Thinking About Mastery

Leaving aside for a moment the obvious (to me) concerns about the word itself (with its connotations of sexism and racism), I’m pondering the concept of mastery. The word arose as part of a bigger discussion about oversouls and channeling, and was framed in the context of creativity. According to Quester, mastery involves a lot of practice, a thorough understanding of what you’re doing, and putting your own unique spin on it. When I asked for examples of people we knew who were “masters” of something, he cited a drummer, a guitarist, and a mead-maker.

To this definition, I would add that mastery of something involves joy in doing it. It’s something you pursue because you love it, not for a particular reward. You may have a long-term goal, but you continue to practice and study and do because you couldn’t imagine your life without this particular thing. It might be writing or music or sewing or dancing or building or acting or cooking or drumming or photography or knitting or gardening or healing or any number of other things. Mastery integrates discipline with joyful creative flow. The discipline and creativity come from within, even when you choose to take classes or lessons. Mastery means that you’ve made something your own, and that you alone are responsible for your choices and actions with regard to it.

That which you choose to master becomes an integral part of your life and your spirituality. It is intimately related to your calling. This connection might be very clear for some people: if you feel called to be a singer, you practice with your instrument, mastering the process of using your unique voice to express your music. For others, it may be more complex. If you’re called to be a healer, you might work with various modalities, eventually discovering that you’ve mastered herbalism and polarity, enjoy a working knowledge of anatomy, and have dabbled in aromatherapy and massage.

Mastery of something doesn’t necessarily mean consciously setting out to do so. You may love to make jewelry. Thus you’re naturally motivated to practice, to seek out new materials, to study and read and watch videos and window shop, and to visit and learn from other artists. You do these things as you follow this exciting passion. One day you might turn your hobby into a thriving business. Or you may continue to make jewelry for friends and family in your spare time. Mastery doesn’t require external recognition or fame.

Where in your life does mastery come in? Is there something that comes to mind immediately? Or do you have to dig deeper to identify your mastery? I’ve had some insights about my own relationship with mastery and will be writing more about that soon.


Thinking About Mastery — 3 Comments

  1. Mastery, as you noted, can have many different meanings. In the area of spiritualism, I feel I am in the process of gaining mastery. I have ‘mastered’ Reiki – and as you know, Reiki involves both a physical component and a spiritual/metaphysical one.

    I think the idea of mastering ones spirituality suggests that perhaps someone feels they have most of the ‘answers’ (at least traditional thought would come to that conclusion). For me, I feel we are all works-in-progress. I feel that our ideas about spiritualism can (and arguably ‘should’) change and evolve as we experience life….even if we only change our ideas about our own spiritualism very slightly as we add some tiny new piece of insight we’ve obtained!

    So, perhaps I’d say I’m a master at my ability to be open to new information. I’ve mastered the idea that my searching and growing is going well, and that I am exactly and perfectly where I need to be. I’m a master of my own path, and the knowledge of many of my skills and challenges. I am also a master of my actions, and the idea that I make choices each day about my actions…and that those actions affect others around me.

    I know I’m not ‘perfect’ (or am I??), but I’m happy with the idea that I am always open to new learning. I *WANT* to be a force for good in the world, and am doing that in the best ways I feel I can.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I know what you mean about always being “in progress.” Interestingly, I think that’s one of the characteristics of a “master” – the opinion that they’re not even close to done! :)

    Hope things are well with you! My love to the family.

  3. Haha, when you said “mastery”, I automatically thought of mastering a skill, and I had to stretch my brain a bit to include racism and sexism LOL Lots of expanding on the basic here :)) Good stuff! How does that saying go? “Jack of all trades, master of none” — yeh, sometimes I think that is me :))

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