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Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood [Paperback]

Karen Maezen Miller
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 13 2007
Combining humor, honesty, and plainspoken advice, Momma Zen distills the doubts and frustrations of parenting into vignettes of Zen wisdom.

Drawing on her experience as a first-time mother, and on her years of Zen meditation and study, Miller explores how the daily challenges of parenthood can become the most profound spiritual journey of our lives.

This compelling and wise memoir follows the timeline of early motherhood from pregnancy through toddlerhood. Momma Zen takes readers on a transformative journey, charting a mother’s growth beyond naive expectations and disorientation to finding fulfillment in ordinary tasks, developing greater self-awareness and acceptance—to the gradual discovery of “maternal bliss,” a state of abiding happiness and ease that is available to us all.

In her gentle and reassuring voice, Karen Miller convinces us that ancient and authentic spiritual lessons can be as familiar as a lullaby, as ordinary as pureed peas, and as frequent as a sleepless night. She offers encouragement for the hard days, consolation for the long haul, and the lightheartedness every new mom needs to face the crooked path of motherhood straight on.

Frequently Bought Together

Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood + Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life + Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A former student of the late California-based Zen master Taizan Maezumi Roshi, Miller spent years working on this book, which distills years of Zen practice in the crucible of her experiences parenting her daughter. From the beginning, Miller is very frank about feeling overwhelmed, jealous of her husband's love for their newborn, and her periods of depression. The path from these feelings to the realization that "your life is not yours at all" but "an unbroken line of love" to others in one's family and in one's life-and to maintaining that awareness through all of the changes of parenting-comprises the rest of the book. Short chapters on having "No Expectation" (which begins with Miller's difficulty conceiving for the first time at 42 and ends with her preeclampsia), on "Being Unprepared" (labor is induced early, and Georgia Grace is born healthy), on the power of lullbies as a kind of meditation, on learning from small failures (and from the difficulties of breast feeding), on sleep and sleeplessness, and on the paradoxical freedom of parenting's "No Exit" center unfold into something more than aphorism. Wresting oneself free from the need for control is, as Miller describes it, a constant struggle (or, in Zen parlance, a practice). This book realizes it with warmth, engagement and winning honesty.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Here at last is what we mothers have been waiting for: momma-hood held in equal respect to monk-hood.”—Shambhala Sun

“Wrestling oneself free from the need for control is a constant struggle. This book realizes it with warmth, engagement, and winning honesty.”—Publishers Weekly

"Eloquently frames the everyday experiences of parenting as opportunities for spiritual growth."—Mothering 

"Miller has written a powerful synthesis of the insights she has attained, both through the experience of motherhood and as a Zen Buddhist priest."—Literary Mama

“Miller’s book offers guidance, insight, and wisdom. She shows us how to embrace not only the ups and downs of our own mothering, but also helps us open our heart to those who have mothered us. I recommend her book to anyone who wants to really learn something about spiritual practice in everyday life.”—Diane Eshin Rizzetto, author of Waking Up to What You Do: A Zen Practice for Meeting Every Situation with Intelligence and Compassion

“Miller's practice has seeped deeply into her life and the result is an extraordinary book of practical wisdom. She avoids the preaching and moralizing so common in parenting books, and instead offers the reader a way of peace and freedom in the midst of fatigue and doubt. A truly valuable book.”—William Martin, author of The Parent's Tao Te Ching

Momma Zen, filled with honest tales of the bedlam of motherhood, beckons us to an oasis of silence and acceptance. Miller deftly leads us to the realization that, rather than searching outwardly, this oasis can be located in the center of the life we are living right now.”—Vivian Glyck, author of The Tao of Poop

"Honest, revealing, funny, and poignantly accurate, Momma Zen unfolds the powerful path of raising a child, as well as the opportunities for deeper spiritual understanding. An important contribution."—Nicolee Jikyo McMahon Roshi, Three Treasures Zen Community, San Diego

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! March 30 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I would recommend this to any mama, even if they have no interest in Buddhism. A hilarious, honest and very refreshing read! Her writing style flows wonderfully and she has explained mediation and Buddhism practices in a way that is very inspiring.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, wise words April 13 2009
This book is not full of obvious in-your-face parenting advice. Karen Maezen Miller's wise words are much more subtle, and yet, extremely humorous and colourful. This should not be your only parenting book, but it does offer some very invaluable help: all mothers are on this wild ride together. We all suffer from the same worries, fears, and anxieties. And we all are blessed with the natural contented ability for the love and caring we offer our children. I wish I read this when I was pregnant with my first (especially since this book is really geared for new mothers of babies, not really for older children, but some of the writings can work for mothers of children of all ages.) I think I would have benefited from knowing we all are not perfect, we all experience the same insecurities, and as Karen Maezan Mille suggests everything really turns out fine as long as you stay in the present moment and follow your instincts.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  80 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, for Dads too! Aug. 12 2006
By Mr. Mom - Published on
I'm a Dad, not really a full-on Zen guy, but I do have a healthy appreciation for Zen.

I can honestly say that whether or not you're into Zen, or are a Mom or a Dad, this book is wonderful. The writing is superb, lyrical and flows like a fresh spring stream, bubbling, laughing, and crying all the way. If you are a parent you'll like it even more; this is not a preachy book, or some strange mystical women's book. This is a great book about life and love and it's a special treat to read. Even for a Guy.
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful companion on the spiritual journey of motherhood Oct. 2 2006
By Amy Tiemann - Published on
"Momma Zen" is a book to come back to again and again. I dip into it whenever I am having a difficult day, or just seeking inspiration during a quiet moment. Usually I gobble books cover-to-cover, but Karen Maezen Miller's work is wonderful when savored in small bites. "Momma Zen" reads like a series of thougthtful discussions with a wise friend.

Motherhood is full of uncertainty, reversals, and discovery. "Momma Zen" is a wonderful companion on this journey. Whether you are an expectant first-time mother or the a seasoned Mom, this book has something for you. I recognize myself in every chapter.

We live in an era where an avalanche of advice books can feel overwhelming. "Momma Zen" takes a different approach by connecting with the heart of motherhood--the enduring, essential challenges, lessons and blessings that we encounter in relationship with our children. Karen Maezen Miller's work is a true gift to give yourself or a friend.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars help for every mother, zen, christian, or other! May 16 2009
By Amy Dingler - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
With three kids under 5 I was struggling with a whole host of emotions and new depths of sleep deprivation. A desperate search on Amazon revealed scores of books for parents on how to manage the kids; almost nothing on how to manage yourself. Then I found Momma Zen. It is broken up into short sections to address all different kinds of issues: your anger, your guilt, your fears about being a good enough parent, your miserable sleeplessness. Each section can work like a daily meditation, and there's a "concordance" of sorts in the back that helps you go directly to the section you need. I've given this to three other moms, who all thought it was a lifesaver, just like I do! Buy it! SOOOO helpful.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Momma Zen" is a wonderful guide down "the crooked path to motherhood." July 29 2006
By Dolores Miller - Published on
This is no simplistic 12-step program to perfect parenting. Rather it is a thoughtful memoir of the author's own plunge into the amazing experience of motherhood that both turned her world upside down and at the same time gave value to everything. Her simple, elegant prose is enough in itself to keep you reading, but it is also graced with humor, and Miller's willingness to reveal herself for better or worse creates a bond with all of us less-than-perfect parents. The book is stitched together with insights from her practice as a Zen priest, but this too is treated with delicacy, and we are given instructions for meditation if we wish to try it.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stunning Meditation July 12 2006
By Brenda Hansen - Published on
This book is a beautiful meditation on life. I wish I had it when my son was younger, but it doesn't matter, it's universal. It is a primer on Zen Buddhism and one of the best I've ever read. And it is a primer on motherhood that is revealing and comforting in ways unimagined. It truly flows with such ease and beauty that you won't put it down until the end. It also includes a wonderful chapter on tending your marriage after childbirth that is incredibly apt and meaningful. I highly recommend this book to all mothers and fathers, and to any person seeking inner peace. You'll find the way here.
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