Have you heard of ASMR?
I'll probably be right in assuming most of you haven't - I myself had no idea what this was two years ago. I'd like to talk a bit about my experiences in what has become a staple part of my life routine, here with you today.
I discovered 'ASMR' (which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) falling down the rabbit hole on YouTube listening with my in-ear headphones, late one night a few years back. How I got there, I've no idea but somehow I stumbled across a video of a woman tapping all over the front of her camera with her fingers and various objects (make-up brushes, wooden sticks etc). The noise she was making moved from one ear to another (binaural sound) and it was THE MOST amazing/relaxing/mesmerising sound I'd ever heard. Almost instantly I found myself feeling very floaty, I began to experience shivery tingle-like feelings all over my brain, head and neck. I had experienced these feelings before while having an amazing reflexology treatment but this was even more intense. I must have fallen asleep as I remember waking up thinking what on Earth had just happened to me!
I looked in to what I had just experienced and found it to be ASMR. On YouTube especially there is a large community of ASMRtists each using their own specific ways of noise, movement and visuals to give people ultimate relaxation, meditation and of course those elusive tingles. I say elusive as 'tingles' are often lost for periods of time. Sometimes watching the same video that made you fall asleep while feeling like your brain was under a soft buzzy shower will the next day have little or even no effect on you. Also, watching too many ASMR videos of the same type can leave you somewhat immune to their effects.
I too went through this, my tingles first appeared with more gentle sounds like slow and soft tapping, hair brushing, laser light slow movements in front of the camera etc but after a few weeks watching those types of video I noticed that amazing tingly feeling and brain waves were almost non-existent. I have since found a deep-seated love for loud, fast and aggressive noises for my tingles and it doesn't seem to be dissipating at all.
I have to talk about the connections between ASMR and sexual behaviours/fetishism. Yes, it is a thing but NOT for the majority of viewers. There is pretty much a fetish out there for anything and on the mostly anonymous internet, people feel they can be very free in talking about and engaging in these fetishes. I have no problem with this whatsoever as long as everyone participating is comfortable and no one is getting unwillingly hurt, When I see a post on one of my favourite videos asking very specific things of the ASMRtist (your nails are wonderful, I'd love to feel them on my back! Can you do a video with red nails while wearing gold rings, digging your nails into an orange and whispering my name please?!) I just scroll.on.by. Some ASMRtists disable comments and stay as anonymous as possible (not showing their face, using accents etc) to protect themselves from unwanted behaviours, comments and requests. Others throw themselves into the role and follow through with requests, role-playing scenarios and using suggestive noises like slurping and kissing noises. Again I'd like to point out this is not for me, I actively go out of my way to avoid those types of video and once you gauge the community and types of content, it's easy to avoid the stuff you don't like. There is also the fact that most ASMRtists out there are young, attractive woman (although the same can be said for beauty bloggers, pop stars, tv presenters etc) however again once you step away from the highest viewed videos and into the true ASMR scene rather than the stuff watched for different reasons, you will see people of all ages, race, size and sex.
On top of being susceptible to ASMR I also have Misophonia - I HATE mouth sounds, chewing, slurping, eating etc It gives me rage feelings! It is disgusting to me and makes my skin crawl! Muk-Bang for example (another visual and auditory experience that has become more common on YouTube of late) makes me feel physically sick and enraged! But on the flip side of that, some people love those sounds like I do tapping and scratching harsh noises. I wonder if being sensitive to sounds in a negative way like that can make you more susceptible to being sensitive to sounds in a positive way (like ASMR) too? Due to my disability, I find it very difficult to switch off at night. My pain levels are at a high at night, my adrenaline levels aren't controlled very well due to Dysautonomia and often laying down gives me heart palpitations. ASMR has helped remove my tendency towards insomnia and moved my focus away from my rushing heart, sweating and twitching towards focusing on sound, relaxation, meditation and inevitable sleep. It has been a game changer for me and for that, I will always be thankful. Hundreds and thousands of people claim the same relief and focus, as well as helping with things such as anxiety and revising/concentration.
Have you heard of ASMR? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below. II'd like to leave you with a small selection of my favourite videos - maybe you could watch one (push in-ear headphones are really needed for the full experience) and see if you too are susceptible to ASMR?
Who is Julie?
30 something, mother of two gorgeous boys, lover of one gorgeous husband, perpetually living in a dream world full of wine, chocolate and artsy crafty things.