Does the FRIENDS Program Involve Meditation?
The Government of British Columbia (Canada) website promotes the FRIENDS program. They also encourage BC teachers to contact their local FRIENDS Liason and adopt the program (Fun FRIENDS, FRIENDS for Life, or My FRIENDS Youth) into their classrooms. The above-noted Government of BC web page features a title heading that says: “FRIENDS Program in B.C. Schools.” And below that heading, is a video (and several PDF’s). To the general public, their featured video advertises FRIENDS as something very secular and unassuming. It doesn’t mention Buddhism, spirituality, or the word “meditation.” But, if you fast-forward to the 3:00 point in the video (see screenshot below), children are meditating with their eyes closed and seated in the Sukhasana meditation position. This screenshot additionally shows these folks holding their hands in the Vitarka Mudra position (with thumbs touching their forefingers). According to this website, the Vitarka Mudra (which is featured on statues of Buddha) symbolizes Buddha teaching the dharma, and the circle formed with the fingers represents the Law of Buddha. Additionally, this website says (in the fourth paragraph) “mudras induce the deity to be near the worshiper.”