By Natalie Campbell
In recent years, people across the world are partaking in a new form of meditation.
ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response — is a sensation you feel in response to a peaceful stimulant.
The feeling begins on your scalp and moves down your spine, creating a feeling of complete relaxation.
If you have ever fallen asleep to the sound of waves or nature, you will be familiar with the concept.
The term ASMR was coined in 2010, and the first scientific paper about ASMR was published in 2015.
However, only recently has the concept become a case of popular culture.
In the past year, the number of videos in the ‘‘relaxing’’ tab on YouTube increased 70 per cent in content. ASMR stimulant videos responsible for the increase, with a 200 per cent increase in searches.
Some ASMR videos receive more than 16 million views.
ASMRtist (content creator) Heather Feather said ‘‘it feels like the amazing chills you get when someone plays with your hair or traces your back with their fingertips’’, in an interview with Think With Google.
Ms Feather has more than 400000 subscribers to her video channel.
YouTube has more than 5.2 million ASMR stimulant videos, including whispering, scratching, turning pages, chalk on chalkboard, motors humming and purring cats.
\As more people use ASMR for meditation, users employ less conventional sounds such as spray painting, cans opening, and zippers undoing to make their videos stand out.
While these videos have gained a large following, researchers say it is not for everyone.
A study conducted at the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology last year found that ‘‘ASMR videos do indeed have the relaxing effect... but only in people who can experience the feeling’’.
Lead study author Giulia Poerio told Forbes magazine how ASMR stimulant videos lowered the heart rate of participants who had previous experience with ASMR, but not on those who had not. These results suggest that people must become conditioned to feel the ASMR sensation with practice, similar to other forms of meditation.
The Sheffield study results are consistent with reports of ASMR providing psychological and stress-reducing benefits such as mindfulness and meditation.
It has become common practice for people who suffer from anxiety and stress to seek ASMR release in moments of stress during the day with more than half of ASMR searches on mobile devices. Searches peak around 10.30pm, when people access the sounds for sleep-inducing benefits.
If you are still wondering why ASMR is perhaps the biggest trend you have never heard of, it could be because more than 77 per cent of views are from 18 to 24-year-olds, according to Google Trends, Worldwide.
While younger people are more active towards using ASMR, people of all ages are becoming aware of the fad, with TV commercials using similar sound stimulants.
Dove, IKEA, Lynx, KFC and Pepsi are some of the first brands to jump on this trend.
Pepsi released an ad focusing on the satisfying crack of a drink can to engage their audience through ASMR, and KFC similarly plays sounds of Colonel Sanders biting into some fried chicken.
While the sound of food does not send pleasant tingles down everyone’s spine, it seems the world of ASMR is at its peak.
Natalie Campbell is an RMIT journalism student on work placement at the News.