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Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming

Awakening the Visionary Life

Published by Inner Traditions
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A dynamic exposition of the powerful, ancient Sephardic tradition of dreaming passed down from the renowned 13th-century kabbalist Isaac the Blind

• Includes exercises and practices to access the dream state at will in order to engage with life in a state of enhanced awareness

• Written by the close student of revered kabbalist Colette Aboulker-Muscat

In Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming Catherine Shainberg unveils the esoteric practices that allow us to unlock the dreaming mind's transformative and intuitive powers. These are the practices used by ancient prophets, seers, and sages to control dreams and visions. Shainberg draws upon the ancient Sephardic Kabbalah tradition, as well as illustrative stories and myths from around the Mediterranean, to teach readers how to harness the intuitive power of their dreaming. While the Hebrew Bible and our Western esoteric tradition give us ample evidence of dream teachings, rarely has the path to becoming a conscious dreamer been articulated. Shainberg shows that dreaming is not something that merely takes place while sleeping--we are dreaming at every moment. By teaching the conscious mind to be awake in our sleeping dreams and the dreaming mind to be manifest in daytime awareness, we are able to achieve revolutionary consciousness. Her inner-vision exercises initiate creative and transformative images that generate the pathways to self-realization.


Chapter 7--Practicing Life’s Quickening Exercises

A depth of beginning, a depth of end; a depth of good, a depth of evil; a depth of above, a depth of below; a depth of east, a depth of west; a depth of north, a depth of south. The singular Master, God faithful King, dominates them all from His holy dwelling until eternity of eternities.
Sefer Yetsira, 1:5 (translation by Aryeh Kaplan)

Practicing the Plunge

The practice I am about to describe has been developed within a long family lineage whose most celebrated exponent and probable originator is the 13th-century Provençal kabbalist Isaac the Blind. In our own time, his direct descendant, Colette Aboulker-Muscat, equaled her predecessors as an innovator, revolutionizing the work that they initiated by her own considerable and unique contributions.

In particular, she brilliantly adapted the work’s time-honored methods to modern needs and to people of all creeds and beliefs. While its roots remain essentially Jewish, Sephardic and Mediterranean, the work employs laws familiar to followers of all sacred traditions, because these laws are universal to the imaginal mind. We will be describing them as they come up to help you understand the “science” that goes into constructing the guided exercises you will be using.

These guided exercises take no longer than a minute each to practice, unlike the exercises in chapter 5. But, like those exercises, these also find their fulfillment in the dramatic way they help us deal with the problems of daily life. Just as Reversing and practicing the exercise of the Exam of Conscience Backward bring our freedom to choose back to us in situations where imprisoning habits used to rule, so these guided exercises free us to calmly face change when it is demanded of us, no matter how drastic it may be.

When life’s difficulties throw us off balance, having practiced the exercises, we are intimately “in the know” about alignment and thus are able to fluidly and quickly readjust. We ground our feet, elongate our spines and, without losing a beat, calmly reclaim our balance.

Before we begin the guided exercises, let me briefly mention a few important things you need to know. In undertaking them, you should choose a quiet time and place. Sit in an armchair, arms relaxed on the armrests and legs uncrossed. Read the exercise to yourself, then closing your eyes, breathe out three times slowly, counting from 3 to 1, seeing the numbers in your mind’s eye. See the number 1 as being tall, clear, and very straight. Now proceed to “sense, see, feel, live” the exercise. Do not “think” about the actual words of the exercise, instead try to experience them imaginally with all your senses.

You should be rewarded with a 3D Technicolor response. When you have completed the exercise, breathe out once and open your eyes. While the guided exercises may appear trite when you simply read them or mentally deconstruct them. Experiencing them is another matter altogether.

When you are truly present in the exercise, not only your mind, but your whole being, is engaged in the process. As we said earlier, the exercise is designed to jolt you into movement, just as a true poem is structured to jolt you with its orchestration of words. Being able to cause that jolt, of course, is the challenge, and the art with which the exercise is devised is the answer to that challenge. Using the laws effectively is what makes this happen. I call this the strategy of the exercise.

Since you are working from a book, I have chosen simple exercises you can safely do on your own. If for any reason you feel disturbed by what you experience, don’t hesitate to seek help. All responses are potentially explosive since the exercises were designed to uncover the true you.

Guided Exercise 5 (Penetration 2)
Breathe out once. Imagine that you are standing in front of a locked door. You are holding a key chain full of keys. Find the key that fits the lock. Insert it into the lock, turn the key and open the door. What do you see? What do you do? Breathe out once. Do you stand at the threshold or do you walk through?

If the strategy of penetration--pushing forward in one direction--doesn’t break the pattern, what do you do? Directions work in pairs. “Down” works with “up” (after Persephone’s fall, she rises again) and “right” works with “left.”

Many of us favor one direction over the other. Suppose you are obsessively building your future and have no time to reflect or look back upon your life. The direction you then favor is the right. (The future translates as the right in the imaginal field.) Or, you are always looking to ascend out of your body, into your mental or fantasy worlds. Having found that this way of escaping your pains and responsibilities is more natural for you, the direction you favor is up.

Both are survival techniques probably acquired in childhood that may no longer serve you. Continually exploring one direction to the exclusion of the others is an impoverishment. To become true dreamers we need to explore all directions.

Suppose someone is constantly harping back to his or her past, this translates as the left in the imaginal field. Thus, doing an exercise that takes that person to the right, the future, may create a movement strong enough to jolt them from their obsession with the past. Stimulated by the jolt, that person’s imagination unfolds an unexpected, new configuration that impresses them to the point of weakening or actually wiping away their obsessive stranglehold on their images of the past.

About The Author

Catherine Shainberg, Ph.D., is a psychologist, healer, and teacher with a private practice in New York City. She spent 10 years of intense study of the Kabbalah of Light in Jerusalem with Colette Aboulker-Muscat and an additional 20 years in continuing collaboration with her. In 1982 Catherine Shainberg founded the School of Images, dedicated to teaching the revelatory dream and kavanah (intent) techniques of this ancient Sephardic Kabbalah tradition. She conducts imagery and dreaming workshops internationally.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Inner Traditions (February 16, 2005)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594770470

Raves and Reviews

"Shainberg, a Ph.D. in psychology and student of the renowned Kabbalist Colette Aboulker-Muscat, offers not so much a book about the Kabbalah as one from the very essence of the traditional Jewish mystical text. Through our dreams, she teaches, we strive for the oneness that lies at the heart of Kabbalah--indeed at the heart of most religions. This universal search for wholeness becomes Shainberg's primary theme, making this a book for anyone seeking a deeper sense of self. Her personal story of spiritual quest and her references to a life that, at times, was less than ideal make up most of the fascinating introduction. Her candor quickly establishes a trust between author and reader, drawing readers in just enough to take a chance on the esoteric practice of unlocking dreams. Her premise, though simple in theory, requires much devotion in practice but little in the way of physical equipment--merely an armchair and a handful of notebooks. Throughout, Shainberg presents a gentle guide to techniques for merging our present conscious selves with the past and future contained within our subconscious. The result: a more unified, creative, complete individual. Like Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way, Shainberg offers the tools to ignite a deep-seated creativity, one that feeds not only the mind, but the soul."

– Publishers Weekly, March 16, 2005

“A brilliantly articulated exploration of the elusive mystery of dreams and imagination, and how they dance both sides of the veil between fantasy and reality. Combining ancient mystical wisdom with contemporary metaphor, Catherine Shainberg not only illuminates our understanding about the phenomenon of dreaming and its impact on the waking world, but also offers us ample user-friendly exercises and meditations to experience the wisdom of both. Shainberg is a foremost disciple of one of the few and most notable women kabbalists, Colette Aboulker-Muscat, herself a descendant and student of the thirteenth-century Rabbi Yitzchak Saggei Na’hor (known as Isaac the Blind) and of his mystery school. Like her teacher Colette, Shainberg has helped innumerable people through her healing work with imagery and dream. In Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming she has, for the first time, shared with all of us the heretofore inaccessible wisdom of dream from the rich kabbalistic tradition of her teacher and her people. This is a book that delivers everything its title promises; it is an important addition to the classical literature of Jewish spiritual wisdom.”

– Rabbi Gershon Winkler, author of Kabbalah 365: Daily Fruit from the Tree of Life

“Catherine Shainberg contributes a fresh, creative, and innovative approach to dreaming and imagination through the practice of waking dream. In doing so she brings alive the ancient wisdom of prophetic Kabbalah in a practical and readily usable way. Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming deserves to be read and enjoyed; its reader will be richly rewarded with the spiritual view of life it provides.”

– Gerald Epstein, M.D., author of Healing Visualizations: Creating Health Through Imagery

“The medieval system of Jewish Kabbalah taught that a more real world than our own lies behind the common one of day-to-day experience. Through lifelong routines of meditation and visualization, kabbalists drew on the insights of that other world. Now Catherine Shainberg, psychologist, poet, and dream specialist, provides a warm, richly detailed guide to this kind of thinking for the seekers of today. Her book opens with a moving account of her own search for bearings, then spans the ocean of kabbalistic tales and models. It is a heartfelt and generous guide to the questing imagination and, inevitably, to deepened relationships with others on the same trail.”

– Eleanor Munro, author of Originals: American Women Artists

Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming is a magnificent guide to putting soul back in the body and walking a path with heart. Catherine Shainberg is a profound spiritual teacher who reminds us that dreaming is not only about what we do when we sleep but about waking up to a deeper life by remembering and navigating from our sacred purpose. It instructs us on how to tap into our Source energy--including the images that speak to the body that can make it well--and informs us on how we can be present at the place of creation. Her book contains a panoply of practical exercises for transforming fear and anger into heart-centered energy, thereby liberating ourselves from the rule of habit and healing the wound between Earth and Sky. I highly recommend this book.”

– Robert Moss, author of Dreamways of the Iroquois: Honoring the Secret Wishes of the Soul

“Catherine Shainberg’s book begins with an entrancing account of her personal entry into the world of dreams and images, and reveals how she discovered her own great teacher of images and dreams, the renowned kabbalist Colette Aboulker-Muscat. Shainberg draws upon many years of experience to guide us through the possibilities of inner growth through dreamwork, offering exercises along the way that are intriguing and seem likely to open the mind and heart further and further. The power of dreaming is something I’ve come to appreciate more and more in my own life, and Shainberg’s book does justice to that power. She is on a path of great beauty.”

– Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus

“Many cultures believe that during a dream the soul leaves the dreamer’s body and journeys to other worlds, possibly visiting the imaginal realm where the dreamer seems to break free of the limitations of time and space. In Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming Catherine Shainberg not only takes us into that realm, she provides insights and a travel guide. Not since the time of Joseph and his prophetic dreams has such a well-written storytelling guidebook been offered.”

– Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D., author of Mind Into Matter

"[Shainberg's] inner-vision exercises initiate creative and transformative images that generate the pathways to self-realization."

– Branches of Light, Spring-Summer-Fall 2005

". . . choose psychologist/healer Catherine Shainberg's Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming: Awakening the Visionary Life if what you seek is a practical application of Kabbalah principles to daily spiritual purposes."

– The Midwest Book Review, Sept 2005

". . . if you'd like to discover the power of your dreams and bring about inner transformation and get more in touch with your intuitive side, Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming is a great place to start or refine your skills."

– Cyndi Witkus, In the Library Reviews, July 2005

"Shainberg unveils the esoteric practices used by ancient prophets, seers and sages to control dreams and visions."

– Aznet News, Oct-Nov 2005

"Insightful and imaginative, Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming is about enlightenment, awareness, and intent."

– Jean E. Hansgen, New Age Retailer, New Year 2006

"My self-talk dreams began in earnest before I even finished one quarter of the book, and it has been a fun journey. I do believe that each person who reads her book will benefit from it and I really recommend this book for everyone who wishes to refine the process of listening to self and dream working!"

– Reality Undefined, Aug 2008

" . . . shows us a rarely seen side of the power of dreaming. This book is not about dreams; it is about the act of dreaming itself. . . . Learning to harness the power of dreaming through the study of Kabbalah will inevitably lead us to develop the mind's intuitive and transformative processes."

– Kathryn Price, book editor, WomensRadio, April 2008

". . . unveils the esoteric practices that allow us to unlock the dreaming mind's transformative and intuitive powers."

– Branches of Light, Spring-Summer-Fall 2005

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