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Finding your dream, pt. 3: “Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming”

Now this book is simply no easy read.  And, what if you’ve never heard of the Kabbalah before, let alone have any idea what it is?  In case you would like to know, Kabbalah is a medieval branch of mystical Judaism that has recently—mostly in the decades since the Holocaust—begun to speak to a broader number of hungry souls than ever before.  But, you actually DON’T need to know and here’s why.

Catherine Shainberg, in this amazing work, is close to being simply the perfect guide.  She explains ONLY those aspects of the ancient tradition that you need to know.  She never loses sight of the goal.  Her sole task is to help you begin working on your dream life, right now.

Let me emphasize that.  Shainberg has digested—and packaged it for you—literally hundreds and hundreds of years’ worth of mystical tradition.  No, she has not do so perfectly, and I’ll offer a bit of criticism shortly.  But, to have accomplished this packaging at all is almost enough to make one believe in miracles.

In my years of study, I’ve never found any book that clarifies and introduces such a difficult tradition so successfully.  Masterfully, Shainberg has compressed and converted this seemingly impregnable fortress of tradition into immediate, profound applicability.

Why do you need this book; and why the guidance of this ancient tradition?  First, none of Shainberg’s offering will feel unfamiliar to you IF you’ve read any other mystical material, or dream guides before, such as any of the works of Carlos Castaneda, Don Miguel Ruiz, anything by way of Asian or Buddhist literature, or perhaps any of the thousands of psychoanalytic or other new age dream guides.  But, what if  you have not read that literature?  What if all that weird stuff is just so much mumbo jumbo and puts you off?

In that case, Shainberg’s book is EXACTLY what you need, IF…if you’re ready to begin building a relationship to your dreams.

Do you need help in understanding how dreams work?  Do you fear your dreams or suffer from nightmares?  Do you simply suffer from having no idea what your dream for your life is?  Through hard hitting guidance and direct, immediate exercises, Shainberg will hold your hand, truly step-by-step, through the challenging realm of dreaming.

The one rule you’ll need is this. You need to surrender to her exercises and do them. They are presented in a purposeful sequence and guide you through every stage of learning and discovery you require.

What’s more, while I cannot claim my own mastery in practice, I am a careful reader and an even more careful guide in recommending books.  As such, I assure you, I have at least experimented personally with every exercise in her book, and in the order that she gives them.  And, I’ll gladly testify that some of her exercises have already changed my life, profoundly.  To a certain extent, this very blog is an outworking of Shainberg’s help in better finding my own dreams.  And, there are aspects of her exercise work, and specific techniques, that I will practice for the rest of my life.

So, I’m happy to be clear in stating that I am very much Shainberg’s fan and almost unqualified proponent of her methods.  Ah, but almost…?

Here’s my criticism.  She often loses her pace and even, a few times, her train of thought.  You can tell she’s been working with these structures for decades, and her familiarity sometimes leads her to forget what she’s taught you and what she hasn’t yet taught.

More frequently—and this is surely to some degree very purposeful—she absolutely forces you to go back and re-read previous passages if you’re going to follow along on the current page.  In fact, if you won’t grant her the right to direct your returning to earlier work, you’ll likely get bogged down and fail to truly benefit.

Shainberg is a very comfortable, very masterful…and therefore very, very demanding teacher.  So much so that she often demands your compliance without necessarily even realizing how much obedience is required.  Clearly, she can’t be bothered with such unimportant matters.

But, what taste of the content can I offer you?  I’ll only divulge one component of her guidance.  In my own work, I use the term “Replay” in hopes of getting you to run back over your efforts and outcomes at the end of every work day.  Shainberg is one of my inspirations in giving you this guidance.  Her term, however, is “Reversing.”

In teaching you how to “Reverse,” Shainberg directs you to be very purposeful in everything that occurs from the moment you lay down in bed at night, before you let yourself fall asleep.   It may actually be her most important counsel to get you to run back over the entire day’s activities in reverse order—thus the name of the technique.

Her writing is sparklingly clear in this particular guidance.  She coaches you through tiny, gentle steps to get started.  For example, you might start working to simply remember how you brushed your teeth two minutes ago, and that’s enough at first.  From such gentle beginnings, she’ll soon have you completely confident in holding long stretches of time in your mind’s eye.    From there, she gives you everything you need to master the art of reversing as one of the most powerful steps toward connecting or reconnecting with your dream life that you can take.  Evidently, remembering your daytime experiences is directly tied to remembering your actual dreams at night.  That’s an intriguing possibility, isn’t it?

While her writing can at times be a bit easy to get lost within (just as the world of dreaming itself can be), her method offers the opposite trait of near-perfect clarity.  She teaches us 12 direct steps on the journey to winning the “master game” as she names the art of living by your dreams.

I’ve never read a book that was both so hard to follow—at times at least—in specific and so easy to follow at the level of the big picture.  But, I can tell you that after a life time of study and meditation, and searching for the best guide to dreaming I could find, I’ve now found the one book I will surely always recommend.  If you are ready to take serious counsel on a serious, but still playful journey, you’ll find no better guide than Shainberg.

Kabbalah and the Power of Dreaming

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