The Hebrew month of Elul begins August 11-12 with the new moon. Rosh Chodesh Elul (literally head of the month or beginning of the month) marks the turning of the seasons toward the Jewish new year which will fall a month later with Rosh Hashanah on Sunday September 9th.
The month of Elul is a time for reflection, meditation, and "spiritual accounting" of the soul (in Hebrew, Cheshbone Hanefesh). This means taking stock of the year gone by, what went well and what didn't, considering relationships and where you might need to make amends or do some repair work, and how well you did with the goals you may have set for yourself last year. All of this spiritual preparation is necessary for entering the upcoming new year with a clean slate, as your best self, with room to set new goals and intentions for who you want to be in the world.
That sounds intense!
Well, yes, it can be.
That's why we have a whole month for this spiritual work. One of my coaches talks often about this hard reflection stuff. The act of examining oneself, really holding up a mirror, is not easy. That's why Byron Katie calls it doing "The Work". It's not supposed to be easy. But through this process of self-inquiry and reflection, we can grow.
A month seems like a long time, but it goes by fast, especially with vacations, getting ready to go back to school, new life transitions and everything else that comes with the changing of the seasons.
I encourage you to set aside sometime during Elul. Perhaps it's once a week or once a day to do some journaling and reflection. If you're new to a daily or month long practice like this, schedule the time on your calendar. Right now. Ask a friend to do it too and be accountability buddies. Or let me know how I can help you.
Here are some more Elul resources!
If you're gathering with a group for the month of Elul, check out At The Well's Elul Moon Manual with an article I wrote on mindful practices for Elul.
My spiritual writing teacher of over 10 years, the brilliant Merle Feld is now offering her weekly Elul writing prompts online at Starting on Sunday, August 12. View them here.
My friend, Rabbi Jordan Braunig has been offering daily Elul writing prompts for the last number of years. He writes, if you'd like to jump into our Elul journey, please fill out this form.
If you are looking for other Elul resources or personal Jewish life coaching, please let me know!