Where A Journey to Self-Discovery Begins: Finding the Breath
My journey to self-discovery started in my 7th year playing in the National Football League as a Linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the second game of the season when I found myself laying in the middle of the field on my back, completely numb and unable to move. I had attempted to make a routine tackle I had made thousands of times, but this time, something had gone terribly wrong with the way the opponent and I collided. This pivotal moment resulted in a spinal contusion and the end of my football career.
I was paralyzed, hospitalized, and traumatized with nowhere left to go but inward. In my quest to relearn basic functionality, my journey to healing was initiated. As I laid in the hospital bed, a nurse suggested conscious breathing. This sparked an interest in me to learn alternative wellness practices to aid in my recovery. When you realize that you can participate in your own healing process, you are no longer the victim. Breath work led to meditation which led to yoga, nutrition and mindfulness. I became hungry for knowledge and studied under the most renowned and well-sought after master teachers for each practice I discovered.
The practices of mindfulness, yoga, meditation and breath work are practices of isolation. These practices supplied me with tools that gave me the opportunity to learn who I am beyond the facade of a professional athlete. For the first time in my life, I began relating to myself. Once I successfully established a relationship with myself, I began to get curious. I began to ask myself, how can I take what I learned through isolation and use it for integration? How can I bridge it to someone else? What I discovered is that the same steps I took to foster a relationship with self, are the same steps required to realize it with another.
Energy Woven Together: Healing through Human Connection
This epiphany was unveiled through my relationship with the late Psalm Isadora. My curiosity for integration led me to the world of Tantra, which in Sanskrit means woven together. Psalm was a Tantrika, a very dear friend and the inspiration to start teaching these concepts myself. Psalm was vastly knowledgeable, having been initiated into a Tantric lineage in India. She introduced me to Yab-Yum, which remains to be the most profound meditation practice I’ve ever experienced.
Yab-Yum is a Tantric practice, which Tibetan translation means Father-Mother. Yab-Yum is an intimate pose where the female sits facing the male on top of his lap with her legs wrapped around him. This posture aligns the partners’ chakras (energy centers) and promotes alert awareness due to its upright sitting position. The couple can either touch their foreheads together or gaze into each other’s eyes. The only verbiage is the synching of each other’s breath.
The pose is meant to dismantle the illusion of duality by merging the masculine and feminine together, ultimately serving to represent the truth of our experience – which is that of singularity. It is the mystical unification of the active force (masculine) paired with the wisdom of the feminine.
For the first time in my life I learned the concept of presence with another person. I held her without any agenda or expectation, but for the sole purpose of breathing her in and experiencing her energy. Ultimately, this is sacred geometry. This is the ankh. This is the cross. This is our opportunity to experience heaven on earth and create magick with one another. From my career as a professional athlete, I lived a life of abundance and opportunity, but yet it wasn’t until this particular experience with Psalm did I understand the depth and healing that can be discovered in human connection.
The Nutrition of Connection
As I continued on my journey, I had the opportunity to study nutrition. To learn the power of cleansing and the healing that occurs by bringing the body back to its natural, electric state. I learned that when a cell is fed, it doesn’t need to compensate for something or search for nutrition. Likewise, when a human is fully nourished, it doesn’t need to search for alternatives. The nature of addictions and undesirable behavior are created as compensation patterns. They are an attempt to search for nourishment to fill a void. The simple, yet profound experience of Yab-Yum led me to understand that our species is malnourished of human connection.
Human connectivity is nourishment for our cells. With the absence of human connection, we become that entity searching. These compensation tactics can express themselves as addictions, substance abuse and other forms of toxic behavior.
The learning curve is that we don’t know how to truly connect or what it even looks like. We have never been given the tools and have an immature language of expressing ourselves when it comes to connectivity.
I believe in developing a practice so that when adversity happens, I am equipped with the tools to stay the course. When COVID hit, I observed how society was retreating into an even more extreme isolated state. I feared the consequences of this, and from this realization, saw an opportunity to help.
A Journey to Self-Discovery is both Personal and Collective
The same transformational tools we can apply individually, we can learn to apply collectively. The same healing we can learn to apply individually, we can learn to apply with one another. The tools and practices I discovered to recover from paralysis, to realize a relationship with myself, to develop meaningful relationships with others, and to nourish myself through intimacy are now being offered in a tangible and integrative way, so that you too might be able to benefit from the knowledge in the same way I did.
This desire to help is where the concept of iKula Devi was born. Our mission is to provide solutions to the modern day pandemic of anxiety, depression, disconnection, and mental health disorders by offering individuals proven tools to heal, to learn, to connect and to express their authentic selves. The word “Kula” comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “community.” “Devi” is the Sanskrit word for “deity”, and is translated to all things that are divine, sacred, or anything of excellence. iKula Devi is the unshaken belief that in creating conscious community, we can bring heaven to earth and tap into our true divinity. iKula Devi is a forward-thinking movement that offers progressive and tactical solutions to improve health and wellbeing by offering exclusive retreats, events and workshops.
iKula Devi as a Self-Sustainable Community
iKula Devi was created by myself, and co-founders Hailey Taylor (Head of Marketing, Reiki Master, Sound Healer and Mindfulness Coach) and Julie Menconi (Director of Operations, Plant-Based Nutritionist and Reconnective Healer). Together we have over 30 years of experience through yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices, fitness, movement therapy, sonic therapy, energy healing and nutrition.
Our vision is to develop a self-sustainable community to offer individuals an alternative way of living. We are in the process of creating a school system that will teach yoga, meditation, nutrition, and mindfulness to adults and children alike. It will include a wellness center and village for individuals interested in coming to learn our practices.
We believe in permaculture, self-sustainability, and group economics. Our incentive is to start working with nature, rather than against it. iKula Devi is the reminder to us all that abundance is our birthright. This is our opportunity to create humans that operate from a whole-brain perspective, and to introduce a more fulfilling, connected, and intentional way of living to humanity.
Just take a moment to imagine what it would be like to be apart of community of authentic and trustworthy people that’s only agenda is to help you unlock your human potential. A community that encourages, supports, inspires, teaches, and empowers one another so that together we can remember how incredible the human experience can be.
Are you ready to fulfill your greatness potential?
For information on our upcoming experiences, to see how you can get involved or to book a retreat or event, visit us at www.ikuladevi.com. You can email us at: email@example.com
In loving memory of Psalm Isadora
Keith Mitchell is a former All-Pro NFL football player turned internationally renowned Celebrity Yogi. As a Motivational Mindfulness Coach, Holistic Health and Wellness Advocate, Community Activist and Humanitarian, he is committed to providing holistic tools that help others achieve optimal health, harmony and aliveness to the fullest degree.
A life changing football injury left Keith partially paralyzed, he utilized Yoga and Meditation to fully recover, he now shares his inspirational transformation with others as a highly sought after spiritual lifestyle/ wellness coach, teacher and motivational speaker.
Although Keith’s football accident forced him into an early retirement, it led him to his true life’s calling — inspiring others to move beyond survivor and victim consciousness to full empowerment. Keith is a leader and exemplary teacher for people dealing with emotional and physical suffering. His personal shift from a professional sports athlete to spiritual luminary allows him to mentor from experience with full transparency and authenticity; utilizing his many years of Yoga and meditation training combined with his stellar PRO athlete expertise.
“When you realize that you can participate in your own healing process, you are no longer the victim.” ~KM59
As the founder of the The Light it Up Foundation and co-founder of iKula Devi, Keith considers altruism and service as his life’s purpose— the most rewarding position he has ever played— sharing his mindfulness skills Yoga and meditation certification whether for peak performance and self-awareness to help others heal from the inside and out.
Keith’s mission is to guide others to find the power within themselves to make a positive shift— so they may live a life full of joy, gratitude and purpose.
Keith has been featured in: NFL Films, People Magazine, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Essence, Origin, Yoga Journal, The Huffington Post, Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen ( Bravo ) and in many more national media outlets.