Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Meditation Works

Last week's dramatic rescue of twelve teenage soccer players and their coach from an underground cave system in Thailand was all over the news. Not as well-reported, though, is how the coach managed to keep the boys calm throughout what must have been a pretty terrifying ordeal. As Vox reports, the coach had spent ten years at a Buddhist monastery and taught them meditation.

Rain trapped the group in the cave on June 23rd, and they were not found until July 2nd. That's eleven days during which they literally had no idea whether or not they would be found alive. The rescue effort took eight more days, and was not complete until July 10th.

“Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting. No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing,” the mother of one of the boys told the AP, referring to a widely shared video of the moment the boys were found. Turns out that their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, who led them on a hike into the cave when it flooded on June 23, trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach.

According to multiple news sources, he taught the boys, ages 11 to 16, to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and preserve their energy through their two-week ordeal. And British diver Ben Reymenants, who was involved with the rescue operation, told Vox on Thursday that each of the boys did an hour of meditation with the coach before they were brought out of the cave between Sunday and Tuesday. “He could meditate up to an hour,” Ekapol’s aunt, Tham Chanthawong, told the AP. “It has definitely helped him and probably helps the boys to stay calm.”

Ekapol, 25, went to live in a monastery at age 12 after he was orphaned. According the Straits Times, he trained to be a monk for 10 years at a monastery in Mae Sai, Thailand, but left to care for a sick grandmother. He then was hired to be the assistant coach of the team, known as the Wild Boars. Coach Ake, as he is known, still maintains close contacts at the monastery. The abbot there told the Wall Street Journal he’s “a responsible young man who meditates regularly.”

As a teenager I loved caves and I still do. I dragged my parents to every cave tour on every vacation we ever took. I never have felt lost underground, or claustrophobic, or anything. But I can tell you that my high school self would have found this absolutely horrifying. Even being violently murdered is over quickly. This is sitting in the cold and damp, wondering if any future awaits you besides slowly starving or suffocating in the dark.

But meditation works. Focusing on the practice helped the boys remain as calm as possible under the circumstances, such that when rescuers arrived they seemed confused that they had been underground for as long as they had been. Keeping your attention on the present moment helps to pass the time, and helps you feel less depleted by boredom when all you can do is wait. And hey, it works great for practicing magick too!

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble

No comments: