5 Signs of Inner Turmoil and What to Do About It

“I never realized how literally we battle demons. Often alone. It is a relentless skirmish with vicious wraith-monsters devouring us from within. We Fight. And resist for a time. Ultimately, desperation forces a cry for help. But where oh where are the valiant knights? When did they die off?” ~ Richelle E. Goodrich

Life can throw us out of balance, as we struggle to keep the boat afloat
Swaying with the waves of change that keep dashing against the boat.
Hold on tight or let go, should we give in to these uncertain times?
So much pain and turmoil are buried deep within.
Dig it out, dig it out, remove it
Or you will lose your mind,
The mind was lost long ago
It is the soul now that feels the woe.
Inner turmoil engulfs us,
Takes away our peace of mind,
Weeks and months have passed by,
With no end in sight.  

(This is something I penned down related to our current situation.)

When you are engulfed in inner turmoil, it can be difficult to look beyond it. It catches hold of you like a spider wraps his web around its prey. It can leave you feeling worried, agitated and depressed. It drains your energy like you have been starving to feel alive. In order to feel good, you continue to distract yourself with meetings, browsing through social media, shopping, food, alcohol, the list is endless. 

Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and you have to be okay with that. The uncertainties of life can often throw you out of balance. Things might be falling apart around you, either a financial slump that can really suck you in a blackhole, or not finding a job you want, or some untoward incident in life or the loss of a loved one, all this can lead to an inner turmoil that begins to eat you up from within.  

Here are 5 signs of inner turmoil, even if you don’t admit it

Overthinking mind

Overthinking is a common tendency of the monkey mind. When you are going through an inner turmoil, the mind creates double havoc, like a rat stuck in a box. It wants to break free from the shackles, but it can’t. 

You feel lost and restless when people are talking to you. You don’t participate fully in a conversation, out of lack of interest or too much going on in your head. It always seems that your mind is preoccupied. You are never really present in the moment, and others find difficulty getting through to you. You keep thinking the same thing over and over again, as your thoughts have taken complete control over you. 

Like Osho said, “The Mind: A beautiful servant, A dangerous master.” 

When you are overthinking, the mind has become the master, and it has got a tight hold over you. This is not good news, the sooner you realise that, the better it will be to take back the reins of your life.

Lack enthusiasm

You don’t have any enthusiasm or zest for life, both have gone amiss. Nothing excites you any more, the inner spark that used to shine through you has disappeared. You might think that it is due to stress or work pressure, but there is something brewing within that needs your attention. There is inner turmoil which needs to come to the surface. Sometimes it becomes difficult to figure out what is actually bothering you.    

Experience frequent mood swings

You experience frequent mood swings. One moment you feel happy and the next moment you are agitated with someone because they have pushed your buttons or triggered you. The smallest of things begin to annoy you, like someone forgetting to close your room door while you are busy working. It becomes very easy for you to lose your cool and let it out at the first person who gives you the smallest opportunity.. 

Feel out of control

Inner turmoil can lead to frustration and restlessness. The more you dwell on it, the more frustrated you get, it is like a vicious cycle that keeps going on and on. You feel your life is out of control, as a result you begin to live in fear. The mind is riding on fear, while your heart tries to tell you to cam down. There is this constant conflict between the head and the heart. The more we dwell on it, the more it (inner turmoil) grows.

Silence can be deafening

You find the sound of silence deafening, because the inner chatter is so loud that silence seems scary. You don’t find solace in nature, “it feels too quiet here,” you say to yourself. The inner chatter has amplified and become more powerful when you are quiet or in a peaceful environment. 

It’s not the silence you’re uncomfortable with, but the voices coming from within. The urge to be surrounded by this external noise is the only way to escape from the inner turbulence.  

Here are 5 ways to deal with your inner turmoil

There is a story of Buddha and his disciples that will calm a person going through an inner turmoil –

Once Buddha was travelling with a few of his followers. While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake.”

The disciple walked up to the lake. At that moment, a bullock cart started crossing through the lake. As a result, the water became very muddy and turbid. The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?”

So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy. I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, again, Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake.

The disciple went back, and found that the water was still muddy. He returned and informed Buddha about the same.

After sometime, again, Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.

This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, and the water was clean and clear. So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said,” See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own — and you have clear water.

Your mind is like that too! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

Be kind and loving to yourself

All you need is love
all you need is love, love
Love is all you need
~ The Beatles

Love is the magic antidote to all your problems. When you get caught up in the madness of the mind and feel the turmoil growing within you, you have to take a pause, a break from your hectic life and feel what is going on within you. Become aware of it. 

Do a check of your inner landscape, feed it with positive words, experience the calmness of being centered in yourself. Like the Buddha said, “Give it a little time.” 

“Fortunately, analysis is not the only way to resolve inner conflicts. Life itself still remains a very effective therapist.” ~ Karen Horney

When I was going through an emotional upheaval last year, I went for Vipassana – the meditation technique that works wonders on the body, mind and soul. I found inner peace amidst the muck that had accumulated within me. This was momentary for me as I have not been able to keep the practice, but there is always a start. You can follow whichever meditation technique resonates with you and slowly untie the knots in your mind.

Remember to be kind and loving to yourself, the same way you would be to a good friend who is experiencing turbulence in their life.  

Find out the cause of your inner turmoil

Introspect on what is causing this turmoil within you – is it low self-esteem, issues to fit in a new place or setting, acceptance issues, self-worth, suppressed emotions, inner child issues, childhood trauma, financial woes, whatever the issue is, become aware about it. Once it is in your consciousness, then you can take the next steps towards healing yourself.  

Open your heart chakra

Often emotional issues are related to the heart chakra – the energy centre of love, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. A well-balanced heart chakra can help transform negative emotions into positive ones. Yoga can help alleviate the distress symptoms related to this chakra, so you are open to receiving and giving love.

Here are a few heart-opening poses that can help to open your heart chakra – Bridge pose or Setubandhasna, Forward bending or Uttanasana, Camel pose or Ustrasana, and Cobra pose or Bhujangasana. Follow the practice of asanas with chanting, the root sound of the heart chakra is ‘YUM’. This beej mantra works on the same frequency as the heart, and you can chant this mantra along with  OM. 

Nature is the antidote for all our problems. Spend more time outdoors, go forest bathing, walk barefoot, feel the earth kiss your feet, all this works on opening your heart chakra. Allow your heart to be filled with love and feel the inner turmoil ease out. 

Let the ordinary come alive

“In those moments when our inner turmoil has really quietened, we find significance in things we wouldn’t expect to find significant at all.” ~ Alan Watts

Find awe and wonder in your day-to-day life. Even if it is a mundane walk around the same neighbourhood, if you maintain a childlike curiosity, you will find something extraordinary in the ordinary. This also helps to practice gratitude and be present, instead of feeding our inner turmoil. 

Like Mary Oliver says, “Pay attention, be astonished, tell about it.”  

We go for walks around the society on most days, there are times when I feel really bored to walk on the same path again and again that has a row of buildings on one side. But there is always something new we discover with the kids, like yesterday we saw a huge swarm of insects flying in a synchronized manner to form a pattern that resembled a genie coming from a bottle. It was magical. 

The other day, my 6-year-old son showed me a bird resting in its nest. These small discoveries are what makes reality a little more tolerable. It can help us to stop feeling victimized by our thoughts and harness our monkey mind.   

I am so sorry, I love you, Please forgive me

The ancient Hawaiian practice of Hoʻoponopono (pronounced HO-oh-Po-no-Po-no) is a beautiful tool to heal and forgive oneself and others. The word ho’oponopono roughly translates to “cause things to move back in balance” or to “make things right.”  

Inner turmoil is also connected to the suppressed emotions, and forgiving would release these pent-up emotions, and bring feelings of self-love. Chanting “I’m Sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I Love You” will “cleanse” yourself of negative feelings. I have tried this chant on several occasions, and have always felt lighter, have felt an inner shift towards peace and harmony.  

Here is the complete process of doing Ho’oponopono.

Here is a lovely meditation on staying calm in uncertain times. 

Inner turmoil is not going to last, it is just a passing storm which will subside in time. Everything cools off, even a burning furnace. Stay aware of your inner landscape. Tend to it now and then and trust the process!

Image Source
Art by Patart Berlin

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