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A Conversation with Tim McHenry, Producer at the Rubin Museum of Art

Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2012 12:22 Written by Urban Zen Friday, 20 April 2012 12:22


6443819985 5ed508a99a o A Conversation with Tim McHenry, Producer at the Rubin Museum of Art

Photo Credit: Michael Palma


Tim McHenry, producer at the Rubin Museum of Art since 2003, has been active in the arts for decades, beginning at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland and the Zurich Opera in Switzerland. As artistic director of the Armistice Festival (1988) he also edited an anthology The Lost Voices of World War I, published by Bloomsbury. He has also worked for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker where he programmed for the annual New Yorker Festival for the first four years. In charge of the programmatic content of the Rubin Museum of Art since its founding in 2004, he has developed, among many brilliant offerings, the successful series BRAINWAVE. This year, Urban Zen is proud to collaborate with the Rubin Museum for this groundbreaking series.

Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with Tim. Here, we share the highlights of our conversation:

Urban Zen: Why did the Rubin Museum curate and produce BRAINWAVE? Does this build on previous programming?

Tim McHenry: In many practices of Buddhism, to reach enlightenment you need to have complete understanding and control of your mind. But how can you control your mind if you don’t know what your mind is? With that basic, simple question, the idea was born of having neuroscientists meet with people from other walks of life to talk about a subject of common interest, their brains and their minds. The on-stage conversation series was of course fuelled by the Dalai Lama’s well publicized interest in mind science and it seemed an ideal way in which the art in the museum could be seen to be relevant to contemporary sensibilities.

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Amazing Grace: A UZIT Experience in Haiti

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 11:37 Written by Urban Zen Friday, 13 April 2012 02:27

UZIT Amazing Grace: A UZIT Experience in Haitiby Mae Sakharov

My personal journey with the Urban Zen Integrative Therapist (UZIT) training began in 2008 when I read an article about the program in the New York Times. I was immediately drawn to the cross-disciplinary approach, focusing on self-care and integrating ancient healing techniques to complement the best in modern medicine. Donna Karan, Rodney Yee, and Colleen Saidman Yee spearheaded the training along with a group of practitioners who implemented a pilot program at Beth Israel Hospital in New York. The program has carefully designed yoga therapy movements (individualized according to population), Reiki (or healing touch), and Essential Oil Therapy, all based in a framework of contemplative care to help cancer patients, caregivers, and ultimately the professional staff.

The positive results of this pilot program led to the first full practitioner training in 2009-2010 at the Urban Zen Center in New York. Numbering approximately 100, my fellow students included psychologists, physical therapists, nurses, dentists, yoga teachers, educators and administrators of large hospital programs. This training included individual speakers who have become seminal to the training: Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman Yee, Roshi Joan Halifax, Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, Richard Rosen and many other amazing individuals from the healing world. Programs have now been implemented for nurses at Kent State University, The University of California at Los Angeles, Beth Israel Hospital, The Farber Center and other sites including St. Damien Hospital in Haiti. Donna Karan’s dream is growing and this coming August, the third training will be at Omega in Reinbeck NewYork.

During the 2011 training, I served as a mentor to new students and was selected as a leader in an exploratory trip to Haiti to see if the conditions would permit groups of fellow UZITs to make clinical rotations. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Donna Karan has devoted time and love to this remarkable place and we were blessed with getting to know and working with outstanding individuals at St. Damien Pediatric Hospital in Port Au Prince.

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The UZIT Experience of Bringing Hope to Haiti

Last Updated on Friday, 17 February 2012 11:22 Written by Urban Zen Friday, 17 February 2012 11:22

uzit clinical5 haiti The UZIT Experience of Bringing Hope to Haiti

By Keely Garfield

I am returning to Haiti, this time in the role of group leader for Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT), Clinical Rotation #5. As it turns out, we are an international cast of intrepids, hailing from Curacao, Argentina, Quebec, and London all by way of New York naturellement! This will prove crucial as between us many languages are spoken, but more fortunate is the “bonhomie” tendencies of my new friends and colleagues. Each night we shared good food (I salute the chefs who managed to turn coconut milk, a bottle of hot sauce, and rice into a killer curry!) and considerate conversation, which any way you stir the pot, makes us more human.

Approaching Toussaint Louverture International Airport, the woman sitting directly in front of me begins incanting loudly in Creole and French. She thanks the sky and the earth, she praises the mountains, and sings for dear life. Raising her hands, her fingers create notes in the air above her head. Her prayer is for protection for all of us. From the cockpit, the captain oblivious to the music coming from the cabin matter-of-factly tells us to prepare for landing. That I can do but having been here before, I know that beyond the citronella oil and power bars stashed in my bag, to try to prepare myself for what lies ahead is essentially futile. I come back to the moment exactly as it is and accept the woman’s benediction gladly.

There is so much to tell. Suffice to share just a few of the miracles. Many doors have been flung wide open for us since I was here as part of the UZIT leadership trip back in November 2011. In itself, this is an incredibly powerful testimonial to the efficacy and adaptability of the UZIT program, and its overwhelmingly positive reception in Haiti. In addition to our work at Saint Damien Pediatric Hospital, “Clincal #5” worked alongside the medical staff at St. Luc Hospital in the emergency room and elsewhere providing integrative therapies including in-bed and in-chair yoga, breath awareness, meditation, reiki, essential oils, and contemplative care to stroke patients, diabetics, and their families among others. We led integrative therapy sessions for the medical and maintenance staff both at St. Luc and Saint Damien, as well as offering individual sessions to doctors, administrators, volunteers and anyone else we could literally get our hands on! Another first for UZIT was teaching a Saturday morning yoga class to the children at Father Wasson Angels of Light Program Orphanage and School.

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