Application Period Has Ended

Exploring Mental Habits: Contemplative Practices and Interventions for Individual and Social Flourishing

Garrison, New York

Application period: December 6, 2018 – January 23, 2019
Registration for accepted applicants: March 4, 2019 – March 29, 2019
Summer Research Institute: June 8 – 14, 2019

Program Overview

Political strife, immigration, cultural and racial conflict, environmental concerns, depression and distraction – these issues and many more influence our daily lives as we struggle to find personal well-being and social harmony. How does the latest research on mental habits, contemplation, and compassion inform opportunities to create change for ourselves and others?
The 2019 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute addresses critical questions that are at the core of understanding contemplative practices and interventions, and how they can reduce suffering and cultivate individual and social flourishing. We define mental habits as perceptual, emotional, and cognitive processes that shape and bias how we perceive self, others, and the world. Here we focus on those habits that tend to support individual, cultural, and institutional behaviors that result in suffering and a lack of compassion and equity.
How do such mental habits impact behavior? How can we change such habits through individual and structural contemplative interventions? We will discuss sophisticated methods and measurement strategies for assessing mechanisms of change.
This theme extends the arc from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 programs that addressed contemplation in relation to context, social connectivity, intersubjectivity, cultural diversity, and pressing problems related to human health and wellbeing, social harmony and integration, and fair, just, and equitable societies.

Who Should Attend

The Mind & Life Institute is committed to building a rigorous community of interdisciplinary contemplatives, scholars, and scientists that integrates diverse perspectives and experiences. We welcome candidates of all races, classes, genders, ages, religions, physical abilities, and sexual orientations.
The Summer Research Institute is restricted to 150 participants who are selected through a competitive peer-review process. With a limited number of committed participants, the gathering fosters the potential for innovative and interdisciplinary dialogue as well as potential collaborations and the emergence of new research projects. We welcome your application!

  • New Investigator: Undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows conducting research in basic and applied sciences as well as the arts and humanities. Junior faculty and independent researchers in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences and scholarship who are in the first five years of their appointment or career are also encouraged to apply in this category.
  • Senior Investigators:Established academic researchers, contemplative scholars, and educators who hold university or college faculty appointments (full-time, clinical, or adjunct). Other professionals (including therapists, teachers, clinicians, thought leaders, etc.) who are independent practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions are also encouraged to apply in this category.


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 encourage participants with diverse perspectives and experiences as a key mechanism for enriching the field of contemplative research. We welcome candidates of all races, ethnicities, classes, genders, ages, religions & spiritualities, physical abilities, sexual orientations, geographic locations, disciplines, and institutions. With the support of a generous donor, funding is available for emerging scholars who might otherwise be unable to attend SRI.
International scholars and those who identify as underrepresented minorities are encouraged to apply. Scholarship applications are submitted as part of the general application form (opening on December 6, 2018).


The 2019 Summer Research Institute will be held at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York, 50 miles north of New York City in the Hudson River Valley. Please see the Garrison Institute website for more details.


The Summer Research Institute faculty includes scientists, clinical researchers, contemplative practitioners, scholars, and teachers from a variety of disciplines.

Plenary Faculty
  • Lawrence Barsalou, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at the University of Glasgow.
  • Amit Bernstein, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Haifa.
  • Doris F. Chang, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at the New School for Social Research
  • Yoona Kang, PhD, is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Communications Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Tanya Luhrmann, PhD, is Howard H. and Jessie T. Watkins University Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University.
  • Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, PhD, is an author and ordained Zen priest.
  • john a. powell, JD, is Professor of Law and Professor of African American and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Anil Seth, PhD, is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience at the University of Sussex.
Contemplative Faculty
  • Larry Yang (Co-leader) is on the Teachers’ Council at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and is one of the founding teachers of both East Bay Meditation Center (Oakland) and Insight Community of the Desert (Palm Springs).
  • Alisa Dennis, PhD (Co-leader), is a licensed clinical psychologist and meditation teacher in the Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program who offers mindfulness and self-compassion trainings at corporations and community-based organizations.
  • Laura Schmalzl, PhD, is Associate Professor at Southern California University of Health Sciences where she teaches neuroscience, research methods and yoga foundations for healthcare professionals.
  • Peter Wayne, PhD, is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Director of Research for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, and Founding Director at the Tree of Life Tai Chi Center in Boston.
  • Norman Farb, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga.
  • Daniel Siegel, PhD, is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding Co-Director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.

Program Planning Committee

The Program Planning Committee (PPC) is a committee of invited specialists from diverse disciplines and perspectives who bring their expertise to curate and produce the content for the Summer Research Institute. In addition to developing the overall theme and narrative arc of the program, the PPC actively participate in SRI and serve as leaders for small group discussions.

How to Apply

Applications are open from Thursday, December 6, 2018 through Wednesday, January 23, 2019.
Required application materials include:

  • A 500-word personal statement describing your interest in the 2019 Mind & Life Summer Research Institute and its relevance to your career goals
  • Your current CV
  • Undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows applying as New Investigators will also need to acquire one letter of recommendation from a mentor or advisor

Application Criteria

Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Relevance: Application describes the relevance of the Summer Research Institute and the 2019 theme to the investigator’s research, professional work, and/or broader society.
  2. Development: Application shows how participation in the 2019 Summer Research Institute will foster the investigator’s research and/or career goals.
  3. Contribution: Application demonstrates the investigator’s potential to contribute to the  advancement of contemplative research and its component fields of study and to produce rigorous work in their respective field.

Please note:
Having an active contemplative practice is not considered a requirement for acceptance to the Summer Research Institute.
Participants are expected to stay the entire duration of the Summer Research Institute.

Instructions for Submitting an Application

  1. After clicking the link below, you will be directed to the login page for the Mind & Life Online Applications Portal.
  2. If you have not already applied for a Mind & Life Institute Grant or Program in the last year, please create a new login under the “Need an Account?” section. If you have applied for a Mind & Life Institute Grant or Program in the past year using this application portal, please use your current login (Note to administrators and assistants: Please fill out the information of the person you are registering).
  3. NOTE: If you are accepted to the program, the account you create will be used to populate the registration form for the Summer Research Institute event, so please make sure your information is accurate. A separate registration link will be sent out in March 2019 to finalize your registration for SRI 2019. (Submitting a SRI application does not constitute registration for the event, nor a commitment to attend).

Once you have created or logged into your account, you will be directed to the Mind & Life Institute Online Applications Portal which lists all open applications. Please click on the “Create Submission” button in-line with “Summer Research Institute” to begin your application.
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Application and Registration Schedule

December 6   Online application opens
January 23  Application closes and materials due
March 4     Notification of applicants via email and registration opens
March 29    Registration closes
May 13      Cancellation deadline (for 90% refund)
June 8      Opening session and orientation
The Summer Research Institute begins mid-afternoon on Saturday, June 8, 2019, and continues for six days, ending on the morning of Friday, June 14, 2019.


The registration fee is paid by successful applicants at the time of registration. The fee covers all programs, room and board, as well as three vegetarian meals per day. Each participant is expected to cover his/her own travel expenses.
Non-refundable application fee: $45
Registration fee:
$495 for New Investigators
$695 for Senior Investigators
If you have any questions, please email

For More Information

Please sign up to receive email notifications from Mind & Life, which include announcements about the Summer Research Institute. For specific questions, please contact
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[intense_collapse title=”About Mind & Life Summer Research Institute” title_background_color=”#cccccc” content_background_color=”#f7f8f2″]
The purpose of the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute is to advance collaborative research among scientists, scholars of the humanities, and contemplative practitioners, based on a process of inquiry and dialogue. With this unique program, we are nurturing a new generation of scientists interested in exploring the influence of contemplative practice on the human mind, behavior, brain function, and health, and we are fostering the development of nascent research fields collectively referred to as “contemplative sciences.”
The aims of contemplative sciences are to advance our understanding of the human mind and how training the mind through the use of particular contemplative practices can lead to a reduction in suffering, enhanced health and cognitive/emotional functioning, greater happiness, and increased social justice. Work within contemplative sciences— deriving from Dialogues between the Dalai Lama and distinguished scientists, philosophers, and scholars—has integrated the rigorous methodologies of science with the philosophical and experiential insights into mind and mental training that were developed by contemplative traditions.
Within the umbrella of contemplative sciences, there is contemplative neuroscience, contemplative clinical science, contemplative education, and contemplative scholarship.
Contemplative neuroscience is a field focused on understanding changes in brain function and structure that are related to contemplative practice. It is grounded in research on neuroplasticity, which holds that the brain flexibly changes in response to experience and training of various kinds, including contemplative practices. Such methods can be conceptualized as forms of physical and mental training that lead to the development of specific kinds of self-regulatory skills and dispositions including mindfulness, compassion, and the cultivation of altruistic well-being.
Contemplative clinical science is concerned with systematically and rigorously evaluating the physical and mental health effects of interventions derived from the practice of contemplative techniques. The rate of publication of randomized, controlled clinical trials of contemplative-based interventions has accelerated significantly in the past decade, and has focused on a wide range of physical and mental health conditions.
Contemplative education has emerged from the growing belief that a high-quality education should not only cultivate the intellectual skills of students, but should also nurture the development of positive human traits such as self-awareness, social and emotional intelligence, care, and compassion; and it works to find ways of fostering these elements in various school settings.
Contemplative scholarship, although long established within humanities disciplines such as history, philosophy, and religious studies, has only more recently begun to interact collaboratively with researchers and practitioners in the contemplative sciences. The early results of these collaborations indicate great promise for our understanding of the importance of culture, historical context, and conceptual frameworks in the relationships between contemplative practice, experience, biology, culture, and behavior.