Stacey Lawson
6 minute read


In January 2024, Stacey Lawson had an illuminating dialogue with Lulu Escobar and Michael Marchetti. Below is an excerpt of that conversation.


You are in the world as a successful businesswoman; and also, you are a spiritual leader. You take risks to go out of your comfort zone. Do inner change and outer change go hand in hand? 

There are a lot of cultural norms and systems in the world. Even something like power -- it's easy to express power in a way that is the "normal" way; for example, power over something. I've come to learn it's not about being a powerful person. It's about standing in our power, that is the authenticity of who we are. If someone is perhaps soft or if they're vulnerable or they're creative, standing in their power is actually standing in the fullness of the vulnerable expression of who they are and offering that genius -- that gift --  into the world. So it requires inner change to really become familiar with our unique genius and expression. And outer change requires more people doing that. The unique genius that I feel we all carry is so special and sometimes hard to discern. But the inner change allows us to find that; then, the outer change requires us to be that.

And how do you discover these things?

I'm still trying. I mentioned power. I think this has been another theme all my life. I remember taking a survey at Harvard in one of the courses, where we had to rank order the things that would be most compelling to us in our careers -- things such as recognition or financial compensation or intellectual stimulation; or relationships with peers, etc. I don't remember what I put at the top, but the very last word out of about 20 words, was power. I remember thinking, that's interesting. Is that really true? And I sat there, and it was true.

Later on, I ran for Congress, which is a place where there's all kinds of weird power structures and dynamics. It really is almost centrally designed and organized around power. So, this notion of standing in our power, like what really is truly authentically aligned with our values and who we are, is I think a long journey. It's step by step. It's the thing you live into daily. It's what you do with a lifetime. I found it really hard running for Congress. But that's probably a longer story.

Your motivation to run for US Congress came during a meditation. It was something that you were not waiting for; something you were opposed to. Your inner self wasn't very happy with your call. So sometimes it's difficult to find or live this authenticity. What's interesting, also, is that sometimes you don't feel compelled to follow the path that is shown to you. Can you share more about that?

I've never been drawn to politics. I've always felt that the energy feels very ragged, negative, divisive and uncomfortable. I ran for congress in 2012, coming off of the seven years I spent halftime in India. During the time in India, we spent sometimes 10 or 12 hours a day in meditation to deepen our work. I was way in the cave, in an ashram setting that was very sweet. And, while it was fierce, it was protected. The energies were at a certain level that allowed for transformation to not be too tough.

I went through about a four-month period where I kept getting this really strong inner guidance that I needed to step out and I needed to run for politics. And I thought, you know what? No. I went into this very dark night of the soul. To me, it was, "wait, I don't want to do that. How can guidance, universe, source, divine whatever it is for you --how can it ask me to do something like this? Is it really asking? Is that really what I'm hearing? How could I be asked to do something that I so don't want to do? Shouldn't it be fulfilling and exciting?"

I had a lot of fear around whether I could step into that realm and actually keep my center. That's what was almost devastating before it was devastating-- the fear that I wouldn't be balanced, and that it would be difficult. So, I literally went into the battle with myself. Every day I woke up in tears. In my meditation, I'd grapple with, "Is this real? Do I need to follow it?" And, finally my teacher said, "You know, this is the next step. This is what you need to do." I still fought it. And then I realized, well, wait, if you don't follow your guidance, then what do you have? That's all there is. The thought of actually saying no and turning my back on that felt so paralyzingly flat or disconnected. I knew I had to step in.

The experience was actually pretty traumatizing. From an external view, it was like running a startup. Doing the actual day-to-day stuff wasn't a problem. It was 24/7 debate stages and public speaking and fundraisers and raising gazillions of dollars. But the energy was very devastating. I felt crushed by how much I felt from the people. I was shaking hundreds of hands every day. There were moms who couldn't pay for childcare. There were seniors who didn't have healthcare. And it was right after the financial collapse. So, there was huge unemployment. It was daunting to think of how these problems could be solved. And the political process is so harsh.

I remember, I have one memory that was sort of a seminal moment in the campaign. It was on Earth Day in the spring of 2012. I was backstage getting mic'd up to go on stage for the debate. This woman who I never met, found her way backstage and came up to me. She must've been with one of the other candidates.

She stormed up to me and she said, "I hate you."

My first thought was, Oh my gosh, I don't think I've ever said that to anyone. But what I heard coming out of my mouth was, "Oh my gosh, I don't even know you, but I love you. Tell me what's hurting. Maybe I can help."

She kind of spun on her heels and just wandered off. She was so surprised that someone in the political realm would respond like that. She couldn't even take it in. And it wasn't a moment where I could actually spend time with her. I was literally being pulled onstage.

I remember someone mentioned this yesterday about Gandhi: when he declared something, he actually had to live into it. This was one of those moments where it was like, "Whoa, what declaration did I just make? This is a sacrifice of love. No matter what happens, this is about doing what's called for and doing it with love." Our politics may or may not be ready for that yet. It may not be the time. Or maybe it is.

In the end, I actually thought I was called because I should win. I actually thought, why would the divine tell me I had to do this [i.e. run for Congress] if I wasn't meant to win? It didn't turn out that way. I lost. We got close, but we didn't win.

I thought, What? Wait a minute, was my guidance wrong? It was only in years since, as I reflected, I remembered there's something in the Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says to Arjuna, "You have the right to act, but you don't have the right to the fruits of your action."

I may never know exactly why my step into politics was required at that time. The outcome was not at all what I expected. I actually felt a little crushed by that, too, for a while. So, I surrendered that. We may never know why we're ever drawn to do each thing and how many people we touch, or how our actions change things. But I do feel like it was incredibly important to follow the guidance and to live the love, to serve the love.

In another quote, Kahlil Gibran says, "Work is love made visible." So, I think it was just another way to deepen in love. It was a pretty rough way, but I'm grateful. 

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