Maybe it is the rustle of canvas unfurling, or the sharp snipping of the stylist's shears as they tidy up your bangs. Whatever it is, it resonates down your scalp and spine like a tuning fork. Certain noises can trigger the senses and make us feel a variety of ways. In fact, researchers are just beginning to understand the power of sound, and how it can unlock an array of sensations that enhance the human experience.
The Magic of ASMR
The pleasant and soothing emotional and physiological responses that result from exposure to certain stimuli is called an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). While ASMR is most often triggered by audio and/or visual stimuli, individuals may find that any of the senses can be engaged to elicit the experience of blissful waves of energy coursing through their nervous system. A familiar, comfortable sound can elicit a positive response, just as seeing something specific can help produce a pleasant feeling. A quick search online will result in thousands of videos of people crafting ASMR-inducing scenes — from fluttering their fingers to turning pages in a book and more.
ASMR is a euphoria your brain experiences when it reacts to these sounds or actions of satisfaction. In fact, 68 percent of people say familiar sounds initiate a positive emotional response, according to a recent survey conducted by Toluna QuickSurveys on behalf of Zippo. While the audio or visual stimuli are different for each person, there are some that are widely viewed as triggers for ASMR such as whispering and scratching.
ASMR: A Growing Phenomenon
ASMR is a fairly new concept, but people are taking notice. The psychological benefits have shown that there is more to ASMR than just "brain tingles."
Researchers from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom conducted a study that found people who experience ASMR benefit emotionally and physiologically. According to the study report, "those who experience ASMR showed significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos (an average decrease of 3.14 beats per minute) compared to those who do not. They also showed significant increases in positive emotions including relaxation and feelings of social connection."
The Relation of Sounds
While everyone is unique in their experience of ASMR, some sounds are highly recognizable and have a higher ability to trigger an emotional response. One of these classic sounds that almost anyone can relate to is the click of a Zippo lighter, which is identifiable by nearly four out of five adults, according to the Toluna survey. Furthermore, three out of four adults say that its sound is unique and provides positive emotional benefits.
The click of the Zippo windproof lighter is so iconic that it is officially trademarked in U.S. with other markets soon to follow. For a product that has been around for more than eight decades, seen — and heard — in some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, it's no surprise that so many people recognize — and positively associate with — the opening and closing of the lighter. The company has made more than 550 million lighters, and each one is tested for the famous Zippo ‘click' before it leaves the production facility. To celebrate this one-of-a-kind sensory experience, Zippo has curated an exclusive ASMR collection featuring iconic lighter designs that lend well to the ASMR practice.
Creating Your Own ASMR Moment
Think about all the sounds that you find soothing. White noise can help you focus. The rustle of wind through leaves inspires you to pause and breathe deep. The long hums of meditation music help you to relax tense muscles and clear your head. The click of a lighter helps you pass the time and feel comforted. The next time you are looking for that positive emotional response, think about these noises and what items you can interact with to recreate them. You would be surprised at how quickly your mood is elevated.