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The Zero Point Agreement

How to Be Who You Already Are

Published by Destiny Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A practical guide to stop searching for meaning by creating meaning from within

• Explains how we can only discover who we are by naming what we want to be and taking steps to make it a reality

• Offers simple evidence-based methods to generate enthusiasm, creativity, and direct spiritual experience and to co-create with the natural world as our ancestors did

• Presents 11 core principles for living life from within, such as how to take full responsibility for motivation and effort, express gratitude, and focus your intention

Everyone wants to experience purpose and inspiration in their lives, but the search for meaning often leaves a seeker in the hands of fate. Offering a different approach to self-discovery, one where we create our meaning from within rather than seek it from the outside world, Julie Tallard Johnson shows there is a science behind personal spiritual experiences and creativity. She reveals simple evidence-based methods that can be applied to any situation to generate enthusiasm, inspiration, and direct spiritual experience and transform the inner and outer landscapes of your life.

Drawing from the Heart Sutra, the I Ching, indigenous wisdom, and the teachings of the Dalai Lama, Joseph Campbell, and the Kadampa master Atisha, Johnson outlines a practice centered on what she calls the Zero Point Agreement--the realization that you are the zero point of your life, that life’s purpose comes from within. She explains how to discover who you truly are by naming what you want to be and taking steps to make it a reality. Providing 11 core principles for the Zero Point Agreement as well as thought exercises, meditations, and journaling practices, Johnson shows how to break free from negative habitual states, liberate yourself from your attachment to the behaviors of others, take full responsibility for motivation and effort, express gratitude, focus your intention, and learn to co-create with the natural world. She also explores how to transform repressed material and how to apply the Zero Point Agreement to heal both personal and global relationships.

Revealing how we can tap in to the creative, creational power that lies within and around each of us, Johnson offers a spiritual technology for self-illumination, creative restructuring of your life, and manifestation of your life’s purpose.


Reaching for Meaning

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
--Stanislaw Jerzy Lec, poet and aphorist

The zero point agreement is based on systems theory of interdependence (ecosystems, family dynamics, group dynamics, communities), the Buddhist principle of dependent co-arising (nothing exists isolated or independently), as well as the ethics of personal responsibility (we each are responsible for our experiences), and, finally, on our interaction with nature (we are part of the whole). This systematic wisdom is the foundation to the zero point agreement and the life of a meaning maker.

In your life you are the zero point. I use this term more as a metaphor than as a science. Just like the image of a dream catcher presents to us a template of the web of life, at its center (its zero point) is an opening through which everything comes into the web and everything moves out of the web. Everything in our life comes through us or from us. Of course we are also weaved into countless other webs and are part of the larger web of life--and every other system, every other web, has its own center.

Imagine having your life open up to the greatest potentiality of any moment, of having the ability to make meaning from any given situation, as well as having a tangible way to transform personal and global wounds. This is what living life from your side as a meaning maker offers you. A global awakening can only take place on a personal level through a collection of individuals. Each snowflake in a blizzard makes up the storm. Every ingredient counts to make the recipe. In the recipe of your life, you are the primary ingredient. The zero point insists on an active engagement with your life and in return you are given inspiration to live creatively and ethically.

The zero point agreement states that you take 100% responsibility for your experiences. Without at least the consideration of personal responsibility we will not experience the fulfillment that is possible in our one brief lifetime. Taking responsibility for our experiences is fundamental to personal happiness as well as living ethically and creatively.

We must be our own before we can be another’s.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagine This

Take a moment now and close your eyes. Take a deep breath and rest your awareness in the physical sensation of your breath. Just watch your breath as it moves in and out of the body. Then take a moment to notice. Notice the physical sensations of your body breathing and sitting. Don’t add any spin to it; just notice the sensations.

Imagine that you are a drop in the ocean. Everything around you and in you is the ocean. Breathe and imagine (don’t force anything). Notice how, as the drop, you are part of the whole, belonging intimately to the whole, while at the same time a unique drop within the ocean. Breathe and imagine the physical sensation of this oceanic quality surrounding you and inside of you. This is what is meant to live life from your side. You are part of the whole but uniquely so. You can only contribute to the whole from your side, from your place in the ocean.

Blessed By Choice

Behold this day. It is yours to make.

--Black Elk

Each of us is always blessed with third options, with choices. If there is one thing the scientific approach to living our life points to, it is that there is no end to our abilities to discover and make meaning. There are no absolutes, no end point in our explorations and possibilities. The blessing comes in participating in our surroundings and consciously making meaning through our perceptions and choices. We are always making meaning through our choices, but now, we do so consciously, deliberately, and creatively while tapping into the universe’s power to manifest. We are like gardeners (always) in the Garden of Eden, with the most basic choices sometimes awakening us to our true nature. Do I eat the apple? Every decision, as Joseph Campbell says, “is a destiny decision.”

Sometimes our blessings are limited. There is a tangible poverty that surrounds us. We are not offered an obvious tapestry of choices. Still, even when the choices seem bleak, every moment offers up some third options (the true potentiality within the situation), and it is in our choices (conscious or not) that a future harvest depends.

Epictetus said that people are disturbed not by the events but by the meanings they make of them. Stories contain the meaning we make of our lives events.
--Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Coyote Healing

Even so, with a variety of choices available to us, research shows that we have a tendency to habitually respond in a patterned and limited way to our circumstances. We often remain blind to the variety of possibilities inherent in the situation. Our own perspective and history limit us. Our past agreements and beliefs and our supporting assumptions based on our history prevent us from taking risks, reaching out and making something remarkable happen. I refer to these as the pain stories we carry around with us. Up until now you may have been using much of your energy (consciously and unconsciously) to perpetuate your pain stories. In these stories, you carry around assumptions about why things are the way they are and why you need what you need, as well as your assumptions about everything and everyone. Our pain stories may have originated with acerbic events, but we are the playwright of our lives (and the director and actor). The historical and conditional cause of any particular pain story holds no power in comparison to our ability to rewrite and re-create our lives. The Universe, through its natural laws of creation, supports us in making meaning within the different settings of our lives.

About The Author

A licensed psychotherapist and creative writing teacher, Julie Tallard Johnson has kept journals since the age of sixteen discovering how the writer and spiritual path are one and the same. She has spent the last thirty years working with individuals and groups to help them discover a spiritual practice that brings them a sense of purpose and happiness. The author of many books for teens including Teen Psychic, Spiritual Journaling, The Thundering Years, I Ching for Teens and Making Friends, Falling in Love, which was recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the best books for teens, she lives in Wisconsin.
Visit the author's web site at

Product Details

  • Publisher: Destiny Books (December 1, 2013)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781620551783

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Raves and Reviews

“In this beautiful book, Julie Tallard Johnson--a gifted teacher and writer--brings fresh insight to an ancient truth: each of us must live from the inside out. This book--full of resources that range from heart-deep insight to helpful, practical exercises--can help us reclaim the treasure-trove of our own experience and being.”

– Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, Let Your Life Speak, and The Courage to

“In The Zero Point Agreement, Julie Tallard Johnson intelligently presents elegantly simple yet remarkably powerful practices for personal and societal transformation. Through the masterful weaving of teaching stories that touch the heart and inspire, she helps foster the development of an authentic identity. This is what our children, our families, our communities, and the land need.”

– Corinna Stevenson, ecopsychologist and creator of Dragonfly Healing

“I was captivated by Julie Tallard Johnson’s accessible treatise on how we are all charged with making meaning in our daily lives. I found The Zero Point Agreement dazzling because it is so packed with actual, practical wisdom. I can honestly say it has already changed my life.”

– Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions

The Zero Point Agreement offers a clear, practical path to taking control of what you are able to and living the life you want to live.”

– Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life

“Julie Tallard Johnson’s The Zero Point Agreement is a brilliant resource for deep and lasting change. I have used the zero point agreement in my own life and have shared it with clients and students. It is not another pie-in-the-sky promise of change. It is straightforward and effective.”

– Tamar Zick, LPC, RYT, licensed psychotherapist and registered yoga teacher

“What a generous, wise, and useful book this is! Each chapter is so filled with quotes, anecdotes, hands-on exercises and more that help and inspire us to fully claim our own lives. There’s enough here to guide and inform you for many years to come.”

– Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D., award-winning poet, and author of Soul on Earth: A Guide to Living & Loving

“A delightful companion for those of us seeking greater levels of balance, meaning, and joy--this book offers many gems of inspiration as well as the welcomed reminder that the journey toward wholeness always begins within.”

– Karen Horneffer-Ginter, Ph.D., author of Full Cup, Thirsty Spirit

The Zero Point Agreement is not only a book it’s also a beautifully written love letter to the essence of who we really are.”

– Radiah Nunez, hostess of the H2O Network

“Julie’s new book goes to the sinew from the beginning, reminding us of who we really are. She invites us to listen to ourselves, especially our demons, and shows us how to navigate from desire to the dreams that comprise our core. “Living life from my side” is an inspired, pragmatic concept that will change lives. Imagine a world where each of us takes 100% responsibility for our experience. This is Julie’s offering: a spark of hope and a path of light.”

– Prudence Tippins, owner/director of The Calliope Center for Reflection and Renewal and Wheel of Init

“In this resource-rich book of practical wisdom and wise practices, Julie Tallard Johnson offers readers multidimensional insights, inspiration, and skills for living with greater authenticity, creativity, and happiness. Integrating science, spirituality, and art in an engaging and deeply thoughtful approach to becoming who you already are, this gifted teacher demonstrates how each of us can create more meaning and joy in our lives--in ourselves, in the world around us, and for our power to create and shape the stories we tell ourselves and others.”

– Amber Ault, Ph.D., clinical sociologist and psychotherapist

“Julie Tallard Johnson’s The Zero Point Agreement is full of wisdom. We are invited to challenge our beliefs, habits, and assumptions and make ourselves vulnerable so that we can easily access the truth within our lives and experiences. Julie teaches us that by becoming our own meaning maker, we transform ourselves and the world in which we live. A true gift!”

– Amy DeLong, M.D., Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Health

“I love that the big beautiful zero is a central tenet of this book. What I see is a big round open door through which we can all walk on our journey toward wholeness. It’s a journey with no destination, of course, since wholeness is not a place as much as a perspective, ever-shifting. Put on your dancing shoes; this is not a book to be read propped up in your La-Z-Boy!”

– Claudia Schmidt, singer-songwriter

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