My journey into the world of meditation began in the early 1990’s, when during a hospital stay for depression, I was introduced to guided meditation for stress and anxiety. The first meditation I ever did, “Becoming a Tree,” is still one of my favorites to use for grounding and calming purposes.
After I left the hospital, I searched for cassette tapes of similar meditations that I liked. I found many, my favorites being those by Dr. Bernie Siegel, Melody Beattie, and Dr. Emmett Miller. These meditations took me, among other mental journeys, to a remote island where I found a safe haven from the everyday world, one I could return to at will when needed. I created in my mind a cozy cottage by the lake, complete with a treasure chest from which I drew my strengths, and a padlocked iron footlocker in which I could store any troubles I was not ready to deal with that day.
My safe place changed over time, morphing into a castle, a cave, and many other things until it reached its present form; at the same time, some of my friends in recovery were building safe places of their own. I never asked about theirs, and they never asked about mine; they were special, proprietary, and somehow it seemed they managed to, in conjunction with our other coping skills, keep the anxiety, panic, and stress at bay.
After my cassette tapes wore out, got terribly tangled in my cassette decks, and became nearly impossible to replace (Amazon then being not even a speck upon the horizon), for the most part, I gave up meditation for years in favor of other coping skills. Except for dabbling every few years with a CD from Amazon when it came into being, trying to find something I liked, I would not return to meditation until 2018, when I upgraded my smartphone from a lowly model with little memory that allowed for precious few apps.
The new phone allowed me to experiment with the mental health apps currently available on the market. I installed several of these in short order (Calm, Daylio, Insight Timer, Let’s Meditate, and Youper), and in the next post I will conduct a review of their capabilities and my own experience with them.