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Inhale, exhale…mindfulness comes to AIG 

Our lives are full of distractions. Technology keeps us constantly connected and rarely alone with our thoughts. In a study by Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, it was found that workers are interrupted every three minutes during the day with distractions, both digital and human forms.   

Mindfulness is about being aware of your thoughts, physical sensations and surroundings. It is routed in Buddhist principles, but many organizations including Aetna, General Mills and Google have incorporated mindfulness into their leadership principles. AIG is now following suit.

According to a UNC Kenan Flagler Business School study, the benefits of mindfulness can lead to improvements in innovative thinking, communication skills and more appropriate reactions to stress.  Early adopters of mindfulness in the workplace have seen reduced healthcare costs, increased productivity and reduction of stress and conflict through a combination of breathing and relaxation techniques.

Mindfulness expert Mirabai Bush, famous for introducing it to Google, says: "Over time with mindfulness, we learn to develop the inner resources that will help us navigate through difficult, trying, and stressful situations with more ease, comfort, and grace.  Becoming more aware of your own emotions as they arise gives you more choice in how to deal with them. Mindfulness helps you become more aware of an arising emotion by noticing the sensation in the body. Then you can follow these guidelines: stop what you are doing. Breathe deeply. Notice how you are experiencing the emotion in your body. Reflect on where the emotion is coming from in your mind and respond in the most compassionate way."

A simple mindfulness practice is the one-minute meditation. Find a quiet place and focus your attention on your breath. If your mind wanders, bring your concentration back to your breath. Then relax as the calm unfolds.

AIG has begun offering desk yoga and guided mediation exercises as part of its Health and Wellness offerings. Webcast recording are available for on-demand replay on the AIG Health and Wellness Stream Channel. Check it out—so you can stay checked in.