At MLE, we facilitate generative encounters that encourage an ongoing circulation between different disciplinary perspectives, between theory and practice, and between contemplative, philosophical, and scientific approaches to the mind. We do this primarily through curating a lively line-up of online and in-person dialogues, hosting interdisciplinary retreats and symposia, funding the next generation of researchers in contemplative science, and sharing cutting-edge findings in these fields with the general public. We work closely with researcher-practitioners in the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, education, ecology, contemplative practice, and the arts, and strive to build communities that foster open-hearted and radically honest interactions.
Since 2014, Mind & Life Europe has been giving out an annual award (worth up to €22,000), the European Varela Awards, named after the neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela, in support of contemplative research.
Mind & Life Europe hosts live in-person and online events throughout the year, bringing together learners, scholars, and practitioners of diverse disciplines – including philosophy, science, education, contemplation, and art.
As a home for interdisciplinary dialogue, we foster the growth of an open-minded and open-hearted community of learners, scholars, and practitioners through dedicated and intimate spaces both in person and online.
We work with a growing number of like-minded organizations to extend our impact and support in the arena of contemplative science and embodied multidisciplinary dialogue.
2023 High-Level Summary
Catalyzing Research and Facilitating Meaningful Dialogue
Starting in 2021, MLE has actively and dramatically extended the scope of its activities. Besides the more “traditional” array of initiatives, such as the European Varela Awards (EVA) and the European Summer Research Institute (ESRI), we have continued our online events from 2020, such as the ‘Mind Matters’ talks, the ‘Beyond Confines’ webcasts series, and the monthly webinars for MLE Friends. The new MLE Retreat program was launched to address the questions and difficulties that young contemplative scientists face in their lives and workplaces. We have also developed completely new programs for the general public, such as our Varela 20/30 anniversary events and the Core Enaction series.
Key strategic organizational development projects have also been in the works, such as the integration of contemplative education into MLE activities, the development of mentoring programs in contemplative science, the extension of our community in Eastern Europe, and increased efforts to include the next generation of researchers and practitioners in all our activities.
I. CORE PROGRAMS IN 2023
1. European Summer Research Institute: “Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times” (August 20-24, Italy, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute)
2. European Varela Awards management
3. MLE Retreat for young researchers and scientists (online and in-person events): “Sentience and Responsibility in Critical Times” (August 17-18, Italy, Lama Tzong Khapa Institute)
4. Core Enaction Program, Semester 2 and 3 (online, spring and fall 2023)
5. Mind Matters webinars: “Gaia: Gateway to the Climate Conversation” (online, quarterly)
6. EVA Alumni Talks (online, monthly, 6-8 talks in 2023)
7. MLE Friends webinars (online, monthly, 6-8 talks in 2023)
II. PARTNERSHIP EVENTS IN 2023
1. The Computational Approach to Neuro-Phenomenology workshop (March 6-10, The Lorentz Center, Leiden, The Netherlands)
2. Varela International Symposium: Worldmaking/Sensemaking: Intersubjectivity, Cooperation, Precariousness (May 25-28, Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, hybrid event)
3. Cortona Week 2023: Science and the Wholeness of Life(July 16-23, Certosa di Pontignano, Italy)
4. Enactive Ethics of Responsibility workshop (September 25, University of Pardubice)
5. 1st International Conference on Environmental Mindfulness (ICEM) (November 13-16, Rome, Italy, co-organized by Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies at CNR,Sapienza University of Rome and Consciousness, Mindfulness, Compassion International Association)
III. CONTENT DEVELOPMENT IN 2023
1. “Caring for Life”– ESRI 2023-2025 “arc theme” development
2. “Caring for Life”– 2023 “MLE umbrella theme” development
3. “Gaia: Gateway to the Climate Conversation” – Mind Matters webinars 2023 theme development
4. “Power and Care” theme and sub-themes development
5. “Arts and Enaction” theme development
6. Varela Archive – project preparation
7. Podcast series development
IV. ORGANISATION DEVELOPMENT IN 2023
1. Outreach to Eastern Europe
2. Next generation development, “Mindful Researchers” program
3. Communication and new website development
4. New fundraising model development
5. Capacity building, including volunteers