I would like to think that organisations such as the Buddhist Society would exercise considerable care in what they publish. Many would regard them as an important part of the U.K. Buddhist establishment - they are certainly an organisation with a long involvement in Buddhism - so I think that Buddhist Society members expect them to publish a variety of thoughtful and well-informed opinions that promote good practice rather than what looks like casual prejudice.
So what are we to make of the editorial in the February edition of the Middle Way journal? An editorial that starts by worrying about the suffering caused by organised religion, and then includes this sentence:
"Filling the void created by the loss of trust in religion has come a host of other ways to fill the 'spiritual' gap: ideologies of all kinds masquerading as various religions, the leisure industry with its vast resources which mindfulness and yoga form a part, sport and travel as well as naked and rampant materialism of all kinds."
So mindfulness and yoga are casually dismissed as part of the leisure industry (and part of sport and travel?). This is more than a little surprising. I suggest the writer of the editorial looks up the entries on Yoga and Mindfulness in Wikipedia as a good starting place for basic information.
From the wiki entry we read that the origins of yoga may date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions, probably developed around the fifth century BCE in ancient India's ascetic and sramana movements. Western exposure to Yoga was promoted by Swami Vivikananda's talks in the late 1890's in the US. Since then - around 125 years - Yoga has established a number of popular forms widely practiced across the globe. Many who practice Buddhism find Yoga to be a useful complementary discipline encouraging an awareness of the body, calming the mind and improving flexibility and health.
Many of my fellow Buddhist practitioners started practising yoga before finding their way to Buddhism. And many Buddhist monks, nuns and clerics find yoga a very helpful part of their daily routine. Those who practice yoga can relate to it both as a secular form, or as a religious discipline.
Secular mindfulness - which I presume is what is being dismissed as part of the leisure industry in the editorial - has been extensively developed and applied for about 40 years. It is based on the Satipatthana Sutta from the Buddhist Pali Canon and includes practical training in mindfulness (sati - sampajana/panna) meditation of the breath, body, feelings, sensory awareness and metta bhavana (cultivation of friendliness or loving kindness). There is considerable evidence that secular mindfulness training is a helpful therapy for a range of problems - including depression and anxiety, chronic pain, and other psychological and physical pathologies that cause deep suffering to many.
Arising as it does from Buddhist roots, secular mindfulness - properly taught and practised - is not only beneficial in its own right, but lays the foundations for a fuller engagement with Buddhism.