The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute

European Summer Research Institute 2024

The deadline has passed for this Year’s ESRI event.

The European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) is an event initiated by Mind & Life Europe bringing together around 120 scientists and practitioners in a unique retreat setting.

ESRI 2024 will take place from August 4th to 8th (arrival on the 3rd and departure on the 9th) at the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute in Pomaia, Italy.  


What is ESRI?

Cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration

The primary aim of ESRI is to further develop and promote the interdisciplinary community of contemplative science in Europe, with a special focus on preparing the next generation of researchers and practitioners in the field and building ‘gentle bridges’ (F. Varela) between an ever-widening array of disciplines. The program features interdisciplinary scholarly presentations and dialogue, inquiry through first-person experience, active contemplative practice, and ample intergenerational networking opportunities. Scientists, scholars, researchers, educators, clinicians, and professionals working in this field come together as a community to share ideas, knowledge, methodologies, and experiences from their lives and work, in order to bring about concrete advances in the field.

Attendees of the ESRI are eligible to apply for the European Varela Awards for contemplative research. Click here for more information about the European Varela Awards (EVAs). The application period for the EVA 2024 cycle starts this fall and the awardees will be announced via our MLE website, newsletter and social media in March 2025.

To get a taste of the kind of dialogues that take place at ESRI, please watch the videos of the conversations from last year!

ESRI 2024: “Living in Groundlessness with Responsibility”

This year marks the second year in a three-year thematic arc, “Caring for Life”, which aims to foreground caring as an active, processual, and participative feature of being sentient in a wildly complex and rapidly evolving ecosystem.

In year 1, we explored the theme of Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times. This year, we will interrogate more closely the notion of groundlessness in all its conceptual and existential density, carefully reflecting on the phenomenology of ground/lessness, how meaning arises from groundlessness, and how groundlessness intimately informs our sense of ethics and being-in-the-world. The week will loosely follow an arc of investigation, allowing faculty and participants to:

  • reflect together on the basic terms of inquiry (what exactly does one mean by ground and groundlessness?);
  • consider the import and valence of groundlessness within and across several academic disciplines (philosophy, neuroscience, quantum physics, psychology, anthropology, and more);
  • explore the possibility of a ‘middle path’ that considers wisdom and compassion as two sides of the same coin;
  • and find ways of integrating the experience of groundlessness — or the realisation of it — in our everyday lives and work. 

Mind & Life Europe will be partnering with the Lama Tzong Khapa Institute (ILTK) and the Italian Buddhist Union for the European Summer Research Institute 2024 and the MLE Retreat.

More information about the programme and faculty for ESRI 2024 will become available soon.

Alongside ESRI 2024, Mind & Life Europe is also arranging an in-person MLE Retreat at the same venue, from 31st July – 2nd August (arrival on 30th July). Find out more here!


  • Yochai Ataria
  • Sagaradevi Barratt
  • Aviva Berkovich-Ohana
  • Jennifer Branlat
  • Jay Garfield
  • Hsuan-Hsiu Hung
  • Miriam Kyselo
  • Wolfgang Lukas
  • Edel Maex
  • Fr. Francis Tiso
  • Martijn van Beek
  • Marieke van Vugt
  • and more!

Who should attend

ESRI fosters interdisciplinary dialogue and potential project collaborations, and thus is limited to 120 participants. A selection process identifies those whose interests are best matched to the annual theme.

Applicants should self-categorize into three categories: Research Fellow, Senior Investigator and Professional.

Research Fellows

“Research Fellows” include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows conducting research in neuroscience, biological and medical sciences, experimental and clinical psychology, the social sciences, or the humanities. Students and early-career researchers and contemplative scholars who work in the interdisciplinary field of contemplative sciences and scholarship are encouraged to apply in this category.

Senior Investigators

This category includes established academic researchers, contemplative scholars and educators who hold university or college faculty appointments (full-time, clinical or adjunct).


Professionals (e.g. educators, clinicians, therapists, HR managers, change agents) who are independent practitioners or affiliated with non-academic institutions apply in this category. This includes people working in business and (social) entrepreneurship.

About the Venue

Lama Tzong Khapa Institute is a Tibetan Buddhist center located in the heart of Tuscany (near Pisa). They offer regular courses on Buddhism, meditation, and many other topics, all aimed at the development of the human qualities of kindness, compassion, and wisdom. The Institute community consists of a sangha of Buddhist monks and nuns, an international body of lay students and visitors, and a large group of staff and volunteers. They welcome everyone interested in following a course or just to spend some quiet time enjoying the beautiful, peaceful setting.

Since its founding in 1977, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has grown into one of the largest Tibetan Buddhist centers in Europe. As an international school for Buddhist studies and practice, it attracts students from around the world who are interested in deepening their understanding of Buddhism and the mind through intensive study of Buddhist philosophy and psychology. These courses also include introspective meditation methods and an opportunity for active service.

Lama Tzong Khapa Institute has a range of clean and bright single and double guest rooms, wooden cabins and dormitories for anyone interested in staying – whether it be for one night or to live here while studying one of our long term residential study programs. Breakfast, bedding and towels are included in the price.

For more detailed information about how to access the venue, please visit the Institute’s website

Costs (for MLE Retreat & ESRI 2024)

 ESRI               MLE retreatESRI + retreat
Research Fellows€ 600€ 300€ 900
Senior investigators€ 800€ 400€ 1,200
Professionals€ 1200€ 400€ 1,600

These prices cover the whole program and full board at the venue (including food and drink). Please note that most rooms are shared with one other participant of the same gender and single rooms are extremely limited in availability.

Financial Support

Participants of ESRI (and the retreat) are expected to cover their own registration fee and travel costs. Fee discounts might be available for selected (PhD) students and early career scholars, with a particular priority given to scholars coming from Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries and Russia.

If you have the means to make a donation in support of participants who could not otherwise afford the fees, we would be deeply grateful for any level of donation. You can state your intention to make a donation in the application form or write to office@mindandlife-europe.org.

If you would like to be considered for financial support, please submit a written request in the application form with details of your financial situation (max. 300 words). Please note that MLE operates on a limited budget, and will only be able to provide support to the selected recipients.

Sāgaradevī Barratt

Sāgaradevī Barratt is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex, Programme Lead for MSc Medical and Clinical Education, and contributor to the Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme. Since 2014 she has been interested in contemplative pedagogy and has been applying contemplative ways of teaching and learning in her practice as well as developing opportunities for other educators to develop their skills and knowledge in the field. Sāgaradevī’s recent theoretical work explores how the enactive approach and recent developments in the cognitive science of wisdom could support the development of theory in contemplative education, informing future research and deepening understanding of its potential contribution to human flourishing. Her past empirical research, using qualitative methods, has touched on a range of topics related to mental health, trauma and social marginalisation. In the future, she hopes to develop her research in education as well as exploring how the lens of enaction might contribute to research in mental health and social care. Sāgaradevī is a member of Mind and Life Europe and on the organising committee for the 2024 Mind and Life European Summer Research Institute, founding member of the Contemplative Pedagogy Network and ordained member of the Triratna Buddhist Order.

Aviva Berkovich-Ohana

I am an Associate Professor, affiliated at the University of Haifa, Edmond J. Safra Brain Research Center, the Integrated Brain And Behavior Research Center, and Departments of Counseling and Human Development. Major research interests of my lab include the effects of contemplative mental training on consciousness, cognition and self-reference, as well as the possible applications to the fields of Education and Psychotherapy. Specifically, I am interested in the neural and cognitive processes underlying the sense of self, as well as its phenomenology.

Jennifer Branlat

Jennifer Branlat is associate professor in gender equality and diversity at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Jennifer is originally from the United States, holds a PhD in French Cultural Studies and worked at Antioch College before moving to Norway. She is particularly interested in pedagogy, inclusion and teaching outide the classroom. Her recent project, a collaboration with Katrin Heimann, Suneetha Saggurthi and Siri Øyslebø Sørensen, uses micro-phenomenology to understand the ways in which people experience affirmations and other micro acts of care and kindness in academic contexts.

Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy

Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy is a Himalayan mountaineer who has lived and worked in the Himalayas for twenty-two years. Now based in Switzerland, she facilitates workshops on the mountain, care and leadership. She studied at a monastery in Darjeeling, India and then at the Philosophy Department in Lhasa, China. She has led over fifty local projects to restore the Tibetan ecosystem. She is the first European woman to climb Mount Everest three times, leading Clean Everest expeditions with a group of fifty Tibetan mountain guides. She set up a waste management model to keep Himalayan glacier water clean and is now working on Clean Everest 360degree for both sides of the mountain, Nepal and Tibet. She set up a project on the Tibetan nomadic plateau, determined to restore the cultural values of the Tibetan nomads as guardians of the environment, working to defend the rights of nature with people who care about life and live in harmony between man and nature as a whole. She has published two books and now works as a workshop facilitator and keynote speaker. The Everest of Potential book uses the mountain metaphor to dare to care, to restore the natural qualities of the mind.

Leslie de Galbert

Leslie de Galbert, B.A. in Philosophy, Hollins University, D.E.S.S. in Clinical Psychology, University of Paris 7. Leslie is a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology and of the Association of Graduate Analytical Psychologists, Zürich. She was born and raised in the United States, and has lived in Paris, France since 1972. As a clinical psychologist, Leslie worked in the public hospital system in Paris, in geriatrics and palliative care. As a psychoanalyst in private practice in Paris, she was a member of the Société Française de Psychologie Analytique. For the IAAP, she supervised the training of psychoanalysts in Tbilisi, Georgia for a number of years.

Leslie has published articles in the Cahiers jungiens de psychanalyse and the Revue de Psychologie Analytique, and enjoys translating articles on philosophy and psychoanalysis from French into English. She has followed Mind and Life Institute dialogues since their beginnings in the 1980’s, and has also been an Association member of Mind & Life Europe since 2018.

Jay Garfield

Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Philosophy and Buddhist Studies at Smith College, Visiting Professor of Buddhist philosophy at Harvard Divinity School, Professor of Philosophy at Melbourne University and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies. Academicinfluence.com has identified him as one of the 50 most influential philosophers in the world over the past decade. Garfield’s research addresses topics in the foundations of cognitive science and the philosophy of mind; metaphysics; the history of modern Indian philosophy; topics in ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of logic; the philosophy of the Scottish enlightenment methodology in cross-cultural interpretation; and topics in Buddhist philosophy, particularly Indo-Tibetan Madhyamaka and Yogācāra. He is the author or editor of over 30 books and over 200 articles, chapters, and reviews. Garfield’s most recent books are How to Lose Yourself (with Maria Heim and Robert Sharf 2024), Getting Over Ourselves: How to be a Person Without a Self (2022), Knowing Illusion: Bringing a Tibetan Debate into Contemporary Discourse (with the Yakherds 2021, Buddhist Ethics: A Philosophical Exploration (2021), ̛What Can’t Be Said: Paradox and Contradiction in East Asian Thought (with Yasuo Deguchi, Graham Priest, and Robert Sharf 2021), The Concealed Influence of Custom: Hume’s Treatise From the Inside Out (OUP 2019), and Minds Without Fear: Philosophy in the Indian Renaissance (with Nalini Bhushan, 2017).

Juan González

Juan C. González is full Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences and the Director of the Center for Research in Cognitive Sciences (CINCCO: cienciascognitivas.org), at Morelos State University in Cuernavaca (UAEMor), Mexico. He obtained his PhD in Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the École Polytechnique (Centre de Recherche in Épistémologie Appliquée ––CREA––Paris, France), with a thesis about the nature of visual space, under the supervision of the late Dr. Francisco Varela. He also has two Master’s degrees in Philosophy (SFSU & Paris I, La Sorbonne). His research interests have always revolved around perception theory, consciousness and cognition, from a tripartite angle: empirical, conceptual and phenomenological. He is also interested in categorization, sensory substitution and altered states of consciousness; has secondary interest in ecological ethics and social theory. He has worked for the last 15 years on hallucinations, the psychedelic experience and Amerindian shamanism, and he is currently writing a book on those subjects, where he explores the relationship between knowledge and the nature of experience and reality. He’s passionate about music (jazz, in particular), cooking, tribal gatherings, good conversations and the miracle of existence.

Hsuan-Hsiu Hung

Hsuan-Hsiu is a dance artist and a somatic movement facilitator. Her creative practice explores the subjective experience of self in relation to others through movements in performative, therapeutic, and research contexts. She has been practising Qi Gong for 20 years and through the practice developed a passion for contemplative movement and dance. She received formal dance training at the Martha Graham School and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (M.A.). She also has a visual art background in studio practice in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (B.F.A.). Since 2018, she has studied and worked with somatic methods such as Authentic Movement and experiential anatomy as resources that inform and enrich her movement research in collaboration with designers, philosophers, and contemplative practitioners. Currently, she offers regular Qi Gong lessons and one-to-one bodywork sessions in Tallinn. Every summer, she co-facilitates Qi Gong and meditation retreats (following the Tibetan Buddhist tradition) in the beautiful nature of Estonia. www.dancinginart.com

Naissam Jalal

A vertiginous flautist, vocalist and prolific composer, Naïssam Jalal shines through her ability to forge links between different musical cultures and aesthetic fields. Through encounters, imaginaries and memories, she presents a unique work for each new creation. She deconstructs borders and invents a singular language that invites us to open up to multiple horizons. Naïssam Jalal has received many prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix de l’Académie Charles Cros 2017, the French Grammy 2019 (+ 3 nominations), the Prix des Musiques d’ICI 2020 and the Premier Prix Jazz at the International Songwriting Competition 2022. Leading 4 groups, Naïssam Jalal travels the world, sharing intimate and moving experiences with her public. Over the course of her 9 albums, she has established herself as one of the leading figures on the contemporary jazz scene, unveiling a personal and vibrant musical universe that gives new meaning to the word freedom. Photo Credit: Seka

Urban Kordeš

Urban Kordeš teaches cognitive science at the University of Ljubljana, where he heads the interdisciplinary masters program in Cognitive Science, part of the international MEI: CogSci consortium. Urban's primary interest lies in studying consciousness from a first-person perspective. He leads the "Laboratory for Empirical Phenomenology," which investigates the deep structures of conscious experience. The laboratory explores various aspects of consciousness, including the experience of understanding, the experience of knowing, mind-wandering (and its role in maintaining a sense of self), remembering, background feelings, and the experience of others. The laboratory also includes a contemplative research group dedicated to using meditation as a "telescope" for investigating consciousness. Urban is particularly intrigued by the notion that every act of observing experience constitutes a new experience. He introduced the concept of a "horizon of reflection" to understand how we turn our attention towards our own consciousness and, in doing so, enact our own experience. Additionally, Urban explores the integration of insights from various scientific disciplines in cognitive science, particularly neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and first-person approaches.

Miriam Kyselo

Miriam Kyselo is a full Professor of Philosophy at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She has a PhD degree in Cognitive Science from the University of Osnabrueck. Miriam's expertise is in philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of psychology and interdisciplinary research in embodied cognitive science. She is interested in the self, social cognition and interpersonal affordances, as well as in understanding what happens when self and sociality are at stake. Miriam is a proponent of the enactive approach and applying it to develop a thoroughly relational theory of the human co-embodied self.

Phap Linh

Brother Pháp Linh (Brother Spirit) is a Zen Buddhist monk, musician, and seeker. He began his monastic training with Thích Nhất Hạnh in Plum Village in February 2008 and has since composed many of the community’s most beloved chants. Before ordaining he studied mathematics at Cambridge and worked professionally as a composer. A co-founder of the Wake Up Movement for young people—active in 28 countries with over 2,000 members—today Brother Pháp Linh is actively engaged in teaching applied mindfulness to climate activists, business leaders, artists, and scientists. As a leading voice in the new generation of Buddhist monastics in the West, he is passionate about exploring how meditators and scientists can help each other to go further on the path of understanding and discovery. Brother Pháp Linh's work is animated by the conviction that a modern form of monasticism will play a crucial role in bringing about a more compassionate society and a much-needed collective awakening to our interbeing with all life.

Wolfgang Lukas

Wolfgang Lukas holds an MSc degree in physics from Graz University of Technology and a PhD degree in physics from University of Innsbruck. He was a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN from 2010-2017. Intrigued by the vast potential and challenge of “bridging” scientific collaboration with contemplative practices and community-building, he initiated the Contemplative Scientific Collaboration project in 2016 and the Mindful Researchers initiative in 2020, with support by the Yoga Science Foundation. He contributes to research projects and publications related to open and collaborative science. Wolfgang began exploring contemplative practices in 2005, with an initial focus on Theravada Buddhism and a growing interest in Dzogchen. His heart also lights up for process facilitation (Art of Hosting, Council), participatory decision-making (certified moderator for Systemic Konsensing®), poetry, storytelling, filmmaking, deep ecology, contact improvisation, and walking barefoot. Wolfgang has been participating in MLE events since 2013, while supporting the ESRI community-building and hosting teams since 2017.

Edel Maex

Dr. Edel Maex is a psychiatrist and Zen teacher living in Antwerp, Belgium. Teaching mindfulness became his way to integrate his Zen practice and his practice as a psychiatrist. He founded the Stress Clinic at the ZNA Hospital in Antwerp. He is the author of several books (in Dutch) on mindfulness and Buddhism. He is currently translating the Dharma talks he has given over the years into English and publishing them on Substack.

Fernando Rosas

Fernando Rosas works as lecturer at the University of Sussex and as honorary research fellow at Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. Previously, Fernando worked as postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, the National Taiwan University, and Imperial College London. Fernando has a B.A. degree in music composition and minor degree in philosophy, a B.Sc. degree in mathematics, a M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering sciences from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and a life-long interest in meditation and martial arts. His work includes significant contributions in mathematics, engineering, physics, and neuroscience, including more than 120 peer-revied articles — half of which have been published post-2020.

Francis Tiso

A New York native, Father Tiso earned a Master of Divinity degree (cum laude)at Harvard University and holds a doctorate from Columbia University and UnionTheological Seminary where his specialization was Buddhist studies. His teaching interests include Christian theology, history of religions, spirituality, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. Father Francis V. Tiso served the US Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2004 to 2009 as liaison to Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Sikhs, and Traditional religions as well as the Reformed confessions. Father Tiso is a priest of the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro, Italy, where he is Diocesan Delegate for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs. He was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Mind and Life Europe, which promotes research in neuroscience, philosophy, and contemplative traditions.

Martijn van Beek

Martijn van Beek is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and affiliated with the Interacting Minds Centre, both at Aarhus University, Denmark. Having worked and conducted research for many years on politics and development in Ladakh and elsewhere in the Himalayan region, for the past two decades his research has increasingly focused on the meeting ground between contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism, consciousness research and modernity. His research seeks to contribute to refining our understanding and the significance of emergent forms of contemplative ways of living for people and for the planet. He is also engaged in research on the (micro-)phenomenology of contemplative practice and experience. Martijn teaches sustainable ways of living and contemplative life in context, in theory and in practice at Aarhus University and elsewhere. He lives at Vaekstcenter, a contemplative community in Denmark.

Marieke van Vugt

Marieke van Vugt is an assistant professor at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Engineering (ALICE) of the University of Groningen (Netherlands). The research in Dr. van Vugt's lab focuses on how, when and why we mind-wander, and what the fundamental cognitive operations are that underlie meditation and mindfulness. Most recently, she started to investigate how analytical meditation practiced by Tibetan monks and nuns affects cognition and emotion. She addresses these questions using a combination of computational modeling, neuroscience, and experimental psychology tools. She very much enjoys projects were science, art (particularly classical ballet), and contemplation meet.

Event info
ESRI 2024

03-08-2024 12:00 PM
09-08-2024 12:00 PM
The Lama Tzong Khapa Institute

Stay informed about Mind & Life Europe

If you want to receive information about our news and future events, please subscribe to our mailing list