The Art of Rock Balancing


Author: Lakshmi Anila

We have often come across things in life that are considered to be merely impossible but still in front of our eyes. Actually, the fact is that we have never tried to convince ourselves to give them a try. Things that seem physically impossible are actually being only highly improbable. One such thing is that of rock or stone balancing. This art has often left many baffled and to think of its existence merely as an existential crisis yet very physically present.

What is rock balancing or stone balancing?

It is the art of balancing a rock or more rocks (stone) to create a land art without any other means of support. It is also known as “stone cairn”. “Cairn” means “heap of stones”. The practitioners of stone / rock balancing often consider it to be a form of meditation where they could get lost in it for hours. To do this it requires a great coordination of eyes and hands at the same time. Sometimes when the rocks are being placed upon one another it is not possible for our eyes to see the contact point of the stone over the other but it could only be felt with our hands.

This art is often mistaken with piling of rocks. Though it seems to be balanced, they touch each other on multiple contact points which are widely spread over the surface of the rocks. Better understanding of this could be obtained from the pictures given below

The picture shows that stones are placed above the other with its surface contact point entirely laid over the stone below it. This is just called piling of stones or rock into a tower.

In the picture below, one stone is being balanced on the other where the surface contact point us very narrow. Stones are stacked, in a way, defying gravity. What is happening in this case is that the lower stones depend on the weight of what is placed on the top of them to enter a state of equilibrium.

The rock /stone balancing might have gained its popularity in the recent year but it could be traced way back in the past , though we may not know who was the first person to balanced the rocks , it may not be wrong to  consider it from Paleolithic Era , sometimes referred as Stone Age by a caveman. In ancient times rock balancing was considered to mark specific events or to represent certain elements, land marks or to trace directions.

The practitioners of stone / rock balancing claims that this art is an awareness of elements in the world around us and its balance. There is a feeling of euphoria when the perfect alignment and balance is achieved. It helps one to completely absorbed in the present moment without being distracted about the worries of the past or future. In another sense it’s a spiritual feeling that cannot be expressed in words.

One thing that could be understood from the study of rock/ stone balancing is that one need to have an open mind and patience in its building. Sometimes even a small disturbance in the surroundings, like a mild breeze, could lead the entire heap of rocks to crumble down. So its important that one should keep their expectations in check so that he or she could enjoy the art of mastering the skills, might be even for a moment rather that being disappointed for not being able to hold its existence for a long period of time.

As said, “practice makes man prefect”, balancing of stone/ rocks require a consistent practice to achieve its perfection on a higher level.

The good thing about the art is that it helps people to expand their imagination and develop their creativity. It is the combination of the science of gravity, engineering and the art of architecture that makes it even more fun. This art teaches us to discover answers to all those unknow questions that exist in our conscious mind which is why stacking artist across the world practice it as a form of meditative art.

In short, people practice it for fun, to relive stress and to acquire a greater power of concentration. The joy of this art could only be obtained when it is practiced without any agenda or competitive spirit. If done in a pressurized environment it could be a stressful process which may end up in failure.

It is to be noted that, though this art has got various benefits, we should not endanger or harm our nature and surrounding while practicing it. Care should be exercised not to disturb the natural habitations and create stone cairns.




Picture Courtesy:  Maël BALLAND from Pexels

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