Keith Mitchell – NFL All Pro and Yogi – Overcoming Spinal Injury with Mindfulness
Keith Mitchell is an inspirational person who has accomplished great success in football and mindfulness. Growing up in a small town outside of Dallas, he achieved his dream of getting recruited by every school to play football. He then went on to become an NFL All-Pro player, and even recovered from a spinal contusion with the help of breathing and yoga. Today, he is an internationally known yoga instructor and author, whose recent release is The Mindfulness Playbook.
Keith encourages everyone to access their own innate wisdom, use conscious breathing, engage in a plant-based lifestyle, and develop new patterns, as well as to realize their own greatness, align with their desires, and foster an interpersonal relationship with themselves. Through the Light Up Foundation, he motivates people from all walks of life to discover the power of mindfulness and consciousness, and to use the power of the collective to create positive change. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of self-care and openness to the possibilities that life has in store.
In this phenomenal StreetSmart Wisdom Episode with former NCAA Hall of Famer and All Pro NFL player, Keith Mitchell, we discover the great work that Keith is doing in the world today.
Keith takes us behind the scenes to follow his inspiring journey and tells us how he survived the dangerous inner city streets, became an NCAA and NFL star and then how he persevered past a career ending injury to become a Yoga and Mindfulness Expert.
Keith describes his current lifestyle being a plant based foods expert. From mindful eating, to meditation Keith shows how he now lives a balanced and healthy life and gives us great tips for living well in the age of Covid.
Listen to Streetsmart Wisdom on:
Welcome to this episode of the speed smart wisdom podcast. Our guest today is Keith Mitchell. He’s a former NFL all pro player, mindfulness coach,
author, and yoga master. And this session we find out about Keith’s incredible journey from a career ending injury and how he turned that into a new career and becoming a thought leader in the world of wellness. Enjoy. Hi, welcome. This is Steve Stein, host of the street smart wisdom podcast. Our guest today is Keith Mitchell. Welcome Keith Keith, if you don’t know,
he has a former all pro NFL player became a Nash internationally renowned yoga instructor, and is the author of the upcoming book, the mindfulness playbook. Welcome Keith. Thanks for having me pleasure to be here. No, that’s cool. Yeah, it’s great stuff. So let’s, let’s jump into it. So, you know, I guess gave kind of like who you are in broad strokes,
but how would you tell people have I’m not familiar with you and your work? You know who you are? Well, you know, I’m, I’m someone from a small town, I’ve got a Garland outside of Dallas, Texas. I had, as a kid, I used this concept we talked about in the conscious world is manifesting. And I had this dream,
you know, you Know, I had a teacher who asked me the question, where do you see yourself in five years? And I was probably 13 at the time. And I, I put this goal out that I wanted every school to recruit me to play football for them. And at that time of my mother wasn’t even letting me play football. So how was I going to do that?
But as we know with manifesting, not only do we speak the words, we begin to also practice theme. I began to apply myself and learn the game and actually play the game and go through my journey of, of learning the game. And I achieved just that, you know, from a small town outside of Dallas to have every school in the country to recruit me to play sport because I felt I could be great.
I felt that I could attain on the highest level, my, my greatest desire. So it began to be my life. It began to, as I went from college, I chose Texas a and M I went to the team. I went to the Jersey, actually have, I hear the new Orleans saints played with them for six years. I went to the Houston,
Texas, and then I went to Jacksonville and then Jacksonville was where I really started my journey, making a tackle. I had made a million times on this one, particular play ended up on my back. I was diagnosed with a spinal contusion. I basically broke my neck and I had suffered paralysis. So all of the attainment that you would feel that you were to have at that moment was all kind of up in the air,
the cars, the homes I was in my own court and Jean before the court. And I began to, I learned this one particular practice of forever changed my life. And what happens when you breathe? The nurse talked to me about conscious breathing and in that discovery, it just made breathing a tool. It conceptualized breathing for me. And in that allowed me to develop,
as I have to say, as, as more of a human being with the capacity to do the things of sports capacity, to grow into the things that I’ve done for his care plans and working with groups all over the world. And I’m just, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be where I am. And so hopefully we get an understanding through that.
Wow. Wow. So what, when, when you got that diagnosis normally, I mean, it’s a big question, Mark. I mean, it’s be, I can imagine how scary it was and pain and all that stuff, but what was the prognosis initially, like now you’re an elite, you’re a yoga person and instructor. Do you like the doctors?
Were they like, did they expect you to walk again or not walk again? Or was it in that realm? Or, you know, obviously thank goodness you’ve healed and you, you know, you got past it. But at that point, that snapshot in time, you know how bleak was? Well, it brought me to a realization that a lot of times the doctors,
they don’t know everything. And I have been conditioned to perceive that they do. And in this case they were looking at me like, we don’t know if you’re going to be able to walk. We don’t know how, how long this is going to last. There was no answer. And, and there was a huge letdown when, you know, there was no answer because again,
the conditioning suggested that they would have it. But again, luckily for me, for me, I learned what the power of breath. And one thing that really changed my mental when I realized that I could contribute through my breath for my healing, when I realized that I can contribute through my healing, I didn’t have to be the victim anymore. You can kind of take control of your breath and take control of your life to a certain extent.
Cause you know, you, you go through the day, like I’m sitting here talking with you and I’m talking with you, but I’m breathing. You know, my heart’s always working. Thank God. You know, my breath is I’m always breathing, but to do it consciously kind of brings up, You know, Because of what you’re not just a victim or an effect,
it could be a cause for what you want to do. Yes, because the breath is queuing. The breath is minerals in a vapor form. I like to call it. And when you think about the The anatomy and you think about the heart and the lungs, you know, a lot of people take the shallow breath or the heart and the lungs,
they move naturally. So they don’t need your assistance. But what begins to be stagnant? It’s the liver, the kidneys, the intestines, they begin to be stagnant. So when we breathe in the stronger, the breath, the deeper, the bathroom pushes down. Now you begin to massage internal organs over 10,000 times a day. We take on average.
Now you’re talking about circle of circulation. You’re talking about moving the blood flows through the body and back feel, wow, God bless that nurse. Right. That nurse in the hospital, you know, you know, she, she, wasn’t on, on, you know, on shift that day or that week or, But we’d be in trouble. We’re being troubled.
But that’s why I love it. I love it. Okay. So what do you do now? So, you know, what do you do? I know you’re an elite athlete now. So now you have a book coming out. What’s it called? The mind mindfulness. Yes. Eight strategies at winning at the game of life. Yeah. So it’s a codify way of living.
It’s, it’s basically learning how to set intentions. It’s learning to use tools, tangibles, leverage points. I like to call it to, to run the place that you know, that you wish to run in your life. If it’s patience, if it’s compassionate, love that this all of the above is to codify a way of actually strategically go into the game,
which the game I’m suggesting is life and allowing that to happen for you. And it’s also showcasing how you are your own guru. You are your own coach in that sense as well. It’s not going to have you dependent on anyone, but you and you and your commitment to what you want to do. It seems like that ties in conscious breathing, lets you kind of get in touch with your own innate wisdom Because Without that,
you’re just going through the day and you know, you wake up one day and you’re however old you are and you’re miserable. Yes. The shock that your body went into turning you into a whole other, I think it’s great turning it into a whole other direction, but No, you could have just gone on your Life, but it seems like you’re dedicated to,
you know, sharing. Well, the interesting thing enough with the breath, when you talk about conscious breathing, what you’ll find is because a lot of the disease that happens in our bodies, it comes from the emotional body. So what we’ll find with the breath as we begin to elongate the breath, we’re actually begin to build a more, a stronger emotional maturity.
We begin to grow on an emotional basis, right? So now we begin to process things different. We’re less reactive, but more intentional. So even as we talk about, we breathe naturally, but we get to hone the breakfast, actually be this tool conceptualized tool for an application. So that’s what I’m really interested in, whether it be your breath,
whether it be your posture, because yoga is a formality. Yoga is the concept of relationship building with yourself to know how your body functions, know how your body moves and to do meditation, to listen to your body. And also Steve, and again, coming from Texas, I never would have guessed in a million years. If you would of told me I wouldn’t,
I would be a vegan. I would be like, you’re insane. And you’re not talking about me, but for eight years I’ve also been a vegan and an advocate for fueling consciousness through a vegan lifestyle. Wow. So if we do a plant-based definitely awesome. Cool, cool. So why, why You’re doing this? I mean, we of, we got to some of that,
but you know, why aren’t you, you know, you probably had enough money. He probably didn’t need to get back to work. I mean, I don’t know, but I’m just guessing, you know, but you’re hustling. You’re getting your message out there now. Why, why you feel compelled? Well, what I’ve found mindfulness is like to realize the problem internally or also reflects to the problems externally.
The problems that we think are just happening within our, all between our minds and between our two years is also happening across the planet. And as we begin to create protocols of solving all personal problems, we can also solve the external problems because they also exist with us. We’re not just inside as Alan Watts talks about the bag of bones. We’re not just there.
We also exist in the external world. So that same participation that we take to heal ourselves with is the same participation that we must go out into the world and create solutions and solve our problems. Wow. So what’s your, you know, for people like dealing with the pandemic. So, you know, we talked a little bit before we started. Some people are in hotspots and that’s a little different reality than people,
not in hotspots, but almost everyone’s hunkered down, losing their mind to, you know, trying to, you know, so any tips for, you know, coping with the different layers of stress that are going on during this? Yes. And the first thing I would say to the people out there don’t serve the time, allow the time to serve you.
And a lot of times we we’d give focus to we’d want to focus on the things that we feel are going to bring us the haunt. But also what I’m really realizing is check in with what we’re gaining and how people are having more connectivity, realize how people actually go in and doing simple things again, right? Without the distraction. So you got the cars,
you got the home, you got the, you got the high heels shoes. You can’t go anywhere with now. It’s just you. So a lot of times the quarantine is just happening within your mind. And actually it’s probably been happening in your whole existence already. Now it’s just coming to surface. So now find these little intricate parts that we can go within with.
And my five, like, you know, we talk about a lot of athletes, you know, every interview you say, wow, well I have this idea of getting better as an athlete, but we can take every day because now we have this time, the time that we talked about that we never had. Now you got a pressure of time.
So now you can do an app, these little increments, part of you that you want to see get better, these intricate parts of you that you want to expand upon, healed a move into learn, whether it be communicate more, whether it be to eat a little bit better, cook more things like that you can actually have time to do. And I challenge you to really apply that.
And in that, in that application, what you’ll find is you’ll create new patterns that are go way beyond this pandemic that are really be to your benefit, not only to yourself, but the people around you. Cool. That’s a great little takeaway. Oh, that’s Great. So I think I mentioned, I think we’re okay on time. Let me,
you know, so, so you’re into Alan Watts. So bag of bones, you Know, What, what does that mean? Like, you know, our physical self has compassion. What does that term mean? Well, definitely what that means to me is a lot of times we play small. We, we play the victim and it’s so easy to play because poor me.
But the reality is you’re so much greater than you’ve ever given yourself. Truly the opportunity to be just like, as I’ve shared with you, my story of this kid outside of this big town of Dallas, and I can’t even save the town I’m from, because people don’t know it, but to have this act, you know, to put this claim in the world of the state,
I can be great. Well, it’s not necessarily that you even have to conceive yourself for being great, but it’s like deceiving yourself and attaching an alignment yourself to the place of what do you desire? What do you want? And what’s possible for you. And when you really reflect on that, you’ll realize that there’s so much there. It’s just, I’ve been sitting on my hands and not allowing myself to do it.
It’s like a lot of times when we deny ourselves and the person that really wants to be seen, I’ve gone around, I’ve had a chance to teach people from all over the planet. And it’s like a lot of times when you’d say people can’t meditate or have problems, meditate is because of that interpersonal relationship had never been developed. That interpersonal relationship is like touching your copy on the shoulder and saying,
listen to me, look at me, I’m here. And what we’ve been doing is denied it. It’s a precedent and shutting it down and it just wants to be seen. So I’m again suggested to you allow that inter inter person that’s there that speaks to you every now and again, your sensations through aches and pains. Listen to it, let it out.
We need it. We need your participation right now because we can’t do it solo. We have to do it as a collective. So we need you now. Wow. So I I’m just saying that’s cool, man. That’s cool. So what is the light it up foundation? That’s, that’s something that when, what store, So the light up foundation started to really kind of in,
in LA when I moved to LA to create a platform where a lot of people there were doing some really amazing things, could all come together and like whether it be on my platform, be seen and actually also be, and create a collective because you know what your fine is. We don’t typically have conscious think tanks. So when we talk about strategizing as a collective,
it’s like not avoid, we don’t have the relationship established with one another. You know, it’s kind of like our mantra for the light-up foundation is to go fast, go alone, to go far. We go together and, and we have to see this, this universal man, this universal woman as the ultimate team sport. And we must come together and do it together and we need allies to do it.
So through the light-up foundation, I started to create programs. I started to create retreats. Like the retreat we did in LA was at the LA Coliseum. We would have 12,000 people come out and I would get the police chief, this too 12,000 people. What’d you do with 12,000 people? Well, we would teach them nutrition. We would teach them gardening.
We would have a sound back healing. We would, I will get the city council to help me bring. In 6,000 kids, we would introduce yoga. Meditation would have entertainment is basically a socialized way that we can have an integration of people from all walks of life and realize the experience. Wow. So I grew up in, in Brooklyn and the city,
we weren’t wealthy particularly. So you’re saying you brought inner city kids that wouldn’t know like a yoga cushion, if it hit him in the head and all of a sudden they’re right out of the hood or wherever, and now they’re breathing consciously Yes. With a gong with the sound back healing too. It was amazing. I would, I would have mothers who never had a massage,
have a massage for three. And I would have some of the brilliant teachers that we have in LA to have conversations with these kids. And not only the small kids, but the adult kids, you know, so we would all get a taste of what it is to be a The experience of consciousness or mindfulness or meditation. And it was just a beautiful experience there.
And, and that’s what the light foundation was about. And it was just a creating those experiences so we can have and realize what’s possible. Wow, wow. What one person could do? I love it, you know, real quick. So my grandmother, you know, going way back, she, they came from Europe and I think four or five of her brothers and Nazis got,
they were killed, but she, her and five sisters made it out. And when she was 85 or 86 and I was already, I was a vegetarian for a few years. I’m not now, but I’m very, you know, my kids call me like the organic dude. You’re like enough already. You give me a real, you know, it can be a real crap.
You know, I said too many syllables, you know, in those cookies anyway. But so my grandma, I remember my grandmother. She was, well, she lived to 92 and 93. And I said, her name was, grandma said, grandma, Fanny, let me give you a massage. And I said, when’s the last time you had a massage?
She said, I’ve never had a massage. She was just taking care of the kids and running from the Nazis or, you know, she didn’t have that luxury to take care of herself. You know, didn’t even know it was in the realm of, I gave her a massage and she was, you know, it was fine, but, but I think you can go your whole life,
not even knowing there’s other, you know, there’s other things out there. And that would be another conversation we could have. Cause we could go all day on that. There’s a lot of, yeah. There’s like, there’s a lot of people on the planet that have had limited experiences and they’ve defined their lives based off those limited experiences. So again,
possibility is not even an option for them because they’ve minimized their lives just through the experience. But we’re here to share ways in which we can provoke thought to expand their ideas and open them up to have new experiences. And that’s the practice of mindfulness. Wow. Bingo. I love it. Okay. So here’s my kind of, I think we got to it,
but I’m going to what’s that term again? Give me one sec. Yeah, here we go. So if you were a superhero, what would your creation story be? What was the thing that happened? Like, you know, the incredible Hulk, he picked up some uranium or whatever it was and they gave him super powers. Was there something in your that happened when you were young or at some point that kind of sets you on this path?
We kind of hit on it, but you know what, what’s your creation story if you were a superhero? So what I would say is I would be this kid that grew up in Garland, Texas, play football. It will be the greatest football player on the planet to one day, pretty much break his neck, end up flat on his back.
And when he thought that that was his original superpower realized another super power, once he was, he left the game of football and realize its potential to be a human being, that great powers for the price of one. That was great. Excellent. All right. So how can people find you what’s your website or on social? What’s the best way for people to find you?
Yeah. My Instagram is Keith Mitchell, 59. My website is Keith Metro, 50 nine.com.