Zen practice is about developing the whole person, it's not about learning a meditation technique to reduce stress and anxiety, nor is it about learning Buddhist doctrine or bowing, or posting cliches with colourful backgrounds on Facebook.
It’s also not yoga, vipassana or mindfulness meditation. These can all be helpful and can guide the body and mind to a certain stillness and flow, but Zen is not about generating a particular state experience. It's much more than that! Yes, freedom from anxiety, stress and our own particular form of personal suffering truly happens with Zen practice, but it also leads us to discover something even more helpful and profound - who we are truly are and what the world around us actually is. When we know both of these things from the bottom of our heart, we are free to move in the world in a way that benefits everyone and everything. This is the highest teaching of Buddhism.
So what does Zen practice actually look like, then? Well, its slow, handcrafted and looks rather like your life. The time required for this work is measured in decades, the effort brings a thousand mistakes, the joy discovered is endless.
How is this done? It starts by walking into a Zen Centre and bringing the whole world with you*, connecting with an authentic Zen teacher and learning the tools of this work (zazen and koans) that our ancestors kindly passed down to us. Then we step into our life just as it is, not the way we want it to be. This is the gateway - this is Zen practice.
* Zen Master Yunmen said to the assembly, Within heaven and earth, in the midst of the cosmos, there is one treasure, hidden in the body. Holding a lantern, it goes toward the Buddha hall (meditation hall). It brings the great triple gate and puts it on the lantern.