The Anatomy of an Awakening

Justin Foster
3 min readOct 6, 2021
Fiver Lincoln Foster — age 1 … Thousand

Some people just seem to be born spiritually awake. My 1-year old grandson, Fiver, is like that. He has that Buddha soul that soaks up experiences and eyes that shine with knowing. I’m not sure of the percentage of those of us born awake, but it seems quite small.

Conversely, I know many people that have never had an awakening. Maturity through experiences, yes. But not that lightning bolt of insight that pierces the painstakingly crafted illusions. It is my observation that the more someone’s identity is defined by their religious (or non-religious) beliefs and/or political beliefs, the less likely they are to have an awakening. It seems as if theology and ideology have soporific properties.

Another marker that reduces the likelihood of an awakening is busyness. Busyness messes with our attention/priority hierarchies. In this mindset, the idea of being still, spending time in solitude, being in nature, meditating, prayer, etc all feel like foolishness. It is self-absorption experienced through tasks, calendars, goals, obsessions. Is this not what everyone from Solomon to the screenwriters of “Elf” was trying to say?

“A kind of light spread out from her. And everything changed color. And the world opened out. And a day was good to awaken to. And there were no limits to anything. And the people of the world were good and handsome. And I was not afraid any more.”
John Steinbeck

So far, I’ve had two awakenings. One in April of 2014 and one in September of 2020. They were markedly different. I share them here not as some sort of model or pattern for anyone to follow. I’m sure everyone’s awakening has common traits but is uniquely different. I am just contrasting and telling what I experienced.

Awakening #1:

My first awakening was an unexpected internal experience with external implications. This awakening freed my mind — and freed me from conditions, circumstances, existing systems that I’d opted into. I left Idaho, the Church, my political views. This awakening was an ascension. It came as the sun appears after a long dawning. In this light, I could see what I couldn’t see before. And what I could now see, I couldn’t unsee. This awakening was marked by the command of “Go!” It was expansive, liberating. It literally moved me to an entirely new life…

Justin Foster

Co-founder of Massive, a conscious business leadership coaching practice. Poet, essayist, music & coffee snob.