The balancing of rocks by Michael Grab is astounding. Click to see photos and to watch a video. The rocks do not fall and yet no glue or nail is used to make sure they remain as they have been placed. He knows what is possible, and achieves it, because he understands well the stones with which he works. From "A Very, Very, Very Delicate Balance" NPR:
[H]e says he is hyperaware of possible nooks on the rock's surface:
"The most fundamental element of balancing in a physical sense is finding some kind of 'tripod' for the rock to stand on. Every rock is covered in a variety of tiny to large indentations that can act as a tripod for the rock to stand upright, or in most orientations you can think of with other rocks. By paying close attention to the feeling of the rocks, you will start to feel even the smallest clicks as the notches of the rocks in contact are moving over one another."
After that, he says he has to "find a zero point, or silence within myself." I'm not sure what that means, but it's my sense that the man's got great hands, hands that can feel the exact weight of a stone and a mind that can concentrate, and somehow get inside these stones, and, as he puts it, "Become the balance." ...
Although parties to a mediation are not stones, there is much from Grab's sense of balance, awareness, and feeling that can be of guidance in a mediation, don't you think? He knows how to do the balancing but he also knows that it can be done. Before I learned of his skill and artistry, I had no idea that stones have notches—and I collect and deeply appreciate rocks! Just as with balancing rocks, there is a knowing to mediation, a feel, a depth of concentration. Little if any of this can be taught in a 40-hour mediation seminar, and yet it is essential, of essence, to a mediator of great skill and artistry.
Some mediators use glue or nails, maybe wire or tape, to create a solution, one that may "miss the invisible," or that is "overly simple" or "too complex." (Phrases in quotation marks from The Five Percent.) The elegant solutions are sculpted when the parties come into balance, without a glue gun or hammer.
For whatever ostensible reason people balance stones, there are three essential aspects that draw them to it: (1) the collaboration with nature, the intersection of the life of stone and the life of man; (2) the creative challenge and the satisfaction of meeting it; and (3) what might be called The Moment, the aforementioned ‘existential’ state of being, the concentrated attention required to achieve balance. (You must be present to win.)
Image credit: MastersConnection2020.