Seminaria is the name I have given to a poetic form after writing a doctoral thesis on what people discovered from using it as a daily mindfulness practice.
Seminaria is a 27-syllable, seven-line form divided into the following syllable line pattern:
(2) (3) (5) (7) (5) (3) (2)
Developed as Seminar Verse by J-P Linde in 1988/89. In his words, “I was searching for a form shorter than a sonnet, more comprehensive than haiku.”
Linde (1989) structured his seminar form on the following three scholarly origins/models:
the seven steps of philosophy argued by Thomas Aquinas (1225 –1274);
the seven life processes, an integral model of learning and teaching proposed by Steiner (1861–1925);
and the rudiments of theory-U, another seven-step process that Scharmer (2009) terms ‘presencing.’
Linde (2013, p. 3) defines the nature and function of seminar form’s line construction:
Line One (two syllables) introduces a subject, premise or statement.
Line Two (thee syllables) as a second step, gives the subject depth, colour, and life through an example, or picture.
Line Three (five syllables) throws the content of the previous two lines into question by contemplating consequences or implications. The third line involves emotional intelligence. A tension is felt.
Line Four (seven syllables) resolves the tension with a decision and action. It provides a turning point and by the seventh line, a resolution.
In mindfulness and meditation, there is a cognitive ‘breathing’ of attention. Akin to physical breathing, it includes the lemniscating interchange of inner and outer movement. This process begins with patient, focused openness, and later moves across to welcome what (if anything) may arise from a place of infinite stillness. Preceded by humility, this breathing concludes with peace and gratitude. Arthur Zajonc, in his Meditation as contemplative inquiry: When knowing becomes love (2009), points out how contemplation of this kind, becomes a selfless act of service.
Although it is ‘early days’ for this work, some of those who have incorporated the mindfulness of seminaria into their professional practice, report that it has become for them, an ‘act of service’.
[One] client a 10 year old boy [presented as] very busy in a very busy mind but without a good connection to his body and through that, to the physical world. So I gave him the task to write a seminaria about something in his life that he can touch, that is real, not virtual. He is loving it and writing … poems … about all kinds of things in his world now.
Healthcare practice therapist
I must tell you that seminaria helped me immensely in this final run up to submission!
Susan, PhD candidate, Lincoln University
The Significance of the Lemniscate:
What is a lemniscate and what is its revitalising nature? In 1655, mathematician John Wallis devised the infinity sign which was named ‘lemniscus’ (Latin for ribbon) by mathematician Bernoulli about forty years later. (The lemniscate is similar to the device known as the Möbius strip.) Philosophical aspects of the infinity symbol far predate its mathematical origins. In Tibet, similar symbols have been found in rock carvings. The lemniscate symbolises the endless, infinite nature of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. In nature the lemniscate is freely expressed in the swirling vortices of a running stream, the whorl-like patterns described by planetary motion, the chambers of a seashell and the growth of plants—even in the human body.
This lemniscate is made from an image of the sun taken at the same position and the same time of day over the course of a year (thanks to Vasilij Rumyantsev, Crimean Astrophysical Observatory).
Lemniscate diamond image:
The lemniscate as an important element in the data analysis came from observing the hand gestures of co-researchers as they described their experience of Seminaria. Variously, it was, ‘refreshing, enlivening, energising, and being transformative for wellbeing’. Some even, as a lemniscating ‘crossing point of consciousness’. And for example,
"... I love ... the possibility of magic arising from the reversal of the lines ... what opens up in that …”
“I think what’s really interesting with this seminaria process, is I can get quick access to the unconscious or quick access to that ‘surprise’ mood” (Mikaela).
(Geometrically, the diamond comes from the syllabic placement of the seven-line poetic form. In my thesis I liken it to a Jungian ‘container’.)