Just as Zen meditation and the receiving of the Kyosaku stick are preceded by the sign of the gassho, the chanting is conducted before meditation begins.
The chant can be done by anyone because it is not a religious statement. It is not a creed or a dogma. The chant speaks of the conquering of life and death and could even be called a philosophy for life.
The Maka-hannya Shingyo or Heart Sutra as it is known in English prepares your mind for the silence of meditation and testifies to the emptiness your own mind will experience.