European Summer Research Institute

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 2021 took place online August 16-20 with 119 participants from 30 countries.


Cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaboration

ESRI is a summer school where scientists, educators, professionals and researchers working in the field of contemplative science can assemble as a community to share ideas, experiences, and knowledge from their lives and work. With its unique format, ESRI facilitates cross-disciplinary dialogue, and collaboration to advance the training of a new generation of interdisciplinary scholars and researchers.

Unique format

The intensive one-week programme features active contemplative practice, interdisciplinary scholarly presentations and networking opportunities. The conference and quasi-retreat offers a unique format and plenty of opportunities for deep dialogue across disciplines, as well as inquiry through and learning from first-person experience. The faculty includes basic scientists, clinical researchers, and contemplative practitioners, scholars, and teachers.

ESRI is usually restricted to a maximum of 120 participants, as innovative and interdisciplinary scientific conversations and potential collaborations and new projects are more likely to develop successfully with a limited number of committed participants. Attendees are chosen through a review process.

Attendees of the ESRI are eligible to apply for the European Varela Awards (EVAs) for contemplative research. Click here for more information.

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

Undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows conducting research in neuroscience, biological and medical sciences, experimental and clinical psychology, the social sciences and the humanities are considered as "Research Fellows". 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.


For more information, please email us at esri(at)

Participants' answers after the conclusion of ESRI 2020, the first ever online edition of ESRI.

Voices from our participants 2020

The online ESRI 2020 was great and has helped to broaden my perspective and connect with other people outside my own institution/country. It was extremely well organised and enjoyable, especially considering this is the first time it has been conducted online, and I imagine MLE online events will continue to evolve and develop over time.

-  Jonathan Hamilton, United Kingdom 

ESRI for me was an opportunity to see more clearly the 'edges' of my comfort zone. With every new experience, I felt as if I was able to move away from my 'comfort zone' to my 'stretch zone,' in a way that allowed room for great contemplation, growth, and connection. There aren't too many experiences that allow for this kind of reflection and transformation and for this, I am forever grateful.

- Shannon Maloney, United Kingdom 

The ESRI 2020 has provided a space where great science, philosophy, and contemplative practice met gracefully. Thanks for being able to be part of this community that enables and reminds me it can still be possible to work on these topics, where science and contemplative practice meet with the aim of making a loving sense to a crazy world.

- Rocio Martinez Vivot, Argentina