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Mindful Leadership Training Program

August – December, 2022
with Nikki Mirghafori, PhD and Marc Lesser, MBA



This certificate training program is open to and designed for leaders and aspiring leaders in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. We will cultivate mindful and compassionate leadership skills and practices to embody our care for ourselves and others, with a mindset of service to community and the world.

A core, distinct pedagogical approach of this program is participating in and co-learning with a supportive community of like-minded peers both in the large group and small monthly pod meetings. Through lectures, group discussion, guided meditations, readings, reflections, experiential exercises, and personal meditation practice, we will cultivate skills and behaviors that can be applied directly to our personal and professional lives. By developing and incorporating these intentional practices, we will strengthen professional relationships and workplace environments, expanding impact beyond our own learning for the broader benefit of our work and organization(s). 

This program includes training in three realms: personal, relational, and organizational. Some included themes are:

  • Mindful, compassionate, values-aligned leadership
  • Cultivating well-being: self-care, rest, and resilience
  • Self-awareness and self-management: emotional intelligence and working with difficult emotions
  • Transforming professional and personal relationships through embodied, skillful communication
  • Courageous conversations
  • Empowering and inspiring people and teams
  • Coaching and mentoring: compassionate accountability
  • Fostering and co-creating belonging


Monthly large group sessions - online (recorded)
Monthly small team sessions
Daily and monthly home practices and readings
Monthly written reflections
Monthly office hours - online (recorded)


Program runs from August 26 – December 18, 2022

Large Group Sessions (recorded) | All 9:30 am – 4:30 pm US Pacific Time.

  • Fri-Sat, August 26-27; Opening weekend
  • Fri, September 23
  • Fri, October 21
  • Fri, November 18
  • Fri-Sat, December 16-17; Closing weekend

Office Hours (optional, recorded) | All 12:00pm – 1:00pm US Pacific Time.

  • Wednesday, September 7
  • Tuesday, October 4
  • Friday, November 4 
  • Tuesday, November 29


  • Must attend at least 5 of 7 large group sessions live (all will be recorded)
  • Meditation: 20-30 min/day recommended
  • Reading, journaling, and written reflections: 4-8 hr/month
  • Small team meetings: 1 hr/month
  • Office hours: 1 hr/month (highly recommended but not required, and will be recorded)
  • Attend ONE program orientation (highly recommended, especially if you have not used LearnDash before)
    • Friday, August 19; 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. US Pacific Time
    • Wednesday, August 24; 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. US Pacific Time


Sliding Scale: $5000 – $750. Please consider paying at the highest rate that you can afford: your generosity supports Spirit Rock, staff, and your fellow practitioners. Any amount offered above the Base rate of $2500 is a tax deductible donation to Spirit Rock, and your generosity will enable and support the participation of others.

  • Benefactor – $5000
  • Sustainer – $3000
  • Base – $2500

The following rates are available for those needing financial support.

  • Supported – $2000
  • Mudita/Karuna Scholarship – $1650*
  • BIPOC Scholarship – $750*

*Both the Mudita/Karuna Scholarship and BIPOC Scholarship rates are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Both are limited and reserved for those truly experiencing financial hardship.


  • $100 cancellation fee** – On or before August 24, by 5:00 p.m. US Pacific Time (**fees reduced for scholarship participants)
  • $500 cancellation fee** – August 25 until Sept 23
  • No refunds – Sept 24 and beyond


Please email us.


Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence scientist. She is a lineage holder in the Theravada tradition, empowered by the living Burmese meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw, with whom she practiced the jhanas and detailed analytical (Abhidhamma-style) vipassana. She also received empowerment from the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, Insight Meditation Center, and is a Stanford-trained compassion cultivation instructor.

She serves on the Teachers Council and Board of Directors at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA, and also a Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki is Iranian-American, has taught contemplative practices internationally, and aspires to serve as a doula for wisdom and compassion.

Additionally, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holding multiple patents and co-author of 40+ scientific research articles. She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored post-docs and PhD students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups. She is interested in the ethics of AI, among others.

Useful Links

Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser, is a Zen teacher, workshop leader, and executive coach. He is the author of four books, including Seven Practices of a Mindful Leader: Lessons from Google and a Zen Monastery Kitchen, and CEO of ZBA Associates, an executive development and leadership consulting company.

Marc helped develop the world-renowned Search Inside Yourself program within Google – a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training for leaders which teaches the art of integrating mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and business savvy for creating great corporate cultures and a better world.

He founded and was CEO of 3 companies, and has an MBA degree from New York University. Marc was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years, and director of Tassajara, Zen Mountain Center, the first Zen monastery in the western world. He is a Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki.

Useful Links


"This training was a profound opportunity for me to really see myself better in my role as a leader, and I anticipate it having a long-term positive impact on my ability to create positive change in the world."

"This training allowed me to sit more deeply with other leaders around the challenges of our organizations. The leader suggestions for metta meditation guided me in a practice that created an opening. This opening allowed me to see creative possibility in our organization where there was once a wall of impossibility."

"As someone with limited meditation experience, I was a bit nervous about signing up for the program.  I'm very glad I did. I learned a lot that helped make me a more effective leader and team member, and more grounded when facing the flurry of demands and ‘emergencies’ that we face as leaders.”


Join us in cultivating mindful, compassionate, value-aligned leadership to empower and engage others in effective action to broaden our impact. 

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