Purple Impressions, DE 2019 (LomoChrome Purple)

Locations:  Schöhsee (Plön), Görnitz (Grebin), Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, June 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). LomoChrome Purple, 100-400, 35mm film.

Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen 2019

Locations:  Lauwersmeer National Park, Groningen province, The Netherlands, May 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Portra Film 400, 35mm film.

Celestial Connection

Millions of worlds apart

and thousands of words

are missing

between the space

we created for ourselves.

 

We stop conversations,

mute or misuse them,

while the big ice rocks fall apart,

like our lives when we refuse

to listen to ourselves.

 

This world is scary,

full of angry people,

but Earth remembers

and promises to color

our dreams and hopes

with gold dust extracted

from the deep, dark, daunting

place we call space.

 

And right into that moment

we glow furiously;

full of celestial body magic,

we dive back into the blues

and the greens of our reality,

the worlds we build

and the ones we destroy,

conquering one more day

from the eons that await us.

 

Photo: Livraria Lello, Porto, Spring of 2019, Portugal. Minolta Hi-Matic S, Rokkor lens, Kodak Portra, ISO 400, 35mm film.

 

The power of ASMR

Dealing with everyday life can often be overwhelming. We all have countless things to tackle but very little time to do so, which can lead to increased stress and, for many of us, not enough sleep. It can become difficult to let things go and just relax. However, taking the necessary distance from all those stressful deadlines is the best thing to do, especially during overwhelming times. Choosing for our own wellbeing is mandatory. We owe it to ourselves to take it slow, to know when to say no and when to chill. I know that it is easier said than done, but stop for a minute and consider: when was the last time you actually did something relaxing?

If the answer to this question is “hmm … I can’t remember” then you are in the right place. What if I told you that there is a very fascinating and costless way to reduce your stress? It is an accessible and cheap trend and it’s called ASMR.

Are you familiar with those tingles on your head and neck when someone whispers to your ear, or when raindrops make that tapping sound on your window? Well, you might not know it, but you are experiencing ASMR tingles.

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and it’s a reaction people have to specific triggers, such as whispering, tapping, or slow movements. This sensory reaction is translated as ‘brain tingles’, basically goosebumps, which can often lead to feelings of calmness and relaxation. But how does ASMR work exactly?

Watching ASMR videos can cultivate your attention to sounds you might not normally notice. The combination of video and sound (when you hear but also see the movements) guarantees a dynamic result that can help you feel less stress and even sleep better. This sensory experience creates certain physical and psychological effects on your body that you begin feeling mindful and peaceful. That tingling sensation that begins on the crown of your head and continues throughout your spine can be very soothing.

The lovely Maria, from ‘Gentle Whispering’

ASMR became a worldwide trend though YouTube when some people started making videos that included both visual and binaural (for both ears) triggers so that viewers can experience those ‘brain tingles’. ASMR has become so popular the last years, that there are currently around 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube with hundreds of new ones uploaded every day. ASMR artists have become so famous that some of them create ASMR videos as a fulltime job (!). Take for example the YouTube channel ‘Gentle Whispering ASMR’ that counts so far 1.5 million subscribers and over 500 million views in total.

Some common ASMR types you can find on YouTube include whispering, tapping, hair brushing, massaging, scratching surfaces and even the idea that someone is touching your face or head, also known as ASMR role-playing. There are videos with eating, chewing and mouth sounds, videos with folding towels or playing with slime. The list is truly endless. You just need to find what works for you, since not all sounds are suitable for everyone. I, for example, truly hate eating sounds, so I avoid ASMR videos that include those. And I do love videos that include tapping or face touching. You just need to find what works best for you.

I have been watching ASMR videos almost every day for the last year, and I have to admit, they have helped me enormously with insomnia and stress. There is something truly relaxing in just watching someone tap an unusual item or slightly touch someone’s back. Yes, I know, this all sounds a bit odd, but if you are looking for a more alternative way to deal with stress and anxiety, I guarantee this will help.

The wonderful Emma from WhispersRed

The popularity of ASMR is also evident in the scientific community, with researchers from the University of Sheffield investigating the possible mental health benefits of watching ASMR videos. They have found that the people who experience the ‘brain tingles’, while watching ASMR videos, showed a decreased heart rate compared with the people who don’t experience the tingles. The most interesting part, as Dr. Giulia Poerio, of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology says, “is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants were comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.” So, watching ASMR videos can indeed reduce your stress!

The truth is it will feel very weird the first time you explore ASMR videos, however, if it works for you, you will become addicted to it very quickly. It is also known, anecdotally, that if you listen to too much ASMR you ‘lose’ your sensitivity to certain tingles. If that happens to you don’t worry, just take a break from ASMR and when you come back to it, the tingles will return too.

There is something in those videos, especially the ones focused on helping you sleep, that is truly relaxing. Because the videos include very specific sounds, they function as a form of audiovisual meditation. Just try out some videos of ‘WhispersRed ASMR’ Emma or ‘Caroline ASMR’, and you will see for yourself. So, take my advice and check some ASMR videos the next time you will feel discouraged and stressed by the countless things you have to do. There is a big chance you will feel much more relaxed and focused, ready to conquer every obstacle that comes your way!

Photos: screenshots made from YouTube. Pictures created with Canon EOS 1000D and edited with VscoCam (Groningen, May 2019). 

Spring Haikus

Dandelions fly,

birds chirping vigorously

on heavy tree branches.

 

Duck lands on water

disrupting the park’s silence,

bumble bees humming.

 

Small buds, big buds

under the yellow sun

wait to fully blossom.

 

As night follows day

the sun sets between the trees,

a full moon rises.

 

A soft wind whistles

between the thick green leaves,

spring is finally here.

 

Photo: Porto, Spring of 2019, Portugal. Minolta Hi-Matic S, Rokkor lens, Kodak Portra, ISO 400, 35mm film.

The accidents, Leeuwarden 2014

This was the first film I ever used with an old Pentax I found in a secondhand shop. I would go on using that camera for at least 2 years. I am not sure what happened with this film, but my guess is that it wasn’t inserted properly in the beginning, resulting in some beautiful “accidents”. I was very disappointed with my first film photography attempt, however, later on, I came to love these photographs. They are truly unique and very poetic.

Locations: Vrijheidswijk and Saint Boniface church in Leeuwarden. The Netherlands, 2014.

Pentax P30, 35mm with Pentax-A 50mm F/2 SMC Lens. Kodak Gold film 200.

 

Spring Blossoms

Locations: Bijlmer, Amsterdam. The Netherlands, 2015.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Film 200, 35mm film.

 

Breathing

I open some windows

to escape my fate,

find birds and talk to them,

find trees and smile at them.

But every breath of air

transforms through me

into pure pain.

 

Sometimes,

I breathe pain

out of the air particles

that flee the house.

Pain I can’t escape,

pain I can’t explain.

The pain men

remind me of being

the weakness of my sex,

so deep and irresistible,

it diminishes

my very own existence

(me).

 

I close the windows

and shut the curtains,

while I breathe air in.

I close the doors

and hide the mirrors,

while I breathe pain out.

The room is finally dark.

 

Photo: Kozani, Summer of 2015, Greece. Minolta dynax 7000i, Kodak Gold, ISO 200, 35mm film.

When in Cyprus

Locations: Limassol, Lefkara village, Troodos area. Cyprus, February 2019.

Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Kodak Film 200, 35mm film.

 

One line a day

One line a day,

I promised myself to write,

even if it is bs.

 

One line a day,

to exorcize the evil spirits,

to de-demonize my heart,

to clear out the air of the room.

 

One line a day

might not seem enough

or good enough,

but it’s there,

written,

engraved out of the soul’s depths.

 

One line a day

is all I need to start over

fresh,

anew

like an explorer in a strange land,

but this time,

I’ve been invited over

to sit and talk

with its people.

 

One line a day,

as I wake up at dawn,

alone in my chamber,

like a maid whose

day’s work is daunting her.

 

One line a day,

as I go to bed at night,

after working hard

on earning the food

that’s waiting for you on the table.

 

One line a day,

for the pain,

the misery,

the world around me

I can’t explain,

the clouds,

the forests,

the lakes,

the dead flowers in my yard,

the travelers,

the workers,

the family,

the friends,

the light in the morning,

the darkness at night.

 

One line a day

for the words buried in me,

haunting me,

and the ones that came before me.

 

One line a day,

for tomorrow,

our dreams

and Hope.

 

Photo: Walking in Stadspark, Groningen, NL. December 2018. Minolta Dynax 7000i (AF 35-105mm). Earl Grey Lomography Film 200, 35mm film.