The practice of Suizen or “blowing Zen” is to play the shakuhachi mindfully or meditatively. Meditation or mindfulness practitioners around the world and through the ages generally begin with object meditation which uses an object of focus, such as the breath in Vipassana. To practice, one focuses as best they can on the object and when the mind eventually wanders off in thought, it’s noticed and gently brought back to the object over and over again.
In Suizen, the object is generally or primarily the sound of the shakuhachi, however, the breath can of course be a very natural object of focus as well. At a more experienced level, the practitioner can actually have more than one object of focus or they can move between various objects without slipping into discursive or distracting thoughts.
Naturally, meditation can become very nuanced with all kinds of thoughts and feelings arising. It can actually be a very difficult and disruptive process at times. People who’re dealing with trauma may need to tread carefully or seek out the help of a specifically qualified professional such as David Treleaven.
For a Suizen session, the goal could be to simply notice the sound we’re making and the following inhalation breath, thus making them the objects of our meditation. When thoughts arise we try to just notice them and remain focused on the objects. When these thoughts steer our focus away from our objects we gently bring our focus back to them without judgement.