One challenge that many people (especially in and just out of college, with small children, or dealing with major changes in their general life) face are real limits on available space and time to do work. If this is true for you, keep a couple of things in mind:
- It’s probably not permanent. Your life will change, your circumstances will change.
- Re-evaluate what you want and would like to do regularly (say, every six months). New options might be open for you at that point.
- If nothing else, focus on practices that you can build into your daily life, or that can be done without needing much extra space and time. The daily practices page has a wide range of ideas.
Perhaps you’re at college or sharing space with roommates to save money. Maybe you share space with a younger sibling. Maybe you’re living in a studio apartment with your spouse or a friend. Maybe you’ve got a baby at home, or you’re juggling work, family, and tending to elderly parents. Whatever the reason, limited space can be tricky.
You do want to be considerate of the other people you’re sharing space with – both in terms of their access to community spaces or their sleeping/personal space, and in terms of making sure that things like incense don’t trigger allergies for them. (Or break housing rules, if that applies.)
I also always wanted to be consider of the fact that I was doing things that (deliberately) changed the energy of the space, and wanted to get at least a basic buy-in on what I was doing. People don’t generally have any objection to “I’m going to make the place feel more friendly and clean”, but more complicated work (like specific wards, ongoing magical workings that include their space, etc.) should be checked first, at least in terms of the basic goals.
Focus on techniques that don’t take much extra privacy - you can meditate on your bed with earphones, do a cleansing ritual in the shower, etc. Some people get a great deal of meditation time in in the bathtub, actually. (Just make sure you don’t fall asleep).
Get up early, and make use of a common space before everyone else is up and about. This one can be particularly grueling on a cold winter day, but there’s also something wonderful about the dawn quiet. If you don’t have a common space inside (like a living room), this is also a time when parks and other public spaces are often quiet – but have enough people moving through to feel reasonably safe in many places.
Negotiate for some quiet times with roommates for meditation or ritual. A good option is always to negotiate – maybe you do stuff on Tuesdays when they’re out at their regular movie night. All they need to do is give you advance notice if they decide not to go, so you can figure out an alternative.
See if there’s a community space that you can use periodically for ritual. For example, many colleges have space in the school chapel or religious center that can be used at off-peak times. Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, and other small open-minded religious community spaces often rent space for a reasonable fee, especially if you split it with a few friends every month or two.
See if a friend with more space would be okay with you borrowing their space. For example, when they’re at class, the night they work late, a weekend they’re out of town. (Be up front about the fact you’d like to do ritual, though, since you’re in their personal space.)
In a busy life, it can be really hard to find time (or energy) for lots of elaborate work. Again, the daily practices page has some ideas for things you can fit into a range of schedules.
Look at basics: We all get tempted, I think, to be the people who say “I meditate for 10 hours every week, and I spent 20 hours making Amazing Art About My Religion, and I cook every meal from scratch from local ingredients, and I have time to keep up on all these resources.”
But we’re not. (And chances are, they’re not either. If they are, they’re missing doing stuff in their life too – it’s just different stuff.)
Look at what a realistic basic, practical schedule is. For me, right now, that might be quick daily things (centering, grounding, cleansing), 20-30 minute meditations once or twice a week, ritual for the Esbats and Sabbats, a lot of reading and writing, and listening to music, and a lot of stuff that I do where it fits. (Changing my altar, ongoing magical workings, etc.) For you, it might be listening to a Pagan podcast while you commute, doing a yoga class that includes some meditation, and just focusing on the Sabbats right now. Maybe next month, you start adding in more regular grounding and centering work.
Look at where you’re spending your time: Try charting your schedule for a week or two, and chances are, you’ll probably find some times when you’re not using time as well as you’d like. What’d it be like if you spent even half an hour of that time on something religious?
For some people, this might mean cutting out watching a TV show they’ve lost interest in (but still have a habit of watching.) For some people, it might mean a little less random clicking around the Web, or gaming. There’s nothing wrong with these things – but if they’re getting in the way of other things you want to do, giving up a little bit of time on them can help.
Look at various times of day: I’ve found that – as much as I hate to admit it – I’m much happier exercising early in the morning if I’m going to exercise. I wish that weren’t true, but it is. Some people are like that with meditation, or daily practice, or whatever. (And some people are much better if they do it in the evening, or over lunch.) Try out as many options as you can and see which ones work for you.
Consider a longer period of time every week. Sometimes getting daily time can be really challenging. (I’ve certainly had times in my life – like when I was in grad school, and working full time – when I left home at 7am, and got home at 10pm, and had only a half-hour break for lunch, and forty-five minutes to drive to my grad school and inhale dinner before class. Didn’t leave a lot of time for deep meditation.)
What you can do is make up for some of that with longer time at other points. This is also something that can work for some people with small children – saving the longer work for the night that a friend or grandparent or babysitter watches them. This isn’t ideal, because some skills really are easier to work on if you do a little bit every day. But it can be a good temporary solution (where ‘temporary’ might mean a year or more, but not the rest of your life.)
[last edit January 8, 2011]