Writing from the Zero Point: Making Meaning through Spiritual Journaling

A Guest Post by Julie Tallard Johnson

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”  ­–Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writing From the Zero Point by Julie Tallard JohnsonWriting from the zero point means to write from our own experience while awakening our ability to make meaning from a diversity of situations. Spiritual Journaling allows every situation, positive or negative, to be workable. Our journals give us a place to explore and arrive at some meaning for ourselves.

We are each the zero point.

We can only discover the truth for ourselves by living life from our side (the zero point). In living life from your side you not only find lasting happiness and satisfaction, but personal awakening. And through this personal awakening we directly benefit all life on this planet.

No one else can run the race, enjoy the fine meal, write the novel, or love your partner in your place. This life is yours to live.

Spiritual journaling consists of methods for using journaling and personal inquiry to investigate our life circumstances, deepen our spiritual practices, increase our awareness, and open up to our creativity. Self inquiry through journaling is a method used for thousands of years and is recommended as part of the treatment for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and self-abuse (cutting). Many remarkable books, such as A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, come from a journal. Journaling accesses the inner teacher as well as opening us to all the creative wisdom we hold within. Journals are our field notes where we can jot down insights and observations from our day. I have been facilitating spiritual journaling classes for over twenty years and wrote a book for young adults on the topic: Spiritual Journaling: Writing Your Way to Independence. Each one of my ten books draws from my journal entries. 

Consider your journal as an outer temple, a place where you can engage the techniques and practices offered here and also document any insights and meaning you have made. Writing exercises can be practiced to increase insight and your ability to stay focused. Spiritual journaling is a universal means to access your meaning maker and a method to give yourself personal insights without the direct guidance of a group or teacher. You can investigate and ignite creative ideas through your journal entries. Borrow inquiries from your life experiences or books you may be reading and write about them, as well as carry them in your consciousness as questions. Maintain a curiosity with these questions rather than searching for answers. In other words, live the questions. Start with a particular writing prompt or inquiry, then let it take you where it will. The experience will be personal to each of us. And that is the point—to engage in practices that bring forth our personal insights and unique creative ideas. My book, The Zero Point Agreement: How To Be Who You Already Are is full of spiritual journaling prompts.

You can also create your own prompts by approaching personal experience with curiosity. Look for the story in your experience (rather than the “lesson.”) Ask yourself, what’s wanting to happen here? What meaning can be made from this experience? I use my journal too to rewrite (reframe) my experience, opening me up to other possibilities inherent in the given situation. We become the meaning maker when we recreate in our journals.

When journaling, date and title each entry. That way you can find the piece in your journal that relates to what is being discussed in this book, and doing this makes it easy to find later, too. Just so, when I offer practices or journaling prompts know that there is not a wrong way to make meaning with them. Where the practices and prompts in my book take you is where you allow or choose for them to take you. This makes life more interactive and conversational. This way we are open to new meaning or to understanding others’ meanings while valuing our own. Ideally we always put our own original twist on things.

Writing from the zero point is a way to consistently awaken to the potential present in the given experience and results in insight, blogs, books and ultimately, personal and global awakening.

“Life is without meaning
You bring the meaning to it
The meaning of life is
whatever you ascribe it to be.
Being alive is the meaning.”
Joseph Campbell, author and mythologist

Journaling Prompt:  Write about a time you felt belittled. Set this aside for a day. Find a myth or story that represents this experience. Come back to the life experience and reframe it, rewrite it weaving in concepts and characters from the myth. Rewrite the story where it gives you a “happy ending” or creative resolution to the experience. 

Journaling Prompt:  Write about the last apple (or other fruit) hanging on the tree into the winter. Include the following words:  cause, succulent, browning, invisible, song, hanging on.


Julie Tallard-JohnsonJulie Tallard Johnson is a licensed psychotherapist who maintains a private counseling and consultation service, Healing Services On the River, established in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, in 1995. She works with clients (teenagers & adults) from all around the region. Julie recently published The Zero Point Agreement: How To Be Who You Already Are.

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