Funding decisions announced in December

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, cognition, and self.

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. Proposals are encouraged across broad domains, including: cognitive science, clinical psychology, education, anthropology, neuroscience, health/medical, social science, and humanities. 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 $20,000 are awarded annually through a competitive application, review, and selection process.

Mind & Life wishes to express our deep thanks to the Hershey Family Foundation for their generous support of this program since its inception, and for enabling the new level of funding this year. We are also grateful to the John Templeton Foundation and several Mind & Life sustaining patrons for additional support.

Learn more and apply »

Grant Policies and FAQ

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Varela Grant Recipients

**NOTE: There is a different application cycle and process for attendees of the European Summer Research Institutes. 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 United States or Japan within the last five years (i.e., for 2019 applications, one must have attended a Summer Research Institute in 2015 or later). Applicants must currently be graduate students enrolled in a PhD program, postdocs, or junior faculty up to their fifth year of appointment (or similarly, within five years of becoming an independent investigator).

The next application period will be from August 28 – September 25, 2019. Grants are selected and announced each December. Please check back for updates.