How to Meditate with ASMR

After I drove into our garbage bin five times in one day and then plowed my mom’s car through our garage door before heading off to college, my parents advised me to do my best to just… try to stay put and not move around too much when I got there.

My spatial awareness isn’t great, so when it came to choosing college PE classes that wouldn’t lead to general destruction I focused on ones that were slow-paced. Ones that didn’t involve moving objects. And that’s how I found myself in a mindfulness meditation class, holding very still.

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The thing that surprised me most about my meditation class was learning that nearly anything can be a mindfulness exercise. As one of our assignments, each week we would choose an everyday activity and make a commitment to doing that activity with our full attention. We would brush our teeth, for example, paying attention to the feel of the toothbrush bristles on each individual tooth. Or we would do the dishes by hand, focusing on the weight and texture of each item. This was all in the spirit of being present in the moment.

It turns out that mindfulness meditation doesn’t have to be glamorous or esoteric. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor or even close your eyes to meditate and be mindful. You just have to be aware.

As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, says:

If you are cutting carrots, you should invest one hundred percent of yourself into the business of carrot-cutting. Nothing else. While cutting the carrot, please don’t try to think of the Buddha or anything else. Just cut the carrot in the best way possible, becoming one with the carrot, becoming one with the cutting. Live deeply that moment of carrot-cutting.

The more I produce content for my ASMR channel, the more I’m realizing that certain kinds of ASMR content make fantastic material for mindfulness meditation. And I’m saying this both as an ASMR content creator and as well as someone who watches ASMR videos to fall asleep.

In terms of making ASMR videos, I’m finding that I have to approach filming as a mindfulness exercise in order to slow down enough to be effective. I approach this the same way I would approach any other meditation: Slow down, pay attention to my breathing, check in with what my body feels like, and — in the case of ASMR — do my best to fully engage with whatever object is in front of me. I have to let go of any distractions, just letting them float by in the proverbial river of thought. But I also have to stay engaged and present, making sure not to zone out. Zoning out makes my face go blank, and that’s just awkward to watch.

As for watching ASMR, I think it’s a great way to explore mindfulness meditation if that’s the intention that you want to bring to a particular video. Roleplays aside, ASMR videos don’t typically have a plot. This makes them an excellent form of media for helping you focus on the present rather than make predictions about the future. Instead of worrying about how the video will end, you can simply enjoy the ASMR sensations as they occur.

In that spirit, here are a few ASMR triggers paired with common mindfulness meditation techniques:

Tapping, scratching, crinkling, or other object-focused videos:

A common mindfulness meditation technique is to choose an object and then spend several minutes contemplating the various qualities of that object. What does it look like? How does it sound? There’s no particular end result that you’re trying to achieve — it’s simply a way to focus your attention. During an ASMR video, you might want to focus on the sound qualities of a particular object. Are the sounds loud? Crisp? Repetitive? If your mind wanders, bring it back to focusing on the sounds that the object makes.

Roleplay videos:

I think there are a few ways to use a roleplay ASMR video as a meditation exercise. One way would be to practice visualization during an ASMR roleplay. Where is the roleplay taking place? Can you imagine what your surroundings look like? What smells and textures would you encounter? I don’t think that visualization actually falls under the umbrella of being a mindfulness practice (i.e., focusing on the present), but it does work well as a meditation tool.

A more mindfully-based roleplay meditation approach would be to a body-scanning exercise. This would work well for ASMR makeup or medical roleplays where the ASMR-tist is guiding your attention to different parts of your body. For example, during a makeup application roleplay, bring your full attention to whatever part of your face the makeup is being “applied” to. Focus on releasing stress and fully relaxing that part of your body before moving on to the next part.

And, of course, there are some ASMR videos created specifically for meditation purposes! In my experience, these are often guided meditations created to help you release negative thoughts and relax.

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