MVP caught up with former NFL American football linebacker Keith Mitchell, who played for the New Orleans Saints, the Houston Texans and the Jacksonville Jaguars between 1997 and 2003. Now a celebrity yogi, motivational speaker and philosopher Keith found his purpose through yoga after his football career was disrupted by an injury, which forced him to retire prematurely. In this interview he shares his life story and passion for sharing the practice of yoga and meditation to the World.
MVP Who is Keith Mitchell?
KM Great question, maybe somebody will answer that when I’m not here, I’m learning daily who I can grow to be, I’m aspiring to learn love, how to give it and or how to receive. Life is continuous and constantly challenges us therefore I am infinite with unlimited potential.
MVP Did you aspire to be a football player as child?
KM I actually did aspire to be a football player for a few reasons, as a child this seemed to be the remedy to all of our family issues, this seemed to be the time that we enjoyed each others company on Sunday afternoons watching the Dallas Cowboys play. This resonated with me and I believed I could do it. Even though I wasn’t allowed to play until I was 13yrs old freshman in High School. So behind the curve in comparison to many who had been playing since the pop warner.
MVP You are Texas born and bred fellow, how has the transition to being in LA been?
KM LA for me was a new start, the city is electric and there’s creative people everywhere chasing their dreams. The knowledge of what I know is that you can access this to influence and in some cases catapult you excellence yourself, its kind of like when in sports playing a not so good team you tend to play down to their level but when you play a really talented team you step up. LA is something like this in my mind.
MVP During your football career which coach had most profound impact on you as a person and as a pro football player?
MD Coach Mike Ditka had the most impact on me, his message was trust your ability, which is very yogic in my opinion looking back because due to the fact that we seem to have forgotten our excellence we have to continue to remind ourselves that we got it, we can do it and this is no different in the business of pro sports. We practice for winning habits which when you think about the journey of life what’s your practice for winning habits and how does it show up for you in your life.
MVP Your football career was disrupted when it was its prime would you briefly like to share what transpired.
KM I was in Jacksonville and we where playing our home opener and the Head Coach Jack DelRio was in his first year we had first met while he was coaching briefly with the Saints and I wanted to play for him.
We where playing the Buffalo Bills and I was timing a play that I felt was coming and as this play unfolded I ended with my helmet in the chest of this running back. Typically you tend to as a defensive player get up high fiving it, celebrating to build momentum for the offense to take the field but for this play or this day I try to get up and my body has no response. I was diagnosed with a spinal contusion, C2-c4 fused, suffered high levels of paralysis for about a 6-month period. My life would never be the same again.
MVP How did you overcome the depression spawned from the tragic end to your football career?
KM During this time of fighting to play again with my body really not functioning properly I had to let go of an identity that I had known my whole life and that was very hard. I was introduced to conscious breathing, we call it mediation. How we can access the breath to resurrect mind and the body. How we can release the compartmentalized trauma within the unrealized conditioning that hindered and hurt us to let go of these mental, emotional, and physiological problems that hinder us from living, loving and ultimately connecting to one another. In the simple terms the fear, the anxiety of the unknown I came to terms with. In the fight or flight mindset healing is not possible because your energy is consumed to protect yourself. Mediation saved my life.
MVP What benefits of Yoga and meditation can you share with our readers?
KM First off we are in this vehicle that we know absolutely nothing really about it, how it function, what’s it need, what makes it function properly or efficient. So what yoga does which simply means union, which ultimately means YOU. It creates that foundation to build this relationship, this understanding, the idea of listening to yourself which builds other internal modalities such as intuition, clarity, it creates an ownership in yourself kind of like equity because when you realize you are doing it then you have to be responsible, you have to be accountable because YOU are creating YOUR experiences. I only say have to be as figure of speech because theirs a unique concept with knowledge, after you have this you cant be dumb again, therefore Ignorance is truly Bliss.
MVP What is the Keith Mitchell 5.9 Care Plan and the ‘Just Breathe’ campaign about?
KM The 5.9 CarePlan is in my opinion going to revolutionize the way we in America view healthcare for one and 2nd it will create a pallet for mainstream to accept and become of aware of the possibilities that we can bestow for ourselves and take our health back into our own hands. We have assembled the finest institution to collaborate with in the University Of Rochester school of Neuro Psyh and School of Psychology which includes some of the best doctors of our times whom have these types of practices in their own lives. We have put the Eastern philosophy of mediation, yoga and other holistic modalities that I have found crucial to the benefit of restoring and regenerating the body. Also in addition to all of this we added the IT component that allows us through the 3yr program to be with the guys 24/7 for them to have access to us in the comfort of their own homes, this way lines, paperwork, travel your privacy is never compromised and its all in the comforts of your own home where health care truly originated. Back in the day the home was the place of treatment and the hospital was where you went to die.
MVP Tell us about your work with veterans?
KM What we are looking to do with my Alum, the NFLPA is to create this transitional program with them, we are also working with the military veterans whom are suffering with PTSD, dementia, mental disorders from serving time in combat. We are creating this space for the masculine mentality, the gladiator mentality to heal, to let go of the wounds that in my opinion started way before the respected choices of military to sport but to the misunderstanding and proposed conditioning what it is to be a man. My ultimate idea for what’s possible as we have been a part of the propaganda, we can be a part of the solution as well.
MVP Why is it important for you to empower and educate athletes about the restorative, healing and prescriptive power of yoga?
KM Weather we want to acknowledge or not our communities sees our athlete as leaders and I believe there are some amazing leaders in the realm of sports and military and we need our guys present and available to help our youth, be the leaders in the community. Our guys have the capability to lead in their respective places, our kids our families need them our world needs them.
MVP You were part of the yoga team invited to the White House Easter Egg Roll, the largest public event of the year at the White House. I’m sure that must have been quite an experience. How was it for you?
KM The White House event was amazing, I never would of dreamed having the opportunities to what we have been able to do with our world leaders from mediation on the White House lawn to Yoga Class inside the Capital where we where apart of creating the Congressional Yoga association, with congressman Tim Ryan OHIO, Charles Rangle of NYC , also Mental Health awareness month we have done back to back meditations in the capitol with retired veterans which has been such a privilege.
MVP You have organized some really big events this year. What was the response like especially for the Mindful Living Health Expo, which you hosted at the Los Angeles Coliseum back in January?
KM Yes we have the MIndul5k, which is my baby and I’m really excited about this program. We hosted a retreat for the community, which included 5k race, we had Ron Finely help us create a garden, which is there to this day at the coliseum. My partners Alta Med which are amazing we had free health screenings, Vivica Fox was our host, Beyond the Bell supplied the youth from all over the city of LA, we have smoothies, sports, acupuncture, empowerment speaking, massage, sound bath healing, mediation/yoga everything we could think of to share the mission with the city, we had about 7k people show up and we are coming back Aug 2016, we are coming Houston, New Jersey, and College Station next so I’m very excited to get our youth involved with self discovery and development.
MVP Who are some of the influential people you have partnered with?
KM Alta Med as company believed in me before most of my work had started, Beyond the Bell , Congressman Tim Ryan, Wanderlust Yoga events, Lululemon, The LA Yoga community and every city we’ve been to we seem to build our tribe.
MVP Do you have any intentions to share your story through writing a book?
KM Yes I am open to a book, I’ve lived life for several people, I’ve pushed it to the limit and the cool thing is we are still going, my story doesn’t stop as far as I’m concerned, I want my work to continue to work after I’m gone.
MVP What is your definition of success?
KM Success is what makes you happy and not happy as a destination but happy in a sense of your excitement to do what you do. Success is that internal fulfillment that makes you feel whole. Success can look like whatever you like as long as its yours and if you can own that then you can have success.
MVP If somebody desires to achieve more in life, what would be your words of encouragement to him or her?
KM If you desire more in life, then you have to be more, meaning put more time into you, build the relationship with yourself. The pathway to anywhere first starts within yourself (commitment) By going inside allows your path to be laid with alignment and most of all-purpose.