The simple precepts of meditation and mindfulness are the essence of the Buddha-nature that lives in everyone – but how do you peel away the layers that envelop the Buddha within?
By turning within, say the masters. Zen has no dogma, texts or saints to guide or confuse you. It offers zazen, the practice of seated meditation. While different Zen sects like Rinzai and Soto have variations in technique, zazen forms the core of all Zen practice.
Another feature is mindfulness or concentration, developed through focusing on one’s breathing. Zen master Dogen recommended no more than five minutes of zazen a day for the lay practitioner, who is bound to meet with resistance from his ego, a ‘battle’ that can be won only with steadfast practice. Several practical tools & techniques are available to help aid meditation practice like singing bowls and meditation malas.
Meditating with others, living with humility, gratitude and in the service of others is also intrinsic to Zen practice. Obviously, not exclusive to Zen, all schools of Buddhism advocate some form of meditation like mantra chanting, breathing exercises, etc.