Stone and therapy

(Excerpt out of a lecture on this topic. Author and copyright; Rudolf Söllner)

I: Stone

–  A stone when used as a creative therapy mediator has distinctive characteristics: Stone is one of the oldest and most durable materials. Ruins and sculptures made out of stone are admired not just for their shapes but also because of the expanse of life it has. Compare it with human life and it aligns to a certain extent to a certain point. This attribute might have contributed to the stones association in mythology. Nobody has to be aware of this.

–  At the same time in daily life stone is within every ones reach, a material we are acquainted with, it is almost everywhere and available in all sorts of different dimensions, it survives wind and weather. We don’t need to maintain it in any way.

–  When working on stone your whole body is involved, your own thoughts in your mind disappear due to the use of your hands and abdomen, just muddling around and getting bored will throw you right back to reality.

–  It is very time consuming working on stone. Quick jobs on stone can only be achieved by using a lot of force and power. The stone can only be adversely sanctioned if constantly worked on in a destructive manner. But the smallest operational steps will be positively rewarded. The perception of creative fine tuning is that with every hour that you work on your stone you become aware of your own creativity and this slows everything around you down. Gradually you learn to tune very finely into yourself.

–  All the work that is done on stone is irreversible, chiselled off is chiselled off. Decision after decision, deciding how to or what to do, these are all part of a positive process that you will experience.

– Due to its weight the stone is a physically equal opponent. A piece of stone measuring 60/40/30 cm weighs as much as a person and won’t move during normal chiselling processes. A reliable opponent like this can be your friend. A participant once described his experience like this; the stone is at my disposal to use and abuse it equally.

–  Paper can be spontaneously torn due to a direct change of emotions, pictures or a clay model changed or destroyed in seconds. Both can be an important way of expressing destruction in any given situation. Stone enriches the classic materials of creativity to a higher quality and is one of the few materials that reflect the workers mood at all times.

-It resists every spontaneous action to destroy it. Chiselling stone allows you to experience aggression and destruction as part of changing your work of art.

–  After a short time the participants start to enjoy the chiselling. The most rigid of materials helps each participant (depending on their mood) to master the more or less rebelliousness /stubbornness of the stone and to get in tune with themselves again.

–  A lot of participants who are shy of art stand next to the stone and refuse to anything at all. (Most of them reason with you saying;” I’ve tried it once but can’t do it. Got no talent for this, very difficult. Or I can’t think of anything to make.”) The participants like this usually have no problem at all getting involved with sculpting the stone. Firstly we concentrate mostly on the skills of craftsmanship. Experiencing the feeling of success comes surprisingly quickly with the first few moments of chiselling the stone. Most of them don’t have any conception of what stone sculpting entails they have not been conveyed any incapacitate role models (Picasso, Dürer, Röhrender Hirsch.) Those that have heard of Michelangelo even quote him. Almost always the same quote about chipping away all the stone that is not needed. The participants can work on an unknown blank territory.

–  Even though it has no real value and is more resilient than any other material it does have its own characteristics and qualities. Because of this it projects a perfect example for being versatile you experience things through it without the participant having to face their fears or to have to be concerned about letting their imagination run wild in a situation with real people. But at the same time will be able to reflect upon his actions because he can see the results.

–  The strong characteristic of the material is the unmistakable essence of the stone, to be able to be modelled in an impersonal way during the sculpting process and it lowers stress levels of the participant gets rid of  heteronomous ideas about art, creativity and helps one to follow goals. Being in the here and now and not just fulfilling a task.


II:  Some thought about the course manager’s purpose

To convey the strong material character of the stone to the participants and to make the most of its specific potential as a creative mediator and there are special working methods required whilst working on the stone that the course manager may demonstrate.

This consists of being able to take a step back and not to expect to be taught every in detail but to let the stone and the participant discover each other.

This means that the participant will have no given strict rules or regulations that they have to rigidly abide by from the course manager: you have a creative or an aggressive interaction with the stone. This is necessary first so that the participant can get into the mood/swing of things to be able to act out the part. The creator and the stone. It is not up to the course manager to convey what is real and what is not, the idea is for him to support the participant. Whether the participant spontaneously chooses a theme to work on but then changes his or her mind and decides to do something completely new or different the course manager is always there for you. Formally and for most the course manager is there to support and guide with the help of the material staying as authentic as possible, giving material and individuals immanent solutions due to his experience and practical knowledge. Having no expectations brings you more authenticity.

Stone sculpting is a type of subconscious experience due to doing unskilled work with an unfamiliar material in an unaccustomed environment. The course manager doesn’t leave the participants alone when they get stuck on what to do next. The course manager’s job is not to mediate professionalism, but to encourage the willingness to take risks and liberties. It is not the participant that should have to use his energy to find out more or less what the hidden preferences of the course manager are and to try to follow them. It is the course manager who due to his knowledge finds out the personal potential of each participant and gently guides them to express it.

It is very important that the course manager has a lot of technical competence. The more experience he has in sculpting the easier it is for him to predict the effect of certain actions and approaches taken by participants on the stone therefore making it easier for him to guide each participant to the limit of what they are capable of but at the same time having enough competence to let the participant’s results surprise him.

In our imagination stone seems to require a lot of planning and discipline, but with its arbitrariness, inflexibility and irreversibility it is possible though through the sustainable renitence to slowly experience the unexpected within ourselves.

It can be necessary every now and again for the participant to detach themselves from the pressure that builds up from significant influences of heteronomous target ideas.

The course manager’s function is then to wait on you, similar to a butler at a banquet. If the course manager at a stone sculptor course manages to stay in the back ground but at the same time giving you all the support and ideas you need without actually taking over then he has proven his function. That is exactly how it should be: The table is laid for you with all the plates, cups, dishes, glasses, cutlery, serviettes and condiments in the right place and the room temperature is just right.

It is proven that stone chiselling provides neutral space within a clinic at the same time giving it a positive aura. A lot of patients are enthralled by the “balance” they experience this helps them to be more relaxed and are then once again able to concentrate on the more important related things that the therapy offers.

Through the work one does on stone you will always be taken to a stress free level and therefore back to your inner-self. “I always walk away from working on stone with a stress free mind. The muddle in my mind is gone. I have now understood what it means: The journey is the reward.”