On June 23rd, 12 boys and their soccer coach went exploring in Thailand’s Chiang Rai province, venturing into the Tham Luang cave in celebration of a teammate’s 17th birthday. Their plans to be there for an hour turned into a two-week story of endurance, friendship and how far people would go to save someone else’s child. The power of the human spirit gathered many from around the world, including a diver who lost his life to save all 12 boys and their coach. Our world witnessed a first-hand demonstration of the better angels of our nature.
While it was no doubt a challenging situation for the families, observers and rescuers, it must have been particularly stressful for the 13 who had gone missing. Fortunately, under the duress of the two-week escapade, their coach was able to give these youngsters a spiritual tool that proved to be extremely helpful to them: mindfulness meditation. The coach happened to be an experienced and adept mindfulness practitioner and teacher.
The mindfulness tools were invaluable in helping them endure the two weeks they were in the cave and prepared these young men for the dicey rescue mission they faced. By practicing the meditation, they were able to stay calm and reduce their anxiety and fear. It also helped amid dropping oxygen levels and limited food supply by slowing heart rates and breathing, which preserved their energy and lowered their metabolism.
As if just surviving the captivity wasn’t a feat in itself, the rescue mission required the children to swim and dive in dark water while wearing facemasks. Many didn’t know how to swim, nor did they have much experience with diving, if any, and had to be taught on the fly. The potential for panic was high and could cause great danger to both the kids and the divers. But with mindfulness, their anxiety was substantially reduced, they were able to stay calm and avoid panic, which enabled the successful rescue of all 12 boys and their coach.
We could take a lesson from this miraculous course of events. Fortunately, we don’t have to be trapped in a cave to reap the benefits of the mindfulness that brought such success to the mission. We can practice mindfulness and benefit from it each and every day of our lives.
Find a comfortable seated position.
Bring your attention to your breath.
Continuously notice your breath.
When your attention is pulled away or drifts, redirect your attention back to your breathing.
That’s it. It’s simple but requires consistent and regular practice. Start with 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and in the evening; the more you practice, the more you benefit. When resistance pops up and you think you don’t want to or don’t feel like doing it, think of those 12 youngsters and their coach and remember if it can work for them in their harrowing situation, it surely can be of great help to us in the particulars of our daily lives.
Peace and Blessings,