Author Topic: How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave  (Read 15892 times)


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How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave

The boys’ coach lived in a Buddhist monastery for a decade and taught them to meditate in the cave

When the 12 Thai boys who were trapped in a cave and were rescued one by one were first discovered by British divers last Monday, they were reportedly meditating.

“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.”

That meditation would be a useful practice in an extremely stressful situation like being trapped in a cave is really no surprise. Buddhist meditation has been around for 2,600 years, since the Buddha began teaching it as tool for achieving clarity and peace of mind, and ultimately, liberation from suffering.

Recently, scientific researchers have shown in clinical settings that mindfulness meditation (a specific meditation practice and one that’s taught in Thai Buddhism and elsewhere around the world) can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as pain.

Though there are few randomized control trials on meditation and mental health, a 2014 meta analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that meditation, and in particular mindfulness, can have a role in treating depression, anxiety, and pain in adults — as much as medications but with no side effects. Meditation can also, to a lesser degree, reduce the toll of psychological distress, the review found. The research on kids is still fairly preliminary, though more and more schools are implementing mindfulness meditation programs.

As Brother Phap Dung, a senior disciple of the Zen Buddhist master and author Thich Nhat Hanh, told me in a 2016 interview: In meditation, “you’re cultivating [peace, kindness, clarity] so you can offer it to others. When you sit with someone who’s calm, you can become calm. If you sit with someone who’s agitated and hateful, you can become agitated and hateful.”

In a cartoon that’s been circulating in Thailand, an artist shows Ekapol with a lap full of tiny boars, peacefully meditating.

Though he has managed to keep the boys safe and calm, Ekapol apologized to their parents in a letter delivered by the Royal Thai Navy on Saturday. “To the parents of all the kids, right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize,” Ekapol wrote, according to ABC News.

Wow! The powerful benefits of meditation!


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Re: How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 01:01:20 PM »
When I saw this news about the missing boys and the coach, I was thinking their chances of getting rescued would be very slim. After getting stuck in a place where there was no sunlight, anyone would lose hope and probably give up. So it was really quite amazing to see how calm and stable they were when they were found.

Under any normal circumstances, we are controlled by our mind. For example, someone accidentally steps on our toe, we get angry and shout at that person and an argument starts. If we can control our mind and the emotion that comes at that time, we will be able to avoid the conflict. Meditation is a way for us to have awareness of what our mind is thinking and control it.

The coach, in this case, knows how our mind tricks us. When we are in the situation like this, we will get panic, we will have fear, we lose hope and we give up. But when we do meditation, we ground our mind, we think positively, turning our attention away from distracting thoughts and this helps to bring our spirit high.

The children were very lucky to have a coach who knew how to meditate. Otherwise, they would not have survived after so many days. Imagine 12-13 children crying everyday hopelessly?


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Re: How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2018, 03:43:15 PM »
Wow, this is an amazing story to prove the effectiveness of meditation in controlling our mind during the difficult time. Meditation is well known to be able to calm our mind and refocus our mind with more important things and not lose focus and sidetrack to other non-beneficial thoughts that occur from time to time.

The boys are lucky to have a coach that has experience in meditating and can teach the technique to them during these crucial times to save their life. I can imagine anyone that is trapped in that situation, without any light, underground will experience some degree of anxiety and panic attack.

Panic attacks are not good for them and it may potentially create more problems for them and even cost their lives. Thanks to their coach, the kids meditated during those days and manage to stay sane, calm and focus. Even the rescue teams are surprised how well the kids reacted to them when they went in to rescue them. This shows the power of meditation is exactly as powerful as Lord Buddha has taught them.


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Re: How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2019, 04:02:06 PM »
It is proven scientifically that meditation can help our mind remains calm and clear. Primary schools in the UK have introduced meditation class to the students and some large corporations also organise meditation class for the employees. People who meditate regularly tend to be less compulsive and panic when they face difficulties.

A calm and clear mind is extremely important when we are in an emergency situation like this. Having stuck in a cave deep inside, without light and food, not knowing if anyone will come for rescue is very stressful. If everyone gets panic and starts crying and feels despair, it will only make the situation worse. Fortunately, the coach has been trained in meditation before and he used it to help the students to remain calm.

I guess religion also played a big part in helping the group to remain calm. While doing the meditation, they must have also prayed very strongly and with faith to Buddha for help. Having a religion gives us hope. It is very important to have hope when we are in a difficult situation. Without hope, it is hard for us to continue, hope drives us to work hard no matter what. 


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Re: How Buddhist meditation kept the Thai boys calm in the cave
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2019, 04:45:14 AM »
it has been scientifically proven that meditation is a very powerful tool to have in our lives. It brings calm and peace within our minds that we attain mental clarity. As in the case with the boys, they are fortunate to have their teacher teaching them meditation to make it easier to survive the ordeal of being trapped in the cave. Otherwise, they would have suffered from this traumatic experience. Imagine how well they will be able to manage their adult lives in keeping the cool head in face of trouble or problems and being able to solve it better than those who panic or not able to focus. Meditation should be introduced to all schools worldwide as the foundation for the children to be patient and calm. Then there will be less violence and aggressive behavior which leads to a happier society.