RELAX, It’s just ASMR

Hands in the air......356/365 by AndYaDontStop via Creative Commons v.2.0

Hands in the air……356/365 by AndYaDontStop via Creative Commons v.2.0

Today we’re talking about ASMR. Really, I just want to share what I consider to be the best of the best in head-tingling  braingasm videos but since there is still a good chance many of my readers don’t know what ASMR or  Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is, I should take a moment to explain it.  Wikipedia describes ASMR as:  “a neologism for a perceptual phenomenon characterized as a distinct, pleasurable tingling sensation in the head, scalp, back, or peripheral regions of the body in response to visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or cognitive stimuli.”

Confused? Yeah, that explanation sucks. Let me describe it to you situationally. If the following sound familiar to you, ASMR is probably for you. If you think I’m crazier than a sack full of ferrets, then you are what we call, “ASMR immune” and for that, I am truly and sincerely sorry.

Scenario 1: You’re a kid a sleepover and you and your friends are taking turns braiding and playing with each other’s hair. The sensation of hair being lightly tugged and groomed gives you shivers or goosebumps. This is ASMR.

Scenario 2: It’s Saturday morning and you sit down to watch a little TV. Ooo, Bob Ross is on creating happy little hiding place for the creatures of the forest.  His soft-spoken, focused work coupled with the sound of a paintbrush on canvas was a trigger for so many of us in the 80’s. Though Bob Ross never knew he’d later be labeled the “Godfather of ASMR”, the fact is he created tingles and sensations of relaxation for a generation of young art lovers.

ASMR Triggers

Triggers are things that set off the tingles, goosebumps, shivers, etc. that essentially ARE the ASMR experience. Triggers vary widely from person to person but some common ones (you might remember them from childhood, or you might have experienced them at work this week) are soft speaking or whispering, watching someone write on a chalkboard, draw or paint, the sound of crinkling plastic or paper, fire crackling, watching someone perform a meticulous task like (model building, fixing a mechanical device, etc.) and of course, someone touching your hair, like when you get a wash or trim at the salon.

ASMR and Me

I had never heard of ASMR until this year. Before that, I recognized that certain things reliably triggered shivers or tingles on my scalp or down my spine. Of course, playing with my hair is a biggie, but that doesn’t happen often. More commonly, I would experience tingles when I watched my coworkers sketch, especially if they were using a new felt-tip marker. Another big one is Tibetan singing bowls or bells, which were sometimes rung at the end of my yoga classes. One class I attend on occasion has a musician who plays crystal healing bowls which often trigger pleasurable shivers and goosebumps. I had a yoga instructor that would circle the room and help her students stretch out their legs and spine at the end of class. The stretch wasn’t a trigger, but when she was finished she would lightly tap on my heart and 3rd Eye chakras. The gentleness and quickness of the motion would sometimes be a trigger.

ASMR and Relaxation

ASMR isn’t just about goosebumps; there is a relaxation response—a release of tension at the heart of it. This is why there are now hundreds of YouTube “ASMRtists” (read: ASM Artists) creating trigger videos to aid in sleep, relaxation and to reduce anxiety. When I first heard about it, I felt like I’d have to be the world’s biggest weirdo to enjoy these videos…until I saw the view count. ASMRtists on YouTube have tens-of-thousands of subscribers and literally hundreds of thousands, even millions of views. The popularity of these videos blew my mind (pun intended). With a little more research I found lots of non-weirdos talking about it. NPR’s award winning show, This American Life tells one woman’s personal story of discovering of ASMR.

So, now that you know what ASMR is, you’re probably curious to see a trigger video. I’m going to save my FAVORITE ASMR videos for another post, but will give a few great ones here. Videos with popular triggers in general. Enjoy.∞

ASMR Research

JUST ADDED: 11 AUG 2015 | A formal ASMR research survey is being conducted. Whether or not you have experienced ASMR personally, please take 3 – 4 minutes to complete the survey so we can better understand ASMR.
Take the ASMR Research Survey.
Want to share the link on social media or your website? Here is the link to the survey:

5 responses to “RELAX, It’s just ASMR

  1. Corvus, terrific article.

    You made me smile and nod in agreement with, “Confused? Yeah, that explanation sucks.” That Wikipedia definition needs some hearty ‘massaging’.

    Your mention of Tibetan singing bowls also caught my attention. My favorite timer app on my phone uses the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl. I never connected that to my ASMR before, very interesting.

    And a big thank you for linking to our online research survey, the more responses we get the more meaningful the data and the more we will learn about ASMR.

    Keep up the great work, Dr. Richard, ASMR University

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment Dr. Richard, and for the work you’re doing to better understand ASMR. It’s amazing how, up until recently, so little thought had been given to such a commonly shared human experience. Best of luck to you in your research.


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