Friday 13 November 2015

One Simple Way to Bring Peace to a Chaotic Mind

Before I start, I just want to make it clear that this is not a sponsored post or anything. I've just quite genuinely discovered something which has changed my life and I'm pretty much just FREAKIN OUT about it. Okay, let's begin.

I think perhaps a lot of my stress, anxieties and mental health blips come from the one simple fact that - try as I might - I can never shut up my brain.

When I was younger, I used to actually enjoy working crappy part time jobs in restaurants and cafes, because the mundane repetitive tasks seemed to occupy the surface level of my brain enough, so that the rest of me could get a rest. While a quarter of my brain was distracted, I found it a lot easier to formulate ideas and think with clarity. Hell, some of my best blog posts have stemmed from scrubbing coffee stains from tables. 

In the past year or so I've discovered podcasts, which I have grown to adore, and are perfect to listen to when you have the opportunity to just sit and listen - ideal for the morning commute. But the problem is... they're just too amazing. The likes of TED Radio hour, Reply All and This American Life are so fascinating and inspiring, my mind just ramps up to a hundred miles an hour with ideas and epiphanies. 

I've attempted meditation, but truthfully, I cannot sit and concentrate without my internal voice endlessly nattering away like Kelly Kapoor over my shoulder

In one of my first ever blog posts on here, I wrote:

"I've come to the conclusion that every action carried out by my body, is accompanied by a ceaseless babble that travels ten times as fast, by my mind.

My whole life seems to be amplified, annotated and narrated by this persistent interior monologue, which I myself only become aware of on rare occasions, like leaving the radio quietly playing in the background, only to later realise it's actually been chattering away all day."

Most of the time I feel very grateful to have an ever-buzzing mind like this. But at the same time, it's goddamn exhausting.

Until the moment I discovered ASMR. And holy shit has it changed my life.

ASMR stands for 'Autonomous sensory meridian response' which is something you pretty much don't need to know, but I stumbled upon it in this article from The Guardian and I was intrigued. I've always been susceptible to getting goosebumps from intense cinematic pieces of music, but this article suggested that certain types of sounds and effects can produce intense physiological reactions in the body, as though your brain physically tingles.

At first, I didn't really get it. I listened to the soundcloud link in the article and found it pretty strange. But I was curious, so I looked into it a little more and discovered an entire dedicated youtube community and subreddit on ASMR. I stuck with it, and sat on the train on the way home, instead of listening to podcasts, I decided to listen to some of the most viewed ASMR videos online. 

I have been legitimately and blissfully hooked ever since.

The sounds are a combination of soft whispering, clicking, tapping, crinkling and brushing, and the closest thing I can explain what it does to me, is a sense of pure relief. 

You know when it's absolutely pouring down and you're trapped outside, battling to get home and you're soaked and freezing cold, then you finally get home, peel off your wet clothes and slip into a piping hot bath?


When you're totally exhausted after debating passionately with someone, working really hard all day, or trekking all the way across a city and back on foot, and your body is ringing out with fatigue, then you're finally done for the day and you sink into a bed of pure comfort you could cry?


When I close my eyes and listen to these sounds, I feel this hum of contentment, like just before you fall asleep at night, or when someone plays with your hair, and sometimes I even genuinely get tingles dancing down the back of my neck and blossoming out behind my collarbones.

It's magic. 

Without sounding melodramatic, the change in my everyday life is staggering. I listen to ASMR videos around twice a day, and the sensation is purely meditative. I feel so much more balanced, rational and calm, and now have such clarity in what I think and feel. Never in my life have I felt at peace with my own hyperactive and fickle mind, and suddenly I have stumbled upon the secret lullaby to hush it into peace.

And now I pretty much just want to shout about it from the rooftops. 

But I told so many friends, and none of them seemed to 'get it'. I couldn't fathom how it didn't have the same affect on them as it did on me, until one suggested that perhaps it works so effectively on me because it was as soothingly minimal as it was the perfect distraction. 

For a mind that is a whirlwind, ASMR is the eye of the storm.

And so below, I'm going to list a playlist of my favourite ASMR videos, and before bed tonight, or perhaps when you close your eyes and rest your head against the window on the train home, breathe deeply, put your headphones in, pop on one of these with an open mind, and listen to what peace sounds like within your body.

Because that's what I have begun to do, and let me tell you, it's bloody GREAT.