Donna Karan: Ambassador of Spirit and Sole
Not all fashion lovers are arbiters of superficiality or hold an unruly attachment to earthly possessions. In fact, the stylish and iconic fashion designer Donna Karan has made it her business to do more than just sell soles; she has made a commitment to lift spirits. In 2001, after losing her husband, 62 year old Stephan Weiss, to lung cancer, Karen, a devout yogini, created The Urban Zen Foundation — a foundation which "creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children." And now, that very foundation has donated close to 1 million dollars to Beth Israel Medical Center to implement a yearlong experiment combining Eastern and Western healing methods to treat cancer patients. Yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy will all be offered as complimentary treatments to chemo and radiation.
Ms. Karan's own yoga masters, husband/wife team Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee will oversee the experiment, in which "fifteen yoga teachers will be sent to Beth Israel’s ninth-floor cancer ward starting in January to work with nonterminal patients, and nurses will be trained in relaxation techniques."
Of course, not everyone has the sort of faith in alternative or integrative medicine that most yogis do, and no patient will be forced to participate. But how amazing for patients to now have the option and opportunity to embark on a healing journey that addresses their whole being—their mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies—not just their physical bodies.
Without question, Donna Karan is proof that being a purveyor of style and an advocate of spirit aren't mutually exclusive practices. In fact, Karan's style just might save some lives.