Interest in the effects of contemplative practices on the brain and body has burgeoned in the West over the last decade. As these practices are increasingly incorporated into popular culture, scientific research on their biological and psychological correlates is also expanding, as well as work that engages the humanities and philosophical disciplines. The Mind & Life Summer Research Institute (MLSRI) and Varela Awards, founded in 2004, have provided significant training and funding opportunities to this growing field of 'contemplative science.' The MLSRI is an annual, weeklong event featuring plenary lectures by distinguished scientific and contemplative faculty, breakout and poster sessions, and opportunities for scientific collaboration and first-person contemplative experience. MLSRI participants are eligible to apply for Varela Awards-small pilot grants of $15,000 available to young scholars undertaking contemplative research. These grants have stimulated an explosion of related publications in peer-reviewed, scientific journals and leveraged a significant increase in funding for this sector. Along with the MLSRI, they have arguably been the field's most effective tools at stimulating research in this growing area of inquiry. We expect these innovative, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative programs to continue to produce stellar publication and funding outputs, and to expand the field of investigation into new areas of study including the humanities and social sciences.
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