Melissa Hoon was born to write. She received her Bachelors of Arts in journalism and American studies at Cal State Fullerton in 2010, freelanced for The Orange County Register and currently works as a development writer for Chapman University. But ever since Hoon knew how to wield a pen, she journaled her thoughts. "I still remember the tiny little blue diary my mom got me when I was four. I still have it." says Hoon.
Even as a child, she felt deep shifts within her psyche when journaling—Hoon didn't realize writing was a form of therapy but definitely felt its cathartic benefits. She eventually took her passion for writing to help others by founding The Inner Awakening Writing Center in 2013. It offers workshops and retreats for individuals looking to tap into the therapeutic power of introspection through journaling and meditation.
Hoon's program begins with meditation to reach calmness and clarity to have a truer self before beginning to write, and ends with meditation to relieve any distress caused by writing or to enhance the positive emotions achieved. But more than just giving people an opportunity to ponder and write, the Inner Awakening center draws its inspiration from seeking to help people who are survivors of sexual abuse. The unique approach was born from when Hoon volunteered at a home for abandoned, neglected, and sexually abused children in South Africa as a graduate student studying gender-based violence. There, she witnessed the full scope of the recovery process. "Instead of just writing about the issue, I wanted to work with the survivors directly to give them the care that they needed," Hoon said.
With a newfound inspiration, she returned to the States and began working at an anti-human-trafficking organization. Hoon had a client who confided in her that traditional therapy just wasn't getting results. Drawing on her own writing background, Hoon gave the survivor a journaling prompt to aid in the recovery process. The insights and the emotion reached through journaling were profound. "She went from being really expressionless to being full of joy and bright-eyed," Hoon says.
She then moved to Sacramento in 2013 to work as a youth anti-sex trafficking specialist for Women Escaping A Violent Environment (WEAVE), where Hoon developed a journaling workshop. Now, though, Hoon also threw in yoga, which she has practiced since she was 18. With all the parts set, The Inner Awakening Writing Center began soon after.
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Journaling and meditation are scientifically proven to stimulate parts of the brain responsible for happiness. Eventually, Hoon saw how useful the workshop could be for anyone, not just survivors of human trafficking or abuse. "I realized from all the beautiful people I was teaching that we all have our life stuff, it often does come in the form of suffering," she says. "We're all trying to let go of something to make room for greatness, happiness or success."
Hoon's programs found interest in Portland and Sacramento, but she eventually made her way back to OC last year. Ever since, she's fulfilled numerous requests for workshops throughout Southern California. While therapists, psychiatrists and spiritual counselors have assisted with the development and refinement of Hoon's journaling and meditation workshops, she wants to make clear she is not a therapist and her workshops should not be seen as therapy. Hoon is also uninterested in turning The Inner Awakening Writing Center into a profitable business, instead filing for non-profit status.
"This program is my life, my biggest committment." Hoon says, eyes wide with excitement and sincerity. "Helping people heal themselves through the written word—that's my biggest passion."
The Inner Awakening Writing Center's upcoming workshops will be March 13th and 14th At Chapman University followed by a series of workshops on the last three Sundays of May at the Great Park Artist Studios in Irvine and then a workshop in June through the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force. For more information visit writingandconsciousness.com