About a year ago, I heard an item on the Today programme talking about a phenomenon called ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Now call it synchronicity if you like, or simply put it down to my being aware of ASMR, but since then, there's been a lot more discussion of ASMR, what it is, and whether it helps the creative process.
For those of you who don't know, ASMR is a relaxing, tingling sensation in your scalp, that can spread down your neck and arms. Some people call it brain tingles. I like to think of it as human purring. If you've ever experienced ASMR, you'll know it feels delicious, and that it is set off by certain sounds or sensations:
People who experience ASMR may have different triggers, but there are enough common triggers to spawn a whole ASMR video industry. Search for ASMR on You Tube and, if you have ASMR, that's the rest of the afternoon gone for you. From crinkly bags to soft voices to binaural role play, there's an ASMR video to match your trigger.
Some people say that the deeply relaxing sensation of ASMR is great for tackling sleeplessness. Others claim that it might help the creative process, as the sensation is so relaxing it can overwhelm the critical, logical part of our brains (the bit that stifles creativity before it even hits the page) and make a space where creativity can flourish.
I'd love to know how many other creative people experience ASMR, and if they actively use it to encourage and promote their creativity. ASMR is likened to 'flow': that sense that you're beyond time and completely in the moment, and that whatever you're doing is happening effortlessly. I find that a routine helps me to get into a flow state with my writing, but there are days when churning out the words is, frankly, hard work. And I wonder if a few minutes of ASMR would help unblock my thoughts and get those words pouring onto the page again.
And then I think, why have I never come across this sensation described in writing? Is it because we all assume that we experience life identically? And if so, what else are we missing?
Kim Fleet lives and works in Cheltenham. Her two cats help the creative process by standing on the delete key.