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….. how to make the mind matter



Stop. Breathe. Let everything go.

That approach appears to have been a technique used to help keep 12 boys and their football coach alive for more than two desolate weeks of being trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand.

The 11 to 16-year-old football players and their 25 year old coach were exploring the cave after practice on 23 June 2018 when it suddenly flooded because of heavy rains from a monsoon.

Instead of screaming or crying, the group were sitting quietly in the dark, meditating.Their coach had spent a decade as a Buddhist monk and could meditate for up to an hour at a time. Reports suggest he helped guide the boys in the practice when they needed it most.


Health benefits of meditation

Meditation is known to have a host of health benefits and is uniquely suited to help people cope with extreme stress. Several studies have found links between meditation and an immediate, measurable reduction in feelings of depression and anxiety as well as physical pain.

It also appears to help us turn the volume down on the intensity of nearby disturbances, whether it’s a cacophony of car traffic or the crash and whirl of powerful monsoon waters.


Turning down the volume on stressful situations

For a long-term study published in the journal Emotion in 2012, Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, looked into the idea that meditation might help us cope with outside disturbances.

He found that when he tried to startle two groups of people — one that was meditating and one that was not — with a sudden interruption like a loud noise, the meditators were far less perturbed than the people who weren’t meditating. Those results were true regardless of whether the participants were new or experienced at the practice.


Heightened feelings of empathy

In a follow-up analysis, Davidson played the sounds of stressed-out voices to groups of experienced and novice meditators, then observed their brain activity patterns in an MRI. He noted increased activity in two brain areas known to be involved in empathy among members of both groups but found that activity was significantly more pronounced in the brains of the experienced meditators.

These results suggest that, given enough time, people who meditate regularly might have an enhanced ability to respond to others’ feelings and empathise with them without becoming overwhelmed, Davidson concluded.


Lower stress levels

A growing body of research on meditation also suggests that even a few minutes of daily mindfulness is linked to lower stress levels, more positivity, enhanced creativity, and even better focus.

Something about meditating seems to help people deal with worrisome thoughts. It’s somewhat like taking a broom to the bustling thoughts that can crowd our heads and waiting until all the dust has settled.



So the 12 Thai school boys survived their 17 day flooded cave ordeal and in totally darkness with the help of their Buddhist trained football coach. He taught them how to meditate and as a consequence it helped:

  • Turned down the volume of noise and fear
  • Heightened their feelings of empathy
  • Lowered their stress levels


What will you do today to help others?


Heads We Win


  1. The Independent, World News, Asia – Erin Brodwin
  2. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin