Relax and de-stress in the most UNEXPECTED place — and for free

Published: Friday, January 26, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 06, 2018 @ 10:45 AM

Uma Mullapudi leads a group into meditation at the Heartfulness Lounge at the Fairfield Commons Mall.
Uma Mullapudi leads a group into meditation at the Heartfulness Lounge at the Fairfield Commons Mall.

In the chaotic non-stop chatter of our lives on and offline, it can be difficult to simply relax

As I left the office and headed out to the mall for a chat with the ladies at the Heartfulness Center, I looked forward to engaging with them about the unique way they offer relaxation techniques.

I was greeted by three women — Uma Mullapudi, Anjali Brannon and Libby Ballengee — who offered me a delicious cup of honey lavender tea before we sat down in the front area of the lounge.

As we began to chat, I was immersed and amazed by the selflessness of these women who volunteer their time and knowledge. They relayed to me that, with the unrelenting responsibilities of our daily lives, we’re often hindered from performing acts of self-love. 

Mullapudi, the regional in charge and one of the trainers at Heartfulness, works with her team to help guide the public into meditation to combat these pressures.

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“We’re constantly ‘doing something,’” said Brannon, a Heartfulness trainer said. “We believe we ‘don’t have time.’ Many of our guests feel the calmness they establish through meditation feels like the most productive thing about their day.” To this point, Mullapudi pointed out, “What successful person hasn’t [meditated]? Steve Jobs, Abraham Lincoln, Jim Carrey..” She went on to share a surprising example of Thomas Edison’s meditative practices and behaviors I was not formerly aware of. 

Uma Mullapudi and Libby Ballengee at the Heartfulness Lounge at the Fairfield Commons Mall.(Alex Perry)


Since 1993, the Heartfulness organization has worked alongside individuals helping them establish peace and joy in their lives through the ancient practice of meditation. With roots in 130 countries, the Heartfulness organization has worked with nearly every type of business, organization and individual to instill a sense of calmness and peace. They are also formally associated as an NGO with the United Nations.

From churches to police departments, senators and first responders, even corporations and children, Heartfulness has worked with thousands of people instilling this life-changing technique. Best of all, they provide these services for free. Their services are financially supported only through donations. 

Heartfulness believes inner peace should always be free.  

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Two locations in Dayton host the trainers performing the soothing practices — one of which may surprise you. 

The SRCM Heartfulness Meditation Center in Beavercreek is located on Lantz Road, large enough to host up to 200 people. 

The second, unexpected location, is the Heartfulness Lounge on the ground floor of the Fairfield Mall, across from the Buckeye Room (this spot is best for individuals or small groups).  

In describing their mission, Mullapudi expressed, “We want to give the tools to the common public; [we] provide these methods in a very accessible lounge in a welcoming environment. The technique should be accessible to all.” 


Heartful Living’s five-week course launches today, March 6, and will continue through April 3. Classes are held from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at their Fairfield Commons Mall location. The objective of this course is to offer practical guided meditation sessions, suggestions and techniques to deepen your understanding about the practice of meditation and the art to live consciously in our day-to-day lives. 

The suggested donation for this course is $25 for Beavercreek residents, $30 for nonresidents. You can RSVP here or by calling 937-426-5100.

The Heartfulness Lounge at the Fairfield Commons Mall where visitors can receive free guided meditation sessions and yoga.(Alex Perry)


Mullapudi invites everyone to visit their facilities for a free session. In just 20 minutes, attendees will learn how to rest and release stress. Why guided meditation? Mullapudi explained inexperienced meditators often force positive thoughts, but resting the mind is key to successful meditation, and the trainers are key for establishing this skillset.  

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“There is so much negativity that we absorb during the day. Meditation is like taking a shower for your spirit.” Mullapudi said. Mullapudi began meditating in 1977 after her 8th-grade debate teacher introduced her to the practice. In her teenage years, she grew fonder of the practice, and by her mid-twenties found it to be so beneficial to her life it became a regular activity. “Just like lifting weights makes you stronger, meditating makes your mind and heart stronger and more poised.” 

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The goal of the organization is simple: give tools to the public and the methods they need to successfully meditate. Heartfulness also offers yoga sessions to the public. Through meditation, based on both personal experience and scientific evidence, the trainers within the organization promise visitors a more strengthened, centered connection to their inner self. 

Heartfulness has been recognized and praised by the Dayton Police Chief, Beavercreek Mayor and even the Ohio State Senate. Local visitors have given a five-star rating to the organization on Facebook and Google.

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This Heartfulness movement of LET’S MEDITATE is lead by the leader of the Heartfulness Institute Mr.Kamlesh Patel. Visit the Heartfulness Center online and on Facebook for information on events and happenings in Dayton.

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Nurse your hangover with help from Dayton's bartenders

Published: Saturday, December 26, 2015 @ 12:00 PM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 3:38 PM

5 Secret Hangover Cures

We’ve seen this movie before.

Here we are again, prostrate on the couch with a head pounding from excess alcohol and heavy dehydration. Somehow, we lost ourselves last night between a bottle of red wine, or one too many Fireball shots, or the random Long Island Iced Tea. 

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Though it feels like we’ll never revive, there are ways to beat back the hangover beast. Your local bartenders have many tricks up their sleeve – they are, after all, used to nursing their customers — and themselves – back to health. 

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We asked a few of our neighborhood bartenders their most effective techniques. May they serve you well.

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Ginger, miso, tofu, spinach, green onion are piled in a bowl, then doused with broth. Soup, instantly. (Food styling by Joan Moravek) (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune/TNS)(Bill Hogan)

Vitamin Water, miso soup, Chinese buffet, booze

Amber Brady serves up delicious (and dangerous) cocktails at Lily’s Bistro, and offered up her step-by-step process for recovery:

“For me, hangover remedies are an intricate ritual of as many 'cures' as I can possibly ingest,” Brady said. Try one, some or all of the following with her recommendations:

"Revive" Vitamin Water. "This is a must. This purple potion is packed full of B vitamins, potassium and electrolytes. All things your body is begging for. If the store is out, shed a single tear and get another flavor; however, Revive is where it's at."

Coconut water. "Tons of electrolytes and hydration goodness. Just pound one. Sure way to get some moisture back into your poor dehydrated body."

Miso soup. "I know the sodium is a throw off here, but it actually helps you retain water. Lots of good vitamins and minerals here too, plus it's just a feel good soup."

Tons of water. "You should be drinking water throughout your boozy adventures, but let's be real, that rarely happens. So at the very least, chug as much as you can before bed. Then chug one more glass. When you wake up, drink it all day. Force yourself. After your Revive and coconut water, of course."

Food. "Once you can eat, feed the beast. When the battle of the hangover comes to the point where I can eat, I eat tons of food. Preferably Chinese buffet, or if I'm not capable of removing myself from my cave of shame, get Chinese delivery. Go all out. You’re going to need to eat it like three times that day."

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Lily's Bistro Bar Manager Amber Brady shares her top hangover cures. Provided photo.(HANDOUT)

The classic hair of the dog. "This isn't always possible, especially if you are also nursing a 'shameover' and you've done or said things that will not allow you to be seen in public for a few days. However, if you can, my go-to hangover booze is a shot of whiskey, a beermosa, or at Lily’s, we offer the fine cocktail ‘Corpse Reviver #2,’ (made with Citadelle gin, Lillet blanc, lemon juice, orange liqueur, Pernod rinse, and Luxardo cherry garnish). However, it comes with the warning that too many will just put you back where you started. It's delicious and one or two of these really does help ease the pain!"

The bubbles settle your stomach; the booze clears your head just enough to start functioning. Plus you feel fancy again. File photo

A little bubbly could do the trick

Corner Kitchen bartender Callie Young admits that she is “terrible at being hungover.”

“I usually just lay in bed all day,” she wrote. “If I do drink, it is champagne with grapefruit juice and then some Taco Bell.”

Food and lifestyle blogger Tess Vella-Collette, also a contributor to, gave a rundown of her hangover cure routine.

  • "First of all, a shower is essential. It sounds terrible, but once you get in there, let the steam hit you, and reflect on your bad decisions from the night before; you can wash it all away and start again.
  • Second, champagne. I don’t like to muddy something already perfect with fruit juice, so no mimosas for me.
  • Third, a runny egg – in ramen doesn’t hurt.
  • Fourth: I must spend the rest of the day horizontal. Hulu is my friend."

Whatever crazy method you use to relieve a hangover, please don't try this one. Black coffee alone can make your hangover worse, according to researchers. But combine black coffee with Tylenol and the effects could be deadly, suggest scientists. Caffeine triples the amount of a toxic by-product created when Tylenol is broken down. It's the same substance responsible for liver damage when alcohol and Tylenol react together. Just don't do it.(Business Wire photo/William Berry/ AJC Special)

Amateur hour:'s personal cures

Lastly, we may not be bartenders in our day jobs, but several of us served plenty of time in the restaurant business to pick up a few tricks to getting the job done while feeling less than amazing. Plus, college. The following is a sampling of our staff recommendations.

  • "Smart Water. Lots of it. If you have pickles in the fridge, sip that pickle juice. Fill your belly with Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese. But the all-time winner when you need to revive in a hurry is a glass of ginger ale with a few dashes of Angostura bitters, any flavor. At almost 45 percent alcohol, even just a touch of these bitters will bring you back to life."
  • "Two huge glasses of water and Tylenol before bed. Also, Gatorade the next day, especially if you were too drunk to remember to drink water and have Tylenol before bed."
  • "Bagels and Bloody Marys. Plus, heavy lounging and Netflix."
  • "Dry Life cereal and Gatorade. If you can afford it, upgrade to Pedialyte: world of difference. They even make Pedialyte popsicles and suckers."
From the staff to all of you: Good luck, and wishing you a speedy recovery.

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Beware the Ides of March: Why do so many consider the day doomed? 

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 1:38 PM

VIDEO: Beware the Ides of March

Whether from a Hollywood film, a television series or an English literature class, we've all heard the ominous warning: "Beware the Ides of March."

The dire sounding phrase was immortalized by English playwright William Shakespeare when he penned the words into the script of "Julius Caesar"in 1599. In the iconic play, a soothsayer shares the warning with Julius Caesar as he travels to the Roman capitol in 44 B.C. Then, shortly later, on March 15 – or the Ides of March – the dictator is brutally stabbed to death by a group of politicians in the Roman Senate.

The warning, now associated with the murder, has echoed across time and remains a prominent cultural reference today.

However, the Ides of March hasn't always been associated with a sense of foreboding and dread. In fact, Ides was simply the Latin word for the midpoint of the month. Along with Kalends and Nones, Ides was an ancient marker used to reference dates in conjunction with phases of the Moon.

Ides merely referred to a month's first full moon, which generally occured around the 13th or 15th. But the first full moon of March was especially significant to the ancient Romans, at least until Julius Caesar came along and changed things. The middle of March was long celebrated as New Year's, but two years before his death, Caeser decided to change it to January.

Perhaps such a dramatic change sealed his fate, bringing the chaos that followed.

Although its likely only coincidence, it's also no secret that some really awful things have happened on March 15 over the past centuries. Some more superstitious people have even suggested that Julius Caesar's untimely death, which is seen by many historians as the effective end of the Roman Republic, forever cursed the day.

With such a bloody history, the Ides of March sits firmly within our collective cultural consciousness as a date of which to be wary.

As a result, references have appeared regularly in popular television shows and movies. Back in 1995, the Ides of March was featured prominently in episodes of “Party of Five”, “Xena Warrior Princess” and “The Simpsons”. The plots centered around tragic death, feared execution and inevitable downfall.

More recently, in 2011, Ryan Gosling and George Clooney starred in the political drama film “The Ides of March”. The story focused on an idealistic campaign staffer (Gosling) who worked for an up-and-coming presidential candidate (Clooney). With a lot of intrigue and figurative backstabbing, the film can be seen as a sort of allegoric depiction of Julius Caesar's death.

Although the film was nominated for a range of Academy Awards, and was mostly well-received by critics, it failed to win in any category. Bad luck, coincidence or fate?

Tragic things will likely continue to happen on the Ides of March, and many will go on viewing the date with suspicion. Others will just shrug it off as another bad day. Whether March 15 is truly cursed or it's all a silly superstition, you'll have to judge for yourself.


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'Beware the Ides of March' -- What does that mean?

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

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Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.

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Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar

Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.

Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.

According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.

Death marked a turning point in Roman history

Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.

The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.

'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare

In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”

In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.

Famous line based on historical events

It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.

According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.

Caesar did not heed the warning.

On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.

So why is it called the "Ides of March?"

The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.

The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.

Other famous events on this day

Today isn't the anniversary of Caesar's death. Here are a few other famous events that have happened today in history:
  • 1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

  • 1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.

  • 1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.

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AJ Ferguson, director of UpDayton, talks about the ‘civic shift’ -- and the volunteers who make things happen

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Community volunteers putting in hours on their 'civic shifts.' Contributed photo / UpDayton
Community volunteers putting in hours on their 'civic shifts.' Contributed photo / UpDayton

On any given weeknight at the library or in the back corner of a brewery, you might find a small group of Daytonians huddled at a table with their laptops open and a lively conversation unfolding. They are likely just one of countless groups putting in an extra shift for our community. I’ll call it the civic shift

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Community volunteers putting in hours on their 'civic shifts.' Contributed photo / UpDayton

After their day job ends, these volunteer difference-makers start their civic shift -- evenings and weekends spent advancing neighborhoods, events and causes all around our city and region. In this series for, I want to introduce you to a few of them and invite you to join this thriving layer of Dayton life. 

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UpDayton & citizenship

In 2008, a group of creative catalysts launched an initiative called UpDayton to confront our region’s “brain drain”: the exodus of young talent from the Dayton area. UpDayton’s early surveys showed a strong trend: people who were civically engaged as volunteers and leaders in the community were far more likely to see Dayton as their long-term home. 

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Community volunteers putting in hours on their 'civic shifts.' Contributed photo / UpDayton

UpDayton quickly entered the business of providing on-ramps for community involvement. I’ve had the awesome opportunity to lead the charge for the last three years as UpDayton’s executive director. In those years, I’ve met hundreds of individuals working the civic shift. They are Dayton’s loudest champions, most thoughtful critics and most impactful citizens. 

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Citizenship & Dayton’s social fabric

The individuals of the civic shift are certainly motivated by service and purpose, and plenty of noble causes, but I would argue that the civic shift is sustained by friendships, food, beer and a deep sense of home. When the work of community change becomes frustrating or contentious, the social elements keep team members coming back. 

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Furthermore, I’ve watched individuals make the leap from being a lost new resident to being a thriving Daytonian, thanks to the civic shift. Shared causes and values are powerful foundations for new and lasting friendships. Civic shift meetings are some sometimes hard to spot, because they look a whole lot like a group of friends enjoying each other’s company. 

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But it’s still hard work…

Eventually, the event or initiative that your team has been working toward gets uncomfortably close. Somebody usually kills the mood with some version of “Okay everybody, we are ten days out!” Laptops open and the meeting’s end time comes and goes without notice. 

These all-star volunteers dig deep into their networks, professional skill sets, and creative talents to push a project over the finish line. The final sprint ends with a feeling many civic shifters have come to crave -- a mix of great relief, deep joy, and shared pride. Handshakes, hugs, compliments, and affirmations abound. The work goes on, but it’s always worth it. 

This is your invitation to join the civic shift. It’s the layer of Dayton life that we’ll highlight in UpDayton’s first series. 

About the author: AJ Ferguson is the director of UpDayton. To thrive in the 21st century, Dayton must convince highly talented and creative people to make our city home. Since 2008, UpDayton has been the community’s leading voice for talent attraction, retention, and engagement. Ferguson is the community builder and social innovator leading the charge. In his time as UpDayton’s Director, he has led the reinvention of the organization’s largest event, the UpDayton Summit, as well as the launch and continued growth of The Longest Table project. For more information about UpDayton, visit

AJ Ferguson, director of UpDayton. Contributed photo

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