Magnificent Mandalas

A Silver Lining of this summer is that I am back to my beloved clinical work. Doing clinical work makes my heart and soul so very, very happy.

So, what does this look like, exactly? Well, I am co-facilitating a support group for adolescents who either have a parent or a sibling with cancer. I am also working with individual children of parents with cancer helping them to understand and cope with the f-bomb that has hit their family (don’t worry, no f-bombs around the kids!).

As I’ve always said, we are not born equipped to handle the cancer f-bomb. However, the Silver Lining is that there are tools to help at every single solitary stage of the process.

One tool that I love to use with children is the Mandala. Ever heard of it? Ohhhh, I love it. The word “Mandala” is Sanskrit for “whole world” or “healing circle.”

Mandalas go way, way back. They were originally used in Eastern religions as symbols to help people meditate, and for protection and healing rituals. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self,” and believed that mandala paintings helped him identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.

As we all know, the stress, physical pain, and uncertainty of having f-bomb cancer in the family can leave children 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, children can find a powerful, yet safe, outlet for their emotions.

Mandala coloring is a wonderful opportunity for creative play and a form of art therapy that uses crayons, colored pencils, and other artistic writing tools. Mandala’s are very healing because they allow a child to connect with his or her heart-center and release pent-up emotions in a non-threatening way. It also allows a children to tell their story—their fears, their determination, their courage—through the language of symbols, color, and their own artistic expression.

While a Mandala can be exquisitely intricate and detailed, it can also be very, very simple (which is, of course, how I prefer to use them). I begin by simply asking a child to draw a circle. Then within that circle, I ask them to draw their feelings using different colors. The beautiful Silver Lining of a Mandala is that it becomes whatever a child wants it to become.

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 which 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.

Both professionally and also personally with Sweetly Six, I’ve witnessed how transformative and Silver Lined Mandalas are.

Have you ever used them?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences!




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  1. says

    A Tibetan teacher I studied with for 3 years took our group to Joshua Tree and we each were charged with making mandalas of the objects we found around us. It was so beautiful and so varied. Some were huge, some tiny, some simple, some elaborate. Afterward we had a native American sort of ceremony – it was transporting – allowing us if even for an instant to glimpse something outside ourselves, something greater than ourselves, and perhaps the Divine. Thank you for this beautiful post – and reminder.

  2. Rachel says

    Wow…all I did was a simple search in Google..and found all these amazing links and coloring pages to download…I already knew about mandalas but didn't realize that it has been incorporated as a healing tool for children. How amazing! Anyway, thought I would share…are there any sites all of you visit and consider a favorite we should check out?…

  3. E.B. says

    This is an EXCELLENT idea and project. For anyone dealing with FBC or any kind F-bomb situation. Going to use this over the weekend. Have I told you, your website is a MAJOR Silver Lining in my life? It truly is and I thank you ever so much for it.

    • says

      Thanks for your note, E.B.! Look forward to hearing what you think.
      THANK YOU for your kind words. Your comments are also a Silver Lining in my life!

  4. Kim C says

    Oh Hollye, I'm so happy to hear you're back to doing this wonderful work with children and teens. I have heard about the process of the healing mandalas and have seen finished pieces, but have never experienced the process personally. What a lovely opportunity for you to share your gifts with some of those who need you most! Thank you again for sharing your gifts with all of us, by way of the Silver Pen. To be helping to heal our world, rather than adding to the noice, is important and from one human being to another, I thank you! We're all in this together!