I am sceptical of exhibitions mainly because its usually hard sell, and I walk away with sore feet and loads of leaflets I end up binning. This year I attended the Mind Body Spirit Exhibition at Olympia. I met a lot of people but here are the ones I recommend and why.
'As most journeys start, I had an intention to be there for a short time, fulfil a remit and go. I would stay a few hours on a Friday afternoon. This turned into a long weekend. Initially I visited the Mind Body Spirit Exhibition at Olympia to find out more about holistic holidays. There has been an unprecedented growth in this healing holiday market, for want of a better phrase, over the past few years, with retreats, spas, wellness centres, top of mountain yogic and meditation experiences designed to blow your mind body spirit, transcend and embody, empower and ignite the energies in you, allowing you to find yourself, loose yourself, centre yourself, discover yourself or just be yourself - if you know who you are, that is - which may not be the person you think you are at all. Or the person people tell you you are. Anywhere with a sunset and sunrise, ideally a hillside, or beach, and someone looking floaty and sorted, you could chill, channel, recharge and head back to the big smoke with some clarity until it filled you up again with nonsense. An exhibition hall at Olympia doesn't quite have the same energetic magnetism as a mountain top in the Himalayas, but the place was magical - which says a lot for the energy of those who were there.
Wandering around the stands at the show, which initially seems like any other exhibition, stands in neat rows, some smelling of joss sticks, another with an Indian man with a long beard (it was fake) and others smiling, handing out pamphlets, I was looking for my friend Ailsa Frank, who is a hypnotherapist. Diverted as I usually am on my travels, I looked around. Everything from massaging the chakras, realigning your life force, yoga in all its guises, silent disco, vegan nibbles, personal development workshops in the UK and overseas, wildflower therapies (www.WildFlowerEssences.co.uk (get the balance spray), chocolate and tea therapy (www.barakateas.com) bee therapy (www.wellbeingessences.com), light therapy, chakra therapy… any form of therapy seemed to be catered for. There was even organic chocolate for those who enjoy chocolate therapy.
Some offered an almost scientific analysis of why you feel the way you do, others offered more esoteric advice about how we are connected with nature. It is not surprising there is an increasing need for explanation and definition, when our faith in everything from the Church, the government, the media, even our parents has been challenged over the past three to four years and found wanting. The internet, for all its faults has enabled people to send before they have thought, and hence sent what they really think. Thats not what the government or the media or the Church are telling us to think, but what we really think - which is totally different. Thats powerful stuff. It was shown only on Saturday when the media announced 'the world is excited by the birth of the next royal baby.' No they are not. The media is but the world is not and twitter, Facebook et al showed as much.
As a result there's a lot of people who have based their lives, their journeys on falsehoods either told to them by their parents, their boss, goodness, even the media. And they don't know who to believe any more. When you don't believe in God, you start to believe in everything and there is an opportunity to explore yourself further. Not just geographically, but emotionally and spiritually. You don't need to be in midlife to have a crisis these days – it can happen anytime, any place, anywhere. A lot of those who have had some sort of 'aha' moment or are in need of one come to this exhibition.
Two years ago I came to this event and felt suffocated by the sell and take of the stands there. Full of tarot readers and astrologers, crystal sellers, I was slightly sceptical of the hard sell. But people today are seeking deeper and further now, beyond the star signs and crystal balls. As TV and media sells us more vacuous and superficial images of what and who is real (celebrities as false Gods), so we are realising that what is being is sold as 'real' is anything but, and what appears plausible is not necessarily authentic. Alternative is gradually becoming mainstream. Today the festival, because it is more a festival than exhibition is about tell and share rather than sell and need .
Essentially its about the stuff of experience rather than the experience of stuff. So less selling crystals and more telling stories and healers who heal, who share their knowledge, grace and wisdom. Everyone in some way, whether they label themselves it or not, at Olympia was a life coach, giving a different perspective on the life journey. So it was probably fitting my editor should send the travel editor there to investigate.
My very good friend Alisa Frank (www.hypnobalance.co.uk), who is a hypnotherapist was there selling her book 'Cut the Crap and be Amazing' which is essentially what everyone walking through the door wants to do. There are a number of workshops and areas - the Mantra Tent, the Wellbeing Studio, Aura Central, the Chill Out Space,but I headed for the Love Dome, because,if I'm honest and no reason better than that, I felt like it.
There I met Cate Mackenzie, ( www.catemackenzie.com 07974 341 545 ). Cate is a psychosexual therapist, couple counsellor and work shop leaders. She is above all else, a force of nature.
“I've been called many things, love coach, sex therapist, but essentially love coach is what I am. I help people connect with themselves so they are able to connect with others.”
With a red top hat , like a sparkling spiritual ring master, she has been working with people for over twenty years. A bright, beautiful lady, she's grounded with a wicked, engaging sense of humour, which will win over even the most cynical of hearts. You immediately want her to like you.
“Women and men are totally different aren't they?” I ask, hoping she will agree with me, and confirm my belief women are multi dimensional, much more evolved than men who are two dimensional, emotionally autistic followers who women have to drag kicking and screaming into enlightenment.
“They find love in a different way.” she replies, “Women channel through the heart, men through sex, but they are both extremely tender and loving and end up at the same place – they just reach it through different channels.”
Cate realised she had strong intuition from an early age, as did a lot of those I interviewed at the show, although many of them started out either as successful business people who realised there was more to life than making money . Many also s tudied Law at university , totally changing their perspective on life. Seeing angels or trusting intuition in childhood, knowing something was wrong or right, regardless of what you were told, was a common theme of those I spoke to. A lot also came from professions or education totally unrelated to psychic ability. I'm a believer in you meet good people through good people and I met a fascinating array through Cate.
One of those was Skyler Arcanesis, life coach, speaker, author and spiritual activist. Like Cate, she is incredibly inciteful, telling you more about yourself, your true self, than your friends, your mother and even you would like to admit to yourself (www.skyacamesis.com). This can be scary as well as fascinating, like someone holding a mirror to you for the first time in your life. Originally studying law, she realised that this wasn't her vocation and work revolves around love – how to love and be loved greatly, and the premise that we are all tired of being afraid. She was so illuminating about my life, she could have written my life story and guaranteed the happy ending.
Tiffany Wardle ( www.tiffanywardle.com), a psychic and expert in past life regression, soulmates and soul connections and Reiki Master and healing teacher, was an extremely successful businesswoman with property and business and lost it all, but in doing so found out something about herself which had more meaning to her life.
“I lost everything, even my soul mate,” she said. “Everything was taken from me, and then I went on this journey, a physical as well as meta-physical journey, that made me realise I had psychic abilities. I wanted to use and explore them.”
She also has that ability to hold up a mirror but one of her specialities is past life. She told me I had my knuckles rapped a lot in a previous life time and had to say stuff I didn't believe, which explains a lot about my distrust of establishment despite a conventional upbringing. I am more inclined to trust people than process.
Beverley Drumm ( www.nectaroflife.co.uk) specialises in kundalini yoga and tantric transformation. “ Whenever people think of kundalini and tantra they think sex but its much more than that. Its much more than improving your sex life. That is only on the surface. You change how you feel about yourself, and there are so many ways you evolve, the fact it improves your sex life is almost a bi product of all the other benefits of kundalini yoga, which is breaking down the barriers and blocks you have in your life to be yourself, and find yourself. I organise groups of eight to ten women for half day workshops who want to explore their sexuality and improve it. Sexuality is not just about sex, its about identity. Its a magical experience which I do in peoples homes.”
Tori Hartman (www.ToriHartman.com) , who compiled a series of parables and produced cards to help focus people on their life purpose. Tori talked me through the story behind each card. Its an accessible way of getting to the truth and confronting issues which can be quite brutal. She has strong psychic abilities and doesn't pull any p unches. "This woman spoke to me once and sobbed down the phone telling me 'he doesn't love me any more'. That's not the problem, I said. What's the problem is you're miserable."
Another excellent retreat are those run by the effervescent Samjhana Moon ( www.goddessportraiture.co.uk) Samjhana is a fine art portrait photographer (who actually originates from Chiswick, offering one to one luxury retreats in Totnes Devon. She offers a range of photography experiences helping women to look at themselves differently, regain femininity and light through getting in touch with nature.
"We are all connected with the seasons, especially women through the moon cycle. If you identify with the seasons it tells you a lot about yourself and how you see yourself as a woman, and enables you to reconnect with the 4 seasons because women are every element - air (breath-spring) fire (temperature-summer) earth (bones-autumn) water (blood-winter). Society loves the young adventurous girl (represented in the season of Spring) and the fertile, hot, sexy woman (Summer), but is less sure of the mystic and wise side of women, that are represented by the seasons of Autumn and Winter. I wish society would embrace every aspect of women!" Check out Samjana's gallery on the website, the images are illuminating in more ways than one.
Its not all women there. Art Giser has evolved NLP to bring in a psychic and spiritual elements to the practice, deepening it so that its not about them or you “getting what I want”, but heightening your perception into realising getting them to do what you think you want may not be the best way forward. That's evolution for you ( www.ENLP7.com ). I asked him why he felt the show had become more popular over the years. “More and more people realize that they are much more than they thought they were, much more than then their personality. They want more than just love, sex and money, they want to bring their spiritual nature into every aspect of their lives.” Some of us are wanting to transcend lfie, go to another level, others are wanting to embody their spirituality more strongly, so come back, be in our body again. We are all taking different spiritual journeys in different dimensions”
Aware that I had gone to the exhibition in the first place to talk travel, I met the man behind The Big Calm ( www.thebigcalm.com) set in Kafelonia.
“A lot of people go there and they don't see the real destination. They don't see what it really has to offer. They don't explore enough. Its an incredible energy there and we've tapped into it with the retreats, which offer anything from meditation to reiki, horse riding, poetry and fishing.” Also try out www.upsidedownholiday.com, who holds yoga holidays in Dalyan, Turkey.
I ended up going for three of the four days – when I had anticipated only going for a few hours. I met Momoyo Smozky (email@example.com) who is, like the rest of those I have named in this piece, phenomenal in her healing powers. her powers will literally knock you off your feet. I bought some frankincense – a powerful oil I use in my yoga classes a lot - from the frankincense store (www.freeyoursenses.co.uk) which sells the best from Oman.
In fact I floated out of the exhibition every day, having mixed with some truly amazing and enlightened people. I have travelled extensively around the world and seen many phenomenal places, but on many levels, the trip to Olympia this May Bank Holiday was the best journey I have taken in a very long time.'