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Compassion and the Family

By Annie Burnside, M.Ed.

As we leave another holiday season, a time of much giving and receiving behind us and enter a brand new year, it is vitally important that we seek to deepen our family’s understanding and outpouring of compassion. Beyond the way many traditionally view compassion, we can heighten our mission to assist and heal if we perceive compassion in a slightly new light. Most of us are taught that pity and compassion are close cousins, if not identical twins. Whether outwardly stated or not, often the energy behind the healing thoughts, words and actions that we extend towards others in the name of compassion is laced with pity surrounding their unseemly predicament or state of being. The assistance is well-meaning, to be sure, but usually along with a helping hand, the donor subconsciously doles out an energetic belief that matches the "unfortunate" situation, actually helping to sustain the current energy surrounding the state of affairs.

A soul nurturing perspective, however, shares that true compassion is not an I can do it for you vibe, but rather a YOU can do it for yourself vibe. In other words, the most healing offering that we can ever freely give to another is to fully see/feel him as who he really is beyond the physical mask and predicament—past the "human suit" and into his true eternal and infinite nature. The individual before us is a spirit, pure and simple, no matter what aspect of humanity he is currently exhibiting. It is imperative that we teach our children that it is another’s highest potential as a self-realized spirit-embodied human being that we hope to ignite through our offerings, not simply a reinforcement of his perceived "stuckness" and misfortune. If we see an individual as lost, dis-abled, or down-and-out, then we only help to keep him there energetically. It is actually our change in how we perceive him that most offers him the gift of a lifetime—an expanded awareness.

Children must be taught to recognize the feeling underlying all gestures as the most important component of any offering, be it through thought, word or deed. As far as compassion, it is always the feeling behind the assistance that matters most to initiate true and lasting change in our good works. Compassion that leads to healing comes through nothing less than a heightened awareness of the other's divine essence. Acknowledgement of this in our heart and mind as we offer the warm cup of coffee, the used clothing or the large financial donation is of utmost importance to both the giver and the receiver. It is the energy exchange that really seals the deal, for upliftment and expanded awareness are truly priceless.

Teaching children to see themselves in all others is an important first step. When they come to recognize their legitimate energetic connection to all that lies before them, they are better able to identify all others as part of the same divine whole. The old adage encouraging us to “put ourselves in someone else’s shoes” begins to carry an even deeper meaning with a new perception of compassion. It becomes no longer an outer possibility that we may someday face the same circumstances, but rather an inner revelation that we are all indeed one.

Throughout the year, I invite us all to give a gift that keeps on giving through a new understanding of compassion and let us encourage our children to do the same with their peers and all others. Offer compassion to those in "need" sans pity with a powerful punch behind it—an infusion of positive, empowering energy that speaks volumes without necessarily opening our mouth. Really see the individuals before us. Feel their presence. Acknowledge their magnificence as an aspect of infinite divine essence, for what stands before us is nothing short of a luminous soul in human form. Let’s teach our children the feeling behind loving service—Compassion Unplugged—and make an active healing difference in the lives of those we touch in 2011 and beyond.

Let’s make compassion and gratitude the most-used words in our home this year. Beyond the words, let’s teach our children the vibratory surge when the words are actually felt from a place deep within. We must choose to explain and model the true meaning behind these common terms so that our children understand their infinite power to create change.

"JOY to the World" can simply be sung or it can be deeply felt and offered up and out. It is always our choice!

Annie Burnside is an author, educator, parent, and soul nurturer specializing in conscious relationships and spiritual development. As a soul nurturer she helps others awaken to their own truth in all aspects of life by providing the tools and encouragement to experience direct divine connection in everyday reality. As a means to share her own spiritual evolution, Annie created a spiritual support practice in 2005 where she supports others in balancing the exterior world with an interior focus. Annie’s recent book Soul to Soul Parenting: A Guide to Raising a Spiritually Conscious Family (Wyatt-MacKenzie, June 2010) inspires parents to utilize everyday mediums to infuse greater spiritual awareness into daily family life. She also writes the Soul to Soul Perspective: A Little Bit of Soul Goes a Long Way blog for the Chicago Tribune and the family consciousness column for Evolving Your Spirit MagazineBesides writing, Annie speaks publicly and teaches workshops.  She lives with her husband and three children in Chicago, IL.

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