Urban Zen is a design vision and philosophy of living created by Donna Karan defining the space where creativity, culture, and collaborative design converge with community, wellness, and social impact. As the name implies, it is an experience of life’s dualities, creating a pathway for the human and creative spirit to thrive and manifest positive change.
The perennial trailblazer, forward-thinking Donna created Urban Zen in 2007, long before terms like “wellness,” “integrated healthcare/care,” and “conscious consumerism” became omnipresent in the current lexicon. As technology and industry have shifted, Urban Zen’s purpose as an epicenter of calm in the chaos of modern life has further strengthened, and its efforts to champion awareness, activism, and compassion resonate now more than ever. Our shared humanity is the common thread uniting each of the brand’s extensions, which include: the Urban Zen Collection and artisanal collaborations, Urban Zen stores, Urban Zen Center, Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT), and the Urban Zen Foundation.
Donna Karan’s call to action to “take care of the caretakers” came during her husband Stephan Weiss’ battle with lung cancer. Together with leading medical professionals and co-founders Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, Donna created Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT). UZIT integrates multiple healing modalities: mindful movements, restorative poses, meditation, breathing techniques, and essential oils. Trained UZIT’s were in New Orleans as a support during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrine, 2003 earthquake in Haiti, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
While quickly working to pivot our retail business and strategy to digital only, we like the rest of the country watched as the State began tracking the spread of COVID-19. It wasn’t long before I received a call from Donna saying, “we need to support the nurses.” We discussed the fear, anxiety, exhaustion, and mental health challenges they were experiencing. Urban Zen, through our foundation, needed to take action the best way we knew how (in addition to donations to food banks and providing meals to hospital staff). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UZIT developed a free digital holistic healing package created specifically to address the unique challenges hospital and frontline workers are facing during this unprecedented crisis. Each video is 5 minutes and named for when best to practice — UZIT Morning Practice, UZIT Midday Practice, Yoga for Anxiety and Stress, UZIT at Home After Work, UZIT Evening or Bedtime Meditation. They can also be downloaded and used on demand to accommodate different shift and break schedules. In addition, there is an instructional video explaining the program and how to use the Young Living essential oils, which are offered for free and shipped separately.
We are deeply grateful for the work and sacrifice of our healthcare and frontline workers as is the rest of the country. The unfortunate truth is that the challenges of this pandemic won’t end when there is a vaccine, and many hospitals don’t have the resources for their own Integrative Therapy support system. We created this special digitized version of our UZIT program to reach as many of these incredible individuals as possible and to provide them tools to support and promote a relief from their experiences. I am not surprised how quickly hospitals and nurses from New York Presbyterian, Northwell, UCLA, Stanford Medical Center and every hospital in between embraced the program and found relief in 5-minute meditations.
The mental health issues are far reaching and the tools for support are imperative. We are glad to be part of a community that understands the life changing and saving power of meditation.
To think, Donna made a promise to her husband decades ago and we as an organization are more determined than ever to take care of the nurses who so selflessly take care of everyone else.
CEO, Urban Zen
About Urban Zen Integrative Therapy
Urban Zen Integrative Therapy believes human care is the new health care. Its groundbreaking Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) Program takes a holistic approach to treating patients through the integration of eastern healing modalities with western science and is practiced by over 900 certified therapists throughout the country. UZIT’s and/or the UZIT program are currently active at hospitals including UCLA Medical, Northwell Health, CareRite Centers, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, Motion Picture & Television Hospital, and Wexner Heritage Village.