The Zen of Stacking Rocks


smallphoto (13) - CopyHave you ever stacked rocks? For me, it’s like meditation, because all I think about, as I hold a rock, let it hover over another, is stillness–stillness enough to steady my hand until the rock is placed gently on top of another.

Any stressful thought, any worry, will cause my hand to shake, cause the stack to tumble down.

I don’t remember how or when I began stacking rocks. Nobody taught me, and I don’t think it’s a formal meditation or philosophy, but it works for me.

As many of you who have read The Red Kimono know, smallIMG_0850 - CopyI included this meditation in the book. It plays an important role in the beginning of Sachi’s and Jubie’s friendship, and it also helps them to say “goodbye.”

Here’s an excerpt from The Red Kimono. Jubie and Sachi have just met, and have just discovered that both of their fathers were killed because of the color of their skin.

“Maybe it will never go away,” Sachi said, “but Papa taught me smallIMG_0855 - Copy (1)how to take my mind off things that bother me.”

Jubie wiped her tears with her sleeve. “Yeah?”

“That stack of rocks I made? The one you were going to put the little stone on top of?”

“Uh-huh. What, it got some sorta magic or something?”

“Yes, you could say that, sort of like magic.” Sachi watched the butterfly move its wings up and down. “Remember when I told you to concentrate?”

“Yeah, but I couldn’t ‘cause you was talking to me.”

“Right. Well, what Papa always used to tell me was to concentrate and put everything out of your mind. Don’t think about anything except balancing that next rock.”

Jubie snickered.

“Trust me. I’ve tried it. It works.” Sachi looked around. “Where is that rock you had?”

“Right here,” Jubie said, opening her hand.

“Come on. Try. Put it on my stack of racks. Right where that butterfly is.”

The butterfly left its perch.

smallIMG_0941 - Copy“Just remember. Put everything out of your head, so all you’re thinking about is balancing that one rock.”

Jubie dangled the stone over the five rocks.

Sachi held her breath. Wisps of hair tickled her face in the breeze, but she dared not move.

The stones clicked softly. Jubie let go . . . waited for a second . . . moved . . . her hand.

The rock stilled, stayed.

Jubie smiled. “Your papa was right. It worked.”

Almost everywhere I go, I leave stacked rocks behind, like these Steve and I built in Santa Fe. It’s a kind of signature. But, more than anything, it helps me to feel peace.

smallphoto (11) - Copy smallIMG_0921 - Copy smallIMG_0913 - Copy smallIMG_0855 - Copy (4) smallIMG_0855 - Copy (3) smallIMG_0855 - Copy (2) smallIMG_0854 - Copy smallIMG_0826 - Copy smallIMG_0817 - Copyphoto (14)

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2 Responses to The Zen of Stacking Rocks

  1. Lori Ericson says:

    I’ve never done this but will have to give it a try. I need all the peace I can find. Great post!

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