The practice of Zen is being in the world as it is. Your practice begins with you. Your practice of Zen is being as much you as you can be. Being you may not be easy, but it is impossible for you not to be you. Rather that try to do the impossible and be other than you, you practice being you. To practice being you, you have to study yourself. See what motivates you. See what brings you joy. See what makes you suffer. See when it’s easy to be you. See when it’s hard to be you. See what you think about when you’re happy. See what you think about when you’re not happy.
Studying yourself is deeper than studying somebody else. With you, you get full access. You can see what you’re like first thing in the morning. You can see what you’re like around people. You can see what you’re like alone. You can see into your secret thoughts and deepest fears. If you study somebody else, you only get what they are able to present to you. Mostly what you see when you look at somebody else is you anyway. If you study somebody you admire, then you see good things in them. If you study somebody you don’t like, you see problems. That is just you seeing you anyway, so you might as well just study yourself.
When you study yourself, you have to turn off all the judgement. Even if being you usually entails judging yourself, you have to stop that to get a true look into what you are. Then you can see sadness without being sad. You can see fears without being afraid. You can see your beauty without being modest. When you are able to see all that in yourself, then you will feel some compassion and it becomes a little easier to be you.
If you practice being you and you notice yourself getting carried away in some feeling or situation, just continue practicing being you in that situation, through that feeling. You will see that you can handle any situation. You can manage any feeling. As you practice being you without judgement, with compassion, you will find the joy of being you. When you are comfortable being you, then you can start to study other people without judgement and with compassion and you can help them find their joy too.