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Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,400 ratings  ·  215 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 174 pages
Published July 11th 2006 by Trumpeter
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,400 ratings  ·  215 reviews


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Susan
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!
BELOW IS A COPY OF THE EMAIL I SENT TO KAREN MILLER AFTER FINISHING HER BOOK:

Since becoming a new mom 11 months ago at the age of 39, I have experienced a tidal wave of emotions, luckily most of them positive, but occasionally....well, not so much. After having the great fortune to be able to give up my full-time job and become a stay-at-home mom, I have lost contact with most of my friends, as most of them have families and busy lives (with a demanding work schedule) as well. I have several lon
...more
Kathleen
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I have an entire bookshelf of pregnancy and parenting books and this is one of the best I've read. Although I checked it out of the library, I'm going to get my own copy so I can refer back to some of my favorite chapters and give myself a dose of her words when I need them in the future.

In general, this book is a treatise on motherhood through the lens of Zen Buddhism. There are chapters on discipline, eating, the endless household chores, schedules, marriage after parenthood, forgiving your f
...more
Margaret
Jan 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
The best parenting book and not a LICK of actual tactical advice like you normally read. Blissfully no discussion as to whether or not your baby is part of a normal bell curve of fussing and sleeping or not sleep and eating or not eating. Plenty of other books will give you that! But this one is an oasis away from the hustle bustle of overly analytical parenting in age of Google and blogs. A really really well-written introspection into the shift into motherhood and all the accompanying emotions ...more
Lindsey
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this book in two hours last night and it blew me away. It makes me want to learn more about zen Buddhism, which is a thing I never thought I would say. I marked so many pages in this book, I eventually had stop myself or the whole thing would be covered in post-its and highlighter. It's the first "parenting book" that has ever truly spoken to me in any real way. My only regret is that I didn't know about it when it came out in 2006, the year my oldest child was born. I'd recommend it to a ...more
Christina
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is getting me through beginning to be a mama with sanity. I've read it 4 times now, and Maya is only 4 months old. I think I'll go read it again...
Emma Refvem
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to me by my therapist when I told her I was considering motherhood. I don’t have a lot of experience with Zen Buddhism but I greatly appreciated the way Miller approaches her journey of motherhood. I will definitely be coming back to this for spiritual support through my own journey I’m sure!!
Kathryn
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Skip the audio for this one.

"Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself."


"May you be tired and afraid
overwhelmed and ready to quit.
Quit!
Start over, over
ten thousand times over
roll out, get up, fall down
break into
...more
Rachael
Jul 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Good Book. Loved this quote:

You don't have to wait for happiness, because there's no time but now to be happy. You don't have to go somewhere else, because there's no place but here to find it. You don't have to do something else, because there's nothing more to it. You don't have to get something else, because everything you already have is enough. You just have to be happy. ...

When you drop your expectations, lose your selfishness, forget your grievances, give up your worries, abandon the plan
...more
Cindy
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite parenting book yet. Miller puts exactly the right words to feelings I have but can't describe on my own, and validates so much of what I think and do and worry over. I'm glad I waited until my daughter turned one to read it. I needed more experience with motherhood's unpredictability and uncertainty to get as much out of it, and I needed to be far from my totally-overwhelmed-I-will-never-be-able-to-do-this phase (or at least be between such phases).
Meredith
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A treasure of a book. I am excited to return to this again and again because there is so much wisdom to absorb, and I know it's one of those books that will resonate in different ways as I move through motherhood and my child grows up.
Leslie
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The earlier chapters were the most illuminating for me, but the book as a whole is wonderful. It's all about your perception, and your perspective -- what life and being a parent really requires.
RH Walters
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a spring wind
peach blossoms
begin to come apart.
Doubts do not grow
branches and leaves.
--Dogen Zenji

Here is one gem from this beautiful and useful book. Miller and I have a lot in common as older stunned mamas with premature baby girls, and she writes a lot of honest kind words about maintaining compassion for our kids, ourselves and our spouses. She gets in the nitty-gritty cracks of things, as when she describes that delicate cynicism that creeps in and makes us suspect our kids of manipulati
...more
April Coleman
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I highlighted more sentences from this book than I have in any other parenting book. Some of the ideas related to being present through the challenges of motherhood really resonated with me. I enjoyed the short chapter format too. Overall though the book didn’t totally coalesce, especially toward the end. The material was better suited to a few really good articles rather than an entire book. The author also gets quite harsh on some parenting issues (like tv and toys) which I found off-putting a ...more
Danielle
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Momma Zen is a book I picked up on the recommendation of a friend and fellow mother and I will never be able to thank her enough for it. Miller is a mother and recently converted Buddhist Priest whose perspective will alter your own views on how to handle everyday occurrences. She shares experiences that the reader can connect to even in the event they have never had a child of their own. During my own journey through this book I have found greater peace and comfort and feel better equipped to h ...more
Shana
May 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, 2010
I can't say enough about this book. Actually, I'm still digesting it, so I can barely verbalize about it at all. I've never read an account of early parenthood that nailed everything so very accurately. I attempt to sprinkle some Buddhist philosophy throughout my life, and this book really showed me ways I can breathe and calm myself and approach my life and my parenting in new ways. I can't recommend it highly enough to mothers everywhere. It approaches nearly every major decision you will be/h ...more
Sarah Cler
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Seriously the best "how to" parenting book I've read, a beautiful dissertation on motherhood. I think this will particularly resonate with anyone who became a mother at an older age, who had to adjust from years of freedom to the overwhelming responsibility of raising a child. The book delivers exactly what the title implies it will: a more kind and peaceful way of looking at yourself and the job of parenting, a gentler and easier perspective on the moments that feel like drudgery and agony. Mil ...more
NormaCenva
This book was a delight. And it turned out to be extremely beneficial for me personally even thou I and not a mother yet. Some lovely words of wisdom and practical recommendations in this book really put you in ease with yourself and others around you. If you can buy it or lend it from a library near by do it, I am almost certain you will enjoy the experience. No book is without challenge especially for the "western minded" out there, but this one is not condescending in any way shape or form it ...more
Kimberly Maw
So grateful for this wonderful book! The whole time I was reading it I was thinking of other momma's that need to read it too. I worry that some may be hesitant to read it because of the Buddhist influence. But this book isn't really about Buddhism, it's about the day to day of being a momma. It is beautiful, honest, and reassuring. I wish I had had this with my first two kiddos. Will read it again and again. Planning on buying several as gifts.
Kenzie
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book put all the new experiences of motherhood into words for me, and gave me some extra food for thought as well. The parenting books that teach you how to soothe a baby or set a sleep schedule are great, but sometimes you need a book that reminds you to breathe, love, and be present at each moment, that is, how to let motherhood be your practice. Reading this book was like talking with a good friend--I got understanding and advice, all at once.
Rivke
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'd recommend this book to any and all mothers. My husband also really enjoyed the few chapters I read aloud to him. I've been practicing vipassana (insight) meditation for over ten years. I've been a mother for 16 years and have three children. I've read many books about either meditation or parenting but never have I a read a book about the two combined. Brilliantly written! Thank you, Karen Maezen Miller, for sharing your wisdom with us!
Emma Shaffer
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book for any mom in the challenging throws of motherhood. You do not need to have buddhist leanings or even know anything about buddhism to reap and appreciate the fantastic wisdom from Karen Maezen Miller. Each chapter is nicely self contained so it was easy to pick up and read just a few pages at a time. If you need a non-judgemental reminder to breathe, trust your instinct and forgive yourself for your mistakes, read this book! SO good.
Anna
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone (male or female) even considering becoming a parent.
Recommended to Anna by: Just came across it in the bookstore... don'tcha love that?
This book has reminded me how important it is to let go of expectation, breathe a little deeper, and slow down in order to enjoy every moment - even the hardest ones - with an infant. And isn't that what it's all about?
Tracy Vitellaro
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is probably my favorite book about parenthood. A wise zen Buddhist student and teacher, Miller captures the humility, surrender and openness necessary to grow as a mother. This spoke to me during lonely, exhausted and overwhelming parts of my first year as a mom.
Imene
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Where was this book when I had Samy!! Instead of reading all those books about how you should be or what's normal or not I should have read this!
Kimberly
May 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! This has got to be the best book for new moms! Maybe for all moms! Thank you for writing this book.
Julie Dunn Shedd
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of books in preparation for birth and motherhood. I wish I'd found this book first; I could have saved some time. This book helped me more than any of the other stuff I read.
Kelly
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is my current favorite parenting book. It's gentle, compassionate, and accessible. Will be purchasing it after I return this copy to the library.
M
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
Parenting books with whole chapters in the second person annoy me. You do not know me. You do not speak for me. Acknowledge this.

This book made me feel distinctly un-zen.
Kerri Martin
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book on motherhood. I have already come back to it. Really makes you appreciate each moment.
Michelle Davidson
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Incredible book. THE parenting book all
Mom's should read. Loved it to the last page.
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Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and teacher at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. She is the author of Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life and Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood. She leads retreats around the country.

News & Interviews

Karen M. McManus, the bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us Is Next, doesn’t shy away from secrets and...
54 likes · 3 comments
“You don't have to wait for happiness, because there's no time but now to be happy. You don't have to go somewhere else, because there's no place but here to find it. You don't have to do something else, because there's nothing more to it. You don't have to get something else, because everything you already have is enough. You just have to be happy. ...” 53 likes
“Your life is your practice. Your spiritual practice does not occur someplace other than in your life right now, and your life is nowhere other than where you are. You are looking for answers, insight, and wisdom that you already possess. Live the life in front of you, be the life you are, and see what you find out for yourself.” 40 likes
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