Be Attentive to Baby

Lodro Rinzler
5 min readDec 28, 2023


This piece originally appeared on Lodro’s Substack: The Laundry

Shortly before my baby was born I had a chance to speak with my Buddhist teacher about my meditation practice. Only slightly intuiting what was coming, I lamented, “I don’t think I will be able to keep up with my practice and retreats as much as I would like.”

Under Rinpoche’s guidance I have been participating in a program for the last four years where I spend a few weeks every year in meditation retreat and generally sneak in around two hours of practice a day. “There’s no way I can do that with a newborn,” I said.

His words will forever be burned into my brain. He looked at me, surprised, and simply said, “Just be present for your child. Be attentive to baby.”

Sometimes we foolish meditation practitioners get caught up in all sorts of concepts about what meditation should look like. We ought to be in a perfectly clean environment, with zero noise, a beautiful alter in front of us and then — and only then — can we find some connection to our innate peace and calm.

That is simply not the case. I’ve been teaching meditation for over twenty years now (which makes it harder for me to convince myself I’m still 25) and I can’t count the number of conversations where a meditation student felt frustrated with their life and said that what they really wanted to do was run off to a monastery, to Tibet or Thailand, or to a cave in the woods.

Now listen, I’m all for solitude and carving out time for meditation, but in these conversations the implication is not “I am dedicating a chunk of time to practice.” It’s “If only I could escape the confines of my daily life, then I would find peace.”

Whenever this conversation occurs I tend to think about an old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Adam Sandler. In it he plays a tour conductor in a commercial for trips to Italy. He lists all of the glorious things you can see on your vacation and then towards the end issues a disclaimer: “But remember, you’re still going to be you on vacation. If you are sad where you are, and then you get on a plane to Italy, the you in Italy will be the same sad you from before.”

I love this. Your mind is your mind, whether you are at home surrounded by bills or sipping an Aperol Spritz in Italy. You are still you, no matter where you go.

Applying this principle to meditation, we could be on the most gorgeous mountain top with the most beautiful sunset, just like we see on the cover of yoga magazines, and mentally we could still be trapped at work, arguing with our spouse, or nervous about money. The environment has not changed our fixation.

In other words, your meditation practice does not necessitate the perfect situation. Your mind is your mind; your life is your life.

What I mean by that is that wherever we are, whatever situation we find ourselves in, can be our meditation practice. We can meditate in a cramped apartment with construction going on outside and that is an excellent opportunity to cultivate patience and compassion. We can practice while traveling on an overpacked flight as we bounce through turbulence and connect to the sense of calm that exists within us.

The breath is always available to us; we simply need to remember to tune into it. We always have an opportunity to be present.

And yes, that means that these days I have Newborn Meditation. She constantly looks me in the eyes, daring me to be present with her or to try and escape by staring at my phone or watching television.

Now that she is three months old I have slipped back into deeper practice routines, often doing my Vajrayana practices in front of her while she naps. And yet, not unlike while writing this very piece, she will wake up and once more invite me to be present.

In that moment I have a choice: treat the baby as an annoyance or a distraction from practice or as the practice itself. This is when my teacher’s words echo in my mind: “Be attentive to baby.” I will set my practice text aside and get up and look this being in the eyes and ask, “What can I do for you, baby?” In my mind I am saying, “I am here for you. You are suffering? I will do what I can to help.”

What if we took this attitude with everyone in our lives? “Be attentive to baby” can become code for “Be present with whoever is in front of you.” The annoying person holding up the line. The dramatic family member spouting the latest salacious gossip. The friend in need. The practice becomes, “I am here for you. You are suffering? I will do what I can to help.”

This is one of the many ways we can build the bridge from formal meditation practice on our cushion and our daily life. We don’t have to separate out “this is my real meditation” and “this over here, this person in line/family member/friend is something else.” We join the two. We take the invitation to be present for whoever is in front of us and, in that moment, we realize this too is practice.

Be attentive to baby. Everyone is baby.

This piece originally appeared on Lodro’s Substack: The Laundry. For more of his recent writing, check out The Laundry today.

Lodro Rinzler is the award-winning author of 7 books including The Buddha Walks into a Bar and Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times. He has taught meditation for 20 years in the Buddhist tradition, is the co-founder of MNDFL meditation studios and travels frequently for his books, having spoken across the world at conferences, universities, and businesses as diverse as Google, Harvard University and the White House. Named one of 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness by SONIMA, Rinzler’s work has been featured in The New York Times,The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, FOX, CBS, and NBC. He lives in upstate New York with his wife Adreanna, daughter Ruby, and a menagerie of small animals.



Lodro Rinzler

Lodro Rinzler is author of “The Buddha Walks into a Bar,” “Love Hurts” and a handful of other fun books on meditation | Co-Founder of MNDFL.