Donna Karan Takes the Zen Approach


Donna Karan, whom many know as the famously successful clothing designer, has gone far above and beyond her call to duty.

Karan recently donated almost $1 million to Beth Israel Medical Center in New York for a Zen center that will provide holistic healing therapies to cancer patients, USA Today reports.

Her “Urban Zen Initiative” being piloted in Beth Israel Medical Center will feature therapists and caregivers’ integration of yoga poses and breathing techniques taught to cancer patients to ease the pain and anxiety that so often come with their cancer treatments.

Among the participating team is Woody Merrell, Karan’s own physician and the director of integrative medicine at Beth Israel, and her yogis, the husband-and-wife team Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee.

Karan’s own husband died of lung cancer in 2001, and a close friend died of brain cancer last year. The Urban Zen Foundation is based out of his former art studio.

Her initiative, which reflects the idea of mind-body wholeness, adheres to the belief that by naturally aligning the body, mind, and spirit through meditation, self-awareness and healthy living we’ll have greater personal peace as well as increased mental and physical health.

Beth Israel is hoping this holds true for their league of cancer patients looking for some new treatment options.

“If this is something we’re going to go out and convince hospitals around the country to replicate, we have to be able to show it saves money in the long run or at least is cost-neutral and you end up with happier patients,” says Benjamin Kligler, director of the research at the Medical Center to USA Today.

Karan believes the research attached to the one-year grant will undoubtedly show that hospital stays can be shortened and fewer anxiety drugs administered, which would save the patient and insurance companies money.

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Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.