You’re at a Super Bowl party, heading to refill your plate with nachos, when you’re stopped by the sounds of Zoe Kravitz softly whispering into microphones and gently tapping her nails against a bottle of Michelob Ultra. You’re captivated, oddly relaxed and even feeling a little tingly. You, my friend, have just experienced ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response.
Listening to a binaural recording through headphones simulates the binaural hearing by which people listen to live sounds. For the listener, this experience is characterised by two perceptions. Firstly, the listener perceives being in close proximity to the performers and location of the sound source. Secondly, the listener perceives what is often reported as a three-dimensional sound. This means the listener can perceive both the position and distance of the source of sound relative to them.
Any cursory Googling will bring up videos from the doyenne of ASMR, an Eastern European woman named Maria who goes by the handle GentleWhispering and who constantly sounds like she's on the verge of crying as she attempts to trigger the chills by blowing into a high-tech microphone or folding towels. Her most popular videos have reached over six million views.
Having previously practiced yoga and meditation for over 10 years, I can induce ASMR at will, or "bliss", as it's called in the spiritual community. It's often part of the very first steps on a spiritual journey, though no requirement. These videos didn't induce ASMR in me though, so maybe it's a different sensation than "bliss", or different triggers.
I wish I could have downloaded only two tracks and they were the Affirmations; however I liked the whispers, not the lip smacking, and the whispering Guided Sleep Relaxation which does work for me. However I don't understand the role playing, gum chewing, lip smacking, tapping and listening to bags crinkle. I didn't enjoy hearing them nor do they do anything to give me my asmr fix. I have my Bob Ross dvd's for that. However my asmr fix comes from watching, rather than listening. I guess it gets down to attention to detail and I enjoy watching people paint, plastering walls and laying concrete. I'm detail oriented and I enjoy watching others perform jobs that require it. As I wrote I just wish I could have bought two tracks, instead of the whole album.
I first got the tingles (as I called them) at seven years of age, I would be sitting with a friend, or alone, listening to the radio, drawing, talking, suddenly everything gets hushed, quite, talk is low, personal, close. To me, it feels like Empathy Overload! Deep feelings of shared tragedy, celebration or experience, in song, speech or shared moments of complete silence. But it’s empathy operating at a very high level, that’s what I feel. A deep understanding of the law and order of… everything,
The French word 'frisson' signifies a brief sensation usually reported as pleasurable and often expressed as an overwhelming emotional response to stimuli, such as a piece of music. Frisson often occurs simultaneously with piloerection, colloquially known as 'goosebumps', by which tiny muscles called arrector pili contract, causing body hair, particularly that on the limbs and back of the neck, to erect or 'stand on end'.
Let’s clarify something right off the bat: medically, it is not recommended that you eat chalk. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, swallowing large quantities of chalk can cause abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, and also shortness of breath and coughing. Eating chalk should not kill you, because it’s not toxic, but it’s not safe.
She has invested in her craft, upgrading to top-notch binaural microphones that carry every exhale into a listener’s ears as if Maria is standing beside them. Her videos, like most ASMR recordings, are undeniably intimate. But the intended response — although often described as “brain orgasms” — is not sexual, ASMR enthusiasts insist. (Unsurprisingly, a few of the creepier online comments insist otherwise.)