I Had A Live ASMR Experience, And It Was Both The Worst And Best Thing I'd Ever Felt In My Life
Experiencing live ASMR
Let me be clear: I've never been a fan of ASMR. It's strange, scary, and more likely to agitate me than calm me down. This was exacerbated when I accessed an ASMR video on YouTube while wearing noise-cancelling headphones, which amplify everything.
So, why did I join up for a live ASMR experience, you may wonder? I, for one, did not. Despite my antipathy to ASMR, my editor duped me into going for it and telling me to report to Whisperlodge.
What is ASMR & how does it work?
For a long time, the term ASMR has been bandied about. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is the stimulation of your senses that causes a warm, tingling sensation to run through your body.
It is frequently accomplished by the use of acoustic stimulation, such as the bristling of a brush. Naturally, I had no idea what to anticipate from a live ASMR encounter. While I feared this task, a part of me was curious to see what ASMR was like in person. After all, there must be a reason why ASMR videos receive millions of views worldwide.
So, when the big day arrived, I went in with trepidation tinged with intrigue because I had no idea what to anticipate and no prior experience.
Starting the experience at a secret location
I met the host Herman and a guide, Wei Ying, on the rather creepy-looking third level of an old industrial building. They stated that each 90-minute session at the Whisperlodge is restricted to four individuals - and that it would most likely be the strangest thing I'd ever experienced.
Each person would be assigned with a guide who would take us down the rabbit hole of live ASMR. "At least I won't be going through this alone," I reasoned.
She then handed me a blindfold to put on. She then began to talk in whispers, which is an important element of the ASMR experience.
While I understand that whispers are frequently used to help ease a person's anxiety, it seemed a bit too intimate for me and my troubles to manage. Based on this, I assumed the rest of the event would be conducted in whispers, and I needed to brace myself for that.
She then grabbed my arm and dragged me down the corridor. It was soundproofed and pitch black, apparently to dull all sensations, and I had the impression that I had entered a nothingness. As I entered the air-conditioned room, I was eager to explore the world of ASMR. At least, kind of.
The Initiation – Meditative practices & a topless lady
Sounds of humming metal and ringing bells began to play after being placed on a wooden seat. It reminded me of being in a Zen temple, where rites were performed using the same instruments. That, I believe, was the commencement of the program, and after 5 minutes, I was instructed to remove my blindfold.
When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw I was in a hall with three other similarly perplexed individuals. Mellow music began to play as a warm light shined into the center of this room.
Two more guides stepped up and kneeled by her side while one of the guides moved into the spotlight and kneeled facing the curtains behind her. She then removed her top as two others began making soft strokes on her back with makeup brushes.
Given that this was the first thing I saw after removing my blindfold, the first word that sprang to mind was "WOAH." Although it wasn't sexy in the traditional sense, it was similar to seeing a passionate movie scene with your parents, when the discomfort of not knowing where to look was palpable.
Throughout the performance, I kept looking around the room to see if anybody else was freaked out, but everyone else seemed focused on the act. Fortunately, the lady eventually put her top back on. Wei Ying then led me to the first of three rooms.
Room 1: The Office – I’m dead inside
The Office didn't appear to be very noteworthy at first sight, with a glass table at the far right of the room and a line of bookcases near to the table. I took a seat at the table, and Wei Ying brought over a black leather briefcase from which I could choose one item.
The bag contained a variety of items that created noises, such as honeycomb paper and plastic sheets. But, being the manchild that I am, I headed right for the bubble wrap, hoping to do some bursting like K-pop diva Nayeon. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.
"You may close your eyes and delight in the noises the bubble wrap creates," she added, bringing the bubble wrap near to my ear. So I closed my eyes and waited for the tingling sensation that everyone was describing as she rustled the plastic, but it never came.
The only thing the rustling of the plastic reminded me of was that I had two boxes to unbox at home. I was happy that I wasn't being mentally rekt by this chamber and proceeded to my next trip.
Room 2: Boudoir Room – Brush pattern more than badminton
The Boudoir Room was the second room I entered. As I entered, the in-charge guide introduced herself as Sonia and welcomed me into her domain.
As I sat down on the couch, she instructed me to choose a cosmetic brush from a box. There were ten distinct brushes, which I had no idea existed. I chose the medium brush since I was concerned about what they may do with the brushes.
She advised me to relax as she stroked my hand with the brush in an attempt to activate my sense of touch. I didn't mind because the sensation was similar to touching my dog, Bacon. It did, however, lean somewhat ticklish.
After a few strokes on my hand, she requested me to lie down on the couch as she picked a larger brush and began making broad strokes around my head.
This was not like what I get every morning when my dog runs his silky underbelly across my face. Instead, it was like a gnome sweeping a little broom over my face, and I had to restrain myself from dozing asleep on the couch.
She sat me up and thanked me after about 5 minutes of brushing. My next room was just down the hall.
Room 3: Pantry – The source of my newfound trauma
Derrick was the guide in charge of the Pantry, which was my final destination. He encouraged me to seat at a retro-style table and handed me a traditional wooden brush and a towel.
He grabbed my hand in his, placed it on the towel, and began running the bristles of a comb through it. As a fan of feeling prickly objects on my hands and feet, like those acupuncture mats, I thought this wouldn't be too unpleasant and that it would be as "normal" as the other rooms. But boy, was I mistaken.
Derrick rose up and walked around behind me after brushing my palm a number of times. Then he asked, very quietly, whether he might BRUSH MY HAIR.
It was a "what the hell happened?" moment for me. My father has never combed my hair, and now this strange guy I met 5 minutes ago was going to give me a combover. My emotional scars from the years did not prepare me for this degree of intimacy.
I was freaking out within, but being a Virgo, I didn't show it. Even though this was the craziest thing I'd ever seen, I felt there was no harm in giving it a shot. He pulled a ribbon from a container and wrapped it around the top of my head, just when I thought nothing else could surprise me.
Because I have short hair, I could tell he was straining to find an anchor point. Even though it was unusual, it made me feel beautiful and unique.
He began to massage me after he found a strand of hair to attach the ribbon to. But, as someone who dislikes having others touch her, I was in a strange position where I felt good but was also little fidgety.
Derrick advised me to come to the main hall for the last portion of the event after the massage ended my time in the Pantry.
Finally getting shivers at The Sound Stage
I took a seat in the main hall, and next to it was a pair of headphones. I knew where this was headed because I had unintentionally accessed an ASMR video while wearing headphones.
I reluctantly put on a pair of headphones when Melinda, the co-founder of Whisperlodge, stepped in front of a microphone. She started whispering into the microphone, and the smooth, piercing tone made me shudder, the hairs on the back of my neck standing at full alert.
I was continually adjusting the headphones to lower the intensity of the sound while Melinda increased the ante with devices that created varied noises, such as necklaces or a pair of scissors.
However, nothing worked. For almost ten minutes, I sat there with shivers running down my spine. The headphones drowned out all ambient noises and emphasized every little component of the noise, almost causing me a headache.
After that, Wei Ying handed me my blindfold and led me back to the foyer. She led me down to the first level, muttered a poem, and praised me for my participation.
I took off my blindfold, but she had disappeared like a ghost, and no one else was nearby. My weak intellect couldn't make sense of what had just happened to me.
Attending my first live ASMR experience in Singapore
This event demonstrated the breadth of ASMR. It was a huge difference between seeing a YouTube video and experiencing it in person.
I also realized that it's more than just watching a guy on the TV do a mukbang and listening to him eat. Each part is intended to engage a different sensation, such as hearing in The Office and touch in The Pantry. However, because it is so unique, it is impossible to understand the fundamental meaning of anything like this.
Despite the fact that I had great reservations about ASMR, this experience was unlike anything else I'd attempted. If you're not opposed to ASMR, it's a soothing experience with a variety of tailored activities and a cozy setting.
After experiencing it for myself, I can see how something like this might become a global phenomenon owing to its calming nature and its capacity to lower heart rates.
However, it was not for me. Did it cause me to reconsider my life choices? Certainly, but did I regret giving it a shot? No, and I would encourage others to try it as well.