MindBodySpirit has been organising inspirational events in the UK since 1977.
The Festival was the first exhibition in the world entirely devoted to the pursuit of healthier, more creative and fulfilling lifestyles. It offered a home for spiritual seekers and pilgrims from across the globe, offering them a safe place to commune, share ideas, beliefs and philosophies. Our History
Mel Carlile is the man behind MindBodySpirit. He is the Chair and owner of the festival. Who better to talk to than the man himself about what makes this particular wellbeing festival so special? Yogamatters got the opportunity to put some questions to Mel, so that you too can get to know this remarkable man.
Could you first of all explain a little about what yoga and meditation have meant for you personally on your journey through life?
I came to meditation a bit late in life at about 40 and to be honest, it totally sorted me out, as prior to having a practice, I was what I call an ‘asleep man’ man – totally ego driven, self-absorbed, vain, and at times, manipulative. My operating systems and programming were functioning on a very base level and then boom! Vipassana entered my life through the teachings of Jack Kornfield. I changed, chilled and tuned into the smaller picture of myself, learnt that I was not my thoughts and rerouted some neural pathways and so my personal development got a kick start….Today, meditation is still my essential go to practice……….
Now Yoga! Yoga and I have a real on off relationship. I totally get yoga, I truly do, but the asanas don’t call to me in a way that Karma yoga or Yoga in action does eg. being out in the world ‘being’ Yoga and not just ‘doing’ Yoga.
How and when did you come to be involved in MindBodySpirit Festival?
The festival has been a bit of a journey of destiny for me. I used to exhibit at the festival some 15 years ago when it was based in Victoria. So I’m there feeling the vibe, doing my thing connecting, learning, growing, selling. It was at the festival that I became good buddies with the festival owner John Holder and we decided to open a shop together in Fulham – MindBodySpirit Direct, purveyors of all things ‘spiritual’. We had a lot of fun with our retail and mail-order endeavours. After about 3- 4 years of working together, John asked me to take over the running of the festival as it had hit a bit of a funk………. The rest is all history. I now own the festival and it’s now a huge blossoming flower of love and a pilgrimage destination for the tens of thousands of people who visit every year..
What’s your secret? How has MindBodySpirit become ‘the largest and longest running event of its kind in the world’?
No secret really. This is the original festival, the daddy of all MBS festivals, now in its next incarnation as “The London Wellbeing Festival”. I recognised that the festival was its own entity and needed to constantly evolve, embracing the new and honouring the old. But most of all respecting our visitors/community by always looking at how to enhance their visitor experience by creating a safe, comfortable space for them to the chill, commune, experiment and enjoy the festival experience….Great Workshops..Awesome Live Stage Pop Up Temples..Sound Yurts..Ceremony Spaces..Vegan Food…Bundles of FREE experiences, and a holistic retail shopping heaven with over 200 exhibitors.
What does being Chair of MBS involve and what do you love most about your work?
The Chair role is a new one for me this year. Having handed over the MD role to Josh, it means I can take a wider, clearer (blue sky) view of the festival and its influence/ethos out there in the world.
I believe The Chair role is one where age, experience and wisdom are harnessed for the guidance of the next generation to help their vision, desires and dreams for the festival’s evolution. I have made the most delicious connections and friends through the festival.
All of them have contributed to my own personal evolution and development and all of them can be experienced through the festival’s atmosphere. And that’s the beauty, that’s what I really love: the fact that it’s a combined effort by hundreds of like-minded individuals all coming together to deliver a live experience that can facilitate change and make a difference in the world and people’s lives………And then the doors open and tens of thousands of seekers flood into the show to bathe in that effulgence.
You’re also Chairman and a Trustee of Ashok Tree Foundation. How did you become involved with this charity and why do you feel it’s important for you to support this work?
Hey, what to do? Once you are called to action, you have to honour the call. This was my time to be of service and let me tell you, there is no drug more addictive and delicious than being of service.
Yogi Ashokananda invited me to come on board a couple of years ago and seeing the amazing things he had already achieved with the foundation, I wanted to lend my support and any skills I could bring to the table. Having now spent a lot of time on the ground in India getting involved with the locals and our school kids, I so get the foundation’s mission and outreach activities…Feed the Poor, Educate the young, Build the community… Once witnessed at first hand, you can see and feel the changes we are making and by educating, nurturing and feeding young minds, hearts and bodies, we are supporting the next generation, enabling them to become the next change makers and influencers. AND all this delivered by trustees who all donate their time and effort on a voluntary basis, so all donations and funds raised go straight to the projects. You can find out more at www.atcharity.org
Looking forward to MBS at Olympia in May, what are you most excited about? Why should we all come along?
The vibe’s high; the tribes are going to be here; we have some incredible workshops, yoga sessions, vegan and vegetarian food, live music and some 40 free experiences, so why would you not want to be a part of that? The team have put together 4 days of fun, frolics and festival shenanigans and I personally promise that you will leave the festival with a brighter shine and glow than when you first entered.
The Wellbeing Festival runs from 25-28 May 2018. Check it out here – www.mindbodyspirit.co.uk.
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