What is ASMR? ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a phenomena experienced by some people- including myself- that is triggered by certain sounds and creates a feeling of relaxation and “tingles” in the recipient. It's something I've experienced on occasion my whole life.
In more recent years I've stumbled upon an entire community of people who create and listen to videos that are designed to trigger ASMR. I found this, strangely enough, through watching Youtube clips of Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. In this film, salesman Roma coerces a client into buying real estate. One comment I saw was from a man who claimed he was in “ASMR overload” due to Pacino's tone.
I kinda grasped what he meant despite not having heard the phrase “ASMR” before, so I Youtubed the acronym to see what came up.
Holy God. So many videos. An entire community of people uploading softly spoken videos, whispering videos, creating sounds from scratching and stroking objects near the mic or the mic itself. It's fantastic. You may understand this. You may not.
We all have our preferences, but my favourite is GentleWhispering, a Russian-American lady called Maria. She makes videos in two languages; sometimes I listen to the Russian versions just for the sounds. Her channel has over 175 million video views and 562,000 subscribers, including myself.
I sometimes listen to these videos- emphasis “listen”- before sleep. I'll have my phone in bed with WiFi on, and my headphones in, and I'll turn the screen face down so it isn't illuminating the room. Listening to Maria's voice always helps, whether she's discussing women's fashion or she's making a gingerbread house for the first time. (The latter of those was a recommendation from a fan in the comments of another video. It was thumbed up so much that Maria acted on the suggestion. It got a lot of hits.)
I was wondering if this might have another effect on me. I've done quite a few projects on here where I've attempted planking- working the core muscles- whilst reading books. My plank record has gone up every time I've tried the project (four times so far). I was wondering if the ASMR triggers can allow me to focus more and hold the plank for longer. Or whether the relaxing qualities work against the concentration needed to stay in position.
I quickly realised this was not going to work. Her soothing tone and gentle voice encouraged me to fall out of plank, meaning I couldn't stay in position for more than 1 minute 45, way below my 5 minute record. I kept trying, but the vast majority of it was spend hugging the carpet letting “the feels” wash over me.
So, no, planking and ASMR are two things that are completely opposed to each other as far as I'm concerned. Reading is much better for planking as it requires concentration, not relaxation. But as an alternative to meditation, as a technique for combating insomnia and possibly as an assistive measure for depression, ASMR could be a useful tool in years to come, and as science begins to recognise it as more than a phenomena.
More ASMR info on Mashable.