Nikki is of Persian heritage, and was introduced to contemplative practices and yoga in the early 1980's, to meditation in 1991, and to Theravada Buddhism in 2003. She has studied with various Western and Eastern teachers, with a keen interest in intensive silent retreats. She studied jhanas and detailed analytical vipassana with the renowned meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw who instructed her to teach. She is also a Spirit Rock authorized retreat teacher, a Stanford trained compassion cultivation instructor, and a UCLA certified mindfulness facilitator. She teaches Buddhist meditation and contemplation nationally, and in particular, at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, where she also serves on their Board of Directors. Nikki holds a Ph.D. in computer science from UC Berkeley and has had an active career as an Artificial Intelligence scientist in academia and industry for over two decades.
Nikki Mirghafori gave the second talk in a speaker series titled "Living Wisely in the World: Caring for Mind, Family, Society, and Planet". Teachings from the "Acrobat Sutta" were shared to illustrate how tending our own mind is a stepping stone to care for others, and the world. The power of actions leading to habit formation in the mind and body, which could either lead to liberation or suffering, were also discussed.