You may or may not have heard of the sensation that has been named ASMR or autonomous sensory meridian response (not a scientific term) by Jennifer Allen. As far as I know, it’s only recently coming into the limelight and being talked about. There are still no official studies done or scientific definition of what is happening to the brain and body during an ASMR. While some may brush it off as “junk science”, I’m here (as your highly intelligent, 100% reliable, internet blogger friend) to tell you that it’s a real thing.
Like many “ASMRers” (another unofficial term), I’ve been experiencing ASMR since childhood. My earliest memory of ASMR was during my piano lessons at the age of 8 or so. My piano teacher had a subtle Chinese accent and a soothing, gentle voice with a particular aspect I couldn’t explain that would trigger a particular sensation I couldn’t explain. I still can’t quite explain it. It’s definitely pleasurable, definitely calming, and definitely not sexual. When I experience ASMR, I feel intense tingles/vibrations all throughout my scalp that feel like they’re coming from deep within. Some say their tingles extend to other parts of their body, but mine just stick to my cranium. ASMR causes me to go into a deeply relaxed, meditative state. Some compare the feeling to the high you get from a mild drug. I’ve never tried drugs, so I can’t say, but it sounds feasible.
My personal triggers are voices. Certain voices that have a particularly soothing, melodic sound to them. 9 times out of 10, it’s female voices. I have talked on the phone to total strangers and gone into a trance just listening to the sound of their voice, almost forgetting to comprehend what they are saying. One time, a woman from the wedding hall where I got married left a voicemail on my phone. I saved that message for six months! All of the people who have brought on ASMR remain distinctly implanted in my memory. It almost sounds creepy (I hope none of these people ever happen upon my blog and realize I’m talking about them!), but again, I assure you, this has nothing to do with physical attraction. Apparently, a common voice trigger for many is Bob Ross, the painter featured on “The Joy of Painting” on PBS, though he doesn’t do it for me. Or maybe I haven’t given him enough of a shot. (Note: His videos were not made with the intention of triggering ASMR as far as I know.)
I don’t have ASMR every time, even with the same recording. I suppose it has something to do with my state of mind. I have to be relatively alert (i.e. not half asleep, which is pretty hard to come by nowadays!), yet relaxed. My most recent ASMR occurred while I was feverishly trying to figure out the new healthcare system and which of the ridiculously expensive health insurance plans we should shackle ourselves to. A lovely woman named Mayra Alvarez had me way too happy to be listening to what qualifies as a “Life Event”. If you’re interested, you can watch the video here.
I never actively went looking for these experiences over the years. I was just pleasantly surprised when they occurred. I have a feeling that if I do decide to “go looking” for them (thousands of Youtube videos await!), the whole thing might lose its sort of mysterious sparkle.
Beyond voices, people have reported triggers such as the sound of nails tapping against a surface, the sound of hair brushing, and seemingly very popular is whispering. As you can see, a common trend is that of sound, though some people’s triggers extend to touch and overall experience (there are lots of “role playing” videos popping up).
All very interesting stuff! …Or, is it? Well, to me, it is because I have experienced ASMR, though undoubtedly, there are many who haven’t. So, have you or haven’t you? If you haven’t, are you intrigued? Would you like to try it out? You can easily spend days on end watching video after video after video on Youtube. If it works, great (Some rave it cured their insomnia!)! Mission accomplished! If not…you will be left wondering which would be worse: continuing to watch yet another second of this mind-meltingly mundane nonsense or eating nothing but cat food for the rest of your life. I’ll leave you to it!