Twice today, I heard the use of the word mindfulness questioned. First, was by a well-known teacher of Vipassana meditation, and second by someone at work, a person with a long time practice. Both expressed annoyance with the way mindfulness has now been co-opted by the mainstream and put to uses that are denaturing its original intent.
While I value this purist assessment, I can also appreciate Jon Kabat-Zinn's diverging view. Not everyone has the good fortune of awakening to the Dharma on their own. In fact the percentage of dedicated practitioners is infinitesimal. That leaves 99% of the population without potentially any chance of ever tasting the sweetness from mindfulness practice. And in there lies the genius of Jon Kabat-Zinn, to make the Dharma palatable to many, even those with lots of dust in their eyes. What's wrong with using the promise of less stress and less suffering, to get regular folks to eat a few raisins and finally sit still? I have seen some pretty wondrous transformations during the course of MBSR classes.
Sure, there are those now teaching 'some mindfulness', and who only have a shallow understanding of the Dharma, and little practice. I have had the opportunity to sit and listen to their words, and caught myself wishing they would not speak. And I realize that is a small price to pay.
I say let us keep spreading the good news about mindfulness practice, and let us do so skillfully, respectfully, while drawing deep from our own practice.