If I had to ask you to recall a memory of when a specific sight or sound was or has been able to give you the chills, I mean literal goosebumps, a visceral reaction you can’t really explain but have always felt- would you be able to recall anything?
If you answered yes- guess what- That’s ASMR!
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and it’s a relatively new concept known to the public. Although it’s been around for as long as man has been alive, it’s just now starting to become popular.
ASMR describes a feeling of euphoric tingling and/or relaxation that comes over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds.
It might come as a surprise you, but the type of videos that create these visceral reactions in people consist of the most basic stuff such as folding towels, brushing hair, whispering or kneading pizza dough.
It’s OK if you’ve never experienced this type of reaction.
In fact, over 29% of all people have never experienced any form of ASMR. So if you don’t know what I'm talking about, you’re not alone. It just means maybe you haven’t found your trigger yet.
Yea, let me explain.
Some examples of a trigger can be...
Listening to that 4 minute guitar riff in your favorite rock and roll track.
The sound of crashing waves on an empty beach.
Listening to your teacher whisper to your entire class the day of a big test.
Popping the individual bubbles on the bubble wrap your new furniture comes in.
The sound of your cat purring.
The sound of rain gently falling on your windowsill.
ASMR has a place in today’s modern day society because it helps many people overcome anxiety, insomnia and stress.
I’m not an expert on ASMR, I am not a doctor or scientist. I’ve just been lucky enough to discover that I do experience the benefits of ASMR through certain triggers. I know the benefits of ASMR and meditation because I have experienced them myself. What I know from my own experience is that this stuff is POWERFUL and has the ability to change lives. I’m putting this information out there in hopes to help people despite the current stigmas that are associated with ASMR.
If you’ve never heard of ASMR, you’re not alone. Most people don’t have a clue what ASMR stands for, let alone know what the acronym itself means. Cardi B, a well known Rap artist, blowing up the charts this past year best known for her record “I like it Like That”, has helped to publicize ASMR recently by making her first ASMR video, published by W Magazine. The video had over 5 million views in ONE WEEK on YouTube!
Cardi expressed a love for ASMR saying her husband thought she was “strange” for watching ASMR videos at night to help her sleep. But she shamelessly admitted to watching them and then preceded to show us, the viewers, some fantastic examples of common “triggers” one may experience in order to elicit the positive effects of ASMR.
Not everyone has the ability to experience ASMR and of course, not everyone has the same triggers. According to one of the few studies done in 2015, there are four common triggers people tend to experience most:
Personal attention: 69%
Crisp sounds: 64%
Slow movements: 53%
These triggers of sounds and visuals from ASMR generate somewhat of a low-grade euphoric feeling in the body characterized by a combination of positive feelings and a distinct static-like tingling sensation on the skin. Specifically, “…a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck and at times further areas in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli.” (Barratt, Davis, JE, & MR, 2015).
Some people compare it to a head orgasm or to what a brain massage could feel like!! Personally, I experience goosebumps and shivers on the upper part of my back, shoulders and arms. One of my personal triggers is tapping and whispering.
It’s interesting because ASMR itself has nothing to do with touching and everything to do with seeing and hearing. You can say in order to experience ASMR fully; you need to tune out the outside world in order to “tune in.” You need to slow down the mind just enough to allow your senses to take over so your body can react to what you are seeing and hearing.
ASMR: a form of meditation?
I like to think of ASMR as a form of meditation. There are many benefits of meditation similar to those of ASMR. Benefits like stress and anxiety reduction, mood enhancing, lengthening in attention span and helping to resolve sleeping problems.
If you’re someone who practices meditation, you know the benefits because you have FELT them. Tapping into our subconscious literally does wonders for the human body and brain. But it’s not easy to do.
We are encouraged to go go go and are constantly being stimulated through our smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Everything we want is literally at our fingertips causing our attention spans to shorten more and more with every generation. We as a society are moving farther and farther away from the act of being “mindful” and staying “present”.
Why does mindfulness and being present matter and why should you care about it?
It’s no secret that mental health is a major issue in our society today. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 25 adult Americans experience some kind of mental illness. These stats along with our unforeseen end to gun violence makes for an unpredictable and daunting future.
We all want to live healthy and happy lives, but as our technology advances rapidly each year combined with the lack of proper mental health care, we seem to only be moving farther away from each other and deeper into various mental diseases and disorders. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) depression affects more than 14.8 million American adults and an estimated 31.9% of adolescents had any anxiety disorder.
The need to combat this absurdly fast paced environment is becoming even more of a priority. It’s affecting us on a macro level and without a doubt, will impact future generations to come.
How to be mindful
Being mindful and slowing down means the ability to be more present and having intent with our actions. Being present during our day-to-day interactions is shown to make us more happy and fulfilled in life, generally speaking.
When we become more present, we tend to be happier. We aren’t fixating on the future and causing anxiety or thinking of the past and causing sadness or depression. Being present helps us harness our thoughts to focus on the now- what truly matters.
Meditation is the most successful way you can achieve this. However, the challenge meditation presents to most people is that it’s not easy. The idea of sitting quietly repeating a mantra for 20 minutes a day for many people is close to impossible.
ASMR might just be the next best thing for those people who find it near impossible to sit down and meditate. Meditation and ASMR both take the person into a transcendence state of being. It’s in this state that the frontal lobe of the brain literally makes new neurological connections.
Every time we experience or learn something new, the brain makes new connections by our five senses picking up information from the environment around us. There are two ways this happens:
1. Through knowledge aka when we learn something new.
2. Through experience. (Dr Joe Dispenza , 2018)
Our brain should be looked at as the machinery used to process our thoughts and our mind should be viewed as our brain at work. The way to improve our brain function is by choosing when and where to be conscious or present to something. Consciousness is what manipulates the brain to provoke the mind; therefore, consciousness creates our thoughts and reality.
When we take consciousness and move it away from the body and environment while detaching ourselves from time, (often the symptoms of ASMR) we are no longer confined to pre existing thoughts but instead, free ourselves to create new ones.
Therefore, ASMR has the potential to create space in our minds for more happy thoughts.
Here’s the catch with ASMR: this takes practice, patience and time.
In addition, ASMR enhances skills like listening, paying attention, and observing. These skills can be practiced through any activity where the person loses sight of where they are in space and time and forces them to focus solely on the task at hand. ASMR is a perfect vehicle to help enable someone to do this.
Should you try ASMR?
Curious if you would be a good candidate for ASMR? Have you ever:
Slept with a white noise machine because it helps you sleep more soundly?
Enjoyed the sound of your cat purring?
Enjoyed listening to your dogs or people eat/chew?
Enjoy listening to a newborn baby coo?
Find it relaxing just to listen to ocean waves crashing on a beach? Or rain falling on your windowpane?
Find it relaxing to listen to a soft-spoken person or a person who is whispering?
Are you someone who:
Has trouble sleeping at night?
Needs to improve focus?
Suffers from chronic pain?
Doesn’t like taking traditional western medications?
Have an open mind?
If you answered yes to most or many of these questions, then I would encourage you to absolutely try ASMR! Keep in mind, that even if you don’t get the “tingling” sensation” that usually accommodates ASMR, it shouldn’t deter you from continuing to experiment with it and observing how it affects your overall mood and wellbeing.
Fifty percent of participants said their mood improved even in sessions when no tingling sensation was produced, while 30% said that achieving this sensation was vital to mood improvement. (Barratt, Davis, JE, & MR, 2015).
This means that even in the absence of tingling sensations, (participants from the study in 2015) felt that their mood and symptoms of pain had improved after engaging in ASMR.
If you’re still hesitant to give ASMR a shot, my question to you is what’s the worst that can happen? If you go into ASMR with an open mind and realize it’s not for you, at least you know you tried.
Let me know your thoughts below, what you liked --- or didn’t like!
Barratt, E. L., Davis, N. J., JE, A., & MR, A. (2015, March 26). Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): A flow-like mental state. Retrieved from https://peerj.com/articles/851/
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). (n.d.). Depression Statistics. Retrieved from https://secure2.convio.net/dabsa/site/SPageServer/?pagename=education_statistics_depression
Dr Joe Dispenza. (2018, June 04). How to Rewire & Evolve Your Brain to Experience a New Reality. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCdZeOaBTOw&list=LLkI2_IX3ssclO9OsE3aiLiQ&index=12&t=0s