What is Consciousness?

Justin Foster
5 min readDec 8, 2022

This is a question that’s been debated, pondered, and wrestled with for thousands of years. Mystics, children, artists, people who’ve had a near-death experience, and open-minded scientists and theologians all seem to know what it is. Yet it is endlessly difficult to explain or define. I think that part of the Gordian Knot of consciousness is that it is both multi-dimensional and highly contextual for each person that experiences it. Keeping with the intention of only writing about what I’ve experienced, I will attempt to explain my discoveries about consciousness.

It seems as if there are three kinds of consciousness: soul, mind, and social. Each is distinctly different but there are some common traits. Each kind of consciousness starts with awareness/awakening. Each kind includes some sort of calling. Each kind is relational. And each is both iterative and overlapping and is in continual tension with the ego.

I will break these down in the order that I first experienced them …

Soul Consciousness
This kind of consciousness is often referred to as a spiritual awakening, enlightenment, and/or revelation. For me, this form of consciousness introduced me to my own soul. It liberated me from an illusory reality that my ego had constructed. It called me out of old systems and formed a relationship with the spiritual realm. I saw my wholeness and pricelessness; the part of me that does not die.

“Remember that spiritual awakening is a process. It’s an eternal spiral, a dancing mandala, a path with no end. There is no limit to how much you can grow, transform, and embody the Divinity carried within you. The deeper you journey into yourself and the closer you move toward your Soul, the more you rediscover the magic that is always and forever in the present moment.”
Aletheia Luna

In my experience, soul consciousness is immersive and experiential. It is the soul using the body to experience life. There is no awareness of time. No fear. No insecurities. It is a sacral fire that never diminishes; a profound and enduring connection to Reality. It is primarily expressed through art, intimacy, and generosity. Metaphorically, it would best be described as a garden.

Justin Foster

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