By Jim Gehman
That led to his eventual second career as a yoga and meditation instructor. He had tried both as methods of rehabilitation and noticed changes.
“I could see some of the things that come with having the concussions and the things, my memory, the anger, a lot of the depression; I could see a lot of that go away,” Mitchell said. “It’s a process. I’ve done a lot of other things like nutrition. I became a vegan.
“Your body, you’ve really gone through depletion. A professional athlete sweats more in a year than an average person will sweat their entire lifetime. And a professional athlete has done this from high school to college to the pros. So you have literally left everything – blood, sweat and tears – for sake of a game out there.
“How do you replenish it? You don’t know because this is not something that’s mainstreamed that people say, ‘Oh, this is how you rebuild.’ You have to do a search for it. And with life happening a million miles an hour in the state of that kind of mindset, where do you go and who’s giving this information? This is what compelled me to do what I do now.”
As the founder of The Light it Up Foundation, Mitchell works with communities, schools and organizations with a focus on yoga, to introduce mindfulness and meditation. The Foundation also works with and educates athletes and military veterans.
“What we’ve been able to do is find some similarities and create some parallels working with veterans,” Mitchell said. “I like to take the athlete as he’s transitioning (out of the NFL) and the athlete who’s beginning because I believe it starts with the young culture, changing the dynamics of the game. That’s how I hurt my back. I suffered paralysis for a little bit over a month, tackling like I was coached to tackle when I first started to play football – put your forehead in the chest of the player.
“I travel (around the country) and introduce the mindful ways of expanding our perception and what that looks like. And how I realized it through my own journey with my family and just present an opportunity that growth and opportunity is available. People have been very receptive to it and it keeps me excited about what’s possible.
“My Foundation and my company typically work together. And I’m writing a book, as well. I never thought I’d write a book, but creating practices that once you go into the default that life is going to bring you, whatever the situation or circumstance that haunts you, you have the intention of living not being depressed, not being angry. You have a playbook that you can default to, that you pull from when you’re triggered to go into, OK, here’s my tool, and this is what I do when I hit this place. My book is called The Mindfulness Playbook and I’m really excited about putting that out (in early 2018).”