Mandala Coloring For Children And Teenagers With Cancer

Mandala Coloring: A Healing Therapy that Can Lift the Spirits of Children with Cancer

By Steven Vrancken, Artist, Musician, Communication Scientist, Belgium

How do you help a child cope with a cancer diagnosis or treatment? There is no simple answer to this question; but I'd like to suggest a form of art therapy that I believe can lift the spirits of young cancer patients. And, this means improving their quality of life.

It's called mandala coloring. It's creative play and a form of art therapy, which uses crayons, colored pencils, and other artistic writing tools. And, it's also a healing therapy, which allows a child to connect with their heart-center and release their pent-up emotions in a non-threatening way. It allows a child to tell their story—their fears, their determination, their courage—through the language of symbols, color, and their own artistic expression.

As an artist, I've worked with mandala coloring and creative art therapy for years. I've used it as a holistic healing tool to deal with my own health challenges and have also witnessed miraculous changes in those who have worked with my mandala coloring pages. I know that mandala coloring touches the heart, connects you to your innermost feelings, makes you feel lighter, and allows you to express your emotions in a way that is truly liberating. And, I believe that it can be a source of healing for children with cancer.

What Is a Mandala?

Surprisingly enough, mandalas have existed since the beginning of time; and, without consciously knowing it, you probably experience their beauty every day. The sun in the sky, the pristine design of a snowflake, and even the circular face of a sunflower are all examples of mandalas.

Simply stated, a mandala is a circle, but it's a very special type of circle. The word mandala coloring comes from the ancient Sanskrit language and loosely means circle or center. It's considered a sacred geometric shape that has no beginning or end. It's a circular matrix with a center point from which all things are possible. In both eastern and western cultures, the mandala has come to symbolize harmony, unity, wholeness, and healing.

How Can Mandala Coloring Help a Child with Cancer?

Children with cancer need a safe way to communicate their fears and anxieties. The stress, physical pain, and uncertainty young cancer patients must endure can leave them feeling a wide range of emotions including fear, shock, anger, resentment, confusion, denial, guilt, and sadness. They may not have the words to express these feelings or may not want to openly share them with others. But through mandala coloring, these children can find a powerful, yet safe, outlet for their emotions.

Mandala Coloring Is Healing Therapy

Mandala coloring is a powerful tool for healing, which encourages positive states of being. It's a mindful, reflective process that can connect a child to their own innate healing abilities, and through which they can experience personal growth and spiritual transformation. And through the unique expression of color, a child can open pathways to a deeper understanding within themselves.

I think of the mandala as a circle that is alive with energetic information. It connects with its creator in a very special way. When a child colors a mandala, they're filling it with symbols and colors, all which contain deep levels of meaning for the child. You might say that the sacred circle acts as a vessel that is ready to be filled with whatever feelings and emotions a child wishes to express at that moment. And when they release the emotions they've been holding inside, they experience healing.

Mandala Coloring is Art Therapy

Mandala coloring is considered a form of art therapy because it uses artistic tools like drawing, coloring, and painting to promote self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-understanding. It's a nonverbal and totally open way for young cancer patients to express their innermost feelings through an outwardly unfolding process. Through this process, they can safely access, explore, and release emotions that they've buried deep inside of them.

In addition, the mandala coloring process totally engages the mind. It keeps a child's attention focused on an activity that is colorful and creative—it's play. And, while a child is playing, they're not thinking about their upcoming surgery, their stay in the hospital, or the pain they're experiencing. That's why art therapies like mandala coloring have been shown to reduce symptoms like pain, anxiety, and depression in children with cancer.

Mandala Coloring Complements Traditional Healing Approaches

Mandala coloring is considered a holistic approach to healing because it focuses on healing all aspects of the self—body, mind, and spirit—and not just the physical body. This is how it differs from traditional, or conventional, approaches to healing. The main focus of traditional healing is the physical health of the body. In the case of cancer, a traditional healing approach might involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or prescription medications.

As a holistic healing therapy, mandala coloring focuses on healing the whole person. It doesn't replace traditional healing therapies but can effectively complement and enhance any traditional therapies a child may be receiving.

Mandala coloring allows a child to enter a place of stillness so they can create. This stillness allows them to relax their bodies and quiet their minds. This explains why mandala coloring is such an effective tool for relieving tension and stress. But, this same process also engages a child's mind in a constructive way that lifts their spirits and lets them artistically express what's in their hearts from a place of centeredness. It engages them on a cellular level and facilitates healing on that level.

What Can a Child Experience Through Mandala Coloring?

Here are just a few of the many benefits young cancer patients can experience through mandala coloring therapy:

  • Freedom to express their feelings in a non-threatening way
  • Lightness and a sense of inner joy and calmness
  • Freedom to play and just be a child
  • Release from tension, anxiety, and fear
  • Greater self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-understanding
  • Less pain, fear, and worry
  • Expanded creativity which is inspired from within
  • Greater relaxation of mind and body
  • Healing in body, mind, and spirit
  • A solution to boredom
  • Release of repressed feelings and emotions

Tips on Getting Your Child Started on Mandala Coloring

Mandala coloring is simple, easy, and fun. In fact, you can't make a mistake when you create a mandala, so there's never any pressure when you're working with them. But here are a couple of tips that can help to maximize a child's experience with this incredible process.

If a child is too young to read, just explain these tips to them using your own words.

  • Color at your own pace. Coloring mandalas isn't a race, so take the time you need to color your mandala. Remember that mandala coloring is meant to be fun and relaxing, and offers a safe way to let go of deeply-held emotions.
  • Color with the heart of a child. This means coloring as if anything is possible. Be open to the process and use this time to have fun, relax, and experience joy. Let the mandala coloring process connect you to your own creative energies, and let your completed mandala be your personal work of art!
  • Work with an intention. This can be particularly helpful for teenagers who are dealing with cancer. Working with an intention simply means focusing on what you want to accomplish through your mandala. Is it to relax, to let go of anger or depression, to see yourself healthy or healing, or to simply give form and shape to what you aren't able to express in words? Whatever your intention is, know that mandala coloring encourages self-expression and promotes healing of body, mind, and spirit.

Here's a final thought on mandala coloring therapy: if it allows a child with cancer to experience even one of the positive benefits I've listed, then it has helped them to heal and has, in some way, improved their quality of life. That is my goal and my heartfelt desire in sharing this information with you.

For more information on mandala coloring, visit my website: This website contains all kinds of useful information on mandala coloring, including free mandala coloring pages, helpful tips to maximize your mandala coloring experience, and meditation music to relax you while you color. Plus, you can also get my Mandalas of Joy for Children coloring kit for free at this website.