Michael Grab has transformed himself from a hobbyist with a quirky passion into a international rock balancing phenomenon. Michael has achieved mastery of a very unique skill. Over time, he has developed an incredibly fine tuned sensitivity to the forces of gravity. He focuses this power into the art of Rock Balancing. The rock sculptures you see in this article are held together with nothing more than the force of gravity. There are no glues, rods, or pins involved.
What started off as a hobby soon began to snowball into something big. Michael was balancing rocks in his spare time, partly for fun and partly as a meditative practice until he was picked up by the blog This is Colossal. Gravity Glue’s facebook page expanded by thousands of likes within a couple days, and soon invitations came in inviting the artist to perform his craft all over the world.
When Michael began his practice success was never the final intent. It was just about balancing rocks for fun and meditation. In the interview, pay particular attention to Michael’s attitude on the experience of physical, mental and spiritual balance and his sensitivity to finding a place of inner stillness.
When did you start balancing rocks?
Let’s see, almost five years ago in the summer of 2008. During that summer I had my full time warehouse job and on the weekends me and a friend would always get together and hang out and go to the creek a lot and we were just down there looking for obsidian one day – you know what obsidian is? Yeah we just started playing with rocks, yeah. There’s a little bit more to the whole truth but it’s not exactly for a mass audience, I guess [laughs]. I don’t know…
I mean I’ve told many people, I just haven’t publicized it [laughs] So anyways, the day we started doing it we were both, um… under the influence of LSD… [laughs] So we were just sitting in the creek absorbing all the sights and sounds and looking at the rocks and you can see small geometric patterns; it was a very enchanting experience just being in the creek and hearing birds singing and all the different sounds and atmosphere and everything. That’s what I think really contributed to the initial state of inner silence that is so integral to the entire art form; just being able to do it you have to be silent and kind of find the stillness in yourself, but being in that mind state, I wouldn’t really classify it as hallucinogenic, I would say more that it almost amplifies different senses and stuff like that. Yeah we started doing it and we ended up doing it all day for four or five hours at least. We had a whole garden of rocks everywhere. At the end we were like, “This is pretty cool!” Not to mention a lot of people stopping by and being like, “Oh, that’s really cool!” So it keeps not necessarily snowballing, but rolling.
Tell me about finding that state of inner stillness? Is there a sort of procedure or ritual?
Well, it’s always – the stillness has always been there. But I feel like since my first experience balancing rocks it really has a way of forcing that stillness upon you because it’s required so much for what you’re doing to actually make a balance. What was your question before again?
If there was a ritual or a way you find your way to the stillness?
Each time I go out the general pattern is I will just kind of sit there for a while and just kind of absorb my surroundings and just sit there and breathe. I don’t really think about anything I just kind of lose focus in the creek and the sound of the creek. I just sit there and when the time feels right I will just get up and go and start grabbing rocks and, yeah… It usually happens like that. Sometimes I will smoke a bowl, ya know.
What were you like in the years leading up to – what were you doing before you balanced rocks?
Before I started balancing I was a student at CU [University of Colorado] and I had recently graduated and I think I formally graduated in 2007 and then 2008 was when I started balancing. At that point I was just working a full time job in a warehouse, kind of a dead end job, now that I look back at it. Yeah I was mostly just a student focused on school and trying to figure out what to do with life. One thing I think has had a really influential effect on my path and leading me to that point in the creek that one day is um: During that time I was living in a basement apartment by myself. It was just me and my dog – and I’ve been kind of a loner most of my life, so I am just comfortable hanging out with myself most of time time, and a lot of the time I prefer it. I imagine there are a lot of people like that, more than we are aware of. So I sat in my apartment and sometimes instead of going out at night to the bars or whatever, I would sit and do research about really esoteric subjects. I’ve done a lot of research about tomorrow, December 21st 2012, the mayan calender and all that stuff. I spent hours just watching tons of different documentaries and lectures and all that stuff on Google Video and Youtube – stuff about sacred geometry, alchemy, everything pretty much – just this kind of mystical side to experience that is not really taught in the formal education system. It’s stuff that’s not really confirmed by science or rejected by science, well sacred geometry is, but alchemy and stuff like that, not really.