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Episode # 500   Keith Mitchell - Yoga and Mindfulness as Tools for Healing

About The Episode:

When NFL Player Keith Mitchell suffered a career-ending spinal injury, he made the unorthodox choice to turn to mindfulness techniques and heal with his mind. Keith is now a celebrity yogi and holistic coach, and on today's episode of The Inspiration Snow, he shares how to overcome self-defeating thoughts, and use your mind to heal your body from virtually any injury or illness.

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Episode # 500 Keith Mitchell - Yoga and Mindfulness as Tools for Healing

NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. Today on the show, my very special guest is going to be sharing his inspiring story, which is quite the journey from all-pro NFL player to mindfulness coach and yogi entrepreneur. So, he's going to be sharing his incredible journey and message with us. But, before we get into the crux of our interview today, I just want to remind you that if you are watching this interview on Facebook live or later on our YouTube channel, don't forget that after the show is over, click on the link below this video so you can take our 30-second quiz. So we can figure out what's actually blocking you from success, so we can help you move past that in a more empowered way. So, without further ado, please let me introduce my special guest today, Mr. Keith Mitchell. How are you, Keith?


KM: Natalie, I'm fine. Thank you so much. It’s so nice to see you again.


NL: Yes, exactly! It is great to see you. Yeah, Keith and I actually had a really great chat the other day for our Mind Movies members of our SSA community. So we thought we'd also share here on the Inspiration Show as well. Why don't we start like we traditionally do with your story because it is, like I said, you've gone from pro NFL player to doing something that seems so far removed from that kind of world. So, what happened to get you from that career to what you're doing now?


KM: I guess where I started was basically my eighth season playing. I was in Jacksonville making a tackle; I played linebacker. Linebacker is the gladiator position who call the plays. It's basically like the quarterback of the defense. So, I’m making this tackle and I end up flat on my back. I'm trying to get up because the tackle is a big hit; it’s a good thing when you hit people in football, so you get up and celebrate. In this moment, I'm trying to get up and my body's not responding. I go through a whole process of just laying on the field in this vulnerable space, (we call it Shavasana in yoga-), but in front of millions of people watching – and maybe a hundred thousand present. I'm in this vulnerable space as a gladiator person. From that point on, my life has changed. I was diagnosed with a spinal contusion. I suffered paralysis for an extent of time and that’s where I found meditation, or conscious breathing, as it was taught to me.


NL: Right. So, conscious breathing.... That's a term I don't hear very often. How would you describe... What does that look like?


KM: Well, it's the understanding of what happens when we breathe. On the inhale the diaphragm

pushes down, on the exhale it pushes up. We take about fifteen thousand breaths today and each time we breath on the inhale, the diaphragm pushes down and massages internal organs in that up-and-down motion. We have a chance with every breath we take to nurture and heal ourselves and I believe that creates a compilation of intention. So in everything that I do, I begin to have this intention of healing my self. And I always say, when I recognize it, I can participate in my healing, then I'm no longer the victim. So it puts us in a more empowered state to do some amazing things on the planet.


NL: Yeah, and I agree with you. I think that when we're blaming everything outside of ourselves, or we're looking for things outside of ourselves to heal us if we're in a place of disease, and all we're doing is focusing on what my meds aren't working, or this isn't working, then what we're doing is adding the responsibility for our health as these things or these people- these events that are outside of us. As soon as we do that, we lose all control to be able to do anything about it. So, what I hear you saying is, if we do these practices like breathing and ... What you've described sounds a little bit like mindfulness, as well. Is that the same thing, or is that something different?


KM: No, it's the same thing. It’s all-inclusive. It is to understand, you know, that we've been blessed. We have some brilliant minds on the planet and we've created some products that can add value to our health. But, I think at the same time, we don't want to ever negate what we have inside of ourselves to do the immaculate because we're the original. We're the creation and the likeness of who we want to call- you know – “the creator”, or God, or so forth. However you choose to label that and

we're immaculate ourselves. I think a lot of times we miss that and sometimes we even have been deterred from thinking that we have this.I believe this mindfulness, awareness is to bring ourselves back to this enlightenment ,or this light, that we hold we allow to, in some cases, go dim.


NL: Yeah, I totally agree. So, you are able to heal yourself and go on a healing process from your back injury. Now, we've heard about breathing and mindfulness, so what other things did you do to help yourself get to this point now?


KM: Well, nutrition became a huge factor for me. Cleansing was something I really got thorough with because all the bruises, the bumps, and bruises that I sustained from years -20 plus years- in my whole life. There's a quote I heard that a professional footballer sweats more in one year than an average person will sweat in a lifetime. So, you actually leave it all on the field. You walk away from the game depleted and not really ever knowing any other way of living. You've chosen this role, you've committed to this role and now you're life left because you can't be in this role anymore. Your life doesn't stop there. There's so many other things that you can do. I guess we've been an example of showing that. So a lot of things we go around talking about or teaching about, forces greatness within, I show some of the things that we've been able to create in our communities- in things that I believe that we have to create in our communities to solve our problems, if you will.


NL: Yeah, absolutely. So nutrition, mindfulness and what kind of exercise? I mean... I know that you- your title- are you a yogi?


KM: Yogi is interesting. Seeker of truth. Yoga meaning union, bringing it all together: mind-body connection. I could take those titles, but I'm not limited to those titles.


NL: I like it. But, yoga seems to be one of these “fancy pants”, latest kind

of exercise, but what is it that you like about it? Or, what is it in your style of teaching that it makes it unique?


KM: Well, the yoga that I'd like to teach is a connectability because, again, you can't have compassionate without first showing it to yourself. You can't have patience until you first establish it within yourself. Until I had the practice of yoga, I didn't have patience with myself. I didn’t have very much compassionate with myself. The relationship that I had built with myself - my body didn't trust me. I had always compromised it; I've always put it in harm's way. So I came to a point now where I want to really rehabilitate. Well, my body's looking at me saying, “Well... I don't know if I'm going to come easily with you. You’ve got to court it. You’ve got to show me that you really care and love me”. So this is a dynamic that, again, we have to go within to build this. So through the practices I go into, it’s listening to the body, moving with an intention, moving within purpose of rehabilitating ourselves with the love and compassion, and putting that program through our frequency- and seeing what happens from there.


NL: Yeah, absolutely. So, I can imagine from your background as a football player that when we're talking about - I think we're talking about it - t's not just nutrition and mindfulness and exercise but it's a spiritual practice. So I'm imagining from that background that you bring a certain level of masculinity when it comes to spirituality. A lot of when we talk about these subjects, we're talking about it...  A lot of women seem to be naturally attracted to this. But, what's your experience with the men that are also being attracted to these kinds of practices as well?


KM: Well, it's so interesting. We have a program that we run with the military. These guys went to Fort Bragg's in North Carolina. These are like Delta Force and Green Berets and are like, “you’re not going to get me to meditate unless you jump out of a plane. We're going to take you 15,000 feet in the sky and you're going to jump out of the plane and then we'll consider to meditate with you”. It’s like one of those things. By playing the game and doing that vigorous thing- it's like a credential. People are like, “Okay. He took it on then I can consider it”. The cool thing about it is when they go through this experience, or it could even be the woman who's holding this muscular energy as well, when they go through the experience they allow themselves this time to put that barrier on the shelf for a bit and just relax... And take that armor off, which is a great analogy. The armor because, really, all it is a show. It’s just a front. We all want to be loved. We all want affection and things like that. So, in this yoga practice, we get this chance to really allow these moments to feel and connect with that and put that in our consciousness- Then also to be able to relate to others because you're feeling the next person next to you. It's a dynamic that shows you that yeah, you're this entity, but you're so much bigger and greater than you ever thought you were. It is so amazing to see people come out of these little bubbles, little shells of who they think they are, to really step into this empowered space. It just gives me chills; it gives me excitement to continue what we're doing. So, it's a great thing.


NL: Right. That's the thing. I think that being vulnerable isn't the weakness that we used to view it as. It takes a lot of courage to step into that and by doing these kind of exercises and practices, it really helps you to step into a place. Because, yes. You're right. We do want the affection. We do want the love, but it has to start within us, with our souls first. Being gentle with ourselves, as well. So I can imagine that the military were a pretty tough crowd. I know that you've also been to Washington and did some work over there. Were they just as tough? Tell us a little bit about the work you were doing over there.


KM: It’s funny that you said that... They may be tougher.


NL: Oh, Wow.


KM: Yeah, they may be tougher. So we connected with the congressman Tim Ryan, Charles Rangel, even Barbara Lee, she's a congresswoman out of California. We created the Congressional Yoga Association where we brought staffers – senate, congress, republicans, democrats - all together to do a meditation yoga class before they go out to do their voting and so forth. We kind of started that every quarter on the hill. So, really a fascinating thing that we could even create that, to be in the presence of some of these decision-makers, to be connecting to them. Carlos Ryan is a very thorough practitioner, a very intense practitioner. When I first met him I couldn't believe I was on the phone with the congressman who was talking about meditation and it blew me away. But, it gets me excited because that's how profound this practice is. If we put our attention to thinking, and knowing, and believing that we can be a yoga teacher and we can affect so many parts of this society... So many areas of this world in some ways we never even thought about.


NL: Yeah, and I know that you've also reached a big part of the community in LA with the Light It Up

Foundation. I know that you had a big event that we were talking about the other day, so can you share that story because I love it how you went from, “Well, I don't really know anyone” to this massive gathering that you're able to pull off.


KM: Yeah, I experienced a retreat for the first time. Being around people that I had just met, it seemed like in these two or three days I was with them, they knew more about me than people who knew me their whole life. I came back to LA because I just moved here and was like, “I want to create this for the community. The world needs to see what this feels like”. I'm putting this idea out for this retreat and I'm like, “Okay. I want to have it in the Coliseum. I want to have 10,000 people come”- and I realized I probably only knew 10. Like we talked about the other day, as you know, Alan Watts has this saying, “Do you know how you will?” An interesting thing about “do you know how you will”, you would never know how you will. All you have to do is commit to the doing and then allow the universe to support that. That's what we did and, to make a long story short, we did that. We had 12,000 people and we over exceeded that idea. We had three stages. We had children doing a 5k run/walk. We were teaching people about sound bath healing, the acupuncture massage therapy. We had the Clippers. We had the Galaxy come out. These are the different sports teams come out to support it. The mayor and a city councilman they helped us bus like five thousand kids on a Saturday- and then take them home. I mean, it's just profound what we've been able to create and continue here in LA. So this is again, the excitement, to put these practices in our use and say,  “Hey, this is the idea for you to develop and grow. So all the messes that we're making in the world, you can come clean it up”.


NL: Yeah, I'm totally on board. We actually created a curriculum for middle schools, which is giving kids the tools and the skills to set goals and to understand the power of their thoughts and their words, to have healthy practices that are really going to help them deal with the overwhelm and the stress that no generation has had to - you know, the stress the kid’s face today is more than any other generations before. So I'm just wondering, back in time where there was that moment, where you had the realization that your football career was over- could you ever have imagined that you'd be getting to live this life now?


KM: I would have never thought in a million years. Every city I go to I'm like... It's like an epiphany- like in New York. I do a lot of work there and I'm like, “I'm coming here talking to people about compassion and

Patience”. A couple years ago, I used to come here talking about hitting people and hit them as hard as I could. The dynamic of that... The irony of that. This is the best place. I couldn't think of another place to be to be able to connect to people all over the world and to give them something, share with them something about myself, share this vulnerability that can allow them to step into their empowered state. I believe that we are the medicine for one another in our community. We can do this anyway. Even as I share with other people, that's a continuation of my own healing. So, I began to think that as we go out and we expand and grow, it's just one of those things. I believe this is what it’s supposed to be like. I'm like, “why couldn’t I have skipped football and come straight to this?”


NL: I know that surely you can see things- these attributes and experiences, things that you picked up while playing football- that has helped you become this person, as well. That contributed to this life...?


KM: Yes, definitely. Really, to be bold and to take the intention. I always replace the intention from football...  It's like the playbook, so the idea of running the plays that I want to execute and trusting in the plays- and realizing that this is my plan. So sometimes I may get buried, sometimes I'll have success. In realizing that I can always work on myself to get better. I’m going to make mistakes; I’m

not going to be perfect, but my intention is to, when I get knocked down, get back. It's just been an amazing journey...


NL: Yeah. Well, first of all, let me thank you for the time that you spent with us today- and the work that you're doing because I know that you're making a massive difference and I appreciate that. So, if people wanted to connect with you- I know that you do workshops around the country as well- what's the best way for people to connect with you?


KM: My website is We pretty much put all the events there. Social media- I'm really

getting involved in the social media stuff. Instagram Keith Mitchell 59, on Facebook Keith Mitchell 59. So yeah check me out any questions you have shoot me a line. We have some really cool projects, books, tours coming out. Really exciting things, so I look forward to connecting to you. Don't be shy to come up and see me and ask the question if I'm in your area. So... definitely.


NL: Wonderful! Well thanks again, Keith. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you today.


KM: Yes, thank you.


NL: So, thank you for joining us on the show today. Remember that if you are watching this on Facebook live, or on our YouTube channel later, don't forget to click that banner over the link underneath the video, so we can get you through that 30-second quiz we can figure out what's blocking you from success. I'll also click on the banner of the link here so you can go straight through to Keith’s website so you can connect with him and if you're watching the show on just leave your email or so we can send the Manifesting with the Masters video e-course for free. So, until next time. Remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. We'll see you soon. 



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