RFS Blog | by Karl W. Palachuk – Relax Focus Succeed. Learn more at www.relaxfocussucceed.com

CAT | Positive Attitude

Jul/18

30

Priming Your Brain – Part 3

In my last two blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2), I introduced the reticular activating system (RAS) and talked a bit about how you can “prime” it to focus on your goals. In this blog post, I want to touch on what happens when you don’t focus your attention.

If you study a lot of self-help and “success” literature, you’ve probably noticed that one of the most common recommendations across all these works is to spend some time at the beginning of each day planning the day. For some it’s prayer. For some it’s meditation. For some it is simply reviewing a schedule. But no matter what form it takes, they all involve spending time just thinking about the day ahead.

Without knowing it, this advice is really about telling your reticular activating system what to pay attention to. In Part 2 of this series I went into some detail how I use this to give lots of attention and focus to something. Today I want to talk about what happens when you don’t do this – when you don’t consciously choose what to put your attention on.

We’ve all had the experience of worrying about something. Sometimes, we get “stuck” worrying. We start to focus on something and then we can’t stop. We get more and more worried until something snaps us out of it. Very often, the thing that snaps us out of worry is simply the passage of time as we realize that the bad thing didn’t happen.

As Mark Twain famously said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

Money is a common worry. The safety of our children is a common worry. Success in business. Fall sales numbers. Grades. Taxes. The list goes on.

Here’s what we know about the RAS: Whatever you choose to focus on, it amplifies. That’s great if you’re focusing on your goals and ideals. But if you’re focusing on “bad stuff” like worries, it’s going to amplify that as well. Here’s why:

The RAS has a primary function of filtering OUT virtualy everthing you could be paying attention to. Hundreds of millions of things happen every day don’t get your attention. You simply can’t process all that. But the RAS has a secondary function of filtering IN the things that are most important to you.

Some important things are reinforced so much over time that one could argue they are hard-wired. For example, if you’re a parent at the State Fair, you will hear your child’s voice say “Mom” or “Dad” through a huge crowd of people. Hearing that voice calling you under any circumstances is important, so it gets filtered IN to the top of the list of stimuli. Years and years of responding to this call have burned it into a pathway that says there’s probably nothing more important for you to respond to – ever.

Worries and fears and problems can be the same way. We choose to pay attention to our children, our spouse, our business, etc. But very often we do not choose to pay attention to worries, fears, and other negative things. They take some of our attention. But they don’t dominate our attention unless we get carried away. If we let them in, don’t push them out, and don’t tell our RAS that we’d rather pay attention to something else, then we end up paying attention to them again.

This pattern reinforces itself. If you don’t choose what to reinforce, the RAS (which has no brain of its own) will automatically choose for you. More and more research is showing that we can break patterns of negative thought. We can lay down new neural pathways. We can change our overall tendencies to focus on certain things and instead focus on more positive things.

One of my mottos is, “Nothing Happens By Itself.” I believe that is very true and applies to every aspect of life.

Positive attitudes don’t happen by themselves. New ideas don’t just happen. New business plans. Renewed marital happiness. Nothing happens by itself. But almost anything can happen if you put your attention on it.

If you ignore your attitudes and your preferred thought pattterns, then you get whatever random stuff other people throw into your life. But if you focus on what you want – the attitudes you want, the goals you want, the friends you want – then your RAS will work hard to help you GET what you want.

For me, the best part about all this is its simplicity. The RAS is like an audio amplifier. You speak into the microphone and a loud voice comes out the speakers. You tell your RAS that you want to focus on something and it responds with massive attention on that thing. And the more you prime it, the more it gives you in return.

:-)

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There are many fields I wish I had studied more in college. The brain is one of them. Of course, when I was in college, we knew about 1/10th of what we know today.

 

Aside from being an efficient chemical factory for producing hormones that affect happiness, pleasure, body control, and mood, the brain is a masterful collection of information systems and sub-systems. One of my favorite sub-systems is called the reticular activating system. The reticular formation is a set of interconnected nuclei that are located throughout the brain stem. The ascending reticular activating system (RAS) represents a series of connections made between the brain stem and the higher parts of the brain.

The RAS is an miraculous system for controlling habits and perceptions in humans. On one hand, it affects the way you see the world, filtering millions of stimuli into a few things you pay attention to. On the other hand, it reinforces behavior and beliefs. So, for example, we tend to filter out information that doesn’t fit our current beliefs. (This should help explain a great deal of the political discussion on Facebook.)

Here’s the coolest part as far as I’m concerned: the RAS does a lot of work automatically (controlling automated functions of the body, filtering information, helping your sleep, etc .), but it can also be manipulated by your intentions. And when that happens, your intentions can become magnified very powerfully. Here’s what I mean.

Every’s had the experience of buying a car and then seeing that car all over town. Those cars were always driving all over town: You just didn’t notice them because you didn’t care. You have to filter out virtually everything you’re exposed to or you would not be able to function. The RAS does that filtering. At the same time, you can choose to focus on specific things. You can tune into the color blue, or BMWs, or plastic ducks. Most of the time, these “choices” are unconscious. They just happen. But you can make conscious choices to focus on specific information.

Let’s try an example. You may have heard of the concept of block chain. Block chain is a cool new technology for creating secure transactions. It’s going to be widely used very soon. Many companies are investing in block chain. Say the words out loud: Block Chain.

There. I’ve told you almost nothing about block chain. But I’ve planted the seed in your consciousness. You’ve probably heard the phrase block chain before, but you have not paid attention to it unless there’s a reason to. Now, I’ve dragged it out of the background fog and into the forefront of your attention. Watch over the next 1-2 days and you will probably see or hear the phrase block chain. This phrase has been floating around, just outside your consciousness. Now it will become more visible for a short time.

“Short time” is key here. If you have no reason to pay attention to block chain, this raised consciousness will fade quickly – precisely because it has no value in your life.

Now consider something else. Perhaps you want to grow your business, lose weight, learn a new skill, get your garden into shape, or any other goal. If you take time to bring that goal into your conscious brain, the RAS will recognize that it has value for you . . . and begin focusing on it more and more. The RAS becomes an amplifier for your goals.

On more than one occasion, I’ve had a “great” business idea that flashed into my head. I took time to sit down, write out notes, make some drawings, and maybe even do some calculations. In other words, I focused very heavily on this idea for an hour or so. And guess what? All day the next day, it seems that every conversation helps promote that idea. People pop into my head that might be able to help me. The radio has a story about something that affect this. And so forth.

The point is: Once I choose to give an idea a certain amount of attention, the RAS helps me give it more and more attention.

Now, if you practice this regularly, your RAS will help you amplify your focus. But only for a short period of time . . . until you continually choose to focus more. If you keep focusing on the subject again and again, your RAS will renew it’s attention more and more. It’s a lot like cramming your way through on online course. You can ignore it for awhile and your brain will have no reason to put attention on it. But when you buckle down and study every day, your brain redoubles your efforts . . . and begins working on the problem in the background when your are not even aware that your brain is working on your behalf.

All success comes back to the concept of focus. In my book Relax Focus Succeed, I say that you get better at whatever you put your attention on. Other people have said things like, “Whatever you put your attention on expands.” That’s absolutely true. You can spend your days responding to the random stimuli of the universe, or you can choose to focus your attention – And your good friend the reticular activating system help you focus even more.

:-)

 

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Silence Means Nothing

One of the truisms I live by is that we should strive to avoid having both sides of a conversation. For example, we are often tempted to say things like, “He would never agree to that,” or “She wouldn’t pay that much.” We tell ourselves that other people will act or think a certain way. As I say in the book Relax Focus Succeed, you need to let the other person have their side of the conversation!

Somewhat related to this is the human tendency to write meaning into silence. Silence means nothing.

Worry

I catch myself in this all the time. I send a text and don’t get a reply. Is that bad? Did I offend someone? Is silence a yes or a no? Then . . . I finally decide to text again and see that I never pushed send, so the text never left my phone.

If you’re waiting to hear back about a loan or a job offer, you might be tempted to write meaning into the long silence. Don’t.

Once you tune into this, you’ll see examples everywhere. A client takes a long time to make a decision. Then you find out they went on vacation. You really need feedback on an email. Then you learn that the person was sick. You’re waiting to get started with a project. Then you find out that there’s a company reorganization in the works.

The ultimate example is when people speculate about a jury taking a long time to deliberate a verdict. Is it better for a short deliberation or a long one? Which favors the defendent?

Silence means nothing.

So what do you do about it? Well, you need to practice a little mindfulness here. What do you know and what do you not know? Then stop worrying about it. Spending your time worrying about something you cannot control (or affect in any way) is a waste of energy.

Have you noticed how often stuff like this gets built up in your head and then turns out to be nothing? Most of the time, the stuff we worry about doesn’t happen. So we literally worry for no good reason.

Worry brings anxiety, which gets our brains all hyped up – and keeps us from paying attention to whatever else we should be doing! As you can see, it’s really worth limiting this whole process before it goes too far.

How do you do that? Step One is simple awareness. Recognize when you’re worrying over something because you’re trying to determine what the silence means. Step Two: Say to the words to yourself: Silence Means Nothing. Step Three: When it’s over, label the worry. Was this legitimate? Was it worth worrying about? Virtually every time, the answer will be NO!

If you do this a lot, it’s worth drawing a sign and putting where you can see it. Silence Means Nothing. And, if you do it a lot, imagine how much better your life will be when you remove that unproductive worry and anxiety.

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Jan/17

21

Rude vs. Unsafe?

A recent trip to Key West, FL, highlighted an interesting truth about branding. In the big picture, branding is about every single thing your business does. It’s not just your logo or your slogan. It’s how you deliver service, how you treat people, how you manage money, how you maintain systems, etc.

In Key West, there are no good options for taxi service. There are two primary companies – pink and yellow. There are smaller companies, but it might be a long wait for a cab. There are no Uber or Lyft services.

The “pink” cab company has a very abrupt (sometimes rude) dispatcher. When you call, she grumbles one word: “Cab!” No matter what you say, she has a standard second response: “How many?!?” which she delivers as if she’s pissed off that you’re bothering her. Her third and final interaction is always the same. She barks the order “Stay there!”

So a typical interaction for a jovial vacationer goes like this:

“Cab!”

“Good afternoon. We’re at ABC store on Duval Street. We would like to get a cab.”

“How many?!?”

“There are two of us. We’d like to go to . . .”

“Stay there!”

Then she never hangs up. You can just here her answer the next call: “Cab!”

Note: the actual cab drivers for pink are generally friendly. The cabs are new-ish and in great shape. They tend to be boxy and a big hard to climb into if you have old knees. But it’s a very pleasant ride.
After a few cab rides, we decided to try yellow. Much nicer. The dispatcher is clearly in a good mood. Sometimes they even ask if it’s our first day in Key West. They are engaging.

Unfortunately, the yellow cabs are typical American cabs: Old, no shock absorbers, not particularly clean, and the seat belts don’t always work. Bottom line: It feels unsafe. One driver was particularly crazy. The island is only two miles by four miles, so you don’t really need to speed through the side streets or run lights.
After a few rides with each company, we would ask each other, “Who should we call? Rude or Unsafe?” We had narrowed down our options to one word for each company. And our experiences were quite consistent. In fact, one time we called the yellow company by accident. Thinking we had called the pink company, I commented on how congenial the dispatcher was. Then yellow car rolled up and I checked my phone. Ooops.

Eventually, we just decided that it was easier to put up with abrupt/rude than dangerous/unsafe.

And both companies are good examples of why Uber and Lyft exist!

:-)

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Relax Focus Succeed®

– Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives and Be More Successful in Both

Taught by Karl W. Palachuk, Author and Coach

– Five Tuesdays – June 28 – July 26, 2016 – Register Now

– All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

 

DESCRIPTION:

Relax Focus Succeed (R) by Karl W. PalachukThis course will show you how to master the concepts of Relax Focus Succeed® – a program for balancing your personal and professional lives and finding more success in both.

This course is intended for anyone who is stressed out, over-worked, and ready to take their whole life to the next level. We all lead busy lives, filled with too many demands. Many of us don’t get enough sleep or exercise. We fight to be successful at work and at home.

Taught by someone who’s been there. Karl Palachuk was diagnosed with debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 39 and spent several years getting the disease under control. With two businesses to manage and a young family, he found himself unable to work more than a few hours a day. That’s when he developed a process for achieving goals at a very high level without working himself to death.

Many of us chase the entrepreneurial dream – but few of us reach our entrepreneurial vision.

In this course you’ll learn a new approach to balancing the demands in your life – and learn some strategies for building the life you want and deserve.

This is an intensive teleseminar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.

You will learn how to:

  • Balance your personal and professional lives
  • Focus on the single most important things in your life
  • Develop your vision for self-fulfillment
  • Relax – in a meaningful way
  • Be the same person in all elements of your life (overcome Jekyll/Hyde syndrome)
  • Put the past – and your present – in their place
  • Build your muscles of success
  • Stop working 50- or 60- or 70-hour weeks
  • Avoid being interrupt-driven
  • Slow Down, Get More Done
  • Work less and accomplish more
  • Define Goals: Long-term, Medium-term, and Short-term
  • Build quiet time into your life

The course will include a number of recommended do-it-yourself exercises.

Registration includes a copy of the book Relax Focus Succeed® by Karl W. Palachuk.

Includes five weeks of teleclasses with related handouts, assignments, and “office hours” with the instructor.

 

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May/16

18

The Happiest Times of My Life

What are the happiest times in your life? That’s worth looking at because there are probably some common elements there. With some serious introspection, you might even figure out the connections.

There are three periods in my life that stand out as the happiest.

The first time was when I was a kid. By “kid” I mean in that age range of about seven to eleven. I had a lot of independence and hadn’t started worrying too much about girls. I grew up with five brothers. I was the middle kid, so I was surrounded by activities and companionship all the time. We lived about half a mile from a great big park. During the summer months, we’d go there and play on the playground, check out games, or watch baseball. We were literally barefoot all summer and “gone” most of the day.

During that time I also built a small private sanctuary for myself in our basement. We had a dank, unfinished basement that really had nothing but the old oil furnace in it. I put up some shelves and built a work area under the staircase. That’s where I set up my chemistry set and my electronics experiments.

I was happy and free and I always felt loved and secure. I also felt like I had a lot of independence.

Daddy Daughter turtlesThe second period that stands out in my life is when my daughter was a little girl. Two was an awesome age. But the time when she was 3-6 was the best. She was old enough to have stamina, so she could hang out with me all day. We literally went everywhere together. My co-workers and clients all knew her.

Every weekend, the two of us would head out for an adventure. It normally involved a trip to the Rite-Aid to wander every aisle. We finished in the plant department. Then we’d go to the lumber yard to get supplies for whatever the weekend project was. Again, we hit every aisle. She sat on the riding mowers and sang “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay.” After that we either planted things, painted things, or built things.

On Sunday we either had Daddy-Daughter breakfast before church or Daddy-Daughter lunch after church. Even today she has fond memories of the places we went regularly.

I think my daughter considers me her shield from the world – in large part because we spent all of our time together during this period of her life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every age. But after she started going to school, she developed a life outside of our relationship. That’s how it’s supposed to be of course. She was a great teenager, a great high schooler, and now she’s a wonderful woman.

The third period of happiness that stands out in my life is right now. Over the last six years I’ve rebuilt my life completely. I make a living writing and speaking, which I dearly love. My grown daughter lives with me now as she is finishing college. I get to travel as much as I want (which is a lot). I have been averaging about 20-30 presentations a year in 20-25 cities. I live in a delightful older house with just the right size yard. I’ve created the life I want and I’m living it.

When I travel, I take extra days to see the sights and relax. In 2015 I took 50 vacation days, including two separate weeks in Australia, a week in England, and a week in Hawaii.

I write at lot. I read a lot. I travel a lot. And more than most people, I spend a great deal of time hanging out with friends I really enjoy – all over the world. My favorite combination is: Sharing a meal, at night, outside, near the water, with live music. The more of those elements I can combine, the happier I am.

No one’s life is perfect. But I’m happy to have the self-awareness to appreciate that mine is very good. I’m going to work very hard to keep it heading in the right direction.

. . .

And how about you? What were (are) the happiest times in your life? If “now” isn’t on the list, what can you do to get it there?

:-)

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It’s Complete!!!

The Audio Version of Relax Focus Succeed® is available right now in MP3 format.

It will be available very soon on Audible. If you have used Audible before, I highly recommend it. Go to audible.com and get started with Relax Focus Succeed as soon as it’s released.

Relax Focus Succeed

Relax Focus Succeed

Here’s where and how you can get the Revised Edition of Relax Focus Succeed®:

SMB Books

  • Paperback
  • Kindle format
  • Audio MP3
  • PDF

 

Amazon.com

  • Paperback
  • Kindle format
  • Soon: Audible Audio

 

Audible.com

  • Coming Soon

Thank you all for your support!

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If you’re like me, you can get the same advice over and over for years and it doesn’t sink in – until the time is right. That’s why I read all the “success” literature I can. I read to keep thinking about changes in my life until it’s personal for me.

I took a lot of statistics in graduate school. There was a recurring phenomenon with stats: I never truly, completely understood the math from one course until I had to apply it in the next course. I wasn’t alone in this. Many people found that taking a second semester stats class from a different professor than their first semester helped them understand more. And it didn’t matter which was first or second. It as a different way of explaining the math that made the difference.

hand-drawn-brain-book1kIt’s also the case that the first course prepared our minds for the next. One started laying down the pathways and the next started building the knowledge in a meaningful way. Your personal success is very much like this. You have to lay down the foundation before you can start building. When it comes to changing yourself and your habits, that means you might hear a message a hundred time – or a thousand times – before you decide that you really need to take action.

Success will never come until you internalize your commitment to your own self-improvement. This is because success is hard at the beginning. You have to change your habits, your knowledge, and your commitments. Then you begin the actual work of changing yourself.

Let’s look at how those three things are inter-connected. Knowledge is the easiest piece of the toolkit. You can listen to audio programs and read books all day and all night. You “know” you need to get up early, spend quiet time planning your day, exercise, eat right, set goals, focus on them, and execute.

You “know” all that but it’s all meaningless external knowledge until you make a commitment to change your life.

Some people spend years educating themselves on success but never take action until something suddenly makes sense and then the commitments start falling into place. Others start doing without commitment. In other words, they start following the formula even though they haven’t internally accepted that it really will change their lives.

Believe it or not, this also works. If you get in the habit of getting up early, it will make the habit of quiet time easier. If you get in the habit of exercising, it will make the habit of eating right easier. One by one you can adopt all the habits of success until one by one they are meaninful to you.

Knowledge doesn’t come overnight. Neither do habits nor commitments. But if you practice these things, you will eventually achieve them.

Remember: Nothing happens by itself. You have to work on your success. If you don’t work on your self-improvement, it won’t happen. Period.

Just like athletic development, you need to work on your self-improvement until it becomes real for you. One way to do that is to read and consume self-help books and blogs. The habits you execute without commitment will gradually help you become the person who is ready for success. One by one you will internalize these habits and see exactly how they contribute to your success.

Eventually things will start to click and you will develop a true commitment to each habit. So keep reading. Keep listening. Start doing the things successful people do. The more you do these things the more you prepare yourself for success.

Nothing happens by itself.

:-)

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Sep/15

13

Suffocate Your Fear with Love and Attention

We all experience fear. It keeps us from moving ahead. It even keeps us from improving our lives, improving our business, and improving our relationships. Probably 99% of our fears will never come true.

WorryHere’s a plan to kill your fears – with a technique you probably never considered. First, identify your fears. The easiest fears to identify are the ones that keep us from making changes we know we should make. Whenever you find yourself saying “I know I should . . .” – that’s a fear in disguise. Why aren’t you doing the thing you know you should? Fear of rejection, fear of losing money, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of looking stupid. Fear of something else?

Second, pick one one fear (the biggest) and write down all the things that will be possible when this fear is gone. For example, you’ll know how someone really feels. You’ll actually make more money. You’ll be able to move to the next level. You’l stop wasting time and move ahead. And so forth.

Third, embrace your fear – mentally. Here’s what I mean. Set aside 30 minutes to analyze your fear. Where did it come from? Who influenced it? How big is it? How long have you had it? What are its limits? How far does it extend? In other words, examine every detail you can think of – and write these down.

The next day, take 15 minutes to analyze this same fear. If it’s true, What’s the worst that can happen? Have you seen this happen to someone else? What was the outcome? What’s the most likely outcome (compared to the worst)? How bad would that be? And so forth.

Continue this practice for 15 minutes every day. Two things will happen. First, you will suffocate the fear by giving it too much attention. You will analyze every detail until you’re bored with it!. You’ll be comfortable with it. You’ll know its boundaries and its strength. And you’ll eventually stop identifying it as a fear. It will simply be a “possibility” instead of a fear.

The second thing that will happen when you sit down for your daily 15 minute dose of facing your fear is that you will literally put it in its place. Its place is that 15 minute slot. That’s where it gets Attention: Not the rest of your days or nights.

I was involved in a wonderful exercise at a recent professional conference. The publisher of an industry magazine was examining an article they’d published seven years before. The goal was to provide an introspective look at how well they’d done at predicting the future.

As they went through each prediction, the same theme came up over and over: We worried about the wrong things. The big challenges we identified turned out to be minor bumps in the road. And the major events that affected the whole industry were completely unexpected.

This same pattern is true in our personal lives. We worry a lot about stuff that never happens. And we don’t worry at all about the things that end up being the most important in hindsight.

If fears keep you from advancing, I recommend you create a worry journal. For every big fear that holds you back, spend time analyzing it until you’ve analyzed it to death – literally.

Most fear is not based in true observations or experiences. It’s just our busy minds speculating about possibilities. But what we tend to do is to try to NOT think about the fear. So it pops up and we push it aside. We look for something else to do, something else to think about. In other words, we never fully examine the fear and put it in its place.

Try it. Post your results here.

:-)

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Relax Focus Succeed

5-Week class starts July 28th.

Relax Focus Succeed®

Balance Your Personal and Professional Lives and Be More Successful in Both

Five Mondays – July 28 – Aug. 25, 2014

Registration includes a copy of the book Relax Focus Succeed® by Karl W. Palachuk.

Save $50 right now with code RFSClass

Register now: Only $199 – $50 with code RFSClass to bring this price to only $149

 

DESCRIPTION:

This course will show you how to master the concepts of Relax Focus Succeed® – a program for balancing your personal and professional lives and finding more success in both.

This course is intended for anyone who is stressed out, over-worked, and ready to take their whole life to the next level. We all lead busy lives, filled with too many demands. Many of us don’t get enough sleep or exercise. We fight to be successful at work and at home.

Taught by someone who’s been there. Karl Palachuk was diagnosed with debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 39 and spent several years getting the disease under control. With two businesses to managed and a young family, he found himself unable to work more than a few hours a day. That’s when he developed a process for achieving goals at a very high level without working himself to death.

Many of us chase the entrepreneurial dream – but few of us reach our entrepreneurial vision.

This is an intensive teleseminar course over a five week period. All assignments are voluntary, of course. But if you want feedback on assignments, please complete assignments during this course and email them to the instructor.

Topics to be presented include:

  • Balance your personal and professional lives
  • Focus on the single most important things in your life
  • Develop your vision for self-fulfillment
  • Relax – in a meaningful way
  • Be the same person in all elements of your life (overcome Jekyll/Hyde syndrome)
  • Put the past – and your present – in their place
  • Build your muscles of success
  • Stop working 50- or 60- or 70-hour weeks
  • Avoid being interrupt-driven
  • Slow Down, Get More Done
  • Work less and accomplish more
  • Define Goals: Long-term, Medium-term, and Short-term
  • Build quiet time into your life

The course will include a number of recommended do-it-yourself exercises.

Save $50 right now with code RFSClass

Register now: Only $199

Enter code RFSClass to bring this price to only $149

 

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