Text by Joseph Wargo
Photos by Manuel Diaz
Hawaii is a magnet for health conscious individuals, attracted here by the environment but also to discover alternative forms of treatment to those widely available elsewhere.
Awareness has been growing, and in recent years practitioners of natural, holistic care on the islands have organized to help promote the goods and services offered to the public.
The Organic Holistic & Metaphysical Exposition (OHM Expo) was first put on in 2017. It was itself inspired by the Body Mind and Spirit Expo, which puts on shows here as well as on the mainland. Jadelin Kuencer and Paul Hanson, the original organizers imagined a regularly occurring exhibition showcasing local offerings in the healing arts and self-care that is free to attend. Since that time, there have been multiple events organized each year, and several more coming in the near future.
Over the second weekend of October, the Fall 2019 Exposition was held at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, HI. An estimated two to three thousand people attended.
“The Ohm Expo is a safe space where people who are local or global talents can come to share their true heartfelt gifts with the world,” said Alysia Tengan, manager of the Hawaii OHM Expo. “This show is about so much more than I ever could have imagined.”
Attendees to the expo were exposed to a great many products and services related to alternative healthcare. There were booths offering, among other things, acupuncture, cupping, massage therapy, aromatherapy, and the more recent marketed line of Cannabidiol (CBD) products that have become popular alternatives to pain and anti-inflammatory medicines. There were items available you would immediately connect to the new age culture, such as healing crystals and essential oils, but also some that are less known like a device claiming to block electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones and other electronic devices. There were also services aimed at helping with mental care. Psychics, Tarot readers, and Life Coaches were well represented at the expo.
Alysia Tengan, in addition to helping organize the events, runs the Light Alchemy booth at them with her husband Michael. “Light Alchemy is a way to use light frequencies to smoothly, instantly guide the meditator through their closed eyes into deep meditative states. You get to go deeper and just stay there. You get to experience the benefits of meditation like you’ve been doing it everyday.” She finds it amusing when people refer to her service as light therapy. “It’s kinda really neat that people call it therapy, because we never called it that,” and adding with a laugh that “I run into people on the street [saying] ‘There’s the DMT light lady!’”
As diverse as the booth operators are, so too are the people visiting the expo. Aaron, visiting from Louisiana, remains skeptical. “I like the atmosphere, but I don’t know about all these products.” However, he remains open to learning about these forms of alternative healthcare and medicine, and that is what brought him in and interacting with others.
Some may argue the efficacy of these products and services, and in an industry that can easily attract charlatans it can make it hard for the people genuinely interested in helping others to stand apart. What isn’t so easy to argue is the reactions of people attending. Relief was on the faces of many there, finding people to connect with and a community to grow inside of. In a world of increasingly expensive and impersonal mainstream healthcare, it appears only natural for alternatives to be sought out. “People think of Hawaii as a place to go for therapy, for healing, for bringing more awareness,” says Alysia, “Often when you travel, you find yourself. You go far away only to discover more about yourself. People come to Hawaii and it feels like it’s a catalyst just being here.”
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue