How Meditation Kept Thai Boys Calm Trapped in Cave

Photo via the Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page on Sunday, July 8, 2018, says “We, Thai and international teams join forces to bring the young Wild Boars home.” (Thai NavySEAL Facebook Page)

By Whitney Diamond

It’s a story for the ages, and it has captivated the world in a true testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

It’s the story of the Wild Boars. Aka, the 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach that got trapped deep within Tham Luang Nang Non cave system, a half a mile below the surface. The Wild Boars had been missing since June 23, when heavy monsoon rains flooded the cave they had ventured into, trapping them on a ledge more than 2 miles from the cave’s mouth. In what seemed like a miracle, nine days later the boys were found alive by two British divers.

They weren’t just alive, but multiple news sources have reported that they weren’t panicking, yelling, or depleting their resources.

They were 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.

Their coach, Ekapol Chanthawong, was trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach. He taught the boys to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and preserve their energy through those harrowing two weeks.

Ekapol, 25, an orphan at the age of 12 went to live in a monastery. According the multiple news sources he trained to be a monk for 10 years in Mae Sai, Thailand, but left to care for a sick family member. It was then that Ekapol took on a position as the assistant coach of The Wild Boars.

We’ve known that meditation is some powerful stuff for a long time, but recently scientific researchers have shown in clinical settings that mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety and depression, as well as pain (even more so than morphine!). Mindfulness is the first “M” in the 3 Ms that make up The Ziva Technique.

Some have wondered if Ekapol would face charges, but Business Insider reports:

“The mood in Thailand is very protective towards the assistant coach,” a US-based lawyer who worked in Thailand for an international development organization told Business Insider. “Instead of the parents and the public going to a place of finding someone to blame, they might support and appreciate the assistant coach in an equally unreserved way.”

Some parents have told news outlets that they attributed the children’s calmness to the coach.

“If he didn’t go with them, what would have happened to my child?” one mother told Thai television, as reported by News Corp Australia. “When he comes out, we have to heal his heart.”

“My dear Ek,” she said, using Chanthawong’s nickname, “I would never blame you.”

Talk about leaders in compassion and forgiveness!

The mission to rescue these boys and their coach has been nothing short of miraculous to watch. Special personnel from all over the world have lent their hands, first diving through treacherous conditions to bring medical supplies, food and oxygen to the boys. And then carrying out an incredibly dangerous and complex rescue mission that ultimately led to the safety of the entire Wild Boars team and their coach. Sadly, there was one fatality, when a former Thai Navy SEAL, 38-year-old Saman Gunan, died while trying to reach the group with oxygen.

Stories like this are part of the reason why Ziva exists. All Ziva graduates are encouraged to take their new meditation practice and use it to deliver their bliss and fulfillment to the world. To make this planet a more generous, compassionate, beautiful place to live. We are elated that this operation had a happy ending, and that we get to continue to share this world with The Wild Boars.

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