Bridging science and contemplative wisdom to foster insight and inspire action toward flourishing.
At the Mind & Life Institute, we bring science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind and create positive change in the world. At this critical moment in history, it’s clear that efforts to address mounting global challenges must take into account our inner lives, and how individual well-being contributes to collective flourishing.
At the heart of today’s global challenges is a profound crisis of disconnection. From loneliness and isolation to racism and tribalism, our disconnection from one another is causing tremendous suffering for people and the planet. Building on our 30-year legacy, we seek to better understand the role of the human mind in creating these problems—and its potential to solve them. Through grantmaking, convenings, and strategic partnerships, we seek to foster healthy human connections.
We recognize that Mind & Life is part of a growing global movement for social change. In this spirit, we welcome new partners—as together—we strive to create a world that truly embraces our shared humanity.
We aspire to relieve suffering through open-hearted and wise action.
We commit to be equitable, trustworthy, transparent, and respectful.
We explore with a sense of humility and courage, embracing the unknown.
In intention and action, we embrace diverse perspectives and backgrounds that enrich our expanding community.
We seek to reach our highest potential in all that we do through rigor and reflection.
Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Mind & Life recognizes that barriers to realizing our fundamental interconnectedness, like racism, sexism, ableism, and all types of othering, exist not only in the human mind, but are deeply embedded within institutions and structures. In 2017, we started looking deeply at how to advance the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) within our organizational structure, processes, and programs. Below are recent examples of how we’ve taken our EDI efforts to the next level.
- We began the yearlong Mindful of Race leadership training with Ruth King for 11 members of the staff leadership, Board of Directors, and Steering Council.
- We published our Land and Peoples Acknowledgement, including it in all of our events and inviting attendees to reflect on their own location.
- Our staff completed a workshop series on gender identity and sexual orientation led by national consultant Jessica Pettitt, resulting in changes to our demographic intake forms and the addition of personal pronouns in email signatures and digital platforms
- We created a more relational and explicitly inclusive orientation process for individuals providing service to Mind & Life, such as grant reviewers and program planning committees.
- We introduced changes in our grantmaking policies and event guidelines that increased the diversity of our grantees, program planning committees, and event presenters and participants. Over a third of our 2020 event participants and grantees identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC).
Mind & Life is committed to showing up and taking action with humility and compassion in pursuing a more peaceful, equitable future for all. Learn more about our commitment to racial equity and inclusion below.
Mind & Life’s grantmaking, convenings, and digital offerings fall into three main focus areas, corresponding with our commitment to nurturing individual, societal, and planetary flourishing.
Personal Well-being—We seek to better understand the role of contemplative practices in helping people develop healthy mental habits—and resilience. Mind & Life-supported dialogue and research examine the impact of negative emotions such as fear, anger, and anxiety in our lives, and how to nurture positive emotions, including love, compassion, gratitude, and forgiveness.
Compassionate Communities—We explore how the inner workings of the mind influence the formation of the views, behaviors, and social systems that separate us, and the role of contemplative practice in creating more compassionate communities. Our efforts include taking steps to diversify the field of contemplative science.
Human-Earth Connection—We investigate how the union of contemplative wisdom and science can lead to greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life—and action—to support and sustain both individuals and the earth’s living systems. Areas of study include how contemplative practice influences how people experience and respond to climate change, and the role of earth-honoring practices in reawakening our collective responsibility as stewards of our planetary future.
Mind & Life emerged in 1987 from a meeting of three visionaries: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a global advocate for compassion; Francisco Varela, a scientist and philosopher; and Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur.
The trio understood that science was the dominant framework for investigating the nature of reality, and the modern source for knowledge that could help improve life for people and the planet. And they wondered: what impact could be achieved through combining scientific inquiry with the transformative power of contemplative wisdom?
While science relies on empiricism, technology, “objective” observation, and analysis, the Dalai Lama, Varela, and Engle were convinced that well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could be used as equal instruments of investigation. They saw the potential not only to make science itself more humane, but also to ensure its conclusions were far-reaching. They formed the Mind & Life Institute to bridge this divide and advance human well-being.
Careers at Mind & Life Institute
At Mind & Life, we bring science and contemplative wisdom together to better understand the mind and create positive change in the world. Join us!
Mind & Life Europe
Mind & Life Europe is our sister organization. We have a shared mission to alleviate suffering and promote human flourishing worldwide as part of the vision of founders His Holiness the Dalai Lama, neuroscientist Francisco Varela, and businessman Adam Engle.
Contact the Mind & Life Institute
Please use the information below to get in touch with us. To stay up-to-date on Mind & Life news and activities, subscribe to our mailing list.
The Mind & Life Institute
210 Ridge McIntire Road, Suite 325
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Tel: (434) 338-7380