To become a master of any particular skill, you have to practice for a long time. Observing, listening and understanding takes you so far, but to master something, you have to repeat it, you have to repeat it until it stops being a conscious action and instead slips into the subconscious. It becomes embedded in your muscle memory, the patterns of neurons in the brain firing in a particular way, and in true mastery you go through to the other side and are able to observe and correct in real time what you are doing.
It is the familiar loop of being, doing and then having, where being is the emotional state of having, building mastery is really building your confidence in being. If you were faced with a big block of wood and all the tools for woodcarving, you would not instantly be a master woodcarver, but you could be someone who is capable of becoming a master, that would be believable to you, on the other hand you could believe that you are someone who could never be a master. Both of these scenarios are believable to the mind, while in reality, any master would probably tell you that all the individual skills that they have are learn-able and with enough practice anyone could do it, if they were committed. It is the mind that makes the choice as to what to believe.
We believe we are limited by ourselves, what our life situation has been, what we believe our capabilities to be at this moment in time and most of all what we find plausible. When in truth we are capable of learning new skills, new ways of acting and even new ways of thinking, they are all up for grabs in your life. Not instantly, and you probably have certain time limitations, unless you happen to be one of those immortal beings I hear so much about, though a lifetime is enough time to master many skills. Even working a normal eight-hour day, if that time was devoted to skills rather than earning money, you could master a new skill every five years, four hours a day it would take ten years and two hours would mean you were a master in twenty years. That is between twelve and four things you can become a master in your life.
Which opens up the interesting question of which skills to master? Do you learn the meta-skills first, that is skills which improve all aspects of your life, schools certainly concentrate on this, we learn to write, read, calculate and reason, within the first 10 years of our lives. Whilst it might be exaggeration to say we are all master at the skills, it is reasonable to say we are all at least competent with the potential for mastery if we choose to pursue them in adult life. Meditation can certainly be considered one of the meta-skills, as is skills that put us in contact with our own bodies, that increases our awareness of our physicality and ability to move it through physical reality such as Tai chi, gymnastics or yoga. Though you don't want to just learn meta-skills, there is value in depth as well, the choices are limitless, and yet when we don't know that we have a choice, when we are not aware that mastery is a possibility, by not choosing to pursue it you are making an active choice, if not a knowing choice.
When we pursue money and the things that you can buy with money, you're making a choice not to pursue the things you cannot buy with money. This isn't to say that money is a waste of time, it is one of the most valuable tool that you can have, it is the tool with which you can buy every other tool in the world, but you do not buy a hammer to look pretty, you buy it to hit nails with and to add value to your life by building a nicer set of shelves. However you always have to have in mind, what the job is that you want the tools for, no one needs a golden hammer with a diamond encrusted handle, unless you are a Nordic god who wants to look good parties.
However there is a cost to mastery and that is repetition, which depending on your attitude, can even be the most tiresome and boring activity in the world, or with sufficient awareness can be the most rewarding flow experience you can have. It is a choice that we get to make, especially when we have the knowledge that is the awareness element that changes the activity, that is why meditation is such a meta-skill, it enriches every part of the rest of the day and makes that time spent sitting and focusing on your breath worthwhile.
And that is why repetition is so important, it really teaches you the lessons that you need for your particular life at this particular moment in time. You are what you repeat, when you repeat a particular action the mind will learn to do this automatically, as the mind when it has a choice will always use the least amount of energy it can. There is one of the differences between system I and system II thinking, the latter takes energy and concentration, the first is what is done without thinking.
That is why we concentrate so much on my every day thoughts, what I am actually thinking every day, which thoughts repeat. We have 20,000 thoughts a day, but we do not even notice because they are the same thoughts day-to-day, just repeated, and we learn repeated habitual thoughts, so it will trigger a familiar cascade of thoughts. By observing we can learn to recognise these patterns and then choose to change them, we can change negative thoughts into positive ones, when we play the game of find the lesson, we change our habits of thinking, first we play the game, we find the lesson in any negative experience, we force our system II thinking deliberately by playing the game, and if we do this often enough, our lazy minds will eventually turn it into a system I habit. So we no longer need to play the game to get us to the positive thought, as it is our habit to go there anyway.
And that is partly what this website does, it repeats habits of thought, it uses positive and useful language. Just by surrounding yourself with such language it seeps into your mind, when you are reminded that you are growing being of consciousness, again and again, the mind starts thinking they could be a growing being a consciousness, especially if it's never had that option on the table before, repetition makes the idea familiar.