The Mind & Life Francisco J. Varela Research Grants — an important and integral component of Mind & Life’s support of contemplative scientists and scholars — are based on neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela’s belief that contemplative training offers modern science novel methods for investigating human experience. In his vision, contemplative training not only provides a new domain for scientific study, but more importantly offers resources for advancing scientific theories and models of consciousness, emotion and cognitive processing.

The Varela Grants fund rigorous examinations of contemplative techniques with the ultimate goal that findings derived from such investigations will provide greater insight into contemplative practices and their application for reducing human suffering and promoting flourishing. Preference is given to interdisciplinary proposals that incorporate first-person contemplative methods (e.g., introspective investigation and reports on subjective experience) into traditional cognitive, behavioral, physiological, clinical, or socio-cultural research.

This grant program encourages the active collaboration of scientists with contemplative scholars/practitioners in all phases of research. Grants of up to $15,000 are awarded annually through a competitive application, review, and selection process. Mind & Life wishes to express our deep thanks to the Hershey Family Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and several Mind & Life Sustaining Patrons for supporting this program.

View the full Request for Proposals (RFP)

Grant Policies and FAQ

Varela Grant Recipients

**NOTE: There are separate application cycles for attendees of the US and European Summer Research Institutes. For those applying based on attendance of a US Summer Research Institute in Garrison, NY, please use the online application found in these pages (links available in September). For those applying based on attendance of a European Summer Research Institute in Chiemsee, Germany, please visit the Mind & Life Europe website. Applicants may only apply for one Varela Grant in a given year.

For any questions about this grant, please see the FAQ, or email

To be eligible for a Varela Grant, the applicant must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute, in the US or Europe, as a New Investigator (formerly Research Fellow) within the last five years (i.e., for 2018 applications, one must have attended a Summer Research Institute in 2014 or later). Applicants must currently be graduate students enrolled in a PhD program, postdocs, or junior faculty up to their third year of appointment.

For those applying based on attendance of a US Summer Research Institute (in Garrison, NY), the application period for the 2017 Varela Grants is now closed. Grants will be selected and announced in December 2017.

For those applying based on attendance of a European Summer Research Institute (in Chiemsee, Germany), please visit the Mind & Life Europe website for more information.