Are You Stuck in a ‘Mood Tunnel’?

Are You Stuck in a ‘Mood Tunnel’?

I’m a fairly big fan of daily meditation sessions. While I’m certainly not consistent in my practice, I do notice just how much lighter I feel after even just 10 minutes of meditation. And fairly often, I find my mind is blown by some little learning I take away from the experience, too. That was the case during my most recent session. I sat down to listen to the Daily Trip meditation on Calm, called ‘In The Mood Tunnel’, and what it highlighted about emotions for me was kind of massive.

Stepping into the mood tunnel

The practice started with author and narrator Jeff Warren discussing being wrapped up in certain moods: where you feel as though everything is shitty or everything is great, and your daily experience is coloured by this encapsulating experience. He referred to this phenomenon as a mood tunnel: an experience where it feels as though you (and everything around you) are sitting inside a certain feeling.

Warren continued that there is actually a scientific term for this. It’s called ‘affective realism‘, and it’s basically used to describe times “when we confuse our own affect – our inner feelings – with how things are in the outside world,” he said.

As an example: if you’re in a positive mood tunnel, you might feel as though your city looks more beautiful, coffee tastes better, and people are kinder. On the other hand, negative mood tunnels may leave you feeling as though your job sucks; the weather is uncomfortable and so on…

From here, Warren explained how meditation and mindfulness can help to pull you out of a mood tunnel (whichever kind). In essence, he shared that becoming aware that you’re sitting within your feelings is often enough to partially pull you out of it.

A guided meditation, like the one Warren guides you through in this Daily Trip session, is a great way to become aware of the emotions you’re feeling and what kind of mood tunnel you may be walking through. Using breath and focus to bring your attention back to your body – or something else grounding – is a simple but effective way to remind yourself, in Warren’s words, that you don’t live inside your moods; they live inside of you.

You can find the full collection of Daily Trip meditations with Jeff Warren on the Calm app here.

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