Because ASMR is such an individualistic experience, different triggers affect some people more than others. Not everyone experiences ASMR to the same intensity and the effects can differ from person to person. However, ASMR is most commonly described as a pleasurable "tingling" sensation that begins in your scalp and creeps its way down your neck and your back, sometimes spreading out to the limbs. Others describe it as "goosebumps on the brain" and "warm chills," a shivering feeling you might get if someone was gently tracing their finger down your spine. Some say it's like the pins and needles sensation when your foot falls asleep, but pleasurable instead of painful. These tingles are always accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of peaceful relaxation and euphoria; many people report feeling their anxiety slip away, and they often fall asleep afterword.
ASMR, which stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, is still a relatively new creation. It describes a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds. What kind of visual or audio clips can create such a lovely feeling? It might surprise you, but the videos are of people doing incredibly simple, quiet, calming tasks, such as folding towels, brushing their hair, or flipping magazine pages. You might hear someone’s voice speaking in the background of the video, but not always. The audio clips often consist of voices whispering nice things (like "You are appreciated"), or contain the sound of tapping, scratching, or rain.
I didn’t know there was a name for this! I experience the shivers whilst just sitting and using my imagination to draw white light into the top of my head and the sensation just shoots down my spine like bubbling tickles. Kinda cool to do it on command, but even more fun when it happens randomly through certain music, power tools, meditations, and someone else touching certain fabrics ~ for e few examples. Mostly only occurs when I am already relaxed though.
The ASMR community has grown online by the hundreds of thousands over the years so far worldwide and shows no sign of slowing down. As the culture of self awareness, mindfulness and complimentary therapies grow, ASMR is becoming very useful for so many. ASMR content on YouTube is becoming a genre all of its own and strong bonds are being formed between people all over the world. Watch this space for there will undoubtably be much more to come!
Another article, "Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state", by Nick Davis and Emma Barratt, lecturer and post-graduate researcher respectively in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, was published in PeerJ. This article aimed to 'describe the sensations associated with ASMR, explore the ways in which it is typically induced in capable individuals ... to provide further thoughts on where this sensation may fit into current knowledge on atypical perceptual experiences ... and to explore the extent to which engagement with ASMR may ease symptoms of depression and chronic pain' The paper was based on a study of 245 men, 222 women, and 8 individuals of non-binary gender, aged from 18 to 54 years, all of whom had experienced ASMR, and regularly consumed ASMR media, from which the authors concluded and suggested that 'given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms...ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness.'
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. A feeling that is produced when listening to certain sounds and/or looking at certain visuals. The majority of people who experience ASMR don't mention it to their peers. I can almost guarantee that, you, reading this paragraph, has not mentioned ASMR to anyone you know. Most likely because you think they will think you're weird. We all feel the same way!
It’s not really a physical feeling if that makes sense, but there is a powerful reaction to the sounds nonetheless, to the point where I’m instinctively arching my neck, and a feeling does wash over you that is truly unique, almost addictive. What I don’t fully understand is why my mind chose just now to react when I haven’t had anything close to an ASMR experience before. I’d say that I’ve just found the right trigger, but I’m even reacting to videos that did nothing for me in the past. Like something clicked in my head recently.
My sensations occur randomly and normally while I am sitting at the computer browsing the net, reading email, or playing my favorite games. I have not noticed a specific trigger and therefore have become concerned that it might be symptomatic of an underlying medical disorder… pending heart attack, diabetic neuropathy or a sinus irritation. I finally chose the correct key words to get Google to lead me here. I just downloaded the book so haven’t read it yet.
Some of the bigger names in the field, such as GentleWhispering, TheOneLillium, ASMRrequests and EphemeralRift go to almost comical lengths to create the right atmosphere in each video. Because expertise and demonstration of knowledge in a field can be triggers in and of themselves, you'll often see ASMR videos for which these guys have put in a lot of prior study and preparation.
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.
Some have called ASMR a "brain orgasm," but let's clear up one of the biggest misconceptions around this sensation: it's rarely sexual for anyone involved. While ASMR videos are often incredibly intimate, involve roleplaying aspects, and feature young, attractive women, the vast majority of their viewers (both male and female) enjoy them as a method of relaxation. In fact, the Swansea University study found that only 5% of participants reported using ASMR for sexual stimulation.
"As ASMR has started to come to mainstream attention, researchers have finally begun trying to answer that question. Neuroscientists are now experimenting with fMRIs and electroencephalography to see if the brains of 'tingleheads,' as they are called, are any different than those who don’t tremble at the sight of napkin-folding. They’ve also surveyed tens of thousands of people who say they experience the phenomenon. So far there are intriguing—if limited—findings suggesting that ASMR may relieve some people’s symptoms of stress and insomnia, and that the brains of those who experience it may be organized a little differently."