Exploring Elul

Throughout the month of Elul, Derekh teacher Merle Feld offered weekly writing prompts to support and inspire seekers in meaningfully exploring the Days of Awe and the coming year. The writing prompts were accompanied by audio guides with poems, niggunim, stories and insights. Please feel free to enjoy the audio files below and the suggestions for starting a long-term spiritual writing practice.  Continue to explore the Derekh website as a whole, and check back on this page in late spring 2019 for information about next year's Elul course.

Week 4 prompts and guidance

Welcome to the final week of my month-long writing workshop for Elul. May this week of writing be filled with discovery and meaningful insight, and may the days ahead be enriched by the hard good spiritual work you’ve done this month.  I suggest you can continue working with these prompts during the days ahead – doing further writing, perhaps taking your notebook with you to synagogue on Yom Kippur and reading through the questions and insights with which you have been occupying yourself in preparation for the Days of Awe.

Prompts for Week 4

The 2018 Elul prompts are no longer available.

Week 3 prompts and guidance

Welcome to the third week of my month-long writing workshop for Elul. I hope that your writing has been going well and that you have managed to reserve small spaces in the days to luxuriate in rare precious time just for you. I want to take a moment to extend encouragement and congratulations to you for doing what is often hard, courageous work – sitting down to find yourself on the page, exploring inner voices and truths, perhaps coming to know yourself in a new and different way. If you are new to the party, you can find prompts and audio guidance in previous posts.

Special urging this week to listen to the audio guide – you’ll need it to understand some of the prompts.

 

Prompts for Week 3

The 2018 Elul prompts are no longer available.

Week 2 prompts and guidance

Welcome to the second week of my month-long writing workshop for Elul. If you’re just joining in now, you might want to look at and listen to last week’s post to get oriented. If you began your participation last week, I hope that your writing went well and that you managed to reserve small spaces in the days to luxuriate in rare precious time just for you. I want to take a moment to extend encouragement and congratulations to you for doing what is often hard, courageous work – sitting down to find yourself on the page, exploring inner voices and truths, perhaps coming to know yourself in a new and different way. 

Week 2 prompts

The 2018 Elul prompts are no longer available.

Welcome to Week 1

Welcome to Week 1 of the Elul Spiritual Writing Workshop. I’ll be posting new prompts each Sunday from August 12 through September 2, focusing on a different theme each week.

I suggest you listen to the audio introduction before exploring the prompts themselves to help lay the groundwork and orient you as you begin to experience the practice of spiritual writing and the rhythm of Elul.

 

Writing prompts

The 2018 Elul prompts are no longer available.

Suggestions for your writing practice

As we get closer to the beginning of the Elul writing workshop, I wanted to share some suggestions for getting the most out of your writing practice.

~ Buy a notebook, or find one in the house; if you possibly can, write by hand, even if that feels very unfamiliar to you – computers go faster, faster; this writing is all about slower, slower.

~ When you are sitting with the prompt, listen carefully. This writing is all about listening – listening to yourself.

~ Often the first response that comes to mind is the most fruitful. Just relax and go with it even if you think it is odd.

~ If the writing prompt fails to evoke something you can run with, keep listening to yourself and start writing the words that are there.

~ As you write, capture as clearly and precisely as you can what is true for you – no artifice, no disguises. 

~ Be specific, concrete; better to tell one story and go deep with it than to generalize or to skim over multiple examples.

~ Be on the lookout for strong images that come up, meaningful details. Be curious; follow the image and explore it even if you don’t quite understand why it’s important or where it is going.

~ Write in your first language; that is the best way to make a heart-connection through words. 

~ Once you are done writing, take a breath, read what you have written. Do not criticize or judge – these are words from your heart that need to be valued, cherished and respected.

~ You may want to write down any questions that the writing has sparked for you. You can return to those questions at another time for reflection and/or for continued writing. 

~ In some way, acknowledge to yourself the courage and openness you have brought to this work.

Check back on Sunday, August 12, for the first set of writing prompts!