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  • Writer's pictureTanya Takacs

Inspiration from a Cave

Finally, some good news!

It is to the world’s relief that today marked the successful completion of harrowing rescue efforts to retrieve all 12 Thai soccer players and their coach from a cave in Northern Thailand. They had been trapped for 18 days following an unexpected storm and partial cave flooding. It took over a week for contact to be made with the group and one diver died in the rescue efforts.

Early video footage of the boys, ages 11 to 17, showed them offering traditional greetings, with hands in the prayer position. In letters to their families, they reassured their loved ones (and the world) that they were ok, asked their parents not to worry, and made requests for their favorite foods.

It is hard to imagine how the boys experienced those 18 days, particularly the first 10 cut off from the outside world. Did they feel fear, despair, hopelessness, hunger? One also wonders what did they do with that time in the literal darkness? What would you do? One article suggests that they spent at least some of that time meditating.

Curiously, the coach had lived for 10 years in a monastery in his youth, and reportedly practiced meditation at least one hour a day. In the darkness, he taught the boys this ancient practice, only recently studied for its capacity to relieve depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

I took heart in the coach, both in his efforts to bring comfort to his team at a time of exceptional duress, and in his humanity as a fallible human being.

The coach took responsibility for what happened. In a letter to the players’ parents, he apologized. He implied that he was at fault, had made a bad decision, disregarding the warning sign at the entrance and taking the boys into the cave. The storm, of course, was out of his control. He expressed his commitment to the welfare of the boys in his care.

Imagine the experience of the families during this time. Their own feelings of concern, fear, anger, helplessness in the circumstances. Some I imagined might feel irate, incensed, critical of the coach. Some might wish to do him harm. Anger of course makes sense given the loss of control. Yet holding on to it, dwelling in it could cause some real harm to the one who is angry, as well as potentially the one whom one is angry with. Is there some way to acknowledge our anger yet also find a way to soothe and reassure ourselves, coming to rest in the midst of uncertainty rather than railing against it?

In a post quoted in the article, one concerned citizen/supporter didn’t waste time dwelling in anger and fear, instead, took the opportunity to express their sense of faith, calling for respect, and offering prayers and well-wishes to all involved. In this way, this individual took up the opportunity to cultivate a peaceful heart-mind, rather than an unsettled/agitated one. The world could certainly benefit from more of those!

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