I have enormous respect for Josh Korba\’s writing. He\’s the head teacher at Dharmapunx NYC + Brooklyn. His critique of secular mindfulness teaching in Mindfulness is Not Enough is right on. As usual, ripping a practice or other bit out of another culture without understanding and bringing the necessary context results in a diminution at best, out right harm often.
For example, tatami, the rice straw mats used in Japan, are replaced annually. They are too expensive to do that in America, so health problems result. Tatami solve several problems and have numerous accommodations in the Japanese culture. Rice straw has a lot of silicon in it and does not break down or recycle easily. Being walked on for a year and then recycled works. Removing your sandals (or shoes) before walking on them keeps them clean. And because most people wear sandals (frequently a good idea in a humid climate), their feet and socks don\’t smell as much.
Without the ethical imperatives in Buddhism, mindfulness practice as stress reduction is like taking drugs to dull the pain of a soul sucking job instead of reforming or boycotting it.