Beginner's Guide To ASMR
What even is it and why is everyone so obsessed with it?
The trends of self-care and mindfulness are not new by any stretch of the imagination. Over the last several years, we’ve seen them grow into niche USPs for Instagrammers and bloggers and YouTubers into becoming eye-roll inducing clichés used by literally anyone and everyone with a lifestyle-leaning social media account.
However, there is one strain of self-care and mindfulness that’s a clear siren amongst the noise, that’s drawing in not just the prim and perfect Insta-famous bloggers, but the corners of anime-loving ‘nerd’ communities as well.
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That trend is ASMR, the audibly-induced sensation trend that has exploded in the last 6 months. Although it may not be that new to the people who regularly use it, it’s largely unknown in the oversaturated self-care space.
We’re here to tell you all about it. This is your guide to what ASMR is and where to go to try it yourself:
What does it stand for?
Autonomous sensory meridian response – essentially meaning getting an involuntary sensory reaction that ‘peaks’ or ‘climaxes’ (ie it’s quite intense).
What is it?
It is the sensory response to particular sounds and noises that tends to be a tingly feeling focused on your head, but sometimes moving down you neck and onto your back and chest. Most people consider it to be a positive feeling and pleasant rather than uncomfortable.
How do you get an ASMR reaction?
There are several different auditory actions that can cause an ASMR reaction, known as ‘triggers’. It can be anything from hearing someone whispering at a certain tone, hearing repetitive whispers, hearing someone slurping, chewing, or drinking, or even just listening to someone doing regular, audible tasks (like chopping food).
….Is it sexual?
Well, technically no. Originally, ASMR was going to be named ‘Attention Induced Head Orgasm’ which wasn’t chosen in the end to deliberately separate ASMR from anything sexual, as the purest form of the sensation has nothing to do with sexual stimulation, but just a pleasant feeling.
But, of course, that the full story. With the popularity of ASMR growing, a strain of ASMR videos has emerged known as ‘ASMRerotica’ that has the explicit aim of creating not just an ASMR reaction but also a sexual one. However, this is not what ASMR is in its purest sense, but, as with everything, people have managed to find a way to add a sexual element to it.
How did it come about?
In the vein of the self-care/mindfulness trend, ASMR started to become popular as a way of soothing oneself and relaxing. Before the last few years, where we’ve suddenly seen a spike in not just people talking about ASMR, but more ASMR content, ASMR was relatively niche and largely just considered a condition you had where someone was ultra-sensitive to certain sounds and tones and pitches that gave them this weird, tingly feeling.
Where do you get ASMR content from?
ASMR is predominantly consumed on video playing channels like YouTube and Vimeo. You can see for yourself by simply typing in ‘asmr’ where you’ll find thousands if not hundreds of thousands of hits of people whispering, chewing, or practicing any other common triggers (and some not so normal ones).
A lot of this seems to be based online. Are there place to get ASMR stimulation IRL?
Yes. Although still quite rare, there are some places around the world where you can go to a studio space and experience ASMR live. One of the most popular ones is Whisperlodge in New York, where you can pay for the privilege to be blindfolded and have things vibrating and shaking near your ears for an hour or so.
Julie Beck from The Atlantic detailed her experience at Whisperlodge this summer, where she compared her time in the ‘ASMR spa’ to a bad acid trip. You can decide for yourself on their website where they have a trailer for what their live sessions look like.
- Words by Sarah Manavis.