I began discussing this season by offering a working definition of t'shuvah that could come close to identifying the fullness of its purpose and potential (see: "What is T'Shuvah?," below). Before we start getting into some nitty-gritty details of practical ways of doing t'shuvah, I wanted to address one more foundational piece: creating a culture of t'shuvah around us.
I'm usually not this dogmatic, but I believe this strongly enough to say it: The season of t'shuvah in Elul will not impact any of us nearly as deeply if we do not actively seek to make it the focal point of our lives.
T'Shuvah is not something one can do passively, or engage in unintentionally. We need to create a culture in our lives to cultivate it. Most of us are not engaged in daily interaction with fellow congregants (or even a part of congregations) to have this culture emerge around us. That means we will have work to do to make it happen, to be that culture in order to have it around our entire community, our homes, our jobs, etc...
I offer the following for our consideration:
1. Don't go it alone-Find at least one partner to pray with, learn with, chat with, etc. specifically on this issue of t'shuvah. Encourage one another.
2. Pray, pray, pray-Let this be a season of more intense prayer. Speak to God alot about this area of life and listen to His answers
3. Don't distract your mind-We have so many natural distractions in our lives that we don't need to artificially add any. I know it sounds extreme, but attempt to make every move you make a part of this process of being conformed into the image of Mashiach. There is no "down time" from complete t'shuvah. It is either your life, or its not. This does NOT mean that everything is heavy and serious (Heaven Forbid), in fact you might yourself giggling if you do this enough! It means framing our lives in such a way that the only thing that matters is encounter with our King and becoming more like Him (loving others, bringing healing into the world, giving encouragement, being reliable, etc.)
4. Learn-Read some stuff. I know Yinon and Messianic Jewish Musings (both in my link list) are blogs engaging this topic. The B'rit Chadasha letters address this topic alot,the Besorot address it, TaNaKh addresses it. Get a hold of some Rav Kook or other works of Mussar.
All four suggestion are a part of the process of digging in deeply; digging into God's heart, digging into our own hearts, digging into others thoughts, etc. If we allow t'shuvah to envelope our entire lives in this season, imagine what Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot-Simchat Torah can be for us this year...Excuse me while I go off to giggle :-)