Do not disconnect in the face of terror – instead, oscillate: The Wednesday 1-2-3

Happy Wednesday Reader!

About 14 months ago (and 62 editions ago!), I began sending the Wednesday 1-2-3 as a way of passing on the insights, teachings, frameworks, and questions that had been shifting and shaping my inner work.

It has been unbelievably life-giving for me, especially as I've gotten to hear how it's supported those of you reading it each week.

If you know someone in your communities who would benefit from these weekly teachings, I'd really appreciate if you could pass it along and invite them to sign up. I'm excited to keep writing and sharing resources we can all use as we engage in our inner work.

Here's the link you can share. 🙂

Alright – onward to our teaching, questions, and resources for the week:

1. Teaching

When you come face-to-face with the oppressive systems of the world, what do you do?

On a stress response level, perhaps you fight, freeze, fawn, or flee. (Say that five times fast.) On a social level, perhaps you immediately engage with those experiencing harm (or, when you experience harm, perhaps you seek out allies and accomplices) or look around to see what other bystanders are doing. On a political level, maybe you organize with others to reduce the power of that oppressive system – or maybe you tell yourself that “now is not the time for politics.”

As people held within a communal context – as we all are – it’s vital we become aware of our tendencies and responses when it comes to witnessing and experiencing injustice and oppression. (I shared a bit of my personal story as it relates to this on Instagram earlier this week.)

Without that awareness, it can be way too easy to either:

  1. disconnect from our responsibilities to ourselves, each other, and the Earth or
  2. burnout trying to do too much, too fast, and often all by ourselves.

Gabes Torres, a brilliant activist, organizer, and mental health professional invites us instead to oscillate.

Oscillation: “the nonlinear swing, the circular dance, a dynamic spectrum, or the back-and-forth movement of:

  • processing and digesting collective trauma, grief, and exposure to violence and suffering,
  • to taking a step back from it,
  • and returning to collective, direct action."

She breaks this process of oscillation into four movements:

Rest: To rest is to become in touch with our bodily needs and to honor those needs. It is to enter into and cultivate spaces and experiences that "bring us ease, revitalization, and a wider capacity for breath."

To rest is not to check-out, but to be mindful of our interior and exterior lives and to allow our bodies to settle so that we may engage in more grounded and sustainable ways.

Digest: To digest means to intentionally review and interpret the experiences of our lives. This includes personal events and traumas, communal challenges and conflict, and ongoing (and historical) instances of societal harm.

Gabes writes this phase "is about metabolizing the information you have internalized or absorbed in your body."

Process: We can process information and experiences through external expression – this is an alternative to keeping it all bottled up or wallowing in questions like "what can I do?"

This might look like painting, writing, cooking, singing, dancing, shouting, pulling your people together for dinner, going and playing racquetball, or something else entirely.

Resist: To resist is to see the harms of the world with honest and soft eyes, to center one's actions on the always-present instances of beauty and love, and to move in ways that reduce and eliminate acts of dehumanization.

Resistance is always rooted in community and unique to the felt needs and experiences of that space. It is flexible, creative, and life-honoring. (See Beautiful Trouble's toolkit below for tangible examples of resistance.)

2. Questions

  1. What is your relationship with this framework and its four nonlinear phases? What memories, ideas, defensiveness, bodily sensations, or imaginings are emerging for you as you read this?
  2. What are the factors that most often bring (or keep) you out of this intentional process of oscillation? Burnout? Comfort? Fear? Something else?

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared a teaching on resilience and why it doesn't mean to just "bounce back."

Hope all is well-enough with you,


IG: @andrewglang

The Wednesday 1-2-3

Inner work frameworks, practices, and questions – all in a five-minute read. Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday morning before you even wake up. Written and curated by Andrew Lang.

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