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3 Ways to Transportable Tranquility

In the past month the news has felt like such a blur, but out of all the stories that I came across, the one that impacted me most was the story of the soccer team of young boys and their coach who were trapped in and eventually rescued out of a Thailand cave.

And I bet the reason why would surprise you.

Along my life path, the physical practice of Yoga has helped me tremendously, but I went through true transformation after incorporating the mental side, meditation. In 2011, I was a director of a 24/7 domestic violence shelter, and stress and worry hijacked my mind, leading me to constantly doubt in my own abilities. I was a perfect example of what the nonprofit world likes to call “burnt out”. Then, out of sheer desperation I decided to enroll in yoga teacher training. Along with philosophy, anatomy, and sequencing, I learned the most important tool: meditation. Also known as mindfulness, it can be defined as the daily practice you give your mind that helps you focus on the here and now, without judgment. The goal is to let go of negative “mind chatter” in order to get to know your true inner self. This can help you do miraculous things, like operate calmly in crisis or find hope in seemingly hopeless situations, like being trapped in a cave for weeks.

Ekapol Chanthawong went to live in a Buddhist monastery at age 12, having just been orphaned after losing both his parents and brother to a deadly disease. There, he formally studied meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach of a Thailand boys soccer team. As the world watched with bated breath, some chided Ekapol for making the decision to enter the cave in the first place, as there were clear signs of an impending monsoon. However, Thailand has embraced the man as a national hero, having sacrificed his own food and well-being before rescue teams arrived as well as having taught the boys the art of meditation, freeing them from suffering by teaching them how to conserve energy and find mental strength within. All boys were eventually rescued and after 2 weeks in darkness, emerged in good health both physically and mentally.

Of course, the rescue workers are true heroes and need to be thanked a million times over for ultimately getting the boys and their coach out of the cave. However, I also look at the coach, his life story, and his ability to find calmness and hope in chaos, and I can’t help but use it as a lesson for life. He is also a hero, and even though he made a mistake, he helped to course correct and not only survive, but thrive. He is the living embodiment of resilience.

I’m going to steal a phrase I heard from a Washington Post contributor: “transportable tranquility”, or the ability to call upon inner stillness, acceptance, and disconnect from the outer world no matter where you are at. Ekapol used transportable tranquility to overcome fear and anxiety.

A common misconception of mindfulness is that you have to find a quiet, calm environment for a long stretch of time to gain benefit. The reality is that you can actively practice mindfulness at any time and any place. In fact, this is arguably when it helps you the most. When you are dealing with the escalated client or donor, when you forget your powerpoint presentation notes for an important meeting, or when you just don’t agree with your boss in the moment. These are prime times to use mindfulness tools, and below are small examples of how to start:

  • Perform a Body Scan: through this short exercise, take mental note of tension in your body and release it to find calmness.

  • Take a walk: move your body and reap the benefits of mindful movement, proven to increase blood flow and clear your mind.

  • Proactive meditation: make mindfulness a part of your daily routine with the help of an app, which trains your mind and body to be less reactive and more emotionally regulated toward stressful situations.

Ekapol with his incredible resiliency shows us that there are moments of opportunity even in the bleakest of situations. We can channel our transportable tranquility, make a thoughtful, calm response, and ultimately thrive in the hardest of circumstances. Besides, it’s all in your mind.

Sommer Neff is Founder and CEO of Sommer Neff Consulting LLC and can help you design and develop your programming so that it creates the greatest impact. She assists in grant writing capacity building, a cornerstone of fundraising, by researching or crafting grant requests and can help build out healthy workplace cultures using best practices, offering cutting edge techniques including mindfulness in the workplace.

Sommer has a BSW and MSW in Social Work where she specialized in community organizational development and leadership. She also has a Yoga teacher certification and incorporates mindfulness into her daily life.

If mindfulness interests you or your organization, don't hesitate to contact Sommer at for help on how to implement it into your work life.

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