Reflections: Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Cycle 3 at UCLA

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 04:43 Written by nicole Tuesday, 21 May 2013 10:49

3590414135 a2c5cced7a Reflections: Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Cycle 3 at UCLABY GILLIAN CILIBRASI

“Imagine a healthcare system where the patient is treated, not just the disease. Imagine a system where eastern healing techniques, yoga therapy, essential oil therapy, nutrition and contemplative care are used in combination with western medicine in a holistic approach to patient care.”

In 2009 I was drawn to the UZIT Program as a practitioner and especially drawn to the notion that drove the program… to imagine. I love being a part of something new, something innovative. Donna Karan’s words inspired me to join a movement to revamp patient-care as we know it- especially since we will all likely be patients at one point in our lives.

Some time ago, I heard someone say that the word imagination means image in action. These words are especially resonant now with the work we are doing in the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program. As I sit here watching the 50 trainees in the current training at the UCLA Health System move through the integration of the UZIT modalities I realize that we know no longer have to imagine, we have acted. We are in this new paradigm of blending east and west. At UCLA Health they call it “East Meets Best”, signifying the arrival of the UZIT eastern modalities into the finest medical institution on the west coast. These trainees are telling me of the profound experience they are having- simply by being able to offer their patients a body scan or propping them in a more comfortable and efficient position for healing- drugless offerings that allow their patients to relax without having to administer additional medication. 

While observing these practitioners, I visualize a pebble being thrown into a pond- concentric circles radiating outward to encompass all of their patients, loved ones, and the staff that they will touch with this newfound knowledge. Many of them are just beginning their journey using the UZIT modalities of yoga therapy, Reiki, essential oil therapy, contemplative care and nutrition for self-care. For this, all of the patients at UCLA are blessed with the opportunity for an enhanced care plan and an invitation to become an active participant in their own healing. I am honored and grateful to be here to witness the realization of Donna’s vision.


In gratitude,

Gillian Cilibrasi

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program Director

Keep up with UZITs in training here.

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Dr. Christiane Northrup on Letting Food Inspire

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 12:56 Written by Urban Zen Monday, 19 March 2012 06:28

“Food is the most intimate thing you can buy…Unlike clothes and shoes that dress the outside, food goes into your body and builds who you become.”
— Ani Phyo

Northrup blog Dr. Christiane Northrup on Letting Food Inspire

I love this quote. It is the essence of what I mean when I talk about eating to flourish. Think about it and let it sink in. Making decisions about your health takes on a whole new meaning when you know what you want to do with your life and who you want to be, doesn’t it?

Let’s talk about diet, exercise, and weight for a moment. I’ve studied nutrition, different diets, and medical studies for 45 years. And, I’ve been asked the how-to’s of weight loss many times. Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned over the last 15 years or so. It’s clear that maintaining a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or under is best. Eating low-glycemic foods is also very important, because it keeps your blood sugar from spiking. Rapid changes in blood sugar levels stimulate cravings, which leads to weight gain, and increase the likelihood of systemic inflammation. This in turn can lead to all kinds of chronic degenerative diseases, including type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Finally, it’s almost impossible to stay trim without exercising. Luckily, a little exercise goes a long way.

No one can refute these facts. But ultimately, reaching and maintaining healthy body composition and vibrant health through the right food choices happens in both your mind and body. Trust me—merely sticking to the latest fad diet or reaching for the perfect BMI won’t bring about the transformation. It is, indeed, personal.

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UZIT Nutrition Weekend: We Are Expressions of What We Eat

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 11:02 Written by Ali Schechter Monday, 27 February 2012 05:53

UZIT NUTRITION 1 UZIT Nutrition Weekend: We Are Expressions of What We Eat

Though there is no straight formula to getting and staying healthy, there is one principle that all speakers at this weekend’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program supported in their own way: food is medicine, and what we put into our bodies directly determines our health. There is no way around it: we are expressions of what we eat.

This may sound obvious, because it is. It is so obvious that one can’t help but drop a jaw at the current epidemic of nutritional ignorance in our country. Soaring rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more are all byproducts of this fundamental disconnect between us and our food. Our inbred agricultural system thrives on keeping people disempowered and under a spell of sugar and starch, while pharmaceutical companies swoop in to Band-Aid the aftermath. Instead of breaking down our food–our food is literally breaking down us.

Things need to change, and we have the power to speed up that process by how we spend our dollar. People all over the world are coming up with solutions to our current out-of-sync state, and we had the pleasure of hearing from a handful of luminaries this weekend, including Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Mark Hyman, among others. Perfectly setting the tone for the enlightening conversations were the beautiful nutrition images donated by Matt Armedariz, Helene Dujardin and Lindsay Moris that were projected throughout the Urban Zen Center.

First, though, we heard from incredible innovators Brooklyn Grange, an organization building commercial organic farms on New York City rooftops. Entering its third season, Brooklyn Grange will expand this spring to a second rooftop farm (45,000 square feet) in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Yes, there will be a CSA. I get giddy imagining all the fresh (and seriously local!) produce made possible by these visionaries.

Next we learned from Brian Halweil, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institiute, co-Director of Nourishing the Planet and editor of East End Edible Magazine. Brian addressed current issues facing the food system on a global scale. Did you know that we produce more food today than ever on this planet? And yet still millions of people live in poverty and hunger. As Africa urbanizes more quickly than anywhere in the world, we will need sustainable urban farming models like Brooklyn Grange. Or cheap ways to fertilize the ground: like the Acacia tree in Kenya weaving Nitrogen into farm soil. Our interconnectedness became clearer and clearer as Brian spoke, outlining farming and food waste solutions from New York City (Check out Tri-State Biodiesel) to Nigeria (see the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s answer to Cowpea Storage). Most importantly, we need to educate our kids, creating models like Stephen Ritz’s “Green Bronx Machine.”

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