or enlightenment. It is not a spiritual tradition.
What is it, then?
Zen is a method that promotes balanced personal growth.
There are 3 main techniques to this method:
- Sit still for a period of time every day. It's very hard to sit still and alert, but that's what makes this practice so powerful. I won't even try to explain all the benefits of this effort; many are unexpected. See for yourself.
- Focus sincerely on each action. Put down your phone, close your laptop, turn off the TV, take off the headphones, and give your full attention to one thing at a time.
- Give. Give someone a hand, let someone go before you, cook a meal for a friend, pay attention to someone, help a bug cross the sidewalk, let someone else have the last word, donate a sweater. There are countless ways to give. I can't even begin to explain what you will gain by learning how to give.