Imagine a comfortable couch.
No. Imagine the most comfortable couch possible.
Imagine sitting there, no worries or concerns, on that most perfect, comfortable couch. Think about how it feels to be soothed by its comfort and warmth.
Now imagine that feeling, ten times more intense, as a physical sensation placed inside the base of your skull, right at the back of your head. Feel it quickly expanding, cradling the rear half of your head, tingling and thrumming as it spreads. Imagine feeling a wave of bliss wash over you, so intense and sudden that you stop thinking altogether.
The reason doesn’t matter. All that matters in those few seconds is the feeling, exquisite and euphoric – until, as quickly as it began, it fades, leaving only the memory of its occurrence in passing.
For most of my life I have experienced what is currently being called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) by the community of people who experience this phenomenon. For me, it manifests as I described above – as an intensely comfortable tingly feeling in the base of my skull, which usually develops seconds later into complete euphoria before fading away.
ASMR commonly manifests as the result of an external trigger. I remember sitting in my 6th grade science class behind a boy who wore an earring in his left ear. The ear ring had a small ruby-colored gem in the middle of it. It would catch the light from the room and reflect it toward me, and whenever the reflected light caught my eye I would be captured by it. That feeling would begin, last a few seconds, and then be done. There were many other triggers, but I’ve forgotten most of them since then.
I recently discovered a new trigger. Last week, Tasha was tapping a lighter on a piece of glass in a certain way – very lightly, with no real beat – and , quite unexpectedly, I had what many other ASMR-afflicted people call a ‘brain-gasm’ – a feeling I can only inadequately describe as intensely comfortable came over me, and I was lost in it for a few seconds before I even realized what was going on.
Very important: This feeling is not sexual at all for me, or for most people with ASMR, and doesn’t feel anything like a normal orgasm, doesn’t turn me on, or anything like that.
After Tasha and I discovered this new trigger of mine, she and I have been experimenting with it. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I keep bringing her the lighter and asking her to ‘do the thing with the lighter again’ so I can experience it. We’ve noticed that it can be triggered multiple times in succession, but with each successive triggering the experience is lessened, until all I get is the precursor tingling and nothing more.
We’ve also discovered that just thinking about a past episode can trigger a new one. The other night I told Tasha about my childhood ASMR experiences, and the mental image of that red gem twinkling in the light triggered the effect. In fact I’ve been getting tingling feelings the whole time I’ve spent editing this post, but I’ve been fighting them off because, well, I’m at work right now. =P
I’ve kept pretty quiet about this experience, for the most part. When I was a child, I didn’t think about these experiences at all – I’d have them, feel amazing for what I thought was no reason at all, and just enjoy it. I never thought to ask if anyone else ever felt this way. I guess I assumed everyone else had experiences like this, so I never brought it up. As I transitioned into adulthood, the feeling mostly disappeared. Every now and then I would get a tingly feeling, but it would never develop into a full-on episode – until the night Tasha played with the lighter.
The experiences can be interrupted, as well. I had a rather unpleasant experience last night whilst experimenting with Tasha – she was doing the lighter trick, and I was getting the precursor tingles that I get just before a full episode – and a wrist-watch alarm went off signaling the hour. It was sudden and jarring enough that it destroyed the euphoria, and turned the rest of the experience rather negative. Not painful, scary, or dangerous – nothing like that – just… not awesome. Frustrating.
I’m not really sure why I’m blogging about this now. Suddenly having a small community of other people who share this experience makes me feel a little less like I’m crazy. I wasn’t really worried about being crazy – I’m sure I’m crazy in many ways =P – just worried that others would think I’m crazy for having these experiences.
But it’s not like I can help it – or would if I could, to be honest. Some people don’t like the experience, and I can understand why – the first lighter experience with Tasha took me over almost completely, to the point where all I could do was mumble “do that again” in between gasps. I can understand why that could be undesirable – the loss of control.
But this feeling – man, it’s amazing.