Nikki Mirghafori, PhD

Residential Retreat Teacher

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 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.

At Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Nikki serves as a Stewarding Teacher as well as on the Board of Directors. She also teaches at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA. Nikki’s teaching style combines clarity and warmth, and she delights in exploring deep Dharma topics with practitioners as well as mindfulness in daily life. Mindfulness of death, in particular, is one of the areas of her interest and expertise.

Additionally, Nikki has been a researcher and inventor in AI, holds multiple patents and author of scientific research articles. She has directed international research programs as the Principal Investigator, mentored postdocs and PhD students, taught graduate courses at UC Berkeley, and been a scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups.

As an Iranian-American, Nikki has taught contemplative practices internationally and aspires to serve as a champion for wisdom and compassion in our world, as well as ethical AI in our zeitgeist.

With this practice of death contemplation, we see aniccā, impermanence, in big and small ways. We see the goodbyes, the losses—divorces, loss of friendship, loss of contact. There’s all kinds of deaths. And we get to see the ultimate impermanence, the arising and passing away of life in all its forms. You’re not a teenager anymore, not a child anymore. It’s all arisen and passed away. Contemplating aniccā, we see anatta, not-self, by noticing how impersonal death is—how ungovernable this body is. You can’t stop it from aging, dying, or decomposing. It’s impersonal. This body is nature. We are nature.
 
Nikki Mirghafori, Maraṇasati: "If My Life Is for Rent...Nothing I Have Is Truly Mine."

Nikki Mirghafori's Upcoming Programs

Retreat On-Land

September 2 - September 5, 2024 Monday - Thursday | 3 nights

Coming Home to Ourselves

Come home to yourself with the simple and direct practice of being present for your experience. Insight Meditation allows the restless heart to settle through the gentle practice of repeatedly connecting with and returning to the here and now. It is here in the present moment where we discover the peace and well-being we yearn for. This retreat is suitable for beginners as well as experienced practitioners and is silent except for practice instructions, teacher-led Q&A, and practice discussions.

Diana Clark

Diana Clark

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori

Andrea Castillo

Andrea Castillo

Tanya T Wiser

Tanya T Wiser

Retreat On-Land

October 27 - November 2, 2024 Sunday - Saturday | 6 nights

Befriending Mortality: Living An Awakened Life Through Mindfulness of Death

18 CE Credits. We all “know” we will die, yet we tend to ignore it and put our collective heads in the sand. Rather than running away from our inevitable mortality, we can harness its power to stay aligned with our deepest values and to live and love more fully. Fully embracing life’s impermanence can engender a deep freedom and letting go. Through mindfulness of death (maraṇasati), we become more present for this miraculous, passing show called life with gladness and gratitude.

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori

John Martin

John Martin

Kodo Conlin

Kodo Conlin

Retreat On-Land

December 8 - December 18, 2024 Sunday - Wednesday | 10 nights

Meeting the Three Characteristics through Cultivating Stability, Well-being, and Confidence

In this retreat, we tend to the three qualities of stability, well-being, and confidence, all of which support insight into the three characteristics of existence. Then we explore and befriend these characteristics—namely, aniccā (impermanence, inconstancy), dukkha (stress, unsatisfactoriness, suffering) and anattā (not-self, impersonality, ungovernability)—in our own lived experience. When we understand and make peace with these characteristics, we have more ease, compassion, and freedom in our lives, and we can be of more benefit to ourselves, others, and the world.

Nikki Mirghafori

Nikki Mirghafori

Sylvia Boorstein

Sylvia Boorstein

Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis

Mei Elliott

Mei Elliott

Dharma Library

Can't join us live online or on the land? Study and practice at your convenience with Nikki Mirghafori through our new library of recordings, articles, and self-paced online courses.