As you may know my day job is at Aetna where I’m on the National Care Management Strategy, Innovation, and Program Design team.

I’ve been helping Aetna develop and manage our mindfulness-based wellness programs for the last five years.

CBS came to Aetna last week and I was interviewed. The following segment aired on CBS yesterday. I’m excited and grateful to share this with you!

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini on changing workplace and health care

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Asleep or awake

As I see it, we can live life in two ways, asleep or awake.

Asleep means we distract ourselves by eating too much, drinking too much, working too much, and sleeping around. We numb ourselves and do what it takes to get relief so we don’t have to see things as they are.

Asleep means we hold back and hide our true selves in fear that if we shine too brightly we’ll freak people out.

In mindfulness practice, self-compassion is a critical part of awakening.

Often times we feel grief from what we may have missed. Self-compassion helps us to accept where we are at this moment in time. And trust we can create something new.

If you had a blank canvas, what would you paint?

No matter what has or hasn’t happened in life so far, with this breath and in this moment we can begin again.

Awake means we consciously choose to live with greater authenticity. We do this one choice at a time. We make tiny changes at a pace that’s comfortable.

This is what it means to live a fully engaged life. This is what it means to be awake.

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Our collective goal is to stay out of a chronic state of stress reactivity.

Here are the simple steps to taking a mindful pause to keep calm, stay focused, reenergize, and be more present in the moment:

1. Stand or sit upright and dignified.
2. Lower or close your eyes.
3. Pay attention to your breathing.
4. Notice where you feel your breathing; at the nostrils, chest, or abdomen.
5. Let your attention rest where you feel your breathing most.
6. It’s okay to have thoughts.
7. Notice a thought and let it go, like a cloud passing through the sky.
8. Just keep returning your attention back to your breathing.
9. Do this for few moments, several times each day.

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We’re getting ready to come out of winter hibernation, a time when we slowed down and turned our energies inward to contemplate our deeper values.

Spring is a time for freshness and new beginnings. It offers us an invitation to let go of what no longer serves our highest good.

Mindfulness helps us clear away the clutter and see things as they are, rather than how we wish them to be.

Here are some tips for moving into spring with awareness and authenticity:

1) Identify what you do that contributes to your sense of meaning and purpose. And do more of that.

2) Stop doing things for appearance sake or out of guilt. Notice when you say ‘yes’ to something because you think you ‘should’.

3) Spend as much time as possible with people who energize and champion you.

4) Be curious and conscious about the part of you that is ready to emerge.

And let the sprouting begin!

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If you’re like most people you race through the workday in fight-or-flight mode acting as though you’re in the middle of a fire drill.

Mindfulness can help you stay balanced and move through the workday with more ease.

Before every meeting or phone call, pause, put both feet on the ground and follow one breath in and out. No one even needs to see you do this. This will help you arrive with a skillful presence.

Mindfulness can be helpful when you’re in a meeting or on a call and someone is saying something you don’t like. You may feel yourself getting ready to react. Your thoughts are racing. Your heart is pounding.

You can be aware of your breathing. This will help you keep calm, stay balanced, and see more clearly. It will help you be part of the solution rather the problem.

Each time you pay attention to your breathing you slow the rate at which stress hormones pump through your body. You come back to “rest and digest”. In addition to getting through your workday with less wear and tear you’ll sleep better at night.

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