ASMR: How It Led Me to Open Up to Others

ASMR: How It Led Me to Open Up to Others

To the individual who may find comfort in this message: Your heart will mend, your tears will cease, and a new chapter will begin. Rest tonight, assured that the storm will pass. ~Anonymous

Similar to many individuals, my childhood was quite challenging. Due to a challenging family background and experiences with bullying, I developed a tendency to be cautious around others and prefer solitude. My innate confidence and independence have allowed me to navigate the world on my own terms, minimizing my reliance on others. Living like this was the most secure thing I could relate to.

Over time, my lifestyle of extreme self-reliance grew, causing me to distance myself from others. This aligned with my transition into a new career field that involved frequent travel. Immersed in pursuing wealth, I decided to sever connections with most of the remaining people in my life, aiming to eliminate any sense of interdependence.

“I don’t need anybody now,” I rationalized to myself. “With money, I can purchase assistance.”

This wasn’t meant to criticize the individuals in my life, but rather to express a profound sense of unease that has consistently been present in my relationships. Establishing a connection proved to be difficult for me, and I despised confronting what I saw as my shortcomings.

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Despite my initial desire to immerse myself in work, I eventually couldn’t avoid the overwhelming pain of solitude. Frequently, I would find myself waking up in a different hotel room, not knowing which city I was in, and experiencing such intense loneliness that I feared it might be unbearable. The self-imposed isolation began to seem like a confinement from which I didn’t know how to escape.

Trying to keep myself occupied only made the loneliness feel more overwhelming. The walls of the hotel rooms seemed to be closing in on me, taunting my efforts to fill the void. Every day, I would put on a smile, pretending to be happy with my life alone. Yet deep down, my spirit longed for a bond.

At that moment, I longed for the comfort of human contact. At times, I sensed my body wilting like a flower, yearning for the embrace of a loved one. I desired physical contact that was gentle and nurturing. Touch that made me feel a sense of belonging.

However, at my core, anxiety consumed me. I was worried that opening up to others and relying on them would expose me to the same hurt and rejection as before. I built a sturdy fortress around my heart to protect it from possible pain.

It wasn’t as simple as waking up and deciding to do something different; in reality, it took a lot of work. As I began to grasp the extent of my trauma, I gained a fresh perspective on the aspects of myself that I had criticized due to their unhealthy ways of dealing with things.

Severe critique was transformed into gentleness and even appreciation for everything I had been able to handle. Despite facing immense pain, I continued to strive, dream, and hope.

It was only when somatic practices entered my life that I could finally address some of the deeper wounds that had been affecting me.

Academic interest in somatic medicine, which translates to “of the body,” is on the rise in the fields of psychology and health promotion. Studies show that trauma is not only in the brain but also stored in our nervous system and physical reactions.

For instance, our body springs into action when faced with a stressful situation. Our minds struggle to differentiate between physical and emotional pain, triggering a flight-or-fight stress response when faced with either.

This appears in the body as a sudden increase in cortisol levels and blood flowing to our legs to help us run faster. During times of decreased activity, our digestive system slows down to save energy, and our breathing becomes more shallow. Not processing the trauma in a healthy way might keep these physiological responses “turned on,” so to speak, and lead to dysregulation.

While delving into somatic practice, I started to feel trauma physically leaving my body in intense ways. At times, my legs would tremble or my jaw would chatter uncontrollably. I started to find solace in these discharges because my nervous system always seemed to quiet down significantly after they were over.

I was captivated and eager to discover more. On a quest to understand trauma and somatic techniques for healing, I devoured literature on the subject. I happened upon a practitioner who utilized autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) as a touch therapy technique one day.

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I was only accustomed to ASMR through YouTube videos where the creator whispered into the camera while doing reiki or tapping on a microphone. I had no idea that it could be done face-to-face, individually.

I was unaware that ASMR has the potential to be profoundly soothing, calming, and therapeutic, possibly unlocking the ability to be more vulnerable and open with others.

Upon my arrival for the session, I stepped into a serene room where my ASMR therapist welcomed me. She detailed what to anticipate during our session, and once my inquiries were answered, I lay down on the massage bed. Soft music played from a nearby speaker, and I was told to unwind.

What unfolded in the following hour was truly one-of-a-kind. I entered a state of profound relaxation, where all my senses were heightened.

Several head massages and tools were utilized on my back to create circles and shapes. A gentle tapping was felt on my legs, and a soft brush was felt on my neck. There was an instrument that mimicked the sound of rushing water and played intermittently over me. I found myself letting out deep sighs as years of emotional stress melted away.

After the session, I felt incredibly happy and slept soundly that night. During the following week, I experienced a sense of embodying my physical form in a completely different manner. A gentle breeze caressing my cheek would render me speechless. The material of my cashmere sweater felt like a warm embrace. It felt like my senses were awakening after a long period of dormancy.

I attribute ASMR to a crucial practice in my healing process. Actually, I have recently launched my own practice to assist others. This tool is often not fully understood and is not given enough attention in therapy modalities, so it’s important to spread awareness of its benefits on a larger scale.

While recovering, I decided to confront my fear of intimacy and gradually work on forming deeper connections with others. I have successfully tackled the underlying issues that had caused my reluctance to form connections. I slowly discovered how to welcome others into my heart.

It’s been acknowledged that we aren’t meant to journey through life alone, and I’ve certainly come to understand the validity of this belief. I learned the life-altering effects of common events and the remarkable influence of other people as my heart became more receptive to the wonders of human connection.

Free from self-imposed isolation, I now welcome a life filled with a community of like-minded individuals. I’ve discovered that strength lies not just in being independent but also in forming deep and meaningful connections. Throughout this journey, I’ve realized that real security is found in authentic human connections rather than solitude.

“Your MASTERY OF LIFE begins the moment you break through your prisons of self-created limitations and enter the inner worlds where creation begins.”

Dr. Jonathan Parker

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