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Named after the neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela, The European Varela Awards have been an important and integral component of Mind & Life Europe’s support of contemplative scientists and scholars. Francisco believed 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 it also offers resources for advancing scientific theories and models of cognition, emotion, and consciousness.
The Varela Grants were established by the Mind & Life Institute in 2004 as a companion program to the Mind & Life Summer Research Institutes (MLSRI) and have been a critical element in supporting the development of Contemplative Science and Contemplative Studies. Following this, in 2014, Mind & Life Europe established the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI) and the European Varela Awards (EVAs) which have been supporting the young generation of contemplative researchers ever since.
Since 2014, the European Varela Awards at Mind & Life Europe has supported 57 projects with a total of just over €823,000 awarded to junior scientists in the field of contemplative studies. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the scholarly articles being published in top-tier, peer-reviewed, scientific journals reporting cognitive, behavioral, neurobiological, and clinical effects of contemplative practices.
Until now, grants of up to €17,500 have been awarded annually through a competitive application and selection process. Thanks to the generosity of MLE’s Varela Awards donor, for the 2023 cycle the maximum amount that applicants may apply increased to €23,500.
Research conducted with the support of the European Varela Awards will be the future basis of the emerging fields of Contemplative Science and Contemplative Studies. Today’s researchers will be tomorrow’s leaders in the exploration of the mind.