Awaken Your Tree of Life at Chicago’s Whole Life Expo 2013

An all-new and re-imagined Whole Life Expo, to be held from May 31 to June 2, at the Schaumburg Convention Center, features Sephira, the world-premiere ‘cirque of the soul’; an Eco-Fashion Pavilion and makeovers with a trendsetting green edge; a Longevity Pavilion, teaching telomere tips and stem cell basics; and the workshops and lectures of world-class thought leaders like Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven, and Chicago conscious-living leaders like fitness expert Shea Vaughn, restaurateur Karyn Calabrese and Envisioneer Emanuel Kuntzleman.

Whole Life Expo CEO and new owner Steve Strickland, a veteran producer of holistic expos for 30 years, has reinvented the legendary brand after a 12-year hiatus in Chicago. Strickland intends to upend the traditional expo format and transform it into a kaleidoscope of thought-provoking ideas, music, acrobatics and visuals.

Sephira is an experiential and transformational tool that was born of personal experience. In 1998, Strickland saw Mystere, Cirque de Soleil’s first venture into Las Vegas. Years Shea Vaughnbefore, Timothy Leary had delivered a talk at one of Strickland’s Body Mind Spirit expos and observed, “Anyone coming to an expo should feel as though they had entered another world, much as one feels when entering a cathedral.”

When Strickland experienced Mystere, he realized, “This is what Leary meant! The audience is transfixed by this art form, and it lends itself to metaphysical story. What better way to enthrall and transform an audience than with a circus?”

Fifteen years later, Strickland has enlisted a first-class team to produce Sephira at the Whole Life Expo. Robert Gelman, a seasoned event Colette Baron-Reidproducer and Cirque de Soleil veteran, and Shayna Swanson, the founder and artistic director of Chicago’s Aloft Circus Arts, are spearheading that team. Using spectacular, world champion acrobats and visuals, Sephira tells the story of a magician that discovers it takes more than magic to awaken the Tree of Life.

Giant domes, wall sections shaped like yin/yang symbols and vibrant colors define themed villages within the Expo, creating an altered space in which 200-plus global exhibitors and some of the world’s most esteemed thought leaders in the fields of metaphysics, spirituality, holistic health, yoga, green living and sustainability will present alternative ideas about how to live a well-balanced, mindful, healthy and fulfilled life. In other words—how to awaken the Tree of Eben AlexanderLife.

Key among the speakers presenting more than 75 lectures and in-depth workshops are Dr. Eben Alexander, Gary Zukav, Colette Baron-Reid, Dannion Brinkley, Gail Thackery and Sean David Morton. Popular local presenters on the Natural Awakenings-sponsored center stage and other show stages include Vaughn, Calabrese, Deborah Poneman, John Newton, Mark Anthony Lord, Dr. Barbara Royal, Darren Weissman, Renee Barasch, Dena Mendes, Maggie Wilkins, Lisa Faremouth Weber, Lenore Weiss, Dr. Bernice Teplitsky, Lysiak, Wisehart and Emanuel Kuntzleman.

Gary ZukavThe Eco-Fashion Pavilion offers an exclusive look at 20 of the world’s finest eco-fashion designs under one roof, including the exquisite designs of Organic Leather, Stewart + Brown, Les Racines du Ciel, Kami Organics, Stella Grey and Leila Hafzi.  International stylists Jocelyn Whipple, leading light of Livia Firth’s Green Carpet Challenge, and Jill Heller, owner of New York’s legendary Pure Thread, will coordinate and emcee an Eco-Fashion Makeover on the pavilion’s stage for three participants each day of the Expo, providing insight on the integrity, style and ethical production of each piece.Karyn Calabrese

Presenters at the Longevity Pavilion include experts from biotech and science communities. Speakers include anti-aging expert Greta Blackburn, the genetic “telomere diva” and developer and co-author of The Immortality Edge; David Kekich, founder of the Maximum Life Foundation and author of Smart, Strong and Sexy at 100, and Bryant Villeponteau, Ph.D., “the godfather of telomeres.” Longevity Pavilion topics include Secrets of Your Cells That Crack the Age Code and Longevity Secrets of the Rich and Famous.

Win free tickets to Whole Life Expo! Enter at

Hours are 1 to 9 p.m., May 31; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., June 1; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., June 2. The Sephira cirque will take place from 8 to 10 p.m., June 1. Cost is $20 per day or $50 for all; includes 150 free lectures and exhibit floor. Additional pricing for keynotes, Sephira and workshops. Location: 1551 Thoreau Dr., Schaumburg. For complete details, visit

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