A few days ago I went down to the creek (surprise) for my daily dose of quiet; to wash the mind from a busy digital world. . . Without expectation, I went with my usual gear. It’s really convenient living at my newly found home, essentially across the street from the creek. talk about eliminating the commute to work. :P

So I went to the creek, stress in tow, simply to sit; intentionally near a recent dragon-like creation so as to observe the entropy. Entropy being one of those more subtle magical elements of rock balancing that loses focus as creation flows forward.

As per usual, I began looking at rocks all around. some jump out immediately, others seem more serendipitous. all energetic. so i picked my favorite 5 rocks of relative size, shape, texture, and color.  so i play. :) if a possible arrangement seemed impossible 2 minutes ago, it became a line of focus. Lots of people always ask, “well how long did that take you to make?” answer: it varies. depends on the moment. i often say “usually about half an hour or so.” as if i was measuring time when i balanced. time is interesting to note i guess, but it has no relevance during the process. balancing has more of an opposite effect where it almost shuts time off. no time to focus on time. :) It essentially does not exist in the mind of a balancer in the mix of arranging stones. All i know that the biggest influence of time is simply practice. maybe. My estimate of creation time for this arrangement is at least 2, maybe 3 hours? That was for first attempt. Pictured here:


Zero Point for this balance was one of those ones that didn’t really feel definitive as i let go. It was more of an intuitive vibration that had me LETTING GO after dancing around the thread for hours. nearly broken-willed, and tired barely post-sunset. The top 5 rocks (excluding the smallest side rock) had to be balanced as one system. Fourth from the top requires the 3 rocks above to essentially be THE top-rock. questions is: how silly can i arrange this 3-rock system to balance the fourth from sliding off the fifth. most difficult part here was making a precarious 3-rock system to balance the limit of friction under the 4th rock. i wanted it this way because it was my favorite form with a perfectly located apex notch on the 4th, below the cube. the 3-rock top section was a very difficult, nearly hopeless feeling task. but once i got a split second glimpse of the whole thread through all 10 fingers, there was no turning back. An uncertainty became inevitable possibility. a new realization. a very pleasant surprise after a couple hours into the process…

also, i always recommend sitting if possible whenever engaging in a challenging balance. i was sitting the whole time for this one. even sitting it took hours. :) here i made myself a makeshift balanced rock stump to sit on. had left knee to support my left arm. but no support for my right arm. this was the best option i found for the context. so i adapted.


The ideal stance i’ve found for rock balancing, after all the practice, and such a wide variety of circumstances, is to sit. back as straight as possible. with knees sticking up over bent legs.. so i essentially form a stable tripod between my butt and each foot. Then with each knee sticking up, I now have an effortless support for each arm… almost like stacking bones :P so instead of my arms, hands, fingers, loading down my shoulders, they are resting on my elbows, which are grounded to my knees. Many balancers prolly know that one of the first muscle groups to fatigue while placing a challenging top rock or combination, is the shoulders. Tis often the reason why a balancer, mid-process, must take the unbalanced top rock off and rest the shoulders a bit. having the knees to support the elbows eliminates this problem and opens up tons of possibilities with precision. (in my experience)


most situations in nature do not allow an ideal stance to happen. it is normally some kind of adaptation; something to minimize physical strain/fatigue while tuning into a zero point.. luckily as humans, we’re decent problem solvers; clever and wiggly enough to make something work.


Back on subject…

My original realization of this arrangement (pictured above) did not turn out precisely the way I wanted. I’m extremely particular with what angles/impressions i want to capture from each rock (sometimes i have no choice). i’m equally particular about the proportion and life of the whole thread.

I considered risking a 3-ish hour creation time to go in and re-balance the very top rock, which to me, was the misfit impression among the whole. reminiscent of a crooked picture on the wall. . . but it was late. and i barely snapped a couple pictures before having no light to work with. However, the biggest reward for me energetically was not giving up and finally realizing this stubbornly imperfect creation. to be continued . . .


7 Responses
  1. Marie

    I LOVE YOUR ROCK EXPRESSIONS!!! I think I have also seen them in Santa Cruz along West Cliff Drive in the past. I live in Boulder Creek too. Aren’t we lucky?! Thank you for sharing your rock life with us!!!

  2. Hi there you all.
    I totally agree about shoulders posture,
    I’ve experimented many times the feel of “steel shoulders” while balancing rocks…..in this case I took my concentration over the breathing activity and related rhythm of breathe, it helps a lot.
    Many thanks to Michael for his endless source of inspiration for all of us Balancers out there

  3. Allan

    What are the relative sizes of the rocks in this balance? Hard to tell from the photo if they are small or fist size or larger.

  4. Allan

    Just started Rock Balancing Art about 6 weeks ago. You are a great inspirational person Michael. Looking forward to the continuation of your blog.

  5. Brandon Love

    Thank you for your advise on the ideal stance. It is a great reminder to keep a good posture while setting up balances of lengthy duration. Like you say, when those shoulders go, spirits often go with it. I really like your idea of thinking of your body as a balance too, the bone stack! For me, it has been so easy to forget about the importance of the body’s balance while stacking which often leads to very sore muscles. Visualizing bones stacking will really help with level of stiffness I feel the following day. Thanks Michael!

  6. Deborah

    Rocks as teachers. Who woulda thunk it?

    The whole process is about time. Not letting it bully you. I have learned so much about myself balancing rocks.

    In my area, there are others who are balancing rocks in different creeks than I work at.

    I think there may be something happening in the collective consciousness.

    I really do.

    What are we feeling?

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