Body Mind Spirit Expo: Finds a Warm Welcome in the South Suburbs
May 27, 2015 02:32PM
● By Carrie Jackson
The Body Mind Spirit Expo (BMSE), which was started in Oregon in 1987 to spotlight new trends in healthy living, will make a stop at the Tinley Park Convention Center on June 6 and 7. Over the years the expo has expanded to bring attendees the latest information about natural health, personal growth and metaphysics to communities worldwide. Megan Mitchell, director and event manager, has been with the organization since 1990 and is in charge of overseeing every aspect of the Expo. This year’s theme is “Feel, Believe, Become,” and Mitchell believes that the Expo brings refreshing energy to the holistic movement. “Living a conscious, holistic life allows us to not only enjoy vibrant health, but helps us understand our deepest motivations and most mysterious aspects of our being,” she says.
“Attending an Expo is a great introductory platform for somebody who is learning that there is more to the world than what we take in through our five senses,” says Mitchell. “It’s a safe and structured environment, and people can participate as much or as little as they want.” There will be hundreds of vendors, including acupuncturists, Reiki practitioners, psychics, reflexologists and people showcasing essential oils, crystals, art and photography. Most of the speakers, workshops and lectures are included in the entrance fee. People can ask personal questions about finding the right herb for an upset stomach and attend a lecture on communicating with dolphins or electromagnetic technology.
“We really focus on local exhibitors and form ongoing relationships with our vendors, speakers and attendees,” notes Mitchell. “There is such a wealth of talent in the Midwest, and it’s great to be able to showcase that all in one place. The vendors also form relationships with each other. I feel like they are part of an extended family. Some of them have been coming for a dozen years or more, and many of them launched their careers here. For the vendors, it’s a great way for them to get out and see what parts of their products or business resonate with people and what don’t. They are able to interact with their clients in a way that might not otherwise be available. For the attendees, they know that the vendors and speakers are screened to be authentic and the top of the line.”
BMSE stages expos from Portland, Maine, to Honolulu, Hawaii. “There are two other expos in the Chicago area—one in Skokie and one in Northlake—but we had a lot of requests to offer something on the South Side,” explains Mitchell. “This is our second year in Tinley Park, and last year, the feedback was very positive. There aren’t necessarily as many holistic resources on the South Side as there are in other areas, so people there were excited to have something closer to them. We’ve also been able to reach a different population.”
When the expos began in the 1980s, much of the information on healthy living pertained to chiropractic techniques, which were new to many Americans at the time. “We’ve seen those become integrated into mainstream health offerings and insurance now often covers chiropractic techniques,” relates Mitchell. “As the years went by, there was a shift to more alternative treatments, and those were really well received. Recently, as people are becoming more aware of what they’re putting on and in their body, we’ve seen a growth in natural body care. Things like organic cosmetics and paraben-free lotion are more sought after. People are looking for a more gentle approach.”
Other modalities have moved to the forefront of public attention, as well. “There has been a huge surge in interest in aromatherapy,” says Mitchell. “The more people start to see that traditional Western medicine has ramifications and limitations, the more open they are to trying alternative treatments. Also, natural pet care has become a major theme in the last two or three years. We’ve seen chiropractors for dogs and integrated energy healing for horses. With pets, there’s no chance of a placebo effect, and you are certain the results you see are real.”
Admission is $12 for both days, and parking is free. For information and to purchase tickets, call 541-482-3722, ext. 1 or 2, or visit bmse.net and download a $1 discount coupon. Enter for a chance to win a free ticket to the August event in Skokie at nachicagonorth.com/CHI/Contests/
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings Magazine, and the chair of recruitment for the Chicago Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.