About a week ago, I picked up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better than Before, and read it in one sitting in a bookstore. The book talked about our habits and classified people into The Four Tendencies. (I got Questioner. No surprise there!) After reading, I decided to make a list of habits I wanted to pick up or break. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with so many projects lately and decided it was probably time to audit my processes and see how I can be better.
One habit I decided to take up is meditation. It’s difficult for me to do absolutely nothing, so I decided I would meditate by doing 100 deep breaths. Just that—breathing deeply (and counting!). For the past week at around 9 pm, I’ve been doing this for 10-20 minutes, lying on my back and in the dark. After the meditation I would start another few hours of work before sleeping at 3 am.
On the first day of this habit I had a very strange surprise: a tingling on my head, face, and hands. It was intense enough for me to notice. It’s not painful or anything. I would even say it was pleasant—it’s how I imagined it would feel like if someone sprinkled fairy dust on me. Here are some journal entries that showed how I felt:
April 19, Sunday
I started a 100-breath meditation practice last night. I’m pretty sure I have ASMR. I feel it around the 20-something breath. It’s stronger on the top of my head. I feel it behind my ears, my face (especially lips). and on the collarbone. Later on, I feel it in my hands.
I realized that stress and hot weather didn’t help.
April 20, Monday
I did 150 breaths, but only felt a bit of the tingling in my hands and face (a little in the chest). Maybe it’s because I slept at past 3 last night and because it’s so hot today (Manila is having a heat wave right now). And because I’m thinking too many things.
By Day 4, I was panicking that I lost it. It was a stressful day.
April 21, Tuesday
Oh no. I think I lost the power!
By Day 5, I was relieved.
April 22, Wednesday
I still have the power! My parents installed a new AC so the air was at 23 degrees Celsius. I started feeling it around breath #25. By breath #50, I sat up to see if I could feel it in the back of the head and neck without the interference of a pillow. I definitely felt it at the back of the neck, but not the spine, but then again I did a lot of side kick stretches at the bar in the dojang, so the sides of my back are killing me.
The tingling actually persists after my meditation practice. Here is a sketch to show where I feel it:
A page from my journal which shows where I feel it—on top of the head, on the face, and back of the hands and fingers.
When I shift my position, or when I’m exposed to light, the tingling is affected. Breathing controls the flow of the tingling.
Movement and sudden light (someone entered the room) didn’t stop it, but diminished it a bit, and resumed on the next breath. Exhaling / inhaling seem to control the flow of the tingling, especially on the exhale. [Doing] 100 breaths now takes me around 18 minutes.
April 23, Wednesday
I can feel when it’s about to happen, like when you know you’re about to sneeze.
I immediately thought of ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, since it trended online a few weeks ago and there are lots of articles about it. I tried the Youtube videos of whispering and other triggers, but it’s this breathing practice that really does it for me (though I breathe through the nose and throat as in yoga, so perhaps the sound of that helps, too). Science is skeptical about it, but I hope that I can get an MRI to check and see what is going on with me since it looks like I can control it.
All I know for sure is that I feel a tingling when I do lots of deep breaths. It’s like a meteor is about to burst from me. After I meditate, I feel like my to-do list becomes more manageable. I’m more focused and relaxed. As for the ASMR, I’m not sure if that also helps with my focus or if it’s just another consequence of the meditation, but I like visualizing myself as a superhero with a very strange (and perhaps useless) superpower.
As someone who is very interested in perception, discovering this about myself is fascinating. I’m already extremely sensitive to smell and sounds, so this makes me feel like another dimension is opening up for me. In any case, meditating amidst all the stress should be a good habit to pick up.
Next habit on my list: apply hand lotion every day.