Be The Change at the
Body Mind Spirit Expo
For more than 30 years, the Body Mind Spirit Expo (BMSE) has provided a nurturing, safe space for visitors to discover their inner path and connect with their local holistic community. Now with events in more than 18 cities, the Expo returns to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, in Skokie, on August 18 and 19. With more than 120 exhibitors, including psychics, mediums, readers and healers, everybody is sure to find something new that interests them.
Megan Mitchell is the director and event manager, and oversees every aspect of the Expo. “The BMSE offers a unique emphasis of natural health, personal growth and metaphysics. We balance local participation with the inclusion of a selection of the finest regional and national names in the holistic arena. We also encourage people to move into a more mindful way of living, and honor their mind, body and spirit, as well as their community and the environment.” she says.
BMSE offers Expos locally in Skokie, Northlake and Tinley Park, and around the country from Maine to Hawaii. The first one took place in Ashland, Oregon, in 1986, as a way to cater to the local holistic and metaphysical community. “Over the past three decades, we have committed to staying abreast of the latest products, speakers and trends in the holistic movement in order to stay relevant and pertinent. Today, we are the largest national series of expos in the holistic field,” says Mitchell.
Although the speakers and presenters are still a large draw for many attendees, the Expo puts a focus on vendors. “Our unique collection of holistic goods and services provide people the opportunity to try new products and sample treatments that they may have read or heard about elsewhere. People also come back to their same favorite vendors year after year,” says Mitchell. This year, the vendor section will include aura photos, essential oils, reiki, psychics and many more. Still, there will be 50-plus presentations over the weekend, with subjects as varied as Wisdom of Akashic Records, The Powers of True Aromatherapy, Connect the Dots of Your Soul and Miracle of Symbols in Prayers to Wear.
While the Expo is a place for growth and leaning, it’s also an opportunity for connection. “The events are very social. Attendees mark their calendars for it every year and make a point to meet up with friends. Our focus on the vendors allows them to share their story, their background and their expertise with participants in an intimate and supportive setting. It’s a much deeper connection than you can get from looking at your phone or at a video,” says Mitchell.
This year’s theme is “Be The Change”, and participants are invited to explore what that means to them over the weekend. “Change can happen on a number of levels. It can be personal, in your local community or on a global level. In today’s society, it’s more important every day to do what we can to make a difference, no matter how small it may seem,” says Mitchell.
The Expo is dedicated to sustainability, both on a local and global level. “Our shows reflect our values and our commitment to the environment and preserving our resources. We no longer print paper programs, which were wasting paper and printing supplies. Instead, our new website works as a gateway to enhancing the Expo experience even before you arrive at the event. You can build your own custom program guide highlighting those lectures and exhibits most of interest to you. In order to be sustainable, we also have to be affordable, both for the vendors and the attendees,” says Mitchell. A weekend pass costs only $14, parking is free, and they’ve actually lowered the cost for vendor booths over the years.
With more than 500 shows having been produced over the past 25 years, no two will ever be the same, and Mitchell has seen trends evolve over the years. “When we first started, practices like chiropractic work weren’t even very mainstream. Now everybody is familiar with them.” Mitchell says there has been recent interest in aromatherapy, essential oils, and healing crystals. “Essential oils were once thought of just as a perfume in the mainstream, now they are acknowledged for their relaxation benefits and ability to alter the body’s homeostasis. People are turning more to the healing power of plants and away from conventional medicine,” says Mitchell.
The Expos are a place for people to connect, learn and even experience wonder. “We are an aggregator, and we create a space where transformation can happen. While nobody is going to identify with everything presented, everybody who attends will find something new that excites them,” says Mitchell.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect with her at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.