Finding Inner Peace and Self-Acceptance

June 07, 2024 by Cilla
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The Significance of Breathing:

Breathing is a fundamental human function, essential for our survival. However, beyond its physiological necessity, breathing holds a deeper symbolic meaning in the context of finding inner peace and self-acceptance. The poem by Becky Hemsley describes a journey of self-discovery and acceptance through the metaphorical representation of breathing, illustrating the internal struggles and external pressures individuals face in defining themselves. I will break down the poem as I experience it.

She sat at the back and they said she was shy,

She led from the front and they hated her pride,

They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,

They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,

When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,

So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,

They told her they’d listen, then covered their ears,

And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,

And she listened to all of it thinking she should,

Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,

But one day she asked what was best for herself,

Instead of trying to please everyone else,

So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,

She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,

She spoke to the willow, the elm, and the pine,

And she told them what she’d been told time after time,

She told them she felt she was never enough,

She was either too little or far far too much,

Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,

Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,

Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs,

And she stopped…and she heard what the trees said to her,

And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,

For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe”

                                                                     Author Becky Hemsley

Internal Conflicts and External Expectations

The persona in the poem encounters a series of contradictions and conflicting expectations imposed by others. She faces criticism for being too shy or too proud, too loud or too quiet, too ambitious or not ambitious enough. These contrasting perceptions create a sense of inadequacy and confusion within her, reflecting the internal struggles many individuals face in modern society. The constant pressure to conform to external standards and meet the expectations of others often leads to a disconnect from one’s true self.

Seeking Solitude in Nature

In her quest for self-discovery, the persona retreats to the tranquillity of the forest, seeking solace in nature’s embrace. Surrounded by the whispering trees and the dancing leaves, she finds a sense of comfort and acceptance that eluded her in the human world. The metaphorical significance of the forest lies in its ability to offer a space free from judgment and expectations, allowing the persona to breathe freely and introspect without external influences.

Embracing Self-Acceptance

Through her interaction with the trees, the persona voices her inner turmoil and feelings of inadequacy, articulating the dichotomies she faces in her quest for self-identity. The trees, in their silent presence, offer her a sense of validation and understanding, accepting her without judgment or criticism. This acceptance from nature enables the persona to reflect on her journey of self-discovery and prioritize her well-being and authenticity over external validation.

The Power of Breath

The act of breathing, as symbolized in the poem, represents not only the physical intake of air but also the metaphorical inhalation of life, experiences, and self-acceptance. The persona’s moment of stillness and reflection in the forest signifies a pause in the chaotic external world, allowing her to focus on her inner thoughts and emotions. The rhythmic pattern of breathing becomes a meditative practice, guiding her toward a deeper understanding of herself and her place in the world.

My Conclusion

The poem eloquently captures the nuances of self-identity, societal expectations, and the journey toward self-acceptance. Through the metaphor of breathing and the persona’s interaction with nature, the importance of finding inner peace and embracing one’s true self is highlighted. Ultimately, the act of breathing transcends its physiological significance, serving as a powerful metaphor for introspection, self-discovery, and personal growth. Just as the trees in the forest allow the persona to breathe freely, accepting her unconditionally, we too can find solace in moments of stillness and self-reflection, breathing in the essence of our true selves.

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