Meditation kept the Thai boys trapped in a cave astonishingly calm

The Thai boys soccer team rescued from underground caves was helped in survival by meditation practices led by its coach - a former Buddhist monk.

Meditation kept the Thai boys trapped in a cave astonishingly calm
Ekapol Chanthawong (left), the coach of the Thai Wild Boars soccer team. Credit: AP


The story of the Thai boys soccer team trapped in a cave for two weeks has captivated millions of people around the world. Lost since June 23rd, the group spent ten days without any contact with the outside world. It was finally discovered on July 2nd and rescued on July 10th.

It turned out that Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year-old coach of the 12-player Wild Boars soccer team, is a former Buddhist monk. He spent a decade living as a monk and is a practitioner of meditation. It is that skill that has been credited with keeping the boys calm during this ordeal. In fact, when the British divers discovered them after ten days, the group was meditating.

Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, the mother of the 11-year-old Chanin, who was trapped in the cave, thinks the coach’s background definitely helped in this situation. Watching the video of the moment the boys were found, she thought it was very noteworthy how calm they were.

“Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting,” she said. ”No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing.”

Leah Weiss, a Standford expert taught by the Dalai Lama, told CNBC that meditating played a key role in keeping the group alive. It’s a kind of mental training that improves focus and compassion, according to the expert.

“For Buddhists, meditation is a go-to when distressed or in danger,” Weiss said. “Cognitive resources that would otherwise be hijacked by the threat can be accessed once again, meaning that problem-solving capacities increase."

In particular, she pointed out that "given that insufficient air and food was a major issue for the trapped boys, meditation is actually a very practical response to both of these concerns."

Meditation creates a calming effect by slowing down the heart rate, breathing and metabolism, said Weiss. It also lowers the levels of cortisol and oxygen utilization. A meditating person would also emit less carbon dioxide.

More details about how the boys got trapped in the cave in the first place are to be uncovered, but it looks to be a very dramatic real-world demonstration of the power of meditation. The incident confirms a steadily growing body of research that shows how meditation and mindfulness practices lead to lower stress levels, improved positivity, and creativity as well as clearer focus and protection from depression.

There is no dark matter. Instead, information has mass, physicist says

Is information the fifth form of matter?

Photo: Shutterstock
Surprising Science
  • Researchers have been trying for over 60 years to detect dark matter.
  • There are many theories about it, but none are supported by evidence.
  • The mass-energy-information equivalence principle combines several theories to offer an alternative to dark matter.
Keep reading Show less

Why does life flash before your eyes in a life-threatening scenario?

The experience of life flashing before one's eyes has been reported for well over a century, but where's the science behind it?

Photo by Kalea Jerielle on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

At the age of 16, when Tony Kofi was an apprentice builder living in Nottingham, he fell from the third story of a building. Time seemed to slow down massively, and he saw a complex series of images flash before his eyes.

Keep reading Show less

How romantic love is like addiction

Might as well face it, you're addicted to love.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Sex & Relationships
  • Many writers have commented on the addictive qualities of love. Science agrees.
  • The reward system of the brain reacts similarly to both love and drugs
  • Someday, it might be possible to treat "love addiction."
Keep reading Show less
Politics & Current Affairs

Autonomous killer robots may have already killed on the battlefield

A brief passage from a recent UN report describes what could be the first-known case of an autonomous weapon, powered by artificial intelligence, killing in the battlefield.

Quantcast