How Meditation Became the Saving Grace For the Trapped Thai Soccer Team

If anyone knows the benefits of meditation it’s the boy’s of the Thai soccer team that made international news while they recently spent 18 days trapped in a cave.
We all know the benefits of meditation are plentiful. We’ve all heard about the positive effects that meditation can have on our overall health and wellbeing.
We’ve read about the stress relief, the grounding and centering, the calming of the mind, the taming of the ego, and all of the other seemingly esoteric benefits that meditation can produce.
Despite its many pros, it’s unlikely that you would ever expect meditation to become a life-saving tool.
But that is precisely what it was for the young boy’s Thai soccer team trapped inside a flooded cave in the Chiang Rai province of Thailand for 18 days.

The Thai Soccer Team’s Dire Situation and Saving Grace

Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year-old coach to the “Wild Boars” boys soccer team, spent the better part of his life ordained as a Buddhist monk.
Thai Buddhist monks live very ascetic lives. They accept alms for their meals, they sleep on straw mats on the floors of temples, and, perhaps most importantly in this case, they spend the majority of their days sitting in meditation.
This honed skill likely played a major role in saving the lives of the 12 boys aged only 11 to 16 that were exploring a cave with their coach when monsoon floodwaters rushed into the cave’s entrance and trapped the soccer team inside.
Totally cut off from the outside world, trapped alone in the dark and freezing cold without food or clean water and barely enough oxygen to survive, the team turned to meditation to ease their severely stressed bodies and calm their anxious minds.

The Power of Meditation

We can only imagine the thoughts that were racing through their minds. Suffocation, starvation, and drowning must have been constant fears creeping in despite their best efforts to stay calm.
However, the team managed to keep their spirits high in spite of their dwindling bodies and dire circumstances.
Articles from varying sources state that the coach led the boys through meditation while they awaited their fate (this article goes more in-depth with statements from family members of the Thai soccer team players).
This calming, soothing, and stress-reducing practice may be what kept them alive and hopeful long enough for rescuers to find them. Sitting in silence and stillness also enabled them to conserve energy as they went days without food and water.
Boys Soccer Team
When they were finally discovered after ten full days of isolation, Thai Navy SEAL divers rushed to their aid to bring them oxygen and other life-saving supplies. However, they could not offer them a timeline for when they would be extracted from the cave.
So, once again, the coach and his team turned to meditation to subdue their fears and find peace with their circumstances. This powerful tool became crucial to their emotional states and spirits.

The Aftermath For the Thai Soccer Team

This devastating situation likely took a strong mental toll on the young boys. But the power of meditation and the Buddhist’s emphasis on patience presumably helped them remain hopeful even in their darkest hours.
Now that the boys have been freed from their physical prison, the trauma still holds them captive in a mental one. However, if they continue their powerful meditation practice, it may be yet another saving grace for their continual relief and wellbeing.

How You Can Tap Into the Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a powerful tool. It allows you to choose which thoughts you’d like to dwell on and which thoughts you’d like to release.
By becoming an observer of your own mind, you simultaneously gain and release control. You allow for the ebb and flow of the mind but do not attach to its ever-changing tides.
While all stresses are different, they all are valid. So whether you’re dealing with a life-and-death situation, the loss of a loved one, or high pressures from work, meditation can be a powerful force in assisting you to cope.
If meditation can help save the lives of 12 young boys on the Thai soccer team trapped in an isolated cave on the verge of death, then just imagine the positive effects it could have on your everyday health and mental wellbeing.
Need some help getting started? Try This Self-Guided Meditation Tutorial

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Leah Sugerman

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless traditions of the practice and teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings both internationally and online.


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