For some of the 250,000 visitors to the Philadelphia Flower Show, the sights, sounds and scents of a large convention center filled with flower displays, interactive exhibit areas, loud music and crowded spaces can seem a little overwhelming. This year, Aetna offered a “Mindful Minute” booth to introduce people to the concept of taking a pause to come into the present moment, engage with their senses and connect more fully with their flower show experience.
The exhibit offered visitors four sensory experiences to help them put distractions aside and fully appreciate the beauty of flowers and plants: the relaxing fragrance of lavender; the visual beauty of carnations; the smooth, cool texture of philodendron leaves; and the tart taste of a lemon drop.
“Mindfulness is all about being in the present moment, and tuning into our senses is a great way to do that. It also reduces our stress and enhances our mood,” said Andy Lee, chief mindfulness officer for Aetna. “It can help you in all states of well-being, from managing the effects of chemotherapy or chronic pain all the way to using it to be more productive in your job or even achieve better results from your workout.”
An expert on using the technique to improve health and overall well-being, Lee was onsite sharing mindfulness techniques as well as Aetna’s enterprise strategy to incorporate mindfulness practice into everyday life.
“As a company, we’ve moved from a focus on helping our members when they are sick, to being there across the full spectrum of health, and not just their physical health but also their overall wellbeing,” he noted. Aetna has honed its mindfulness offerings for both employees and customers in the three years that Lee has been with the company, including:
- A mindfulness challenge that has resulted in more than 8,000 employees learning the technique in 2018,
- Opening a Mindfulness Center in the Hartford, CT, office that allows employees to practice the technique during work hours and with colleagues,
- Training offered via WebEx and through Aetna’s Learning Resource Library, and
- eMindful programs for plan sponsors that include online classes and a mobile app.“The kinds of questions I got really help to inform me on our progress… is this concept resonating with people? Do they understand the benefits of mindfulness and Aetna’s work in this space? Clearly, they do,” Lee said.
- The future of mindfulness at Aetna and CVS presents the potential for the practice to be extended to local communities and clients in meaningful ways. In the meantime, Lee said he was impressed with and gratified by the number of flower show visitors who are already aware of mindfulness practice and its benefits.