The little known value of meditation

June 13, 2016

p06-HwangASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is a phenomenon experienced by only a lucky handful of the world’s population. Enthusiasts describe it as a tingling sensation traveling from the scalp to the back in response to certain stimuli. All triggers can be classified into the four basic categories of whispering, acoustic sounds, clinical role play, and personal attention role play. The most effective triggers vary for each person, and there exist countless varieties to choose from.

Meditation has been found to delay cerebral atrophy, or volume loss of the brain, by decreasing activity in the DMN, treating depression, and improving brain structure. The DMN, or default mode network, is busiest when the brain is least active. Through meditation, one may suppress this network responsible for mind-wandering. This form of mental concentration reduces anxiety and symptoms of depression, as mind-wandering is commonly linked to ideas of self criticism and unhappiness. ASMR, though not proven, has been speculated to affect the brain similarly to meditation. Individuals may enjoy the aforementioned benefits of ASMR by watching online videos uploaded by professional “ASMRtists”.

According to a survey conducted at Swansea University, 75 percent of 475 ASMR enthusiasts found that whispering induces relaxation and the trademark tingling in the head, neck, and back areas. It is the most popular trigger, with personal attention trailing behind at 69 percent. 5 percent of those surveyed have admitted to viewing ASMR videos with sexual intentions, which deviates from the videos’ original purpose.

Unfortunately, information on ASMR is limited as it has been discovered only recently by the YouTube community. In fact, the term was coined in February of 2010 by Jennifer Allen, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine. There is currently no scientific explanation behind this phenomenon, due to the lack of scientific investigation on the topic.

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