Experiencing ASMR

ASMR(autonomous sensory meridian response) is not a well-known phenomenon, but many people, including myself, claim to experience it on occasion.

What is ASMR? It is a strange, pleasurable tingling sensation that you feel mostly on the back of your head and neck, and sometimes along your spine. It usually happens in response to doing something you find very enjoyable. For some people it accompanies euphoria and is sometimes called a “braingasm” for this reason.

Since it is a very subjective experience, it is very difficult for science to study it. Indeed, this response wasn’t even known at all until many people who claim to experience it congregated over the Internet a few years ago and started websites and message boards devoted to exploring it.

Sometimes juggling brings about ASMR in me, especially if I finally figure out how to do a new trick. In fact, on long joggles I often experience it(it is related to, though not the same thing as “joggler’s high“), especially if I have beautiful music playing in my mind(I never listen to music from an mp3 player or anything during runs). It also helps if I am joggling through rocky, difficult terrain in a wooded area and have gorgeous untamed wilderness full of birdsong all around. It’s like merging into a divine symphony of nature, music, dance, and beauty all interwoven into one.

Music alone can also bring about this response in me, along with reading something inspiring, discovering something new, or a “eureka!” moment when I solve a complex problem. Sometimes finding bizarre links between completely unrelated subjects leads to this response. Certain types of sounds trigger it in many people, and there are even people who produce Youtube videos to help bring about this response in others. It feels sort of like a “bizarre euphoria”.

A good massage, certain aromas, or even exercising may also bring about ASMR. Dr Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale and head of the New England Skeptical Society suggests that ASMR may even be a pleasurable type of seizure:

Looking back as a neurologist I have wondered what they were. They could even have been little seizures. Seizures can be triggered by auditory stimuli. Perhaps ASMR is a type of seizure. Seizures can sometime be pleasurable, and can be triggered by these sorts of things.

You can read the rest of his post about ASMR here. His Neurologica blog is one of the best science blogs out there by the way, and I highly recommend it. As far as it being a type of seizure, I really have no clue, but I suppose it is possible and it vaguely feels like one.

Due to its subjective nature, many experts may even question if this response even exists. We’re all so different, so are all these different people who claim they are experiencing ASMR really experiencing ASMR? Will science figure out what this is all about?

Our peak experiences in life were likely accompanied by ASMR. Has anyone reading this experienced ASMR?

9 responses to “Experiencing ASMR

  1. Is this the same thing as Beethoven (+ other music) giving me shivers (and body-waves all up + down ?)

    • I am really not sure, but it could be. Read a little more about ASMR to see if it matches what you experience while listening to music.

  2. No, I’ve never felt that “naturally.” I’ve taken Vicodin (legally) and it causes a warm, happy feeling. But, then again, I’ve never experienced that runner’s high that so many people talk about. I’m usually too busy throwing up and whining after the first few steps 🙂

    • I have very little experience with drugs(only in the hospital due to injury), but none of them brought me close to feeling ASMR.

      A lot of people don’t feel runner’s high, for whatever reason. It’s not a defect though, we all have our own unique ways of feeling pleasure.

  3. I totally know what you mean, like when you are out in the middle of nowhere and you can feel the energy around you, taking in a deep breath and absorbing or losing yourself in the atmosphere. Goosebumps, sure sure, like skin buckles to retain heat, a contagious yawn escapes all scientific understanding.

  4. I’ve had the experience, though it doesn’t really tingle. It does feel like a brain orgasm though, and my whole body sort of becomes hyper-sensitive. It’s when I am in a truly spectacular location, and moving my body through it. Often it happens right when I stop. It happened more when I was younger though. The only drugs that I’ve experienced it on are LSD and magic mushrooms (shrooms can put you in one for 15-30 minutes at a time). Haven’t done either in years and years. Excellent idea for a post by the way.

  5. I have exactly the same “pleasurable tingling sensation” that is normally triggered by music. I’m also a distance runner and I use ASMR to boost my speed. It requires headphones and some of my favorite songs, but I can switch from a 9min/mile pace to a 5:30min/mile pace when it is fully triggered. I also use music while writing code and layout hardware. When triggered this as close to a epiphany / ecstatic state that I have ever felt. I wish I had even more control of it and could make it last longer.

    I sure hope it’s not a damaging type of seizure.

    • Thank you for sharing that. It’s great that you experience that and it helps improve your speed. I’m not sure if I was experiencing ASMR during runs but I think I experience it less often these days(it doesn’t help that it is so cold and snowy now that it slows me down). It’s difficult to find music that will “move” me like that. I will keep searching though, and maybe it can help improve my speed.

      I saw the dolmas you made on your blog. They look fantastic and so tasty! They are one of my favorites. Take care and do some again!

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