That monastic training is likely to be a lifesaver–literally. Chanthawong is an expert meditator and able to remain in meditation for an hour straight, according to his grandmother. The fact that he was able to teach meditation, along with other methods for conserving energy to the boys in the cave probably helped keep them alive. The oxygen supply in the area where they were trapped was decreasing. It was reportedly down to 15 percent of the atmosphere, compared with a normal level of 21 percent. Fifteen percent is considered the minimum for sustaining life, and the fact the oxygen was so low is one reason why divers brought the boys out rather than waiting. Without meditation, which slows respiration and reduces oxygen intake, oxygen levels would be even lower and the boys might not have survived. That’s especially true if, without the calming influence of their coach, some of them had become agitated and begun breathing rapidly.
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