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There’s a scene in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber where we find out that Jim Carrey’s Lloyd has sold a dead, headless parakeet to an unsuspecting blind kid named Billy. Lloyd thinks this trick was brilliant and hilarious, since it’s produced enough extra cash for snacks for his cross-country road trip with his buddy, Harry. Cut to Billy, staring blankly into the horizon, gently stroking Petey the bird carcass (head held on by duct tape) and softly cooing “Pretty bird” to his unresponsive pet.
I was in elementary school when Dumb and Dumber was released, and that image of sweet Billy still gives me a shudder. At the time, my dad lovingly gave me one of his, “It’s not real, it’s Hollywood” talks (only rivaled by the “It’s not blood, it’s ketchup” conversation that occurred after scenes from movies like Rocky left me in tears). You see, it’s never been difficult for me to feel compassion for others—real or imagined: I’ve held hands with strangers on airplanes, sat with homeless veterans for hours, and wept for the planet more times than I can count. But when it comes to tenderly feeling for myself, well, that’s something I’ve only recently started learning how to do.
Inside the Issue
This issue is packed with practices to help us all strengthen our self-compassion muscles. And we should: Scientists are starting to uncover the very real health benefits associated with loving kindness, such as higher heart-rate variability—an indicator of cardiovascular and overall health. Research shows that when we practice loving ourselves first, it trickles out into how we treat others, and the long-term positive effects range from better stress tolerance to longer life and a decreased risk for depression and lasting trauma.
But practice as we might, even when we think we’ve mastered self-love, sometimes all it takes is a little disruption, like a breakup or traumatic event (see Trauma-Informed Yoga with Hala Khouri), to send us into a tailspin. To that end, The Namaste Breakup is your comprehensive guide to uncoupling without the chaos (and shame and guilt and negative self-talk) that so often comes with the territory.
As I head into the New Year and this new role and a brand-new chapter in my own life with grace and courage, I’ll be leaning on the advice and wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Faith,” he said, “is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Be well, and shine bright.