Fractal Praxis and Covid-19, Part 2: Enacting Belief, Encoding Histories

In the first piece in this series on managing Covid-19 responses in accordance with fractal praxis, I wrote:

“In the midst of uncertainty, the best medicine is an all encompassing strategy. What general patterns will tend to reduce unwanted outcomes?”

Ultimately what patterns you choose to include and disinclude in your lifestyle reflects your beliefs. My household may have an agreement that we sanitize the doorknob after coming in from the outside world. But if in a given moment, I believe my hands are not very likely to be contaminated and so coming into contact with the doorknob doesn’t present much of a risk, I may consciously NOT perform the task of sanitizing the doorknob. My intention is not to be deliberately noncompliant with my household’s agreements. It is simply that, in that moment, the more salient belief in my body: I think I pose no risk.

Every task we do or don’t perform exemplifies the beliefs that are operational within us at that moment—whether or not we are conscious of those beliefs. 

In making choices about lifestyle adaptations for coronavirus, one will invariably “include” (and measure as appropriate) the lifestyle adaptations that reflect and represent one’s beliefs: about the danger of coronavirus, about the risks of contracting it, about the nature and value of preventative health measures, about the value of avoiding infection for yourself, about the value of not infecting others, etc. Through enacting those beliefs, one’s body, in kind and in the end, will testify to the viability of those beliefs—subtle and gross. We are in relationship to Covid-19, and it to us, through our choices.

The adaptive practices involved in avoiding contracting Covid-19, especially once one becomes accustomed to them, can generally be performed without emotional attachment; in fact, excess emotional attachment—excess worry, fear and anxiety—will make you more prone to illness. So you have to practice a measure of confidence, or faith, in what you are choosing to do, so as not to excessively dwell on the uncertainty inherent. At this point, wearing a mask and observing others wearing masks in the setting of a grocery store has become ubiquitous, second nature. This reflects how our minds and cognition adapt to new norms over time, reducing the amount of cognitive energy it takes to enact any particular choice or belief.

In the first piece in this series, we explored how the theme of “fractal praxis” (generalized praxis) suggests that one ought to do everything, and anything, one can to reflect the belief, to make the statement through your actions/enacting, that your life is valuable and the lives of others around you are valuable, even those who you do not personally know. To be in integrity with this operating principle, you would invest your precious physical and cognitive energy into actions that express that belief, actions that “count” toward expressing that principle or standard. And again, you cannot know how it actually counts in the complexity of things at the end of the day. But what you do have power over is how much of your life energy you wish to serve as testimony to this principle, to this ethic, how pervasively you want to embed this belief in the ways you conduct your life moment to moment. 

This is what we miss when we are merely reacting to events in our environment: we miss that every action and reaction of ours makes statements, embedded into the living tissue of this world like words on a page, reflecting our internalized operating premises at that moment. And so, one’s unfolding existence puts beliefs “out” into the world, transmitting them through one’s actions—albeit indirectly, but nevertheless actually, and regardless of whether one is conscious or unconscious about this. 

Let’s make it conscious, actionable: You get to decide the beliefs you enact, the statements you make with your actions. You get to bring conscious choice to this realm. You get to decide how thoughtfully and pervasively you express what you value in your choices. 

Have faith that the world can read your values through its interactions with your actions, your conduct. And what you do now will have tremendous ripple effects, for generations to come. Epigenetics testifies to this. And we can only assume that the Covid-19 pandemic, however long it lasts, is already imprinting into our genetic code for the level of societal stress it brings us.

Do something that you believe best reflects the values you hold, and how you value, how you measure, your life as a whole. Consciously transform your attitude into your actions, and observe the results. Anything helps. But even better than anything, is everything. Do what you must. Do what you can. 

Because it can matter. It may not matter, or there may be so much “interference” in the system that the message is obscured. This is inherent to chaos theory. But nevertheless, it has the capacity to matter. These complex systems are entangled: you influence them. Your actions can matter. And that’s why we do what we must, with the time that we have.

“Fractal praxis” is a theory of action founded on this worldview: that what you do can matter, has the capacity to matter. Your interventions are not neutral, not “nothing,” even if we may live our lives untrained to see the subtle or gross effects of our actions. In reality, we are factors in entangled webs with one another: a continuous weave of influences, beings interacting, “shaping change” as Octavia Butler put it in Parable of the Sower.

What this platform of fractal praxis suggests is that we can work with reality. That reality, the meaning we make of it, and our role in a whole world that “makes more sense”… all this is highly workable, if we attune and train our cognitive being in adaptive ways.

It would mean acknowledging that the source of anything/everything in a given time-space context is the result of the organization of the physics, the living processes, and the cognitive processes “enclosing” that time-space. That in this complexity of truths lies the seeds and source for the patterns that are to unfold in the next moment.

To acknowledge this is to understand we have to take responsibility for our contact and influence with those patterns. The more awareness we have, the more patterns we can see, and thus, wield. Those patterns, be they encoded in meme or in act, shape us, affect us. We are iterating those patterns, reproducing and propagating them into the world, as a result of contact with them. Unless we change them. And to recognize we can, that we are equally present in and available to a co-shaping process with our worlds, is revolutionary: it means each of us recovers the power to “write” the patterns we want into the world, testing their independent truth and viability in the process, and thus progressively reshaping collective reality and our own cognitive structures at that meta, mutually entangled level.

In continuing the thread about healthy, “Covid-19-adaptive” choices from the earlier piece in this series: I feel better now than I did last night, and so I can trust I am getting feedback from my choices. But it’s also nonlinear. I can’t strictly assume that I feel good today directly as a result of specific choices last night. That would be fallacy. The layering of reality is complex, with dimension and texture: it is not arithmetic. It is risky to assume too much linearity, too much straightforwardness. So the approach we want is more like jazz or cooking: you want to “mix in” the patterns you discern to be called for, but without too much attachment to how, specifically, those may influence the sauce. You must keep your senses continuously open, never getting comfortable that your intervention, your contribution, is entire. Improvisation, and using your senses to remain open to reshaping and being reshaped is how you will level up your own relationship to the whole world (and to the world of wholeness). 

I have to continue making choices. I’m also getting a lot of good sleep. I’m also reading and also practicing spirituality. So these are all things that keep my mind and body holistically well and therefore holistically resistant to disease. The more choices I make, at any scale, that are in alignment with the intention of “good health,” the more likely “good health” is to emerge for me (this = the “do everything” principle). 

Holistically. Likely. Not definitely. Because these are complex systems. Our minds and identities and bodies are, too. Let’s embrace that reality. And play in the sandboxes of these complex systems, always looking to integrate new information, always looking for holistic balance.

So: if you want to have success with fractal praxis, you don’t need an ideology or a dogma, you don’t need to follow some external authority, including my instruction. Any external authority insinuating power over you is at least partially false, at least partially a sham. You need to take responsibility to engage the world, to enact your beliefs and to be willing to modify your beliefs based on feedback (that you are also responsible to make sense of). This is how you must do the best you can with what you have: your sovereign mind, your unique embodied history, your cognition. And that’s the way that you will succeed. Because the ultimate authority, the ultimate “author” of history, may actually be your and our process of Cognition: our sense-making process. Being fractally able to act on what we discern to be true, progressively. This is the ultimate power and praxis that we were born to wield. 

See also this post: on meta-directing the functions of belief-believing

Stay tuned for the final and third piece in this series, about enacting holistic systems improvement.