Awards FAQ


Are these awards open for international applicants?

Yes – Mind and Life Awards are not limited to residents of the USA.  We encourage worldwide applications.

Would I be eligible if my work is based in the public sector, rather than a university?  

Applicants need to be affiliated with a research institution (such as a university), especially in order to obtain IRB approval.  Clinicians or others not affiliated with such an institution should partner with an eligible applicant who can provide access to research resources.

What is included under “contemplative practices?”

The term “contemplative practice” is meant in a broad sense, including a wide range of diverse phenomena such as meditation, yoga, contemplative prayer, prostration, and tai chi.

Can I submit two applications for different aspects of the same project?

We do not accept two separate grant proposals for the same project.

I’m currently a research assistant. Do I need to be enrolled in graduate school to be eligible?

In general, yes. Mind and Life’s Award programs were established to support investigators who would be able to use the funds to generate research that would then fairly quickly motivate grant proposals by the investigator to larger funding agencies (that require postdoc or faculty positions). You may, however, consider applying once you have notice of admission to a graduate program, even though you have not yet matriculated at the time of application.

Can I submit a proposal if I’m a current awardee?

Applicants must not be currently funded through the same mechanism for which they are applying. For example, if you have been granted a Varela Award in the past, you must submit a final report and reconcile the budget for that grant before applying for another Varela Award.



What is included under “research costs?”

Research costs can include participant payment, fMRI scans, equipment costs, etc. When funds are used to pay outside individuals (not project PIs or collaborators) they could cover such costs as consultants for statistical analysis, meditation teachers, or dedicated lab support such as a research assistant or services including participant scheduling, data entry, transcription, etc. Please clearly explain all such costs in the budget. Grant funds may not be used for salaries or remuneration for the PI (s) or project collaborators.

What about indirect costs? 

Grant funds may not be used to cover indirect costs.  If a grant is awarded, the grantee’s institution must agree to waive all overhead and administrative fees and further agree that the funds will be used solely for research purposes conducted by the grantee.

My proposal is part of a larger project that already has funding. How should I reflect this in the budget?

If you have additional funding sources for your project, please include this information clearly in your budget along with sources of funding. Be specific about how Mind and Life award will be used within the larger budget.

I don’t live in the US. Can I submit a budget in my country’s currency? 

All budgets must be submitted in US dollars.


Application Materials

What information is included in the word limit of the proposal?

The length of the written proposal for both the Varela and 1440 Awards is a maximum of 1,200 words. References, figure legends, and appendices are not included in this word count. Such items should be attached to the end of the proposal such that the proposal and all supplemental materials are combined in one document.

Is there a page limit for the CV?

There is no page limit for the CV. NIH biosketch style is preferred (a personal statement can be included).

Can I apply with a co-investigator?

More than one person may apply for a single grant. All applicants much meet all eligibility criteria for the given award.  If one applicant does not meet criteria, that person can be listed as a collaborator and would not receive funds.
If more than one person is applying for a grant (co-PIs) each person each must fill in a separate application form with their CV and 2 letters of recommendation. However, they would attach the same joint proposal and budget, labeling them with both last names. Please also clarify the particular situation in a cover letter attached to the proposal.

Can I upload Word or Excel files?

All application materials, including budget, must be in .pdf form.  Please contact if this presents a problem.


If a Grant is Awarded

Who receives the grant money?

Grant funds will be sent to the grantee’s institution. Grants cannot be given directly to an individual.

Do I need IRB approval?

Yes.  Payment of the award will not be made until confirmation of IRB approval has been received. IRB approval must be in place within 6 months of the date of notification of the receipt of the grant.

What if I need more than 2 years to complete the project?

The length of the grant is 2 years from the date of the notification of grant acceptance. If more time is required, an application for extension must be submitted to Mind and Life.  It will then be sent for approval to the Senior Scientific Officer.