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Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life Paperback


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Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life + Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 1ST edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1577319044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1577319047
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Miller (Momma Zen) uses daily household chores—laundry, kitchen, yard—to demonstrate timeless Buddhist principles. The skillful weaving of personal anecdotes, a few Zen terms, and acute insights—sometimes addressing the reader directly—distinguish this book from others in the genre. Miller, a Zen priest and student of the late Maezumi Roshi, argues for the faultless wisdom of following instructions when going about the mundane activities that form the substance of everyday life. Candid about some of the difficulties of her past, Miller stresses the importance of changing perceptions, which can lead to more beneficial outcomes for oneself and others: All practice is the practice of making a turn in a different direction. The book wears its Zen lightly; indeed, Miller skates over the years of study—as well as the decision to become a priest—that undoubtedly ground her current perspectives. By choosing to focus on the conclusions rather than the process of her Zen journey, Miller has tilted her writing more toward self-help/advice than spirituality/religion. This disarming book is full of deft and reassuring observations. (May 7)
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Review

“Miller's homey examples help readers visualize and feel, rather than intellectualize, the message she's trying to impart. A good starting tool for those seeking an alternative to both traditional self-help psychology and spiritual practices.”
Library Journal

“A direct reminder that wakefulness lurks in the moments of everyday life, whether they are completely joyful or completely a mess.”
Susan Piver, author of The Wisdom of a Broken Heart

“Ever found yourself up to your elbows in the messy stuff of your own everyday life and wondered, ‘Is this all there is?’ Karen Maezen Miller answers that age-old question with a resounding ‘Yes.’ Read this deceptively simple, deeply wise little book not to change your life but to fall quietly, unequivocally back in love with the life you already have.”
Katrina Kenison, author of The Gift of an Ordinary Day

Hand Wash Cold is Eat, Pray, Love without all the scurrying from something.…Exceedingly wise and gentle, this book reminds us of the precious lives we’ve already been given and whispers, ‘Quit looking someplace else.’”
Elissa Elliott, author of Eve: A Novel

More About the Author

Karen Maezen Miller is a wife and mother as well as a Zen Buddhist priest at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. She and her family live in Sierra Madre, California, with a century-old Japanese garden in their backyard. She writes about spirituality in everyday life. She is the author of Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, and her writing is included in numerous anthologies.

Customer Reviews

I began reading it that day.
Deborah Mitchell
I come at it from an Islamic perspective, while Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest, but still, much of what she writes in this book reflects my experiences as well.
Story Circle Book Reviews
Her authenticity is refreshing and her writing easy to read and inspiring.
Ilea

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By L. Erickson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
The subtitle of this book 'care instructions for an ordinary life' really says it all. As a mother, I am a fan of Ms. Miller's first book, Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood, and was looking forward to this one. And it doesn't disappoint, although it is a very different book. In this book, Ms. Miller applies her samurai-like pen - and insight - to topics beyond motherhood, including divorce, marriage, aging (and dying) parents, gardening, and of course, laundry.

Ms. Miller is a Zen practitioner and priest, but you shouldn't read or not-read this book based on any preconceptions you may have about that. Although every sentence shines with Zen wisdom, you won't find descriptions of what Zen is or isn't, or what practices you should or shouldn't do. Instead this reads like a memoir, as Ms. Miller 'excavates' her past - parts of her childhood, her relationship with her parents, the break-up of her first marriage, and the personal darkness that eventually led her to a Zen retreat with Maezumi Roshi, who became her teacher. She shares her journey to becoming 'happy and whole' again, and then writes about living from this wisdom on a day to day basis, in her current marriage, in her parenting, in her gardening and housework and writing career - in all the elements of her 'ordinary life'.

Ms. Miller is an extraordinary writer, and uses the idea of doing our own laundry as a metaphor for our spiritual work throughout the book, without it ever becoming trite (although as the prior reviewer mentioned, it's also NOT a metaphor - she is really talking about doing our own laundry too!) She excels at pinpointing her own past delusions, and thus helps us see our own.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By w. cook on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Once again I'm deeply moved by Karen Maezen Miller. I read her first book when my son was a wee babe and I loved it so much that I begged her for a Mom to Mom interview. Her new book, "hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life" is equally magnificent. In this book, Karen shares more about her life and the path that lead her to becoming a Buddhist priest while unveiling the deeper meaning in seemingly ordinary moments. Her personal life lessons are beautifully transformed into teachings. With tenderness, humor and wisdom, Karen illustrates that happiness can't be found in constantly reaching for the next rung, but by turning to look at the view right where you are.

"Happiness is simple", she writes, "Everything we do to find it is complicated."

How can something so gentle be so powerful?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Donna Quesada on April 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I received my long-awaited copy of Hand Wash Cold in the mail last week, and read it in two days. Unlike Karen Maezen Miller's first book, Momma Zen, it is not full of endearing anecdotes about the challenges of late-in-life motherhood. But like Momma Zen, it is abounding with the same honest wisdom, and narrated in the same gentle voice.

Here, in her second book, we take a glimpse into her life before she became Momma Zen. It was the life that led, as if unavoidably, to the wisdom shared in both books. It was the life that led her to the decision to take her Zen priest's vows. The life that led her to the unprompted decision to take her life back. It is intimate, but delicate; beautifully written, but simply told; wise, but unpretentious; detailed, but tasteful. As might be expected from a Zen priest, her story carries with it the flavor of Zen, but never, as the Zen expression goes, does she "stink the place up." The hard-won lessons and timeless Zen insights are seamlessly braided into her own candid story - an autobiographical narrative, that reads like novel.

Like Proust's madeleine, just the sniff or taste of something from our past can launch us into another time and place, as if by some magical time-machine. For Miller, it was the lingering smell that was unleashed when she stumbled upon a long-forgotten bag of old clothes in her attic. It was the catalyst of a flood of recollections that rushed to the surface in all their intensity, and with all the wistfulness and pain that memories are wont to bring. It was in a very real way, the starting point of the story she shares with us in Hand Wash Cold, and the beginning of the journey that led her to discover the joy that was there all along. In this very readable, wise little book, Karen Maezen Miller shows us the way to our own joy.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Deanna Joseph VINE VOICE on February 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
As I was finishing this book, the moment I knew it was nearly over, my eyes filled with tears.

Even now, as I stare at this book as it lies next to my computer, I'm sad. And I'm happy. And I'm relieved.

Hand Wash Cold is not your typical book on spirituality. It makes no promises, it's not filled with flashy exercises, in fact, it doesn't ask you to actually do anything... except care for yourself; your life.

"I thought life was something other than my life. I thought life was something envisioned and achieved. I thought it was manufactured from ideals and earned through elbow grease. I thought it was yet to arrive, and so I missed everything that had already come." From the book, page 9.

Written from the point of view of a Zen Monk wife and mother, this book is about many things, but mostly it is about realizing that our life is here, right now. In a way, it reminds me of Eckhart Tolle's work, but it doesn't take nearly the mind power or concentration to absorb.

The book is a very short and easy read. It's 173 pages, 21 chapters with an epilogue, and includes a section called the index of lost socks. It lists "what you're looking for," and then lists the chapters where you may find that item. For example, you're looking for Grace, read chapter 21.

The book is laid out in three parts.
Part 1 - the laundry: To study the Way Is to Study Oneself
Part 2 - the kitchen: To Study Oneself Is to Forget Oneself
Part 3 - the yard: To Forget Oneself Is to Be Enlightened by the Ten Thousand Things

In part one she tells the story of discovering a life we have no idea we are living through the metaphor of laundry.
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