The core of Zen is not meditation. Strangely, it is not. Rather, it is the notion that the “second tier sufferings” (a phrase I coined; I’ll define that in a moment) one faces is entirely a function of the state of one’s mind. First tier sufferings are the ones associated with physical, mental, and emotional pain that define us as organisms. Everyone goes through the first tier sufferings. And, then, there is another layer that we pile up without necessarily having to do so: the second tier.
To rephrase the central premise of Zen, the delusions that the mind cooks up leads to second tier sufferings.
The practices embodied by Zen are targetted at alleviating these unnecessary second tier sufferings that humans need not go through. And, perhaps, in the act of letting go of this extra second tier burden, Zen allows seeing the first tier sufferings with slightly better clarity and affordings us with the ability to better manage daily life.