10.09.1997 Author : Bob Condor, Chicago Tribune Staffwriter

While this weekend’s Whole Life Expo at the Rosemont Convention Center is intended to disseminate the newest ideas in alternative and intuitive arts to a Chicago-area audience, Wilbert Alix is not afraid to admit his specialty is anything but recently discovered.

Wilbert Alix is director of the Natale Institute, a shamanic training center based in Austin, Texas. He will be presenting a participator Trance Dance seminar Saturday night, on the middle day of a conference that organizers are hoping will draw 20,000 to 25,000 people.

Trance Dance is about 40,000 years old as best as can be documented” Alix explained. “Ancient shamans used dance for spiritual healing. In our society, dance is primarily used for entertainment and maybe exercise. The sacredness has been taken away”.

A sense of the sacred will thread through the Whole Life Expo, which includes 125 speakers and 250 exhibitors. Robert Gerzon, author of “Finding Serenity in the Age of Anxiety” (Macmillian), will discuss three types of anxiety. He explains “toxic anxiety” as chronic self-criticism and concern about self-worthiness. “Natural anxiety” is more about real life dangers; it can actually help us protect ourselves”. “Sacred anxiety” prompts us to consider the meaning of life and our spiritual life. Gerzon said it can lead us to discover our life purpose if we embrace it.

Other speakers will cover such titles as “Awaken Your Spiritual Power”, The Laws Of Spirit”, Everyday Soul”, Sacred Living”, Spiritual Simplicity”, and “Spirituality for the Business Person”. But for potential attendees more interested in the mind and body, there are dozens of options, such as learning how to trust our intuition, why enzymes are important to nutritional health and what Native American medicine offers to patients not totally satisfied with their doctors.

Whole Life Expo debuts this year in Chicago after 15 years of success in San Francisco. Similar gatherings are being held in Baltimore, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Austin (plus Atlanta in November), bringing together what could loosely be called New Age thinkers, though many presenters and exhibitors discourage such labeling. They want to fit into a mainstream America that might be more conscious about staying well but not quite ready for “Keys to Clairvoyance”.

Added attractions will include a music stage, with a special appearance by the Tibetan monks of Dreprung Loseling Monastery, who will perform their popular multiphonic chanting. There will be a pavilion for bodywork and other therapies, an art gallery, goods fair, a book market and even a children’s activity center.

What is perhaps most impressive about the Chicago version of the expo is that about 90 of the 125 speakers are local individuals, and about half of the exhibitors are enterprises in the metropolitan area.

Wilbert Alix is an out-of -state entry focused on providing a message of in-body consciousness, a concept that is a staple of the whole-person or holistic perspective. His seminar allows participation in a Trance Dance, which begins with a bandana tied around the eyes of the dancer. “It creates a darkness that gives us an opportunity to discover an inner vision,” Alix explained. “When we see only with our eyes, we tend to stay within our brain. Using the bandana is sort of like experiencing a dream while awake”.

The next step establishes a relaxed pattern of breathing. Of course, music selection is essential.

“Rhythms induce the trance state”, Alix said. “A drumbeat that relates to the heartbeat is the most effective”.

None of the techniques works without being specific.

“People need to be clear about the healing they seek in their lives, said Alix. As people practice Trance Dance, they become increasingly clear about the healing intent. They gain tremendous insights and find a sense of release”.