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Hiro Saito

Founding Director

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Social Science

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Mindfulness Practice

I first embarked on mindfulness practice at Ann Arbor School of Yoga in 2007. I was a graduate student at that time and decided to try Iyengar Yoga to ease my chronic back pain. Since I recognized the physical benefits of yoga, I continued my practice at Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center after I moved to Honolulu for my first job as an assistant professor. There I met a group of wonderful yoga teachers and friends.

Then, my yoga practice began to deepen, as my wife, a kids-yoga teacher, joined me in Singapore. Thanks to her daily feedback, my awareness of what is happening in my body has increased. In fact, my body (e.g., shape, posture) has changed significantly. So has my mind. 

The transformation of my body and mind has been further facilitated by meditation. I was originally drawn to it because I wanted to become a more kind person and improve the quality of my interactions with people around me. I began reading books by Thich Nhat Hanh and S. N. Goenka but soon realized that I needed to learn through experience. So, I decided to go to Doisuthep Vipassana Meditation Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for a meditation retreat.

It was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life. Trying to see things as they really are -- without being clouded by my own reactivity -- is such a challenging but "cleansing" experience. After coming back from Chiang Mai, I continued to practice mindfulness with the help of Sayadaw U Tejaniya's writings and classes at the Buddhist Library in Singapore. 

Then, in 2018, I had a chance to spend a week at Plum Village in rural France to practice the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh with monastics and other retreat participants. This visit was truly transformative because it helped me experientially understand that my happiness depends on deep connections with people around me and with the natural environment. Now I carry on with my mindfulness practice according to the 14 Mindfulness Trainings and together with my wife, son, and dog :-)

Concurrently, I'm learning the secular-scientific approaches to mindfulness practice through the Mindfulness Initiative @ SMU. Thanks to their 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness-Based Strategic Awareness Training (MBSAT), my understanding and practice of mindfulness have been enriched and broadened. I'm now working toward MBSAT teacher certification as well.   

Design Thinking

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