Guidelines and Policies

Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines
Research Grant Guidelines (for funded grants)


Frequently Asked Questions

What is included under “contemplative practices”?
The term “contemplative practice” is meant in a broad sense to include a wide range of diverse phenomena such as meditation, yoga, contemplative prayer, prostration, tai chi, etc.

Are these grants open to international applicants?
Yes. Mind & Life Grants are not limited to residents of the United States. 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/ethics approval. Clinicians or others not affiliated with such an institution should partner with an eligible applicant who can provide access to research resources.

Can I submit two applications for different projects, or different aspects of the same project?
We do not accept two separate grant proposals (or letters of intent) from the same applicant, or from different applicants for two aspects of the same project.

Can two applications from the same lab be submitted in the same grant cycle?
While it is not prohibited to have multiple applications from the same lab, applicants should be aware that it is highly unlikely that more than one proposal from the same lab would be funded in a single grant cycle.

Can I submit a proposal if I’m a current Mind & Life grantee?
Applicants may not be actively funded through any Mind & Life research grant. Current Mind & Life grantees must submit a final report and budget reconciliation for existing grants before applying for a new grant. This policy applies both within and across Mind & Life research grant programs (with the exception of Think Tanks). No person may be funded more than three times from the same Mind & Life grant program. Note that we do not allow two separate proposals in a given cycle from the same applicant (PI or co-PI), or from different applicants for two aspects of the same project.

What can be included in the budget?
“Research costs” can include participant payment, experimental costs (e.g., MRI scans, lab equipment and supplies), project-related services, required training for the PI, travel necessary for research/field work, open access publishing costs, etc. NOTE: For Varela Grants, funds may not be used for salaries or remuneration for the PI(s) or project collaborators. Exceptions may be made for projects within the humanities (please contact us for consideration). When funds are used to pay outside individuals, they can cover: consultants for statistical analysis; meditation teachers; dedicated lab support such as research assistants; or services, including participant scheduling, data entry, transcription, etc. Please clearly explain all such costs in the budget section of the application form. Grant funds also may not be used for conference attendance (e.g., registration, travel, etc.).

Do Mind & Life grants cover indirect costs?
No, 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.

Can I apply with a Co-PI?
Yes, up to two people total can be listed as PIs on a single grant—this should be indicated in the Project Information section of the application. All applicants must meet all eligibility criteria for the given grant. If one applicant does not meet criteria, that person can be listed as a collaborator but would not receive funds. In the case of Co-PIs, one of the applicants must fill out a single application form for the whole project, and upload relevant biosketches.
Note that funds will be disbursed to the primary applicant’s institution. If funds need to be distributed to a co-PI, that must be handled by the primary PI and their institution.

My proposal is part of a larger project that already has funding. How should I reflect this in the budget?
The budget you submit should cover the use of funds from this grant only. If you have additional funding sources for your project, please include this information in the relevant application section following the budget. Be specific about how the grant you’re applying for will be used within the larger budget.

Who receives the grant money?
Grant funds will be sent to the grantee’s institution. Grants cannot be given directly to an individual. In the case of co-PIs, funds will be disbursed to the primary PI’s institution. If funds need to be distributed to a co-PI, that must be handled by the primary PI and their institution.

Do I need IRB approval?
Yes. Payment of the grant will not be made until confirmation of IRB approval has been received. IRB approval must be in place within six months of the date of notification of the receipt of the grant. (Canadian or European Ethical Review Board approval is also acceptable.)

What if I need more than two years to complete the project?
The length of the grant is two years from the date of the notification of grant acceptance. If more time is required, a request for extension must be submitted to Mind & Life (this can be done through the SurveyMonkey Apply platform). It will then be sent to the Grants team for approval.

Varela Grants only:

I’m currently a research assistant. Do I need to be enrolled in graduate school to be eligible?
In general, yes. Mind & Life’s grant 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 (which 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.

I’ve had a Varela Grant in the past. Am I still eligible?
If you still meet basic eligibility criteria, you may apply if you’ve had fewer than three Varela Grants in your lifetime. The maximum number of Varela Grants one person (as PI or co-PI) can receive is three.

I have attended both the US and European Summer Research Institutes. Can I apply for both Varela Grants?
No. Applicants may only apply for one Varela Grant each year. If you have attended both the US and European Summer Research Institutes in the last 5 years, you must choose which grant you would like to apply for.

I have attended an International Research Institute in Japan. Can I apply for a Varela Grant?
Yes. If you meet all other eligibility criteria, attendees from the Japan International Research Institute are eligible to apply for the US Varela Grant program.