If you do a quick Google search for the term, “Why do I get chills?,” most of what you’ll find has nothing to do with the type of chills we get most often. Isn’t that funny?

I’m talking about the type of chills you get when you hear a moving song or hear someone say something profound.

For the sake of differentiation, we’re going to call these spiritual chills or goosebumps. The other type is of medical origin. You already know the difference. If you have chills with a cold, you’re probably running a fever.

What are spiritual chills?

Spiritual chills are the type you feel when you’re emotionally moved in some way. In most cases, it’s a very positive emotion.

I know I’m not alone when I say that I get goosebumps whenever I really allow myself to listen to the emotion behind Adele’s voice.

But I also get chills at other times. One good example is when I have an idea that’s aligned with my authentic self.

Spirituality and emotion

We’re all born into this world as spiritual beings who are very much in touch with our true selves. We know nothing else.

But as life goes on, and we learn the way of the world, we lose this connection to the spirit. In place of leading with the spirit (true self), we let the ego (or false self) control our lives.

In many ways, we put up a front to protect ourselves from pain. After all, that’s the ego’s main purpose – to protect you from pain.

As you go through a spiritual awakening, you come to understand the ego and that it can be somewhat problematic. And it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from your ego. But spiritual chills can serve as a way to help you know when you’re on the right path.

The science behind spiritual chills

I’m usually one to look to science for answers first, but the truth is that no one really knows why we get spiritual chills. Not even scientists. But if you happen to be talking to a scientist, you’re going to want to call this unexplained phenomenon by its technical term, frisson (pronounced frēˈsôn). It’s a French word that translates to “aesthetic chills.”

What little research we have on aesthetic chill tells us that they are most definitely emotionally driven.

A study published in Psychology of Music assessed 100 college students on the
five factors of personality (Openness, Extraversion, Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness), and had them listen to five music selections that commonly elicit aesthetic chills. Researchers found that the students who experienced frisson also scored high in Openness to Experience. Interestingly, the Openness personality factor is associated with Feelings.

So, the students who were more open and in-touch with feelings and emotions were more likely to experience aesthetic or spiritual chills. Makes perfect sense.

Where do spiritual chills come from?

Regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, you know that these goosebumps are a good indication that you’re feeling something on a deeper level. And we’ve just looked at a study that backs up what you already knew.

So where, exactly, are these chills coming from?

Some believe that spiritual chills are a way for angels or spirit guides to send us messages. Some believe it’s your higher self (spirit outside of the human body) that’s communicating with you.

And some people believe that it’s nothing more than biological function.

Here’s the truth…

It doesn’t much matter which camp you fall into. When you get these chills, something is happening within your body. You feel it. And you know it’s often linked to positive emotion. You don’t need a shaman or a scientific study to tell you this.

So when you get spiritual chills or goosebumps, you’re probably on the right track. What does that mean? You’re directly accessing the part of you that’s most genuine. Goosebumps are a visceral reaction. And it’s time to start listening to your body.

How about you? Do you get spiritual chills?

There are some people who don’t get them at all. In fact, research estimates that anywhere between 55 and 86 percent of people get these aesthetic chills.

Not sure if you get goosebumps? Try listening to the first 53 seconds of Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing At All. It was one of the songs used to measure frisson in the above-mentioned study.

But I’m guessing you’re among those who get spiritual chills or you wouldn’t have landed here.

What’s your experience with these goosebumps and what do they mean to you? I’d love to know!


Leave Comment

  1. Armenias Thunk August 19, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for your well-researched article - never heard the term frisson before, leave it to the French, no? Anyhow, it's good to hear someone else talk about this phenomenon. I usually get them (and I always thought more than anyone else I know) when I hear things that remind me somehow of my spiritual connection to an unidentified source of power in my life. Typically, they run up the back of my legs first, and then up my back and outward if they're strong enough. I also used to get a tingling sensation at the bridge of my nose which I could bring about on my own when I was in grade school. My biggest interest is in finding out if I could get better control of my chills so that I might be able to generate and sustain them longer. I'm certain the adrenaline factor has something to do with it, but I'm also certain there is a psycho-spiritual aspect as well. Thanks again, and hope this helps.

  2. Sandy August 26, 2020 Reply

    I got these chills last night while telling my wife and my mother about what to be prepared for if we do not get the world "woken" within a 20 year span. If you want to know more about this message, email me.

  3. Henning November 3, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for this article Christina, I'm healing childhood trauma and reconnected with my feelings and emotions. I always had these chills throughout my life but only now I began to research what that really is. To me it seems to be some kind of pointer I guess. I also thought that it might be repressed feelings or emotions but I have no evidence of that, especially that my body is relaxed when I have chills which is different from when I'm working on repressed emotions. So I think to me it tells me that I'm on the right track and I should keep doing what I'm doing. So like my body approves of what I'm doing. Not only did I get chills from that song but also had to cry. Never heard that song before :)

  4. Bruno Heufelder June 3, 2021 Reply

    Thanks for the good explanation. I’m happy I found it. I am aware of these chills since some weeks, and realizing it has something to do with my spiritual connection since a few days. Your explanation helped a lot. I specially like the part of fake it until you make it, and to have the higher self always with me.

  5. Robert anon June 10, 2021 Reply

    I've had frission as a kid untill now, anytime i listen to vaporwave or certain rocksongs (rage against the machine) triggers goosbumps and a sense of power ( like goku sprit bomb) white hot rage or the calm eye of a terrible storm then before it peaks, its gone thought i was turning into a xmen lol

  6. Joy July 21, 2021 Reply

    Recently I've been getting goosebumps randomly out of the blue. I started getting them this year and usually when I'm having normal conversations with people. Other times I'll get them if I'm watching TV or a basketball game. I'm trying to be aware of my surroundings/conversations when I get them, but to be honest, I really don't know why I get them or what it means.

  7. Leondrae Johnson September 25, 2021 Reply

    Ever since I was young I have always been able to give myself goosebumps on command without much of an effort. It even started to interact with my nightmares that I have frequently. Where I'm able to feel all the pain in my nightmares. Please tell my what you think about this because I would like to have an opinion on it. Thank you.

  8. Lennore November 1, 2021 Reply

    When I get spiritual chills its usually upper body consuming. It feels as if someone or something is right behind me. I don't feel scared or cold for that matter and it usually results in unauthorized tears lasting a couple seconds.

  9. Greg January 25, 2022 Reply

    Thank you for the article. This is my experience with it after going through an awakening as a lifelong agnostic. I knew it was real since I had no desire for it to happen. Then I went to work on research and self-experimenting to maximize the sensation. Frisson (aka goosebumps/chills) is essentially the "scientific" term for kundalini/piti/chakra energy, among many other names depending on cultural lens (Chi, Mana, Prana, Holy Spirit etc.). This is what you are attempting to build up during transcendental meditation. Most people who experience frisson for the first time get it from music, which does help develop your nervous system for it. However, self-inducing it boils down to perceptions, emotions, and your control over them (ASMR is essentially the involuntary version). Many eastern religion prescribe detachment from beliefs for this very reason. By detaching, you release all expectation, which is the root source of any dissatisfaction. It's all in the mind no matter how negative we perceive somethings to be. Spirituality is essentially the development of your emotions, which are a direct result of both your conscious and sub-conscious beliefs. Strong positive emotions will cause frisson so technically you can get it doing virtually anything that brings those out (i.e. meditation, chi-gong, yoga, tantra, dancing, singing, running, movies, video games, reading, listening to speeches, etc. whatever moves you emotionally. Binaural beats can help induce it as well. Meditation is unique in that you build it up slowly, while sustaining it, and eventually reach a peak. Whereas in waking-state activities. it tends to come in the quick, intense bursts that most of us are familiar with (usually arms, back, or neck to begin). While meditating, once you build it up sufficiently, you're heart and blood pressure must become nearly unnoticeable for the frisson/piti to hit its peak or "rapture"(Look up CIA Gateway Process or read Stalking the Wild Pendulum by Itzhak Bentov i.e. bifurcation echo section). The peak of your frisson/piti or "rapture" is all about lowering your heart rate and sustaining it while keeping your awareness single-pointed (focused on one thing i.e. breath). The frisson/piti can become very intense, even uncomfortably so. If you are able to sustain the low heart rate, you will enter a deep state of transcendental meditation, also called a Jhana. You will know because you will enter a state of extreme bliss. Its impossible to confuse once you get it. There are more stages after this one as well. Remember frisson is the key sensation, go after it as much as possible whether meditating or not. It all helps strengthen it and if it hasn't risen to the crown of your head yet, it just may. Over time, you will feel it simply by taking a deep, calming breath or having a pleasant thought. Surrender to the universe, for we are all just actors in the play. Much love to all. https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00788R001700210016-5.pdf