Here's what calm sounds like
CHENNAI: They say music is everywhere from the tinkling water droplets from taps to the crackling fire to gentle whispers. This may not necessarily be called music but the sounds evoke certain senses within our body. Called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), certain trivial sounds make our bodies respond — emotionally and sexually.
We came across this concept on a YouTube channel called Fines Bros Entertainment. We began to explore and it brought us to a world of different sounds that has literally been causing tingles across countries.
The concept is not quite popular in India but City Express decided to introduce it to Chennaiites. We went about asking people to try and share the inputs. For this particular story, we chose three people to experience it. Here’s what this reporter experienced: While watching the reaction video, I imagined it to be simple trail of viral videos but it turned out to be so much more.
There are hundreds of YouTube channels, Facebook pages and in-depth research articles on ASMR. The first proper video I watched only annoyed me and I wondered what was so relaxing about it. Piqued with curiosity, I watched a few more; a stranger whispering over the speakers, applying moisturiser, chewing gum; each pricked my senses —in negative ways. Completely the opposite of what was expected.
Then I found two videos in channels AccidentlyGraceful ASMR and Gentlewhispering that actually had an effect. A brush was being moved in concentric circles on an artificial tube, with a mike at the centre. Believe me, the second I watched it brush the tube, I shivered and goosebumps began to form.
It made me press my headphones against my hair, wanting more and for a minute there, I forgot there were people around. It was just the feeling of a brush tickling my ears that created sexual havoc within me. Another was tapping fingernails on a glass bottle. The sound was relaxing and I knew I could listen to it for hours and cleanse my mind of worries. I concluded that not all sounds can get the body to respond, you just need to find the right one.
We thought that ASMR would interest people in the music industry — it turned out that a local musician we approached, Sankararaman Krishnamoorthi, found the whispering annoying and the sounds didn’t seem to have an effect on him.
“I like the natural sounds of the waves lapping but listening to them through my earphones and watching them use props to create different sounds didn’t work for me. I may have felt a few tingles but I don’t think it’s something I would prefer listening to,” he shared.
We then asked a person who is self-aware and would be ready to explore new ideas. Sriram Ayer, founder of Nalanda Way, had a number of quick, enthusiastic queries. “At the outset, it seemed childish and silly but I persisted. After a while, I experienced tingles and goosebumps all over my body and some sounds and whispers were overtly sexual. I am not convinced if there is a scientific backing to the claims made by some of the ASMR votaries but I am still curious to see more,” he shared.
Bodily, sexual triggers are normal according to studies. ASMR is also being associated with words like whisper porn, head orgasm and mediated sexuality. ASMR can also just be simple sounds that just calm your nerves.
Sanjay Kumar, an IT employee said, “I realised I was turned on by the whisper, the folding towels and the ear brushing. What I actually felt was a tingling sensation like someone was tickling my bones from the inside. I am starting to see this as a stress buster or an anger management tool,” he laughed. ASMR is a study in progress — You will certainly find it weird initially but if you take your time, you may find something to relax your nerves.
What is ASMR?
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a previously unstudied sensory phenomenon, in which individuals experience a tingling, static-like sensation across the scalp, back of the neck and at times further areas in response to specific triggering audio and visual stimuli. This sensation is generally accompanied by relaxed feelings of well-being. The current study identifies several common triggers used to achieve ASMR, including whispering, personal attention, crisp sounds and slow movements. Data obtained also show temporary improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain.
(Source: Research by Emma L Barratt, Nick J Davis, and peerj.com)