We have all been avidly watching the news over the past few weeks waiting for the rescue efforts of the twelve Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in the flooded cave in Northern Thailand.
Yesterday it was reported that all of the boys and their coach have been rescued, such wonderful news for their families, and the whole world, who were all waiting with such anxiety in the hope that it would have a happy ending.
All of the boys were rescued by an amazingly brave and selfless team of Thai Navy Seals who risked their own lives to save this team in such dangerous and difficult circumstances.
The 11-16 year old soccer players and their coach, 25 year old Ekapol Chanthawong, were exploring the cave after their football practice on June 23 when suddenly the cave flooded because of heavy rains from a monsoon. It was a pair of British divers who 10 days later found them all perched on a rock deep inside the cave. What followed was the most difficult of rescues.
Now they are all safe and being treated in hospital the question everyone is asking is “How did they manage to mentally survive being trapped for all that time”?
Reports suggest that to help the boys remain calm and focused their coach Ekapol drew on all his learnings as a Buddhist Monk and got the team to stay calm by using meditation techniques, enabling them to sit quietly in the dark.
Meditation as we know has a host of health benefits and is uniquely suited to help people cope in times of extreme stress. Several studies have found links between meditation and immediate measurable reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety as well as physical pain.
That benefit of meditation would have proved hugely helpful to the Thai players who would have been cold, scared and alone more than 2 miles deep into a labyrinthine cave network.
Once again meditation has proved itself to be beyond doubt the most powerful tool we have to assist us in times of need.
Meditation creates heightened feelings of empathy which is something this small team of isolated people would have needed to enable them to support each other.
A wonderful result for all those boys families and friends who must have thought this rescue was impossible but a special thanks from the world must be paid to the former Thai Navy diver Petty Officer Saman Gunan who very sadly died taking part in the rescue efforts.