Re: Are you training just techniques? Or something more?
I'm not sure that there is a shortcut to the true mastery of anything. When I started aikido the model in my first dojo was pretty much just practice the forms. Aiki, connection, etc. etc. were just all supposed to come with time. And they will, I guess, given enough time. However, I think it's important to explicitly think about and work towards those deeper principles. Waza is part of it, as can be connection and movement exercises. Anybody who has taken a seminar with Mary Heiny Sensei or Ikeda Sensei, for example, will have some taste of that.
However, the movements, posture, timing, hand changes, positions, etc. have to become so ingrained that they seem totally natural, and happen without much conscious thought, and that requires putting in the time.
I turn spindles and bowls from wood on a lathe. It's all hand, and eye, and touch. I am much better now than I was a few years ago. Some of that is certainly due to conscious learning - practicing various cuts with the different tools. But some of it is just hours at the lathe. Things I used to do that ended in disaster now just work, and I'm not sure I can articulate exactly whats different, except that I have a lighter, more sophisticated touch. And I also know that I have a long, long way to go before any kind of true mastery!