G. Sequane Lawrence is president of Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities (FFHC) in Chicago. His life’s mission is to improve the outcomes of children of noncustodial African American dads, by giving those dads tools to heal broken relationships and live healthier lives. He learned to meditate through the David Lynch Foundation, and now he is working to make TM a pillar in FFHC’s service delivery.
“I work with young men who live in some really distressed communities. I don’t want to speak with a broad brush, but some of them have seen real trauma. In the community we serve, there can be as many as fifty percent of the young men with a record. This is a real problem, and it’s a consequence of the war on drugs, mass incarceration, racism, and all these things I fight against. A lot of them are minors who were then incarcerated with adults. These are guys who want to be better fathers, but one of the issues is the social construct that to be a “real man” you’ve got to be a provider, and if you don’t do that, your masculinity and manhood are called into question. This causes all kinds of psychological and emotional problems.
“I tell these young men that you may not have money right now, but you can be a man by the things you learn and then communicate to your kids. I feel they transmit a sense of calm and emotional maturity to their children as a result of their TM practice. I tell them it’s a way you can assert yourself as a man in the family, and bring real value and be an asset. TM also helps to remove the rancor that is often there between these young men and the mothers of their children. They become better parents and better neighbors.
“My goal is to make TM a fundamental part of our wellness platform in the same way that nutrition, exercise, and education are. I also want TM in all of the schools across the district as well as in after-school programs, community centers, and churches. I think Chicago is ready for it. It might sound strange to some people, but so did jogging and eating organic. They’re not fads now.
“My wife, Theresa, says she can tell when I am meditating consistently. She likes that man when I’m doing it. We’ve been married thirty-six years—so this is a person who knows.”
This is an excerpt from Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth.