Posts Tagged ‘Body Sculpting’

The second stage in the unit on mindfulness and stress is an amazingly adaptable activity that I refer to as “Body Sculpting.”  I’ve used this handy game as a way of experientially tackling a wide range of topics, and I’ll give some ideas for doing so in the Application Notes below.


  • Participants get into groups of two.
  • They select one person to be “Person A” and the other to be “Person B”, with the note that both people will do the same thing at different times.
  • Let everyone know that Person A is the sculptor and Person B is the sculpture.
    • Person A’s job is to gently (and appropriately) move Person B’s body into a position that conveys what Person A is trying to represent (instructions on that later).
    • Person B’s job is to be as receptive as possible to Person A’s guidance and to then hold whatever positions Person A leaves them in (within reason).
  • Instruct all the sculptors that they are going to sculpt their partners into a statue that exhibits STRESS.
  • Let the first round of sculpting begin, lasting for about a minute or so.
  • When the sculpting is done, I like to have all the sculptures freeze in place while the sculptors crouch down, allowing a good view of our “Stressed Out Sculpture Garden.” Encourage the sculptors to briefly look around the room and check out other sculptures.  You can even have sculptors share about what they were going for with their sculptures and why.
  • Next, have the sculptors “de-stress” the sculptures by shifting their partners from a stressed position to a relaxed position.
  • Repeat the previous steps, with Person B now doing the sculpting (and de-stressing) and Person A being the sculpture.
  • Possible add-on:
    • Have everyone in the room assume a position that shows how stress manifests in their own
    • Everyone holds that position while you guide them to mindfully explore how it feels (physically, emotionally, and mentally).
    • Then have everyone de-stress themselves, assuming a relaxed position.
    • Again guide them to explore how it feels and how it differs from the stressed position.

Instruction Notes:

  • While sculpting, I like to encourage the sculptor to avoid the following:
    • Giving any verbal instructions (so the whole activity is done in silence)
    • Showing the sculpture how to stand with the sculptor’s own body
  • Near the end of their sculpting session, I give everyone a 10 second warning while also reminding sculptors to add facial expressions to their sculptures.

Application Notes:

  • After the activity, you can unpack the exercise and have people share about the different physical manifestations of stress and relaxation they observed. Encourage them to note differences between how the stressful/relaxed positions created by their partners differed from the ones they created themselves (in the add-on exercise).
  • For an even more hands-on approach, you can give participants a piece of paper with an outline of a human body on it, and they can write/draw on that body the places that stress manifests for them.
  • Regarding mindfulness, you can discuss how learning the way stress shows up in our own bodies gives us important information. When combined with mindfulness, we have much more of a chance of catching early physical manifestations of stress and addressing them (de-stressing, assuming relaxed positions, other antidotes) before the stress becomes full-blown and difficult to manage.
  • Other applications of this activity:
    • I’ve used “Body Sculpting” to address a myriad of topics, ranging from gratitude (sculpt a grateful position) and peace (sculpt a peaceful position), to memories (sculpt a specific type of memory) and insight (sculpt a portrayal of a sudden burst of insight—an “aha moment”).