Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Strange Phenomenon

For as long as I can remember, I have experienced this feeling. It feels like a gentle rush of electricity radiating from the very centre of my scalp, down my spine and into my limbs. I can remember it happening at all the schools I've been to when a teacher or a classmate paid special attention to me; when my friends and I were younger and we'd braid and brush each others' hair; and most recently in relationships when fingertips would softly run over my skin. I'd come out in waves of goosebumps all over my body, and these electric tingles almost hypnotically paralysing me.

It wasn't until I was seventeen that I realised that this phenomenon had a name. For months I'd been referring to them as "brain orgasms", because for me that's what they felt like. After a bit of Googling "nice tingly head feeling" etc. I found that other people were calling it roughly the same thing, and it had gained the acronyms AIHO: Attention Induced Head Orgasms and AIE: Attention Induced Euphoria. With more searching I managed to find it's real name of ASMR: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, and I found that this tingly feeling I thought no one else experienced had a massive internet cult following.

Through further searching I entered a dark corner of the internet that I'd never come across or heard of before, a place that was originally quite unsettling.

I found a whole world of dreamy, light and gentle women whispering into and caressing a camera; trying their hardest to recreate the natural situations we find ourselves in that create this sensation in our brain. The above video is a Youtube user (or as I now know them to be called - ASMRtists) called Gentlewhispering, who has created magically relaxing videos that induce a hypnotic trance state in me where I can feel nothing else but these waves of impulses. They've helped me through sleepless nights where sleeping pills cannot, and they've helped me overcome anxiety where other remedies cannot. Some of these videos can last over an hour, and for the whole time you are almost transported out of your bedroom and you are no longer the sleep-deprived, depressed or anxious individual you once were.

The state that some of these videos put me into is almost meditative, you can think of nothing but this pleasure overwhelming your body. The only way I can describe it, as I have previously, is like being in a trance. I always struggled to meditate, as one of the unfortunate effects of anxiety means having  brain that will not shut down naturally no matter how hard you try; but with the help of videos like this one below, my brain is made completely blank and calm.

I fully appreciate that not everyone will experience this same feeling as me when you encounter something like this, but these videos are still made for relaxation purposes. Even if you do not enter the state that people like myself do, these videos can still be enjoyed for their calming effects. I also understand that at first they may seem creepy, someone is purposely recreating a situation in which they are in your personal space. At first, it unsettled me quite a lot, and it took me a long while to find people who actually don't unnerve me with their videos. Some users make their videos with underlying sexual tones, which makes me uncomfortable, and this is also why I generally prefer watching a woman to a man.

In essence, if I hadn't discovered this internet following, I seriously doubt I will have passed my exams. I used them every night to fall asleep during exam period, and I used them during my revision breaks just like some friends of mine would use regular meditation. I hope, in a way, this post has been informative and interesting to you - but most of all, I hope that if you also experience these feelings, it has helped to introduce you to a world where you can embrace them from your own home.