Mindfulness and yoga can be linked with each other. Yoga is the physical art while mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening in the present situation, and they both need focus. Keith Mitchell, former NFL All-Pro football player and master certified yoga instructor, shares his life-changing situation where he was left partially paralyzed in a football injury and how he emerged to full recovery through conscious breathing, yoga, and meditation. Keith talks about self-forgiveness, his biggest struggles, and owning your own vulnerability. He also shares inspirational and transformational stories as well as his spiritual lifestyle as a wellness coach and motivational speaker.
Listen to the podcast here:
Mindfulness And Yoga In Practice with Keith Mitchell
We have a special treat. On Beyonders, be ready to level up, learn and discuss the art of personal and professional freedom. We’re going to do that with our guest, Keith Mitchell. He is a former All-Pro NFL football player turned internationally renowned celebrity Yogi. He’s a motivational mindfulness coach, a holistic health and fitness advocate, a community activist and a huge humanitarian. Like me, he’s committed to providing purposeful holistic tools that help others achieve optimal peace and aliveness to their fullest degree.
A life-changing football injury left Keith partially paralyzed and he utilizes yoga and meditation to fully recover. He went beyond that ego and he shares his inspirational transformational stories with others as a spiritual lifestyle and as a wellness coach and motivational speaker. Although Keith’s football accident forced him into an early retirement, he’s on a different path. He’s following his new life calling, inspiring others to move beyond, get from victim and become a survivor, become a conscious full empowered human being. He’s the perfect guest for this show because he recognizes the need for authenticity in humanity and the failures and weaknesses that we continue on our path day-to-day. Without the right steps for awareness, we wouldn’t know what to do. We’re so honored to have you here, Keith.
It’s such a pleasure to be here and be with your audience.
Keith and I met in 2014 at a Wanderlust Yoga Festival. When he gave this incredible talk, we were in this room and I remember sitting there and crying and bawling my eyes out after he’s guided meditation. I was in simple pure joy. I remember I met a friend, her name is Erin Acosta. She was the first person that I hugged and I looked at with tears in our eyes after your guided meditation. Erin and I are still friends now. We’ve got a great show planned and we’re going to dive into breath, beauty, love and wisdom of Keith Mitchell. Keith, before we even get to the awesome sauce of your yoga and spiritual journey, let’s go beyond ego a little bit with the NFL. What insight can you provide for us from a celebrity point of view? What kind of pressures do NFL players get when it comes to using ego instead of suppressing it?
In professional sports, the ego repels you. It separates you from the norm or the average. The mind separates one player from the next, how you perceive yourself and how you can stay in that character to go out on Sundays and dominate. Dominating is something that if you don’t do within, you’re not the elite. That’s extreme pressure to show up for under week in and week out.
I used the NFL first because I know a lot our audience are leaders. They’re CEOs, big bosses, managers and entrepreneurs who feel that celebrity-like ego pressures. What can they do? What are the tools that you would suggest that they take or they use for their benefit for a healthier way to live and lead rather than the demand and the force, but more of a relaxation and a loving life and leading in a happier way?If you believe in peace, you believe in love. Let go and live it and see if it exists for yourself. Click To Tweet
The first starting place is deciding what you want. What’s going to bring you joy and what’s going to bring you peace and happiness and so forth? What I’ve learned is how you begin is what’s going to be needed to sustain what you’re doing. If you start off in insanity or you start off in insecurity and try to prove that you’re this to your mother and father and so forth, then you’re going to be continuing that insanity throughout. If you don’t want to sustain it or live like that, then don’t start like that.
It’s very much alike to the TEDx style teaching that I do. As a TEDx curator and speaker coach, we call it mirror neurons. When we stand up on stage and you know this yourself as a motivational speaker and as a coach out there for thousands of people on a stage, when you show up and you show up with a smile, they’re going to be smiling. When you show up as insecure, they’re going to feel nervous with you. That’s a great tool and that’s a great benefit. I see beautiful pictures of you online leading yoga seminars and corporate retreats. The big part of this show is showcasing the greatest of leaders with their weakest moments. It’s that vulnerability that we feel greater connected as humans rather than separated from success or higher level ranked or lower totem pole. What has been your biggest struggle?
Just feeling it all. When you lead from the heart, you’re going to feel. This is why I believe a lot of people don’t want to be in the heart. We numbed those things out because when you open yourself up to feel, you’re going to take all of it. Not only your good stuff, you’re going to take the negative, the judgments and so forth. You feel what the audience has given and then you begin to find ways to break down those barriers and convince them that this is a sacred space, a protective space and there is no judgment. Then they can let their walls go and then you can create this pathway that they can see what you have to say. How I started with public speaking is I didn’t have the idea of perfection.
I didn’t want to have the notepad. I wanted to come and lead strictly from the heart and speak to where I see that the people I’m speaking to are coming from. For me, that’s been the challenge because I’m sitting on some big stages. I’m like, “Keith, what are you going to say?” I have to talk to myself and say, “We’ll find out when it happens.” I was at the UN with Bruce Lipton and he was like, “What are you going to talk about?” I’m like, “I don’t know, but we’ll see you shortly.” It’s something that you get into your heart, get into what you want and create that. What we want is the intention of what you’re creating. If you’re giving love, then love will support you. We’re looking for the authenticity and not the performance.
I tell that to so many people. On my coaching call, I was going off on how perfectionism is overrated. I’m taking from what you said, it’s the heart space, not the headspace because the head is where the ego is. That’s that judgment, that’s that self-depreciation, that’s that blaming of others. That’s the, “I’m no good. I’m not smart enough. I’m not wise enough. I’m not going to give a good talk.” When we come from that heart space, that’s where we start to tell stories rather than sell ourselves. That’s a huge differentiator to the greatest speakers out there. They’re telling stories from their heart space. They’re not selling their services or their products from the headspace. That’s a great tip for a lot of the Beyonders who are reading this who want to go beyond ego. We grow up in a society that blue suits have to be the best and you can’t look bad. You give us such an inspirational point of view, especially from a beautiful strong male, an NFL player that says, “Come from the heart space.” That is a great lesson for everyone.
Being like that warrior my whole life and realizing how that didn’t serve me and going into the root of it and why I was choosing that way. That’s how I was raised. That saying, “I’m built for this.” No, you have experienced a lot of trauma and that trauma has shaped you, but you don’t have to stay that way. You can expand. You can grow. When you talk about thinking, thinking is not necessarily a bad thing. We can elevate our thought. We can put new information about thought. Therefore, when we think differently, we’ll show differently. From feeling differently, we’ll respond differently. That’s the potential that we’re sitting on and this is why I promote human growth development, using the practice of meditation and using the practice of yoga to promote the growth of being human.
I’m an avid yogi myself. I do yoga every day in my apartment as the sun goes down. I get so much from the dedication and the practice of sticking it and staying there and the twists and the turns. It provides both a personal and professional development phase in me. It took me a few years to understand it. When I was starting my yoga practice, Seane Corn and a lot of the greats out there, they would say, “Take the practice off the mat.” Within two years, I went through trauma. I went through a bad breakup. I thought I lost the love of my life, but it was just a normal breakup. I was so traumatized and I did yoga so deeply that I understood the gratitude, the wisdom, the peacefulness, the sitting in the muck and the vulnerability. That’s when I started to take the practice off the mat and use it into my work like you’re doing. You see a lot of business people out there, you see a lot of normal average human beings trying to be better. What would they gain from coming to a retreat with you or hiring you to come out to their business to maximize the potential of employees for greatness and purpose?
We present a lot of different dynamics. We go into that place on top of the hill, they say the American Dream, to have everything that you wanted and still be empty at the same time. What that feels like to open up that window so you can see and have clarity about that experience. One of the things I’ve been playing with as well is asking or proposing to people to consider when did you discover the relationship that you had with yourself? For me, I was 31. What I suggest to you as well is to say, “If I discover the relationship with myself at the age of 31 but realize that relationship was going on whether I knew it or not. Therefore, I still created patterns and habits of being in that relationship.” Then we take that to other people and say we want to have a relationship with them, who have done the same thing. I can have a different insight from that egotistical male perspective that I originally came from as well, just some insight into what that looks like. Not only men are living from this alpha masculinity. I think the ultra powerful women, the executives are holding that same space and living that same dynamics. I believe we give some insight on what that looks like. It gives us a chance to shed those layers and come to it as raw as possible and to come to that base of what do I want and how can I create it?
It’s from both female and male perspective. We had this discussion before when I was telling you about one of my upcoming book, Own Your Sensuality, for women. There are many women who are protective just as men. I know that there are a lot of you out there that want the help or too embarrassed to reach out and ask. Keith and I are going to encourage you to take a breath and own that vulnerability. This is the show that shares that. We’re talking with wonderful guests like Keith Mitchell. I know that you own your vulnerability, Keith, and you also believe in the mantra of going beyond ego and owning weakness in order to find success or be happy or simply live a better life. What are your tools or pieces of wisdom on how to become open? How to break open to own vulnerability for both women and for men?
You have to be committed and the commitment is to you and to the obstacles that’s been in the way. We have to come to an understanding of acknowledging that. What happens is we begin to surrender to the experiences that we’ve had in the past, meaning we don’t resist. We don’t cringe anymore. We don’t hold those things we talk about as triggers because those are landmines that are waiting to be exploited when the next thing happens. We’ve surrendered to the idea that these things happen and we’re not marinating it but we’re acknowledging that and we’re choosing to move on. We’re choosing to stay and live in that intention. We’re choosing to process life as it happens without lashing it out on other people.
We’re choosing to process it and slow it down and use our steps to maneuver more consciously because of the fight. We fought our way all the way up to this point to where we are now and we realize that we’re tired to fight. We’ve done it so many different ways and we’re tired of it. We just want these things like peace. If you believe in peace and you believe in love, then go and live it and see if it exists for yourself. See how it can exist for yourself. We have to be adamant about spreading this information that we’re having and wanting to experience internally and living it externally.
Have that commitment and have that relationship with yourself and those marry each other. We have to be committed. We can’t say we’re going to honor my relationship with myself now and then tomorrow we’ll just lock that commitment and point and blame at everyone else. In my first book called Own Your Vulnerability for women, there’s a men’s book coming out, I tell them to do this exercise. You sit up straight, take your right hand, make a fist, put your pointer finger out, lower your arms so that the pointer finger is in the middle and then you bend that finger back.Allow building momentum that will shift to patterns and habits as ways that become the way we live our lives. Click To Tweet
What does it do? It’s pointing to yourself. It’s our commitment to those two things. You also said peace and love as well as consciousness. Consciousness is awareness. Most of us are simply unaware. We’re running back and forth on the field. Most people are 24/7 in meetings, they’re in deadlines and they’re in that rat race. That hurried, forceful, demanding place and when you become that vulnerable person, it becomes a scary place to be because you start to understand yourself. At 31, you started to have that relationship with yourself and you’re like, “This has been going on for 31 years.”
Your biggest obstacle is going to be the illusion that you have that we call ego about yourself. We began to strategize. At that time when I started my process, I’ve been with myself for 31 years, so I have an intuition about myself for 31 years. I can plan around that knowing how my mind likes to go and how it would allow myself to do things that I was accustomed to for so many years. I call it the residue. We began to strategize, surrounding myself by people that can help me sustain my choices and be mindful of the commitment. The commitment is vital. We can look at it from one end and say, “I’ll be committed to this,” but then we can look at it again in the mirror and say, “I’ve had many commitments that I’ve come short of.” We have to realize a lot of times, in the beginning, we’re going to fall up short because we’re not perfect, but we counted for that. We realized that.
Coming from the heart space not even giving a talk, but being in that centered space, you can have that self-forgiveness when you fall off that commitment trail.
You’re going to prepare for that so you don’t destroy all that you’ve worked out to be. In my new book that’s coming out, The Mindfulness Playbook, I talk about that and that’s allowing yourself to build momentum. We have to build momentum and that’s going to shift us to these patterns and habits and ways to become the way we live our lives.
Everyone that’s an audience and a fan of my book and my show are called On Beyonders. They’re our tribe. On Beyonders is a new breed of professional adult that is willing to look beyond. They believe that beyond is beautiful. You said that when you were 31, you found your relationship with yourself. You did look back. On Beyonders are not shackled to the past, but are aware of it and conscious of it, but can live in a healthy, present and mindful future. That’s important because it’s the array of conversations that we’re having from the show with leaders like yourself.
We always look at our failures or the things that we’ve done and we say, “I should have cut a wood.” One of the most compelling things to do in our lives is to look at our failures and get back up and rise again. When you get up in the morning, not from an off day-to-day before, let’s teach them how to do the Keith Mitchell playbook before they can get your book. What’s the biggest most compelling factor every morning when you wake up to do what you do? What is it that you do that we can cheat and steal from?
It’s a mindset. My mental is dialed in and I’m focus. At the same time, I have focus, I’m not regimented and I’m not so anal with it. I take it easy on myself. If I’m feeling a certain way that’s not my highest energy, then I prepare and I do things that’s going to get me. I’m big on supplementation and getting the proper nutrition into my system. If I feel I need to go get in the sun, I’ll do that. I’ll listen to myself because the self knows and it speaks truth to you. I followed that regimen. Being gentle with myself, but still getting things done. I’m preparing and planning. Planning is something that has helped me, whether it be from the simple things or proper nourishment. If I’m out, I carry water. I’m a big water fan. I drink a certain type of water. If I’m going to be out for a long time, I won’t have access to food, then I pack healthy snacks that can sustain me until I can get to the food that I want. It’s preparing and strategizing and to sustain what we’re up to, including people. If someone is suggesting a place to hold a meeting and then I think this is not the best place I want to be, then I’ll make a suggestion first or I’ll find a medium like, “Let’s go get tea here at this place.” That meets us in the middle. It’s just ways that we can just take the reins and live this truth that we decide to do.
You’re standing in your boundaries and you’re setting them for healthy purposes. It’s interesting that you said to bring the water. Many of us forget to drink water. Many of us don’t like water. I put lemon in my water every single day. I down it and I drank my ayurvedic tea. I was wondering, Keith, when you’re hungry and you’re angry and they call it hangry, when people are dehydrated, it gets to the nervous system. There’s something scientific out there that we can look up where when we’re dehydrated, it gets to the nervous system and it breaks us down and we don’t function as well. We might get angry or upset. We might react in ways. It’s a great tip and a great reminder. People that are on the go, you have to have that water. It’s part of the health and the wellness regime and it’s a part of the mindset.
It helps dictates consciousness. We have more neuro nerves in our gut than we have in our brain. We can relate mood swings and so forth to certain levels of malnourishment. The first malnourishment comes from the human connection, being able to serve and be with one another. This is why the last conversation we were talking about going back and realizing where we’ve come from because that keeps us grounded. That allows us to stay connected to the people around us. Many times we can get so up in our heads and feel that were so enlightened and then we look at the population around us and say, “Why don’t you do this and why don’t you do that?” By understanding where we’ve come from, it keeps us connected to the spaces where we used to be.
I’m a huge geek, I’m a huge nerd, I’m a big fan of museums. I’m a fan and I’m a member of the Liberty Science Center, which I look right outside of my window in Jersey City, New Jersey. I go to see all the universe movies and all the films. When you sit back in that IMAX Theatre and you look up at all these short films and you see the stars in the sky and all the thousands of galaxies, you walk out and you’re like, “I’m so insignificant. Why did I make up that story? Why did I make a mountain out of a molehill? Why did I get upset about all this stuff?” You had that accident. We have to have every breath, every sip of water and every moment to have that gratitude for being alive and being connected to self and to others. Like my book says, the kind communications between ourselves and others, take your probiotics, take care of your gut, we can become better connected human beings. This is so great. Tell us a little bit about your book because I know that it’s coming out soon and it’s going to be a fantastic read. I can’t wait to get it. Tell us a little sneak peek.
I’m using the concept of sports psychology to be in the zone to run these plays of intention. I’m connecting that to the parallel of consciousness and living with tension. It’s the extreme pressures that you have to perform over here, the extreme pressures that you have to allow yourself to be over here in life. I’m giving the comparisons of people who may not look at consciousness or the mindfulness aspect right off that you get to the channels of sports.
The big word there is pressure. I know that a lot of us feel pressure. The simple things that we can do running through the mind is commitment. I can’t wait to read it. You’re probably reading this before the book is coming out, but you’re going to be following Keith. Let’s have a little fun. I want to say one word and you’re going to tell me one-word answer that comes directly to mind, but you can’t say the same word twice. I have seven words for you. Are you ready?The self knows and speaks truth to you. Click To Tweet
Your NFL career.
We’ve got to have fun. As much as we use our focus and teach the world how to become mindful and kind communicators, we have to have a little bit of fun. Keith, you’ve been such a wonderful guest. How can our readers find out about you or get involved in what you’re up to, to change the world? Where would they go?
My website is KeithMitchell59.com. My Instagram and Facebook is @KeithMitchell59. Please send me a note and I love to see you in the next city we’re coming to or in the next retreat or whatever. We have the book, the Mindfulness Playbook. I think you’re going get an interesting read from this. It’s benefited me and I’m just sharing it back to hopefully benefit you.
Maybe we’ll do some work together with my next book coming out. Is there anything else that I haven’t asked that you want to share with us? Is there anything new or that we should know about you that I haven’t asked or any pressing questions?
In all aspects, we’re the medicine. We’re the first lineage to this food chain. Our internal problem is ultimately the world’s problems. If we focus on creating solutions, we will always be in business. This is for the entrepreneurial mind. If we think always and solving problems, we will always be in need. We have a lot of problems in our society and if we put our attention to it, we have the water, we have food, we have earth, we have people. Mental health is an issue. There are so many issues out there that if we put our attention to it, we can solve our own problems and make that a priority as you go on your journey, as you’re teaching and as you’re leading people, give a little bit back.
I give back all the time. I have my book launch event. I have two special surprises about giving back. I’ll tell you a little bit more about it. We’ve come to the sun setting on this episode. I ask you to ponder the thoughts and inspiration that Keith mentioned. Maybe dedicate your next yoga practice to the art of falling and rising again. As my mentor in Yoga, Bryan Kest says, “We’re all going to fall in life, but fall with equanimity and fall with grace.” If you’re looking to go beyond a desire, your very own personal and professional development coach or consultant, I’m your girl. You can find me at ElizabethBarryConsulting.com or on LinkedIn for tips on living the life fulfilled. Don’t forget to join our Beyond Ego Facebook group. That’s where you’re going to hear this podcast and see extra tips and websites and social to find Keith and share his wisdom of going beyond ego. In life, On Beyonders, let’s go beyond.
- Keith Mitchell
- Wanderlust Yoga Festival
- Own Your Vulnerability
- Facebook – Keith Mitchell
- @KeithMitchell59 – Instagram
- Beyond Ego – Facebook Group
- LinkedIn – Elizabeth Ann Barry
About Keith Mitchell