To go fast, to go far, to go long, we go together is the mantra behind a great visionary. Yet, the great visionary that I allude to is more than inspirational expressions and ideologies. The man that I refer to is a man of action. He is a man with a plan to care and unitee. The man whom I speak of is Keith Mitchell. Keith is on a quest to bring more mindful awareness and greater health to the United States through community and health-care unity.
Keith Mitchell, formally known as an amazing collegiate Hall-a-Fame Linebacker turned NFL Pro, now leads a life with a new goal to tackle: to bring more holistic health, and wellness resources, to people across the country. Keith's non-profit, charity Light Up serves veterans, at-risk-youth, and athletes with issues from PTSD to obesity to injury recovery and prevention. His organization is able to serve such an array of recipients, with diverse needs, because his passion is about serving all people. Which is perfectly put that the organization lives by the mantra: to fast, to go far, to go long, we go together. The mantra for his organization is similar to the African Proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Keith understands the importance of collective unity for goals and missions to be completed because Keith also understands the essential principal behind yoga: union.
At the age of 31, Keith had a life shattering injury during a football game that left him paralyzed. This accident could have left him fragmented and in deep emotional despair. Yet, from this experience he found what unity truly means. While in a state of paralysis, he discovered himself because he discovered his body, mind and breathing spirit. Interestingly enough, this amazing athlete had never fully known his body, mind or true spirit until his accident. In a sense, Keith was going too fast. When Keith was paralyzed he was able to explore himself. This understanding of the self is part of what Keith wants more people to be aware of and have power over during their life.
"Being paralyzed brought me to my body," stated Keith, "it brought a curiosity to my body in a sense." Keith found this traumatic experience both profound and interesting, for it was this experience that led him down the road to holistic health. It was this experience that brought him to yoga: the practice of union. According to Keith, unity is the only way to bring more awareness and greater health to all people. That is why Light Up can serve such a diverse range of people, because the organization understands that we all must be whole to be one free nation. The idea of uniting all people, with their health and wellness, is where the teachings of yoga come in for Keith and his quest.
The physical practice of yoga, the moving asanas, were discovered after Keith explored conscious breathing. While in paralysis Keith used conscious breathing to relearn his body and mind. This practice then turned into meditation. After a year of this practice, and exploring his body, Keith found yoga. Yoga is a practice which unites the mind, body, and breath. It was this practice, and way of living, that healed Keith. According to Keith, it was the yoga lifestyle that created a paradigm shift in his thinking. This shift in thinking changed the way he saw himself and showed up in the world. It was his growth and development through holistic health that changed him from the inside out, and what has brought him to where he is today.
Today, Keith is on a mission to merge health-care providers and practitioners with communities across the United States. Not only that, but he is uniting Eastern and Western practices of medicine and health. Keith is able to make this possible through his Light Up Foundation, his Care Plan, and the support of Congress. The Care Plan puts on health and wellness expos, and is able to host these events from the charity earnings from Light Up and other donations. The expos serve as a platform for health and wellness experts to meet and collaborate.
"What's interesting," said Keith, "is that these organizations and groups, from city-to-city, don't know each other. That's why we've decided to put together this platform, so groups can collaborate and understand the strength that we have in numbers and working together." This ideology directly connects to the mission statement for his organization. Keith's purpose is connect people through health.
According to Keith, it will be the uniting of wellness groups, across the nation, that will revolutionize how health-care is delivered and managed in this country. From Keith's perspective, it will be the bringing of Eastern and Western approaches that create more holistic health. From there comes more exposure and education to community members that will create a healthier country because people will collectively feel responsible for their own health and the health of others. The Light Up Foundation and Care Plan is about going together and going far down this journey toward greater health.
Yet, how do we merge all these practitioners and providers in a nation consumed and influenced by image and competitive spirit? There again is where the teachings of yoga and mindfulness come into play. From the grass-roots level, Keith is trying to transform the competitive attitude to heal athletes, veterans, and individuals. According to Keith, the competitive spirit has been in us for so long that it is an actual energy, so in order for us to honor and respect ourselves, and others more, this way of being needs to transform. Why is this important for greater health? From Keith's perspective, the old way of viewing competition leaves a person left with a lack of feeling whole or a lack of identity.
"Once you're done competing then your life is incomplete," said Keith, "and therefore your life is never good enough. You are always in this down-hill spiral, especially as you get older and age. [This way of being] sets you up for failure because you are not always going to be faster , smarter, or stronger as you age." It is both our societal way of viewing and approaching the aging process, and the competitive mindset, that needs to transform if more people are going to heal mentally and physically. The purpose of the Care Plan is to heal and unit people. It is also aimed at helping people let go of these old, un-serving ways of existing.
According to Keith, we need to be able to re-examine how we view ourselves and each other because otherwise we are creating low-frequency, negative thought patterns. This way of thinking declines our health-both physically and mentally. It deteriorates connection, and without connection there is no union. That is why Keith and his Care Plan want to unite health organizations and community members. By making health about the people, and for the people, then perhaps there can be a reduction in negative competition and destructive behaviors and thinking for individuals and corporations. By uniting together, holistically and mindfully, perhaps more people can be cared for and be inspired to take ownership of their health. Likewise, with more access to mindful teaching practices and lifestyles, like yoga and eating whole, nutritious foods, people can begin to see themselves as worthy of great care.
"Our greatness is infinite. Embrace the fact that you are great," said Keith. This what Keith wants his athletes, youth and veterans to see. That is what Keith wants all of us to see. Keith wants us to light up. He wants us to have a care plan for ourselves and each other. This is why Keith wants our health-care providers to see each person as greatness; whether a client or professional in the same field. He wants us to connect. He wants union. He wants the ways of yoga to channel through and make lasting, positive change for all people. It is this vision, this collective vision, of greater self-love, respect, and honor for each other and ourselves that will transform the way health-care and wellness are delivered, approached and lived out in this country. According to Keith, it is possible. It is possible if we can exhale the old way of living and inhale newness through holistic, health-care. If Keith can rise from life shattering trauma then we all can because we all are worthy of greatness. Let his light unit us, so that we can move toward greater health-care for all.
If you want to know more about Keith and his teachings, his foundation, or his upcoming events please check out the following links. Currently, he is holding successful Mindful Expos across the country.
Just Breath Veteran Campaign
Light Up Foundation
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.