In 2017, Lauren Mooney was working a corporate job she hated. After a series of major life events coincided, such as Mooney taking a weekend reiki training and her mother getting diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, Mooney realized her life was on a different path. She quit her office job and began pursuing taking classes and being trained in Reiki, breath work, and meditation.
Mooney also began routinely traveling from New York City, where she lived with her husband to Los Angeles, where she grew up to help her mother through a series of increasingly painful surgeries, chemo treatments and stages of illness.
A long-time recreational cannabis user, Mooney became interested in how medical cannabis could help ease her mom’s pain symptoms, as well as how it could be incorporated into her own burgeoning career as an alternative healer.
We spoke with Mooney about finding purpose in pain, reiki, how energy healing can be combined with CBD and cannabis, and how she channels her unconventional life path and the loss of her mother into helping heal others.
Let’s talk about your transition from a corporate job to reiki, energy healing and the work you do now. What sparked that change?
Spirituality has always been a part of me. I grew up religious and I feel there was always a layer there. But basically, so many things culminated at the same time. My mom got sick with stage 4 melanoma. I had always been a recreational cannabis user, but then started thinking about that more as a way to help my mom. I got a really corporate agency job at the same time I started my Reiki training. I had always been able to work at small companies where I liked the people, so it wasn’t that big of a deal if the work wasn’t my passion. I got used to making money. Without really knowing what Reiki was, having my mom be so sick, being at a new job which didn’t feel right at all gave me an opening. Literally the weekend I did my first Reiki training, I went into my office that Monday and I was like…no. It felt so wrong. I didn’t know what the plan was then, but I knew I needed to get out. People were so invigorated by my energy, they were like, “You’re leaving? You can do that?” And I was like, “Yeah…” That’s what I want people to realize. Whatever job they’re at, or whatever thing that is consuming their lives, you can take a step out of that any time you choose.
What is Reiki? I love what you’re saying about how it activated you. Can you tell me specifically how you felt that and how reiki helped you come to all these amazing life realizations?
The definition of Reiki is it’s the Japanese word for universal life energy. A lot of people think energy is a pseudo-science, but I like to say energy itself is very much a real thing. We all feel it every day. Everybody has access to that, we all take in energy, we run on energy. When you’re doing reiki training you get attuned to a higher frequency of that energy. That’s why you’re able as a practitioner to sit with someone and do hands-on or hands-off healing. I’m a channel. I’m not giving you energy, I’m plugging into your energy and letting it run through me and giving you what you need. Say, you’re really tired and need to sleep, you might fall asleep during the session, or you could get energized from it. It’s about meeting people where they’re at. You lay down on a table and it’s like you’re getting a massage wearing comfortable clothing. I like to do hands-on, because that in itself is so soothing for people.
Growing up in California, cannabis was more accessible to me and there was less stigma around it. So, how do you integrate cannabis and CBD into your energy and healing work?
The idea of taking away the stigma is a huge part of why I’ve become more outspoken about being a cannabis user. I think if I’m not willing to do that as a white person in the world, the stigma is so much worse for people of color. It’s important for someone like me who has less consequences to be out about it.
Growing up in Southern California, I had smoked weed in High School for the first time. When I was in college was when I had friends who worked in dispensaries and it was becoming more legal. But I still felt a secretive element to it I don’t feel anymore. That secretive element didn’t go away until I was helping my mom with cannabis about three years ago.
As far as incorporating it into my practice, it’s definitely what sets me apart in the healing world. I began by talking to people in the industry about how to help my mom. I talked with a woman named Maya who has a company called Om Edibles and she works with Whoopi Goldberg on the Whoopi & Maya line of cannabis products, with includes a lot of bath salts and lotions. She had posted on Instagram about Rick Simpson, that the one-to-one combination of CBD and THC applied topically as an oil, Simpson claimed that it had cured him of melanoma. That it can kill tumors and cancer, which is something that has been shown to work, obviously not for everybody. I sent her a message and she asked if she could call me. We talked on the phone for over an hour and she listened to everything that was going on with my mom. She sent us a huge package of products for free, with a one-page letter to my mom about how to use them. That was the beginning of me really wanting to be in the cannabis industry. It made me realize these people care about other people and really want to help other people.
Wow, that’s beautiful.
Yeah. It also helped me realize CBD is a really great compliment to the Reiki healing work I do, because it can help people slip into a more relaxed state. I also want to educate people about CBD, especially people who may not have other reasons to try it. I use it as a tincture at the beginning of my sessions and also topically on pressure points throughout the session.
I’d like to talk a little more about your mom’s illness. I know she was a more a traditional person. So for people like her, I’d like to talk about how your mom’s perspective changed and how other people can change their perspective and get past some stigmas.
My mom became more open to things when she was having less luck with more traditional medicine. If you’re sick the way my mom was sick and you’re taking so many meds at that point, it’s like, are you really worried about this? I get part of the issue is that things aren’t so integrated right now. Doctors don’t recommend cannabis, because they don’t make money off of it. Don’t be nervous or scared. When you know something is going to really help someone, it takes away a lot of the fear. For my mom, she really trusted me. She knew I had been using cannabis for a long time. You have to broach the subject and find the right information, and sources you trust.
So, your parents were both traditional, but when your mom ran out of other medical options she was more open to cannabis and CBD? And for people that may feel more resistant, it’s about finding sources and people in your life you trust to guide you?
Yeah, definitely. Her cancer also coincided with when recreational was coming to pass in California and that really helped my parents who are more conservative, law-abiding citizens. My mom even became more open to Eastern philosophies and Eastern medicine. It didn’t feel then like we were running out of options, like it did at the very end of her life.
Through your journey with cannabis, reiki, illness, and your mother’s death, how has your energy work helped sustain you? What would you want people to take away from your experience?
Being involved in Reiki and breath work while all this stuff was happening with my mom, gave me the most powerful community I felt was holding me throughout that time. I see now even more that my mom is gone, how doing all that work was sustaining me. I do think it’s very important to also be in therapy. I’m also in regular talk therapy. Especially because doing the work I do, it’s so important I maintain myself. My mom getting sick made me reevaluate my position in the world, it was very empowering for me and made me feel less lost and overwhelmed. Helping other people recognize that power in them, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. Having gone through helping my mom with cannabis and reiki in such a traumatic, dire setting, to continue to get to do that and help people who are my friends is amazing. Even if it’s not cancer, it could be anxiety or some other issue. I can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t want to keep helping people, integrating everything I care about. Even though I haven’t been involved working with people with cancer since my mom died, it’s only been a few months. I see myself in a year or so, being able to be involved with Reiki and cancer patients.
That’s wonderful work when you’re ready for it. You also work on both coasts now–what do you have coming up?
It’s not really that glamorous, but I am bi-coastal. I did a Women In Weed event last year in L.A. and I’m going to be doing a pop-up in early August of one-on-one reiki sessions in L.A. I’m in New York more regularly, because it’s where my home, my husband and my dog are. I have an office in the city near Flatiron
To learn more about Lauren Mooney and her services, visit lamooney.com.
All photos by Melodee Solomon.