For many Pagans and Wiccans, it's hard to find the time to dedicate to your spiritual growth. After all, you've got a job, kids, a life… who has time to read, right? Well, the fact is that you've got the same 24 hours in your day as everyone else. It's up to you to decide how to spend it. If your spiritual growth is truly important to you, you'll prioritize things so that you'll have the time you need to learn and study. Many people find that by setting up a daily plan of study, they can develop good habits that help them make time for their spiritual education. Here are some tips on how to do this.
What Should I Read?
People learn in a variety of different ways, and everyone has a different method that they prefer to use. It's important to decide whether you want to read a variety of books all at once, or whether or not you prefer to focus on one book at a time. If you're not sure where to start, consider something off of the Beginner's Reading List. You should also read What Makes a Book Worth Reading? If you're someone who has trouble paying attention to more than one thing at a time, it's a good idea to just focus on one book rather than several. Once you're done with it, move on to the next.
Obviously, many people get information on Paganism and Wicca from the Internet. If you want to use an internet resource as part of your daily course of study, be careful -- it's easy to start playing with your MySpace page instead, or clicking on links that take you away from your main objective. Next thing you know, you've played seventeen games of Scrabble, but you haven't learned a darn thing about Wicca and your half hour of study time has passed. If you're going to read Internet material, print it out ahead of time and stick it in your Book of Shadows. That way you can read it offline, without distractions.
Where and When Should I Study?
Are there certain times of day that are better for you? If you're going to study regularly, try to make it at the same time each day. Some people think better in the morning, when they're fresh. Think about which time of day works best for you. Also, determine how much time you can devote to studying each day. Got a half hour free? Great! Plan on not answering the phone, watching television, or doing laundry during that half hour. It's also important to decide where to study. Designate one place to be your regular study area.
Some people can relax better with music. Go ahead and set the atmosphere with a CD of your favorite tunes, or light some incense to help you get into the right frame of mind for daily spiritual study.
Should I Write Stuff Down?
Journaling can be a spiritual enterprise in itself. Write down your thoughts and ideas on what you've just read, or the meditation you've just completed. You'll be able to go back later on -- six months, a year, or two years from now -- and see how much you've grown as a person. It's also a good way to keep track of things you want to read more about later -- if a book mentions a particular theory or event that interests you, you can make a note of it and then go back when you've finished the book to see if you understand the idea, or whether you need more studying.
Journaling also allows you to be accountable to yourself. If you've decided to make a commitment to studying each day, you're more likely to do so if you have to keep track of it on paper. If you stop doing it, you're not letting anyone down but yourself. If something comes up that prevents you from doing your daily study, that's fine -- but remember, you'll want to make it up later on.
What If I Want to Meditate Too?
Decide whether you'd like your study period to include meditation. If you do, then you'll need to add a little bit of time into your designated study period. Once you've finished your reading for the day, meditate quietly, pray to whichever gods may call to you, or simply sing out whatever words pop into your head. If you find that meditation isn't something you can pay attention to for long, skip it for now, and try adding it in again later.
I Don't Know If I Can Do This!
Remember that if you're going to study and learn and grow on your Pagan path, it's a commitment you're making to yourself. If you stop doing it, you're not letting anyone down but yourself. Treat yourself with the same respect you would treat other people, and keep the commitment that you've made. If something comes up that prevents you from doing your daily study, that's fine -- but remember, you'll want to make it up later on.
How Flexible Should This Be?
If you start to realize that the book you're reading just isn't that interesting, or that you stink at meditation, then consider changing things around a little. Life is too short to read boring books -- find another one on the same topic, and read that instead. If you can't meditate for twenty minutes because it makes you sleepy, then try closing your eyes and doing some deep breathing for five minutes instead. Be willing to adapt to potential obstacles, and you'll get a lot more out of your experience. If you refuse to be flexible, you'll just get frustrated and give up.
Should I Find a Study Group?
Finally, think about studying with other people. It's a great way to get new ideas, and to get fresh perspectives on things that you might not have considered. If there's no study group near you for people interested in Wicca or Paganism, think about starting one of your own.