A new beginning

Elul is the time to go back in time and change negative actions or thoughts that have unfavorably influenced us and others. It is often an intense and uncomfortable month.

Shoftim means “judges.” We can place spiritual judges in specific areas of our spiritual process to help us and learn from them how to do things correctly. We can put judges in our eyes to make sure we see the right things and put judges in our mouths to say the right words.

Actually, the idea is to use these judges to transform the way we perceive reality and the way we interact with it. Are we busy with light and sharing or with darkness and ego?

In Elul we can fall into the trap of thinking: “Am I doing my tikkun? How else could I have acted? What did I do wrong?” This can lead you to focus everything on you and end up getting stuck in you and your problems, wasting many things during the month, placing the judges at the wrong doors, with the wrong focus.

“What is my tikkun? Why do you ask me that? Go and take care of other people, that’s what you need to do. Don’t come asking me about your tikkun.” The lesson is that if you take care of others, your tikkun tends to resolve itself. Isn’t that what we teach? You take care of others and the light takes care of you.

We all have judgments about ourselves, we have all done negative things, but if we really want change and are sincere in our hearts, the light of the Creator will give us opportunities to remove those judgments and transform our lives.

If you are reading this, it means that you have some interest in spirituality. Kabbalah teaches that spirituality does not come by itself, a person has to do something to earn merit, to be interested and open to spirituality, especially Kabbalah.

Think about what you have done in your life, times when you maybe did something for someone else, something outside of your responsibilities and not related to your usual behavior. I’m sure you’ll find something. Think about it for a few minutes.

I hope that fact excites and encourages you, use it this month to help you see more opportunities to transform and share, and consequently, remove more and more judgments in your life bringing blessings instead. Always ask yourself: “What else can I do?”

Ask the light to place the judges in your heart, soul, eyes and mouth to see the opportunities that the Creator gives you, basically on a daily basis, to share with others and thus improve your life and the life of the whole world.

Many of us who study spirituality label judgment as a bad thing but it is not always unfavorable. Judgment is a critical faculty even when it comes to our spiritual work.

It is what gives us the ability to choose one path over another, to figure out what is right and what is wrong, and to make a commitment to change. We could call this the light side of the trial. With a little effort, we can connect with all of these gifts during this period.

Judgment becomes a negative trait when it creates space between our children, our parents, friends, coworkers, and whoever we judge. Within that space will enter anger, hatred and all kinds of destructive emotions. When we harshly judge someone we are focusing on what we feel they do wrong, instead of seeing the spark of the Creator that exists in all human beings. If we choose to focus on the negative, we connect with and experience negativity. But if instead we look for what is positive within a person, we connect with the good and experience the good. We are the ones who decide.

By the way, this spiritual principle does not only apply in relation to when we judge others. The natives of the Virgo sign are known to be very critical of themselves.

During the next few days we will be like a powerful lens through which we can see the traits that we want to change in ourselves. The trick is to allow them to inspire you rather than bring you down.

Don’t be so hard on yourself or others. Seek to understand and not judge. Look for the good in every person and every situation in your life.

“While no one can go back and create a new beginning, anyone can start now and create a new ending.” Carl Bard.

In the movies, the chapters of the lives of the characters conclude with such care, as if they were tied with a bow. We learn that adventures, whether happy or tragic, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Our culture tends to see a new year, a new season, or a new day as an opportunity to start fresh. We avoid starting diets or new regimens until we are ready to turn the page and start a new chapter. Every moment of every day is filled with possibilities, including the choice to make a change.

Waiting for the perfect moment can become a spiritual crutch that allows us to cling to old habits.

Every moment is an opportunity for a new beginning. Making a change for the better is not just a matter of changing behavior patterns, but also of rectifying negative actions from the past.

Teshuva is interpreted by many to mean “repentance.” But a more precise translation would be “to return”, to return to the original state (or to the “scene of the crime”).

It is an opportunity not only to return to the pure state but also to recreate it. The Teshuva process can be used at any time. At this time of year, we are encouraged to reach out to someone very close to us (a trusted friend, colleague, or peer) and humbly ask, “What do I need to change?”

Make sure you’re open for this comment and decide if you’re ready to make those changes. There is no better moment in time than now.

There are three different stations in the Teshuva process: feeling regret, deciding to change the way you are, and then verbalizing the transgression. All components are equally vital to the process. But usually we stay in the first step for longer than we should, ignoring the situation or making excuses to justify our actions. Responsibility means taking ownership of our negative actions or habits and recognizing how destructive they are. When regret and the need to start over overcome the need to ignore our faults, it’s time for the next step: resolution.

The most powerful step we can take is the step toward change. What is important to remember is that this can happen at any time. We set small intentions all the time: “I’m going to be on time for work today” or “I’ll order a lemon water instead of a soda.” “We are always at the beginning,” explains Dr. Karen Wegela, author of “The Courage to Be Present.” “Most of the time we don’t realize that all we have is the present moment. We act as if all the feelings and thoughts we ever had continue to affect us right now. In a way, that’s the case. We constantly live with the consequences of our past decisions and actions. However, the next moment is also wide open.” As Wegela suggests, negative actions from our past can overshadow the present if we allow it, but moving towards positive changes is an option at all times.

After we make the decision to change, it is necessary to verbalize this intention. Sometimes this comes in the form of apologizing to someone we’ve hurt. But it can also come with sharing a resolution with a friend. Either way, there is power in spoken words. By allowing someone input into the steps we want to take toward change, we hold ourselves accountable for others and therefore less likely to pick up old habits again.

Being aware of our failures and negative habits is an ongoing effort throughout the year. It is human nature to feel disappointed in our own actions at times. The temptation to wallow in our failures or mistakes and put off a fresh start until the next day, the next week, or the next year is powerful. However, we can put the cookie aside, drop the gossip, or take a turn when we decide. By programming a new course, we take control, directing the movie of our life. We decide when to start a new chapter, all we have to do is take the first step.

A new beginning