Arash Bayatmakou

Bayatmakou, ArashSpinal Cord Injury Recoverer, Odds & Limits Pusher, Neuroplasticity Seeker, Student of Positivity, Healthcare Reform Advocate

I have led my entire life with the belief and desire to make the most of every moment and never sit still. As a result, I have never liked to sleep much and feel like if I’m not planning or doing something exciting in my free time, I’m doing myself an injustice. I grew up in four countries as a child but the San Francisco Bay Area is where I’ve always called home. After venturing to Boston for my undergrad and over 5 years working and traveling in Europe, Central and South America, Asia and Africa as an international trip leader for a biking and hiking tour company, I came back to SF to pursue an MBA with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and social responsibility. After grad school I worked for an environmental consulting firm and a solar energy company before I suffered a devastating Spinal Cord Injury that left me paralyzed from chest down.

I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember and have always relished physical challenges. Now I’m dealing with the biggest physical and emotional challenge of my life as I do everything I can to defy the meaning of “disability” and achieve my goal of full recovery from this injury.

My personal practice is…….

Recovering from catastrophic Spinal Cord Injury by retraining my body and mind to walk all while defying the limits that the medical establishment has placed on me.

How did you discover your practice?

I fell from 30 feet onto concrete, shattered two vertebra in my neck and was instantly paralyzed from chest down.

Why do you practice?

Because I want to get back on my feet more than anything else in the world. I am determined to reach my goal of full recovery not only because my present and future happiness rely on it but also because I want to provide anyone who has suffered a traumatic injury or accident with hope, optimism and possibility.

How frequently and for how long do you practice?

24 hours a day, seven days a week until I achieve my objectives. My entire life is focused on my recovery.

What’s something that gets in the way of your practice and how to you move through it?

The doubt and ambiguity that comes with the nature of this injury. No one can predict or know how quickly or completely my body will recover. Knowledge of the spinal cord, the neurological system and the brain is much more limited than what doctors and medical specialists are willing to admit. These same people have basically told me to give up, maintain “realistic” expectations and achieve “functionality” in order to get used to life in a wheelchair.

I move through these impediments by staying 110% focused and committed to my goals and by knowing that if I do nothing, I will gain nothing. <- Click to Tweet 

Not to mention that my stubbornness has given me a chip on the shoulder and I badly want to prove all the naysayers and “specialists” wrong and pave a path of possibility, positivity and recovery for anyone who is in a similar situation.

What supports you in staying committed to your practice? 

Diligence, dedication and commitment all of which is supported by an outstanding community of friends and family.

What role does your practice play in your work?

My practice is my full-time work. It consumes everything in my life right now.

Describe someone you know whose practice inspires you.

Grant Korgan is an amazing individual who suffered a related Spinal Cord Injury and was also presented a grim prognosis and told to accept a life in a wheelchair. He has recovered tremendously as he now walks with canes and completed a journey as the first non-able-bodied person to ski to the South Pole. He has been, and continues to be, a source of inspiration for me.

A practice I’d like to explore is….

Meditation of some kind. It’s something I’ve always been interested in but have yet to find a system or teaching that resonates with me.

Anything else you’d like to share about practice.

I greatly want and hope that my practice not only allows me to achieve a full recovery but that I can have an impact on changing the way the medical system treats those people who suffer a traumatic injury. I hope that the practice of providing people with false prognoses and possibly crushing their desire for recovery and optimism becomes obsolete. We need an approach that embraces people’s abilities instead of disabilities and empowers them to fight and work hard for their goals.