The Challenge

Even the best-intentioned efforts to stem the climate crisis are failing to address root causes; namely, our disconnection from one another and the Earth. What role might our minds–and innate capacities such as mindfulness and compassion—play in building a truly sustainable future?

“Fundamentally, the climate crisis is a relationship crisis.”
–Jamie Bristow, mindful policy advocate
Guest, Mind & Life Podcast

The Opportunity

At Mind & Life, we explore 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 Earth’s living systems. Through our programs, resources, and grantmaking, we explore the mind’s role in creating the climate crisis, and how we can use our minds to build resilience while connecting to each other and the Earth.

  • Events: We convene researchers, contemplatives, and changemakers–online and in-person–to explore solutions to environmental challenges through a multidisciplinary lens. Recent Mind & Life events have examined the psychology of behavior change, the role of contemplative practice in nurturing our awareness of our interconnection, and how to effectively engage people in movement building. Our 2021 Conversation with the Dalai Lama, Greta Thunberg, and Leading Scientists on the Crisis of Climate Feedback Loops attracted more than a million people globally.

“The reality is individual human lives depend on the community.
The time has come, we need to think in terms of all humanity.”

—The Dalai Lama in a 2021 Mind & Life Conversation
with Greta Thunberg and leading scientists

faces of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Greta Thunberg

  • Grants: Mind & Life Varela Grants and PEACE Grants support researchers in exploring issues such as the role of contemplative ecological education in developing social-emotional skills in children, and the use of mindfulness-based approaches to strengthen young people’s resilience and agency in the face of the climate crisis.  Our Contemplative Changemaking Grants expose students to contemplative gardening, engage Indigenous youth in land stewardship, and more.

“We live in a world where the environment, and what we’re doing to it,
is impacting us directly. I want to build awareness that we have the ability
to make a positive impact, starting with a positive mindset.”

–Jyoti Mishra, neuroscientist
Mind & Life grantee

Digital Offerings: The need to reconnect humans to each other and the Earth is a theme running throughout Mind & Life’s digital programming. In 2022, we launched a free online climate course: “The Mind, the Human-Earth Connection, and the Climate Crisis. Mind & Life’s Insights website features essays by leading scientists and Indigenous wisdom keepers on the role of the mind—and contemplative practice—in creating a more sustainable future. And the Mind & Life podcast engages prominent scientists, contemplatives, and changemakers (e.g., Buddhist practitioner and author Matthieu Ricard, Indigenous activist Yuria Celidwen) in discussion on environmental themes.

Illustration by Sirin Thada

How You Can Help

Your donation enables us to provide vital resources and opportunities not available elsewhere, and to foster rigorous research. When you give to Mind & Life, you:

  • Support educational programs that build resilience in the face of climate anxiety and grief, while inspiring people to be a force for positive change, and
  • Invest in leading-edge scientific research into how contemplative wisdom can be used to foster personal well-being, build more compassionate communities, and strengthen the human-earth connection.

“We are what the forest, the Earth, tells us that we are… parts of the universe
and the Earth. If we wake up to that, it changes everything.”

–Michael Kearney, MD
Mind & Life grantee