Ellen Langer has an interesting passage in her book on mindfulness claiming that her work is significantly different than 'spiritual buddhism' because it comes from the Western Scientific tradition.
“Mindfulness East and West
The definitions of mindfulness in this chapter, especially the process orientation just discussed, will remind many readers of various concepts of mindfulness found in Eastern religion. Students in my classes who are knowledgeable about such fields are continually drawing parallels. While there are many similarities, the differences in the historical and cultural background from which they are derived, and the more elaborate methods, including meditation, through which a mindful state is said to be achieved in the Eastern traditions should make us cautious about drawing comparisons that are too tidy.
My work on mindfulness has been conducted almost entirely within the Western scientific perspective. Initially, my focus was on mindlessness and its prevalence in daily life. As can be seen in the order of chapters so far in this book, the notion of mindfulness develops gradually by looking at aspects of mindlessness and then at the other side of the coin. Only after a series of experiments demonstrating the costs of rigid mindsets and single-minded perspectives do I begin to explore the enormous potential benefits of a mindful attitude in aging, health, creativity, and the workplace.
Behind Eastern teachings of mindfulness lies an elaborate an elaborate system of cosmology developed and refined over time. The moral aspect of mindfulness (the idea that the mindful state achieved through meditation will lead to spontaneous right action12) is an essential part of these philosophies. It reaches into matters too complex for the scope of this book. Since many qualities of the Eastern concepts of mindfulness and of the one being described in this book are strikingly similar, however, we might hope that some of the moral consequences striven for by the Eastern disciplines might also result from mindfulness as understood in this Western form and context.
As an example of the semantic and philosophical tangles that arise if we try to compare Eastern and Western views of the mindful state, consider the activity of creating new categories. While this is a form of mindfulness in our definition, it appears to be in direct opposition to what one does during meditation.13 In meditation, the mind becomes quieter and active thought is discouraged. In some forms of meditation, thoughts and images that come to mind are considered unimportant and are relinquished as soon as one discerns their presence. At the same time, in many Eastern views, the[…]”
Excerpt From: Ellen J. Langer. “Mindfulness.” iBooks.
What are these big differences?