Category Archives: Mindfulness and Meditation

10 ASMR Videos I’d Recommend to Beginners

As I said in my first post on this topic:

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a calm tingling sensation that some people feel at the back of their their scalp and down on other parts of their body after being exposed to certain types of auditory stimuli.

ASMR is used for relaxation purposes…it’s similar to many forms of meditation in that you remain with your eyes closed still during it.

Silhouette of a person with long hair standing in a meadow after sunset. The sky is barely still pink, and you can see birds and in the moon in the lighter parts of the sky. I haven’t blogged much about ASMR since I first mentioned it here, but it continues to be a part of my mindfulness and meditation toolbox.

Autonomous sensory meridian response videos cover a much wider range of sensory experiences than can be fit into a single post.

Today I’ll be sharing a list of the ten most common things that can trigger this response and recommending one video for each type of stimuli to check out.

As I mentioned earlier, not every type of ASMR works for everyone. Some people never feel this sensation at all. Feel free to explore multiple ASMR videos before deciding which style, if any, is best for you.

I purposefully chose videos that included little to no talking so that my readers could concentrate on the sounds themselves. There are plenty of other examples out there of videos that do include talking if that’s something you end up enjoying.

Whispering

Close Whispering Just Talking

Whispering is one of the classic ASMR triggers. From what I’ve observed, it seems to be one of the most popular types of these videos online.

Head Massage and Hair Brushing

Ultra Relaxing Scalp Massage for Stress & Sleep, Hair Sounds & Brushing

The head massage and hair brushing ASMR videos are some of my favourite ones! They’re so relaxing.

Tapping

ASMR Tapping 

This video explores fast, slow, hard, and soft taps.

Scratching


Gentle Scratching You Will Fall Asleep to (No Talking)

It always amazes me to see what new sounds the ASMR community comes up with to add to the repertoires. This is something I’ve only started seeing around fairly recently.

Eating

Blowing

Ear Cupping and Blowing

There is also some whispering in this video. Many of the ASMR creators will blend various sounds together to appeal to more than one audience.

Role Play

Haircut Role Play.

The most common role play videos seem to involve hair cuts, massages, dental visits, or medical appointments.

Methodical Work

Whispering and Coin Sorting

What do I mean by methodical work? Think sorting papers, tapping paper clips, or playing around with small and slightly noisy items like coins.

Crinkling

Plastic Crinkle Sounds/ Sleep & Tingles/ No Talking 

This is often combined with the whispering and/or methodical work types.

Buzzing/Vibrations

Layered ASMR Vibrations – Intense and Soothing (No Talking)

I’d never heard of this type before doing research for this post! It’s either brand new or I somehow missed it years ago.

Respond

Are you into ASMR? If so, what is your favourite type of it?

 

 

Put Down Your Phone and Pay Attention

Today I’d like to talk to you about mindfulness, brainstorming, and what house wrens are really capable of. (If descriptions of the non-Disney side of the natural world are disturbing to you, consider this a content warning).

No, I’m not anti-technology, and this isn’t a rant. Smart phones have brought many positive changes to modern society, from making it easier to navigate an unfamiliar city to finding out what time a specific venue closes before you traipse halfway across town for it.

I simply believe in balance. Right now, I think I’m relying a little too heavily on my phone for entertainment at times when I could be paying attention to other things instead. Sitting quietly on a bench and seeing what happens can be a nice palate cleanser at times.

Now that the caveats are out of the way, let’s talk about what happened at the park this past weekend. It was a little too warm to do anything strenuous outdoors then, so my spouse and I sat on a bench in the shade and relaxed.

Mindfulness

One of the things I’ve been trying to work on lately is spending less time on my cell phone. It’s so easy to browse Reddit or read my newest email when I’m out and about but nothing particularly interesting is happening at that exact second. Since we don’t go to that particular park very often, I tried to drink in every detail around us.

The forest behind us was filled with the sound of cicadas buzzing. There was a picnic table off in the distance filled with people eating lunch together.  A woman and her dog jogged past us at one point, and I marvelled at how well the dog was keeping up with her.

The writing portion of my brain always wants to make up stories about the people, animals, and places around me. I let those thoughts bubble up but didn’t encourage them. They’ve caught my attention before, and they will catch it again.

It was at this point that I noticed the house wren. These birds are incredibly common here in southern Ontario. I often see them hopping around on the sidewalk and nibbling on seeds or other bits of food they can find there. They’re fluffy little creatures that I’ve always felt oddly protective over.

House Wrens and What They’re Capable of

The wren was picking something up with its beak. At first I assumed it was a seed, and then the house wren’s lunch wiggled.

It wasn’t a seed.

It wasn’t a stray crumb from someone’s hot dog.

It was a bug.

Not only was it a bug, it was a bug that continued to wiggle up until the point that the house wren tore it in half and began eating it.

I will admit to not responding particularly mindfully to this scene at first. Up until this point, I’d always assumed that this species of bird was vegetarian.

It is not.

If I were the size of that bug, I might have been next on the menu!

Brainstorming and Mindfulness

Mindfulness and brainstorming can coexist. I tucked that mental image into the back of my mind and continued to sit quietly on that shaded bench.

For the time being, I lived in the moment once I adjusted to what that bird was having for lunch. It isn’t every day that the weather in August is cool enough to sit outdoors for as long as we did that day!

Now that I’m back home again, I can’t stop thinking about how the same creature can be a vicious predator in one scenario and fluffy and harmless in another.

This is common knowledge, of course, but it’s not something I as a city person see being played out very often.

It makes me wonder how our human ancestors over- or underestimated other species in the distant past when we moved to parts of the world no human had visited before.

To give this line of thought a futuristic bent, it also makes me wonder how humans from generations who have yet to be born might misjudge an alien species if we were to ever meet one. Maybe astronauts should be taught mindfulness. Or, if you’re writing something that would work better if humans acted impulsively, maybe NASA should specifically select for people who react as soon as they see something out of the ordinary.

Mostly, though, I’m thinking about house wrens and how ideas truly can pop up anywhere if you put down your phone sometimes and pay attention.

Respond

How has practicing mindfulness influenced your writing? Am I the only person who didn’t realize house wrens were omnivorous? When was the last time you came up with an unexpected idea?

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Why You Should Meditate on a Flight (and How to Do It)

I recently arrived home from an Alaskan cruise I went on with my spouse and extended family. It was a wonderful trip that I’ll talk more about in various posts over the next couple of weeks, but I have missed connecting with everyone in the blogosphere.

So here’s an interesting thing about me. I enjoy travelling, but I am not a fan of flying. Between the hassle of going through security, airplane seats that seem to grow smaller and closer together every year, and how quickly I start to feel queasy if there’s any turbulence on the journey, I do not enjoy the process of getting to my destination or back home again.

Normally I distract myself from these unpleasant things with delicious, salty snacks like pretzels and tomato juice, playing games on my smartphone, or reading ebooks. This year I decided to add another tool to my defence against flights that feel like they’re going to last until the end of time itself: meditation.

Thoughts are powerful things. No one can fast forward through time, but you can learn to be less nervous about flying through the air in tight quarters if you learn to sit with your thoughts instead of letting them control the narrative.

How to Meditate in a Human Sardine Can

Photo credit: Truthseeker

I’ve decided that all commercial flights should be renamed human sardine cans in order to better demonstrate what it really feels like to be on one.

Having a good sense of humour about the sometimes uncomfortable realities of flying in Economy Class also helps!

Consider Downloading an App Beforehand

No, this is not strictly necessary. I often mediate without the help of an app, but I did find it nice to listen to a guided meditation routine on my last two flights due to all of the background noise happening on them.

There are several great meditation apps out there that offer free material, too.

Focus on Your Breathing

The easiest method I’ve found for meditating is to simply focus on your breathing. Breathe in and out slowly. Pay attention to the way your chest rises and falls with each breath. When a thought pops up, acknowledge it before returning to the slow and steady rhythm of one of the most basic body functions there is.

This is something I find particularly helpful when there is turbulence.

Do a Body Scan 

If you have an app that offers this, feel free to hit play on that session. If not, simply focus on your breathing for a few minutes before gently turning your attention to the top of your head. Take note of any sensations you may feel there without labeling them as good or bad. Slowly move down the rest of your body, paying attention to each part of it by turn.

If it’s a part of your body that you can consciously move, try to relax it as much as possible before gently moving down to the next part. I find that I can carry a lot of tension in my jaw and shoulders especially when I’m nervous. Sometimes this leads to tension headaches if there was a flight delay or if I’ve been in the same seat for several hours.

Move from the top of your head all the way down to your toes. This could be done in a few minutes, but it could also take half an hour or longer depending on how quickly your attention shifts.

Body scans can be a nice alternative to taking over-the-counter medication for these sorts of headaches for me. As always, consult with your family doctor if you have any questions about what is or isn’t appropriate for you. I’m only speaking from personal experience here.

Visualize Happier Places

I like to end my meditation sessions with a visualization exercise. if you were meditating with your eyes open earlier, feel free to close them now if it makes this easier.

Pick a setting that makes you feel happy and relaxed.

For me, going to the beach fits this bill. This is even more true on days when it’s a little too chilly to get into the water. Swimming is nice, but it’s not strictly necessary when I hit the beach.

I focus on every sense and try to make the visualization as detailed as possible. Sometimes I can almost taste the salt in the air, feel the sand between my toes, and hear the seagulls cawing above me by the time I’m a few minutes into it.

As someone who is not a fan of needles, this is also an exercise I do when I need to have a vaccination or to have blood drawn. It’s a nice distraction from a short period of unpleasantness. This can last for as many or as few minutes as you want it to depending on how detailed you decide to make your scene.

If flying also makes you nervous or uncomfortable, I’d love to hear what other techniques you use to get through it!

4 Reasons Why You Should Try Walking Meditation

As anyone who has followed this blog for a while probably already knows, I’m always on the lookout for new meditation techniques. Recently, I discovered something called Walking Meditation that was so interesting I felt compelled to tell my readers about it.

 What Is Walking Meditation?

There are several different types of walking meditation out there: Theraveda, Zen (also known as Kinhin), Thich Nhat Hahn, Yoga, Daoist, and Mindfulness Walking Meditation. I’m going to focus on the last one  in today’s post because I found it the most helpful, but do feel free to click the link above if you want to explore other options.

Mindfulness Walking Meditation is quite similar to the types of meditation you’d do while sitting or lying down. You begin by doing something simple: taking a walk. Where that happens is entirely up to do. I didn’t always have a name for it, but it turns out I’ve been practicing Mindfulness Walking Meditation in many of the places I talk walks at: the mall, local parks, sidewalks, and even in front of washers and dryers on laundry day.

When you are walking, focus on nothing other than the sensations your body is feeling as you walk. Remain engaged with all of the things you can see, hear, feel, and touch as you walk. Do your best to call your attention back to the present moment every time your mind begins to wander.

Now that we’ve clarified what we’re talking about and how it’s done, let’s move onto the four reasons why I think you should give Mindfulness Walking Meditation a try as well.

Reason #1: You Can Do It Anywhere

You can walk and remain in the present moment in a noisy place or a quiet one. It can happen in a busy waiting room, a park, a corridor, or any other place where you can find a small area to pace or walk around in. You might be surrounded by thousands of other people or no one else at all.

Unlike some of the other forms of meditation, you don’t need to close your eyes or find a place to sit to do this one. I find that incredibly appealing.

Reason #2: It Gives Restless Meditators Something to Focus On

While I’ve grown more used to sedentary forms of meditation over the years, there is still a part of me that finds it challenging to stay seated for this practice.

The beautiful thing about walking meditation in general, including Mindfulness Walking Meditation specifically, is that it provides you with something to focus on that won’t distract from your goal. It’s so much easier for me to remain in the present moment if my legs are moving!

Reason #3: In Months That Don’t End in “uary,” It’s a Great Excuse to Spend Time in Nature

Yes, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here. Of course you could go on a long, meditative walk in January or February if you wanted to. Just because I stay indoors as much as possible during the coldest part of the winter doesn’t mean everyone must do that

There is something meditative about spending time out in nature even if you’re in a month that ends in -uary. One of the things that surprised me the most about Toronto when I first moved here was how many trees this city had, so I spend more time in nature than I thought I would when I became a city person.

There are small parkettes sprinkled throughout the general Toronto area, and we have quite a few large, well-maintained forests to explore as well. Walking through them is one of my favourite things to do in the entire world.

Reason #4: It Helps You Stay Connected to Your Body

Have you ever tried walking any distance when you have a pebble in your shoe? What is mildly annoying at first can quickly become  something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.

One of the unexpected benefits of Mindfulness Walking Meditation that I’ve noticed has been how it encourages me to pay attention to what is going on with my body. For example, I recently figured out that I have a higher chance of developing a headache on days that I don’t practice good posture. This wasn’t something I was aware of before, but I’m now trying to correct it thanks to this practice. How cool is that?

If you’ve tried any form of walking meditation or are planning to in the near future, I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this topic.

Intuition, Mindfulness, and the Alarm Bell In My Brain

This is the story of something that happened to me last year. It won’t take long to tell, but it’s important.

I met someone at a social event who was friendly, funny, and charming at first glance. They seemed like exactly the sort of person anyone would want to spend time with.

They’re hiding something, my intuition said quietly a few minutes after we’d met.

This was the first time I’d laid eyes on them, and I knew nothing about them other than the basic details they’d shared about their life and interests. They thought carefully before they spoke, and every word that came out of their mouth sparkled.

They’re sugarcoating the truth, my intuition said in a slightly louder tone.

I had no proof to back up these feelings. I’d literally just met this person. They were full of smiles and kind words for everyone around them. There was nothing about their words or actions that should have alarmed me. It was a perfectly ordinary get-together in every way you could imagine.

They’re lying about something. This wasn’t a question. It was a declarative statement I had no proof for but still kept circling back around to.

I felt uneasy around them for reasons that are hard to put into words. There was something about them that was slightly off-kilter no matter which way I looked at it, and that made me nervous. When I was younger, I might have brushed off this warning and decided to find out more about this person for myself.  These days, I listen and take heed.

The beautiful thing about mindfulness is how it can focus your attention on what really matters in situations such as these. Something wasn’t lining up in the things they said about their life.  I didn’t and still don’t know exactly what they were being evasive about, but my mind was still enough to listen to those thoughts when they popped up and take action quickly when they refused to go away.

No, I do not think I’m clairvoyant or have any other abilities that defy scientific explanation.  If anything, I believe that my mind picked up on subtle but important discrepancies between their verbal and non-verbal cues that might have shown they weren’t being totally honest about the things they shared about their life.

But I do think that my mindfulness habits helped me to realize there was something off about this person sooner than I might have in a different timeline. The beautiful thing about learning how to quiet your mind is that it makes the rare feelings that refuse to be ignored much more noticeable than they might have otherwise been.

 

5 Books About Mindfulness I’d Like to Read

While I still don’t maintain an active TBR list, the books listed below have caught my attention. I’ve requested almost all of them from my local library, and I’m looking forward to reading them this autumn as they become available. Look below the images of the various titles for my brief explanations on why each title… Read More

5 Reasons Why You Should Try ASMR

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a calm tingling sensation that some people feel at the back of their their scalp and down on other parts of their body after being exposed to certain types of auditory stimuli. ASMR is used for relaxation purposes. There are many videos about it floating around on Youtube and… Read More