About the International Research Institutes

Mind & Life International Research Institutes are week-long immersions designed to foster collaborative research in behavioral science, neuroscience, clinical science, and the humanities, based on a process of inquiry, dialogue, and collaboration with contemplative practitioners and scholars. The long-term objective is to advance the training of a new generation of interdisciplinary scholars interested in exploring the influence of contemplative practice on mind, behavior, brain function, and health, including the potential role of contemplative methods in shaping and enriching human experience and consciousness. Research Institute participants become eligible to apply for the Mind & Life Francisco J. Varela Research Grants.

Previous International Research Institutes

International Research Institute 2018 Japan
インターナショナル・リサーチ・インスティテュート 2018 日本  »

Guiding Principles of the International Research Institutes

International Research Institutes are modeled after the programmatic structure of the Summer Research Institutes (SRI), held annually since 2004 in upstate New York, on a continent other than North America or Europe. Each International Research Institute will be designed to programmatically reflect,

  • Perspectives that are cross-cultural and multidisciplinary
  • Cultural sensitivity to the local needs of the in-country collaborators
  • Multilingual mediums with English being primary alongside simultaneous translation in the preferred local language
  • Program Planning Committees and Core Faculty that represent a mix of invited members from the home country and surrounding geographic areas as well as senior faculty from N. America and the broader international Mind & Life community

Similar to the Summer Research Institute, the goals of the International Research Institutes are:

  1. To cultivate strategic dialogue internationally between neuroscientists, clinical scientists, other scientists of mind and behavior, humanities scholars and contemplative scholars/practitioners to develop new research collaborations that explore the mind from an cross-cultural and integrative perspective; including first-, second-, and third-person approaches, and the effect of contemplative practices on mind, behavior, brain and health.
  2. To build relationships with international collaborators and partner with local colleagues to meet local needs.
  3. To foster the next generation of nascent scientists (graduate students and postdocs), contemplative scholars and practitioners from different parts of the world who are interested in innovation and collaboration in research into contemplative practices.
  4. To create a cross-cultural context for this dialogue that embodies a contemplative orientation via meditation and yoga instruction, daily contemplative practice periods, a full day of silent contemplative retreat and a closing reception.
  5. To catalyze the field of contemplative sciences globally, focusing on the study of how contemplative practices engender effects on brain, mind and behavior, and how these effects are conditioned by culture, history and other contextual variables.
  6. To examine and train in emerging methods and best practices, future opportunities and challenges within the contemplative sciences.


Mind & Life is committed to building a rigorous community of interdisciplinary contemplatives, scholars and scientists that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences. We aim to maximize the benefits of diversity and to use diversity as a tool for enriching the field of contemplative research. We welcome candidates of all races, classes, genders, ages, religions, physical abilities, and sexual orientations. With the support of a generous donor, funding is available for emerging scholars who might otherwise be unable to attend IRI.