Imagery International Blog

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The Challenge of Healing a Violent World

Interviews with conference speakers,
Julia Weaver, MFT and Laurie Marshall, MA

Julia and Laurie will be co-presenting: Healing Hearts Mandalas: Re-Wiring the Human Race!

Julia Weaver, MFT, director of Art and Soul, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice, with 30 years experience incorporating the arts with embodied spirituality. A passionate Environmental Arts Educator, she facilitates personalized rites-of-passage combining the Mandala Process with gardening, collage and rituals, promoting community re-vitalization, ecological healing and world peace. Since 1996, her workshops and art have been featured in numerous magazines and books. Most recently, Feminine Mysticism: Artists Envisioning the Divine. In response to the events of September 11th, 2001, she creates large-scale community interactive Peace Mandalas called “One World One Heart.” It is her deepest joy to invite others to experience their own embodied luminous divinity through private counseling, retreats, webinars and sharing her visionary art.  She loves to collaborate!

You can learn more about Julia at her website:

How did you first discover, or become interested in, guided imagery?

At 18, a modern dance teacher introduced me to the wonderful creative imagery practices in Put Your Mother on the Ceiling which honored and encouraged my natural tendencies to include all senses rather than visual as a primary channel for imagery. As a naturally a kinesthetic /proprioceptive /sensate intuitive whenever a facilitator solely focuses on the visual channel, I fail miserably!

I attended a weekend on the “Celebrating the Magical Child “ which was organized by Laura Huxley and included such luminaries as Frederick Leboyer, Virginia Satir, Ram Dass and the phenomenal synesthetic Jean Houston.  Jean and her husband Robert Master’s work with creativity lit up all my circuits! I began working with Robert’s workbooks engaging the kinesthetic body and weekend workshops with Jean. I have used her practices with clients, groups and myself for almost 40 years.

Do you use guided imagery in your professional work?

Yes, I use guided imagery with both my psychotherapy clients, iRest and mandala students! In graduate school, I loved intensive practices with Psychosynthesis, Focusing, Voice Dialogue and various forms of dream work and somatic therapies.  In addition, I utilize sandplay therapy to inspire clients to invoke their own spontaneous healing imagery.

I endeavor to engage all the sensory portals and perhaps have an emphasis on bodily felt experience, which may seem ironic when people first encounter my mandala programs, given that one naturally thinks of mandalas as a visual art process.  My teacher Judith Cornell, Ph.D. left us her own legacy of embodied imagery processes.

The first step for me is always how to discover the personal multi-sensorial imagery that can help each client or student feel safe, supported and at ease and from there dive into our intention for personal, community, environmental or global healing.

Laurie Marshall, MA, is Lead Artist and Program Manager of Create Peace Project, which recently merged with the non-profit she founded, Unity Through Creativity. A faculty member of Awakening Arts Academy, she is designing an “Art as Peace Building” certificate program, which will begin in 2015.  A certified K-12 art teacher, she offers consensus-building-through-art leadership programs, working with NASA, the UN, the Department of Interior, under-served public schools, hospices, hospitals and prisons. Her work is eco-based, with a life-long Singing Tree Project, inspired by an 8-year-old girl who said, “What if the whole world made a painting together?”  So far, 35 trees have been made with over 15,000 people from 50 countries. She, too, loves to collaborate!

You can learn more about Laurie at her websites:

How did you first discover, or become interested in, guided imagery?

A psychologist in rural Virginia took me through a guided imagery process in 1982, where my Great Grandma Shirley Fein appeared to me.  She had walked from Kiev to Marseilles with five children in the 1890’s. She, who had accomplished such an amazing outward feat, said to me in the guided meditation, “The inside is bigger than the outside.” The experience gave me strength and faith, validating the importance of “sacred inner space”, from which my imagination grows. I was inspired to make this painting of Great Grandma Shirley Fein.
Do you use guided imagery in your professional work?

Drawing upon the work of Dr. Charlotte Reznick, I used guided imagery in my work with inner city youth as a K-5 art teacher. I helped the children imagine a safe space place inside themselves, meeting a helper and receiving a gift. After the meditation, the children painted their safe place. I put the paintings on the wall while the students took their high-stress, standardized tests. I also used guided imagery to help them visualize a positive future for themselves, which they painted. I went on to use some of the students’ imagery in portraits that I painted for their 5th grade graduation presents. Here is an example. Dayjohn drew his dream of being a coach. I painted his delightful drawing on his portrait. Last fall, Dayjohn was killed a week before his 18th birthday. I am humble in the face of how challenging it is to heal our complex and violent world.


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