They started calling me “Filma”
I recently made an extended trip to Lisbon, Portugal. While Europe is often called the Old World — one I traveled through many times during my career — this trip was more than new for me. The journey was full of intrigue. It was a microcosm of my secret life, and personalized.
While the the world was caught in the midst of a pandemic, a new world of music and musicians awaited, along with fresh opportunities to share health and fitness. The special ambiance included delicious, nutritious food, fine wine, coffee and locally-made cacao — and the location of my recent fat-burning coffee video.
You may be familiar with the numerous topics I’ve talked and written about — sports, music, the brain, self-healing and others. These are emphasized as key items for health and fitness — but personalization is an important part of the process. (Some links can be found throughout this article.)
But Lisbon was different and special, a life-changing experience for me, personally. I also took some notes along the way to use in this article.
Just listening to music is powerful enough to help the brain and body, but when we expand that experience our mind does too — including alpha wave production, muscle balance, blood-sugar stability, and stress reduction.
Consider that the brain hears in two ways, three if you count each ear separately. We not only listen to the musical sounds our ears capture and send to the brain for interpretation, music also creates vibratory sensations that travel through the skull. It’s like another kind of stereo or surround-sound. This awareness is in itself mind-bending with alpha wave ah-ha moments. When listening, it’s important that sound be at a comfortable volume easily heard from good speakers, buds or headphones, and without distractions. (No, it won’t work in an elevator.)
Another listening experience can go much further. Moving from a passive music listener to an active participant does not necessarily mean playing an instrument or singing (although that is very powerful as previous articles discussed). However, listening intently — up front and personal — makes us part of the song, like another instrument. You can tell when this is happening because you’re tapping your foot or finger, moving to the music.
We can get a good dose of brain therapy while participating, and personalizing, the listening experience — even while lying down relaxing. Tapping your foot or finger adds more mind motivation. But be more creative by moving the whole body in time. One example is to tap each beat with one finger, then another, going through all fingers in both hands (like playing the piano). Or, tap hands and feet along with the rhythm (like drums or air guitar). Of course, these are the same kinds of great benefits obtained from dancing where all your parts are grooving with the beats. (For performers, your music makes you part of the audience, helping to feel what others feel about your performance.)
My Secret Life
Last fall I traveled to Europe, playing Fado and Bossa Nova style music with great musicians. They called me “Filma,” I called our group, “Lisboa 25th.”
It suddenly reminded me of Paul Simon’s journey to South Africa in the mid-1980s to create a whole new kind of sound, resulting in one of his great albums, Graceland. During my trip to Lisbon, I felt a bit of what Paul must have experienced. Not that my music compares, but it was a great leap forward for me.
In Lisbon, we were able to get into the old classic Portuguese music studio, Namouche (which reminded me of Abby Road) to record several songs, enlisting the famous Brazilian producer and sound engineer Carlos Fuchs.
We also took to the streets of Lisbon to make some videos with some of the band that you can see here.
Since becoming a songwriter almost 20 years ago, music has molded my brain significantly, improving my health and fitness writing and making me more all-around creative. This applied to scientific writing too, and especially fiction. Traveling to a new musical culture further expanded my mind — more than I could have imagined.
While listening to the music you love is special, the brain also craves new experiences — listening to new music is another powerful therapy. So here are some of my new and unique recordings you’ve not yet heard.